What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

8 Great Columbia Essay Examples

What’s Covered


Columbia is an Ivy League school in NYC with an incredibly low acceptance rate. Like most other competitive schools, Columbia has supplemental prompts where students can demonstrate parts of their life that aren’t present in other portions of their application. Many applicants to selective colleges like Columbia have stellar grades and test scores, so the essays can help you stand out from other candidates with the same stats.   


The school requires applicants to fill out a variety of prompts, ranging from quick short-answers about your favorite books and pieces of media to fleshed out essays. In this post, we will share three essays real students have submitted to Columbia and go over what each essay did well and where they can be improved. 


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


Read our Columbia University essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 


Essay Example 1 – Mechanical Engineering


Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words)


As I continue my journey toward becoming a mechanical engineer, I am constantly searching for ways to positively impact and solve complex problems. Columbia University is the perfect place for me to do so. The university’s diverse and brilliant community, combined with its focus on hands-on learning, will provide me with the foundation I need to grow as a student and a person.


I am excited to take advantage of Columbia’s many opportunities, from its Core curriculum to its various labs and research centers. In particular, I am drawn to the F1 car club and the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Columbia World Projects. These experiences will help broaden my knowledge and skills and allow me to make a significant difference in the world.


In addition to the academic opportunities at Columbia, I am also drawn to the university’s rich traditions. From the tree lighting ceremony to the Holi celebration, these events foster a sense of belonging and connection that will be invaluable as I begin my studies. I believe my unique perspective and skills will be an asset to the community, for I am excited to contribute my voice to Columbia’s dynamic and diverse community.


What the Essay Did Well


In responding to this textbook “Why This College?” prompt, the author effectively selects a topic, mechanical engineering, to focus his essay on, and connects that topic to opportunities that can only be found at Columbia, such as the F1 car club and Columbia World Projects. These specific opportunities show admissions officers that the student has done their research, and has tangible reasons for wanting to attend Columbia that go beyond, for example, the generic “I want to go to school in New York.”


The author also expresses an interest in the traditions that form the backbone of Columbia’s community, such as the tree lighting ceremony and the Holi celebration. This variety demonstrates that the author has spent time thinking about what their life at Columbia would look like overall, not just in the context of their mechanical engineering studies.


What Could Be Improved 


While this essay effectively conveys which specific things about Columbia interest the author, it could be strengthened by providing more details about why each activity is important to them, as that will explicitly connect their past experiences to their potential future at Columbia.


For example, the author could connect the F1 car club to the summers they spent working in their parents’ car repair shop. Or when discussing Columbia World Projects, they could explain how the CWP’s “Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in America” project would allow them to build on the skills they learned from an elective they took on urban planning.


Along the same lines, the author could expand on how they see Columbia’s traditions helping them grow as a person. They name-drop the tree lighting ceremony and Holi festival, but don’t say anything about why these events are important to them. The essay would be stronger if, for example, they discuss how lighting the Christmas tree was always a time for their family to reflect on the previous year, and they look forward to having a similar unifying moment in college.


Finally, while the author does a good job in general of using specific opportunities to show their interest in Columbia, there are places where they are too vague. For example, when they talk about Columbia’s “Core curriculum” and “various labs and research centers,” we don’t get any information about what in particular intrigues them about the Core, or which labs and research centers they hope to work at. 


The essay would be stronger if the writer highlighted their excitement about using the Core to explore topics, such as art history, that they otherwise might not make time for in their schedule, or about working at the Earth Engineering Center to learn about how to harness their knowledge of biomechanical engineering in service of a greener future.


Essay Example 2 – Trailblazing


Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words)


“She is a natural leader and role model.”


This comment punctuates all my report cards. However, I never believed it, until an alumnus of my high school was murdered by a maintenance worker for rebuffing his advances. Feeling angered, I spearheaded a plan of action for my poetry club—it was a reflex. I led one group poem celebrating her warmth, which we performed for her parents, and one about the rape culture that killed her, which we performed at a sexual assault awareness event.


Columbia boasts an exceptional culture of students who feel emboldened to call out injustice, even when it’s perpetuated by their own community. From the student-driven Columbia Prison Divest campaign, which successfully led Columbia to divest from the private prison industry, to the recent protests about Columbia’s gentrification of Harlem, the tenacity of Columbia’s Lions reflects my own.


