College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Columbia
Want personalized (and free) advice while applying to college?
We’re building a free college guidance platform for high school students like you! This means we’ll let you know exactly what and when you should be focusing on things like extracurriculars, college essays, standardized tests, and more. Sign up now to get early access to our platform and get guidance applying to college!
A highly selective university and member of the Ivy League, Columbia University is situated in the Morningside Heights neighborhood in uptown New York City. With its diverse campus and opportunities, Columbia’s stellar academics and opportunities draw students from around the world. Are you interested in applying to Columbia? Read on for advice and information.
Columbia: The Quick Facts
Type: Private University
Location: New York, NY
Enrollment: 32,429 (total enrollment); 6113 (undergraduate enrollment)
Tuition: $74,173; $57,208 (tuition and fees)
Acceptance Rate: 6%
Average SAT Score (New 1600 SAT): 1530 (1470 for 25th Percentile, 1590 for 75th percentile)
An Introduction to Columbia
Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. Columbia is a very challenging and extremely selective college. It boasts a stellar reputation, with many well-known and successful graduates, including Barack Obama.
Enrollment, Tuition, & Financial Aid
Including graduate students, 32,429 students are enrolled at Columbia. 6,113 of these students are undergraduates, and 1,456 are first years.
The total cost to attend is $74,173; $57,208 of that price accounts for tuition and fees. Columbia offers need-based and need-blind financial aid. Approximately 50% of students are on financial aid, with an average award of $52,073. Check out Columbia’s financial aid website for more information about aid.
Columbia is located in Upper Manhattan in Morningside Heights, essentially where Harlem meets the Upper West Side. The neighborhood is a cultural epicenter, but has a much different feel from NYU’s East Village. One notable distinction from NYU is that Columbia has a very defined campus. However, like NYU, Columbia has many museums, restaurants, shops, and many other landmarks within walking distance. Additionally, students can take advantage of the NYC metro system.
Academic & Popular Majors
• Social Sciences
• Biological and Biomedical Sciences
• Computer Science
• Visual and Performing Arts
Student Life & Activities
Columbia has a very diverse student body offer many diversity resources. The School of General Studies is specifically for nontraditional students students, where the average age of the student body is 27.
There are many events on campus, with cultural events being especially popular. Greek life, meanwhile, is available, but not an overwhelming presence.
New York presents plenty of options, especially in terms of Columbia’s location. Students can enjoys Broadway shows, performances at Lincoln Center, and many other opportunities in New York.
First-year students are guaranteed on-campus housing. All freshmen live on the South Lawn near important campus buildings, and enjoy free laundry and many other amenities.
The first-year dorms include:
- Carmen Hall: spacious doubles with some single-sex floors
- Furnald Hall: singles and doubles, some shared with sophomores; known for being clean and quiet
- John Jay Hall: singles and doubles; dining hall on first level; Columbia Health Medical Services in the building; considered a social residence
- Living Learning Center: comprised of Hartley Hall and Wallach Hall; singles and doubles; freshmen, sophomores, and juniors live here.
Walking Through the Columbia Admissions Process
Columbia has three undergrad colleges: Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, and the School of General Studies.
In its admissions process, the admissions committee performs a holistics review of the applicant and her record, including extracurricular interests, intellectual achievements, and personal background. Additionally, the applicant must complete three supplementary essays.
You can view Columbia’s admissions statistics at http://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/classprofile/2021
Who Gets Admitted to Columbia?
With a highly selective acceptance rate of 5.8%, students face stiff competition when applying to Columbia, and should be taking a very challenging curriculum with plenty of APs. Since the school performs a holistic review of all candidates, it takes into account how well the student will fit in at Columbia along with academics, extracurriculars, recommendations, and SAT scores (New 1600 SAT).
While, there is no absolute SAT requirement at Columbia, because the school is so selective, your GPA and SAT scores will be crucial to your admissions decision. You should at least aim for a 2380 SAT score (75th percentile) to really even be considered and a minimum 4.16 GPA.
Since admission is so competitive, this is a reach school for all students.
Early Decision: November 1 (Notified mid-December)
Regular Decision: January 1 (Notified late March)
How to Apply
Columbia accepts the Common Application and Coalition Application. Interviews are optional and only offered off-campus and to students in particular geographic areas when available. Columbia welcomes supplementary materials such as research abstracts and visual art slide.
Columbia is a very selective school that attracts top applicants. Many students report enjoying their time at the university, and say that it leads to many career opportunities; just consider the success of alums across the world. For more information, check out How to Write the Columbia University Supplemental Essays 2017-2018.
Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Check out the CollegeVine Mentorship Program. Our mentors drive significant personal and professional development for their high school mentees.
Combining mentorship with engaging content, insider strategies, and personalized analyses, our program provides students with the tools to succeed. As students learn from successful older peers, they develop confidence, autonomy, and critical thinking skills to help maximize their chances of success in college, business, and life.
Want more tips on improving your academic profile?
We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.