Moreover, as someone from a household of sexual and domestic violence, I feel drawn to activism in that field. As a Peer Advocate for Columbia Health, I would provide support and resources for survivors, protecting them from the environment I was in.


The core of Columbia’s ethos is building trailblazers— I can’t wait to be one of them.


What the Essay Did Well


The student’s discussion of the difficult topic of sexual assault is impressive, as many applicants wouldn’t be bold enough to include this topic in a college application, and many others wouldn’t have the reflective or writing skills necessary to make it work. This student, however, is able to highlight both a genuine desire to fight back against injustice on a large scale, through public poetry performances, and a grassroots compassion for the victims, by working for Columbia Health as a Peer Advocate.


On that note, the writer also does an excellent job of connecting their passion for justice and advocacy to their potential life at Columbia. Remember that a “Why This College?” essay should be as specific as possible to that particular school, and this author not only mentions a variety of activities they hope to get involved in at Columbia, but also makes it clear which of their values and past experiences are motivating their interest in those particular opportunities. That gives admissions officers a strong sense of who this student is and what they’ll bring to the table at Columbia.


Finally, the reader’s emphatic tone throughout the essay stirs up readers’ emotions, and makes us feel like getting up and marching towards justice alongside them, which is an incredibly effective way of making us experience their leadership abilities firsthand. Lines like “it was a reflex” and “Columbia boasts an exceptional culture of students who feel emboldened to call out injustice, even when it’s perpetuated by their own community” make us viscerally feel the writer’s passion, and that sensation adds even more weight to their points.


What Could Be Improved 


Currently, the beginning of the essay is disjointed, as the author’s shift from positive report card comments to a former classmate’s murder is extremely abrupt. That jarring transition may have been intentional, but you don’t want to shock readers just because. While the essay is about leadership, readers will understand that without the first line, and thus the writer could be better off starting “in medias res” (in the middle of things) to immediately immerse readers in the story.


For example, they could say: “November 20, 2022 was a dark day at our school, when news broke of our former classmate’s murder.” This alternate first line gets right into the details of how the author developed their leadership skills, rather than starting off talking about those skills in the abstract and then zooming in. Remember, space is limited in the college essay, so you want to be as efficient as possible with how you make your points.


Essay Example 3 – The Core and Community


Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words)


A vibrant, intellectually curious culture cultivated by the Core Curriculum, rich student interconnectedness, and an alignment of core values attract me to Columbia.


Seminar-based courses comprehensively facilitate my learning style; learning from peers, sharing my perspective, and exploring unquenchable curiosities comprise my ideal environment. Columbia’s emphasis on such learning through the Core Curriculum provides balanced structure and an approach encouraging valuable interdisciplinary study. Although I plan to pursue current intellectual interests through Columbia’s electives, the Core offers an invigorating communal experience and exposure to potential newfound passions, such as philosophy or Western musical analysis.


In conversation with my tour guide, Ashley, and through discussions with current students, I was inspired by the emphatic sense of community pride that envelops Morningside Heights. Beginning with the shared experience of the Core, it is apparent that inclusive community is fostered through academic spaces. Through traditions such as Tree Lighting, “Surf, Turf, & Earth” – which sounds absolutely scrumptious – and cultural celebrations, the Columbian community radiates in social spaces.


I envision myself blanketed with Columbia blue, clutching a glimmering snowball on the day of First Snow. Exuberant with lion pride, I prepare for a sportive battle, and a euphoric moment, with fellow prideful lions.


What the Essay Did Well


In the first paragraph, the author clearly lists three characteristics of Columbia–“a vibrant, intellectually curious culture cultivated by the Core Curriculum…rich student interconnectedness…and an alignment of core values”–which provide structure for the rest of the essay. This organization makes the essay easy to follow, as each point connects back to that first paragraph.


The writer also shows that they have a true appreciation of the community at Columbia, and that they aren’t just paying lip service to one of the most frequently used words in college admissions, by mentioning their tour guide by name, and the discussions they have had with current students. Those details show that the student has spent real effort getting to know Columbia’s campus culture, which in turn shows that they will be committed to making contributions to that culture themself.


As noted above, one of the keys to this kind of “Why This College?” essay is not just showing genuine interest in the school, but also how that interest will manifest once you’re there. By referencing traditions like the Tree Lighting ceremony and “Surf, Turf, & Earth,” the author demonstrates that they have already spent time thinking about how they would fit into Columbia’s community.


Finally, the author’s vivid imagery of “[themself] blanketed with Columbia blue, clutching a glimmering snowball on the day of First Snow,” ends the essay on a high note. The author doesn’t just restate that they want to go to Columbia, but paints a tangible picture of their excitement and anticipation, which makes those feelings come across far more strongly than if they just said something generic like “I can’t wait to hopefully be arriving in Morningside Heights next fall.”


What Could Be Improved 


While the author does include some Columbia-specific traditions, as described above, too much of the essay, particularly the paragraph focused on academics, is phrased in general terms. For example, the line:


“Although I plan to pursue current intellectual interests through Columbia’s electives, the Core offers an invigorating communal experience and exposure to potential newfound passions, such as philosophy or Western musical analysis” 


doesn’t tell us anything about what the author’s “current intellectual interests” are, nor about which specific courses or professors at Columbia will help them pursue their “newfound passions.” The essay would be much stronger if, for example, the author talked about how Columbia’s “American Film: Cult and Exploitation” course would help them refine their interest in contemporary media culture, which they have already started exploring through a research project in their American history class.


Additionally, rather than listing general categories of courses like “philosophy or Western musical analysis,” the author should talk about the Core in more specific terms, which are also linked to their own personal interests. That line could look something like:


“While I’ve never considered myself a musician, I’ve always been fascinated by how songwriters can unify millions of people with just a clever turn of phrase, and the Core’s ‘Music Humanities” requirement will help me better understand why musicians can wield so much power in society.”


Finally, along similar lines, the author should ideally connect the Columbia-specific traditions they mention to their own interests. For example, rather than just saying that the “Surf Turf & Earth” event sounds “absolutely scrumptious,” they could talk about how their multicultural family has always encouraged adventurous eating, and so they are excited about attending a college that also values culinary exploration.


Essay Example 4 – Cancer Research and Community


Prompt: Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (200 words)


I’ve always known about Columbia’s stellar core curriculum, first hearing it from my uncle. He would speak of the strengths of this method, allowing students to experience learning in all fields of study. And its rumors are nothing less than reality – being given this holistic foundation throughout college is one I wish to thrive on. It would allow me to explore other subjects and meet Columbia’s astute professors, specifically Dr. Adana Llanos. I want to journey through Cancer Epidemiology and possibly assist in her research towards breast cancer subtypes because of its prevalence in my family.


Looking past academics, I view Columbia as a family where I can learn about myself and those around me. After hearing about the South Asian club, Club Zamana, I want to use it as a mode of discovery for my own heritage, participating in flamboyant events like Tamasha. This club would create a door to indulge in the passionate cultures that make up Columbia. 


I believe Columbia to have academic resources, a community, and energy like no other. It is the home where I want to discover my passion and pursue it for my 4 years. I think my uncle would love that.


What the Essay Did Well


This essay succinctly captures the “why?” of the “Why This College?” essay in a straightforward, easy-to-follow response. This applicant is interested in applying to Columbia because of: 1) the core curriculum, 2) their personal interest in studying cancer epidemiology, and 3) the opportunity to explore their own heritage through the South Asian club. 


While having a simple structure may not initially seem like something to get excited about, one of the unfortunate realities of college essays is that, while you spend many hours writing and revising them, admissions officers have no choice but to read them extremely quickly, because they have so many to get through. So, you want to be sure that your readers understand what you’re saying the first time around, as if they’re confused about something, they don’t have time to  stop and figure it out.


Additionally, by mentioning a specific professor they hope to work with, the author shows they’ve done some research on how exactly Columbia will help them delve into their interest in Cancer Epidemiology. The key to successfully responding to this kind of prompt is joining your current background/interests with opportunities at the school that will help you explore them. The line “I want to journey through Cancer Epidemiology and possibly assist in her research towards breast cancer subtypes because of its prevalence in my family” accomplishes both things.


If, however, the last two sentences of the first paragraph were replaced with the vaguer “I want to journey through cancer epidemiology, and possibly learn about breast cancer subtypes because of its prevalence in my family,” the reader would still understand this student’s interest in the field, but not how that connects to their desire to attend Columbia, which would give the essay an incomplete feel.


Finally, college is more than just academics, and this student’s discussion of their non-academic interest, in a club that will help them better understand their own identity, shows they have thought comprehensively about what their life at Columbia would look like. That will in turn help admission officers create a complete picture in their minds of how this student would fit into Columbia as a whole, not just the classrooms.


What Could Be Improved 


As noted above, the author does a good job of tying the opportunities they hope to pursue at Columbia to their existing interests. That personal connection could be strengthened, however, by more details about why they are drawn to these opportunities over any others.


For example, regarding the student’s interest in cancer epidemiology, they do mention the prevalence of breast cancer in their family as their motivation for studying the topic, but that line is brief, and thus could be missed by someone who, as noted above, is reading quickly. It’s also lacking specificity, as plenty of people have familial connections to certain topics–say, Jewish history if you have an aunt who is a rabbi–and yet don’t have much interest in exploring them themselves.


The author could more concretely connect their background to their potential breast cancer research at Columbia by providing additional details about, say, a summer research program they completed, or their experience learning about genetics in their high school biology class, or a 5K race they run every year to raise money for breast cancer research. That will in turn show admissions officers what they would bring to Dr. Llanos’ lab, not just that they hope to work there in general.


This same general idea also applies to the student’s discussions of the Core and the South Asian club. The student generally references things that appeal to them about these features of Columbia, like a “holistic foundation” provided by the core, and “discover[ing]…[their] own heritage” through the club, but we don’t get any specific details explaining how their past experiences have led to them prioritizing these things in their college experience.


Specifically with regards to the Core, as you’ve probably noticed in our analysis of both this essay and the preceding two, just mentioning this feature of Columbia isn’t enough. When a school is particularly well known for one thing, like Columbia with the Core or Brown with their Open Curriculum, pretty much every applicant is going to mention it somewhere in their application. 


So, in order to set yourself apart–which is the whole point of the essay, after all–you want to make sure you’re being as detailed as possible about how your past experiences and goals for the future align with this aspect of the school. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable words, as just saying you like the Core won’t move the needle on your application.


Finally, a general word of caution when writing applications: don’t lose sight of the fact that admissions officers want to understand a student’s motivations for applying to their school, not those of their family members, or anyone else for that matter. This student both starts and finishes their essay by talking about their uncle, which makes it seem like their motivation for applying to Columbia is to make their uncle proud, rather than a personal interest in the school. 


While it’s not automatically bad to mention how someone else helped you become interested in a school, the overall focus should stay on you. In the case of this essay, that means the student shouldn’t frame the second line around their uncle “speak[ing] of the strengths of this method,” but rather around how their uncle’s introduction to Columbia led them to start researching the school themself. And at the end, the last thought in their reader’s mind should be of them at Columbia, not their uncle. So, the line “I think my uncle would love that,” should be taken out.


Essay Example 5 – Joy in Birds


Prompt: In Columbia’s admissions process, we value who you are as a unique individual, distinct from your goals and achievements. In the last words of this writing supplement, we would like you to reflect on a source of happiness. Help us get to know you further by describing the first thing that comes to mind when you consider what simply brings you joy. (35 words)


A small bird nest rests outside my doorway. Everyday at 3:40 pm, the mother bird eagerly comes home to her ecstatic children. They remind me beauty is everywhere, even in the smallest of reunions.


What the Essay Did Well


The author makes great use of the limited word space in this essay with a charming account of what brings happiness in their daily routine. Thanks to the efficient writing and simple but vivid imagery, created through strong word choices like “ecstatic” and creative phrasings like “the smallest of reunions,” this short essay reads almost like poetry.


Furthermore, the author’s description also teaches us something about who they are, which is the key to any college essay, even the short ones. The reflection “They remind me beauty is everywhere, even in the smallest of reunions” shows that the author appreciates the beauty and significance of seemingly ordinary moments, which in turn shows that they would bring both thoughtfulness and positivity to Columbia’s campus.


What Could Be Improved 


This is an incredibly strong essay, without much room for improvement. If anything, the lesson to be learned here is that usually, you eventually get to a point where your essay doesn’t need any more changes. Calling your essay “finished” can be challenging for many students, due to the overall stress of the college process and the constant feeling that you should be doing something, anything, to improve your chances of acceptance. But at some point, it’s okay to take your hands off the keyboard, be proud of the work you’ve put into the essay, and take a five-minute break to unwind 🙂


Essay Example 6 – Psychology


Prompt:  For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)


The flickering LED lights began to form into a face of a man when I focused my eyes. The man spoke a ruthless serial killer of the decade who had been arrested in 2004, and my parents shivered at his reaccounting of the case. I curiously tuned in, wondering who he was to speak of such crimes with concrete composure and knowledge. Later, he introduced himself as a profiler named Pyo Chang Won, and I watched the rest of the program by myself without realizing that my parents had left the couch.


After watching the program, I recited the foreign word until it was no longer unfamiliar”profiler”. I stayed up all-night searching the meaning; my eyes sparkled with the dim light of the monitor as I read the tales of Pyo Chang Won and his Sherlock-like stories. From predicting the future of criminals and knowing the precise vicinity of a killer on the loose, he had saved countless lives; living in communities riddled with crimes in my youth then and even now, I dreamed of working against crimes. However, the traditional path of a lawyer or a police officer only reinforced the three-step cycle of arrest, trial, and jail which continued with no fundamental changes for years; I wanted to work with the psyche of criminals beyond courts and wondered about the inner workings of the mind.


Such admiration and interest led me to invest my time in psychology. Combined with working with the likes of the Victim Witness Agency, I decided to pursue psychology as my major for my undergraduate education. Later on, I want to specialize my research and education on behavioral/forensic psychology and eventually branch out to my childhood dream of becoming a criminal profiler. 


What the Essay Did Well


A major positive of this essay is how it is focused on one moment in time. This student goes into depth about the night they first fell in love with criminal psychology which allows the reader to feel like they are there watching TV with the student and researching afterwards. Having the essay focus on a snapshot of the student’s life opens the door to include more imagery and delve into the internal monologue of the student, thus creating a more engaging and personable essay. 


The student’s genuine fascination for the topic is evident through what they show the reader. They explain that they stayed to finish the show after their parents left, they stayed up all night researching what they just learned, and their eyes sparkled the more they learned about criminal psychology. Providing all these details shows the student’s fascination and passion for this topic without them ever having to explicitly say they were excited about it. 


This essay also does a good job of expanding past the requirements of the prompt to explain what they hope to accomplish with their degree. Including their career aspirations reinforced their passion to pursue this field to admissions officers. It also demonstrated that they are a goal-oriented person who wants to make a difference in the world.


What Could Be Improved


One thing that could be improved in this essay is the grammar. There were a few sentences where there were either typos or just clunky sentences that could be tightened up. In order to catch grammatical errors, you should always give your essay to at least one other person to read. CollegeVine offers essay reviews that allows students to receive feedback on the grammar, structure, and content of their essays. It’s always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes read your essay to catch mistakes that might go unnoticed by you. Having someone review this essay would have likely helped this student fix their grammatical errors.


Essay Example 7 – Slavic Languages and Cultures


Prompt:  For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)


Steaming fruit filled knedliky, singing Czech Christmas Carols, and falling asleep to fairy tales about princesses with golden stars on their foreheads compose my earliest memories. As I grew older, I found myself exploring the streets and museums of Prague on my own and requesting less fantastical fairy tales, consisting of true stories from my parents about life under Communism. These personal experiences with Czech Language and Culture have vastly influenced my academic interests. 


Exploring the manner in which Czechia developed and understanding its intrinsic components remained an innate goal of mine. Though Czech was my first language I developed my skills further as I matured by utilizing Czech news sources and literary works. Throughout my AP English and History courses, I continually sought out both works by Czech authors and their accounts of consequential historical events, attempting to discover the common ground between these readings and those assigned in class. Through these unique means, I began unearthing the intricate history and background of the country. 


Majoring in Slavic Languages and Cultures provides ideal opportunities to develop a cross-cultural understanding of pertinent political issues while defining my identity as a Czech-American, thus fostering my innate academic passions and personal ambitions. 


What the Essay Did Well


Although this student doesn’t reveal what their intended major is until the last line, the entire essay does a great job of building a vivid picture of Czech culture and this student’s fascination with it that we almost don’t need to be told the actual major. 


The author shows how their Czech heritage has fascinated them through different stages of their life, demonstrating their maturity through the information they seek out. To show the beauty of their childhood innocence, they describe “Steaming fruit filled knedliky, singing Czech Christmas Carols, and falling asleep to fairy tales about princesses with golden stars on their foreheads.” Then, they demonstrate their interest in history by asking their parents about Communism. This fascination for history continues when they discuss searching for Czech authors in their AP classes.


Not only do we see how Czech language and culture has been an integral part of their life, but we get to see their determination and drive to develop new skills through exploring their Czech heritage. This student could have been content with speaking Czech at home, but instead they demonstrated intellectual curiosity by “utilizing Czech news sources and literary works” to go above and beyond in their studies. If this student acted on their niche passion in the confines of a high school classroom, imagine what they could do with Columbia’s resources!


What Could Be Improved


While the prompt asks you to reflect on your past experiences, for this essay to really stand out, it should have touched on the future as well. You can strengthen any “Why Major?” essay by explaining what you hope to achieve with your major post graduation. Prompts won’t always ask for this, but it’s a nice way to demonstrate you are forward-looking.


Even if there was just a phrase in the final sentence that mentioned something about how this student wants to become a Czech historian or they want to move to Czechia after graduation to reconnect with their roots, this would be enough of an addition to show admissions officers that this student is confident in both their past and future.


Essay Example 8 – Diversity


Prompt: A hallmark of the Columbia experience is being able to live and learn in a community with a wide range of perspectives. How do you or would you learn from and contribute to diverse, collaborative communities? (200 words or fewer)


Uno. Jenga. Monopoly. These were the board games I grew up with in America. But I found that the seniors at St. Theresa’s Home in Singapore did not share my enthusiasm for these pastimes (nor did they understand my elation at finally capturing Boardwalk)!


Prioritizing flexibility as a facilitator, I flipped the tables.


Pai Gow. Xiangqi. Mahjong. Initially, my team and I struggled to keep track of the countless new gameplay rules. However, I embraced the initial discomfort of this “hands-off” approach, realizing how it allowed us to transfer control to a community whose voices we wanted to amplify.


The small but crucial details, like knowing Mandarin pronunciations of game and piece names, built trust and respect and soon, we found ourselves trading stories freely, like cards.


I was initially hesitant to talk about my upbringing in a Western society and my constant struggle to define my own identity. However, I found a true sounding board in the aunties and uncles. Both sides simply wanted to hear and be heard. 


This is the knowledge I will carry into Columbia, where I hope to foster cultural discourse through safe spaces and conversations, ensuring that no one feels like a missing piece.


What the Essay Did Well


This student very creatively displays the discomfort of cultural divides and the joys of overcoming them through playing games. The parallel of listing three US board games (“Uno. Jenga. Monopoly.“) and then three Singapore games (“Pai Gow. Xiangqi. Mahjong.“) shows the reader how this student had to step outside of their comfort zone to connect with the seniors.


By explaining how it was difficult to “keep track of the countless new gameplay rules” and know the “Mandarin pronunciations of game and piece names” we understand the challenges of relating to people from a different culture that this student had to overcome. However, by describing the seniors as “aunties and uncles” and a “sounding board” for this student, it shows the level of comfort they finally established and how this student benefitted from hearing diverse perspectives.


Additionally, this essay has a strong game motif running through it that contributes to the playfulness and cohesiveness of the essay. From cracking jokes about getting the most coveted property in Monopoly, to referring to their conversation as “trading stories freely, like cards“, to concluding with the analogy of a “missing piece“, the commitment to games is a nice way to reinforce the connections they fostered.


What Could Be Improved


Something missing from this essay is an explanation of why this student was at the senior center and what they wanted to accomplish. Was this a volunteer activity they were originally hesitant to join but grew to love once they embraced the Singaporean games? They mention the seniors as “community whose voices we wanted to amplify,” so does that mean they were interviewing seniors for articles or research projects?


Although the essay still effectively answers the prompt without telling us more about why this student was at the senior center, the lack of answers can be distracting for the reader and diminishes the lasting impact of the story.


Where to Get Your Columbia University Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your Columbia University essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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