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How To Write The Equity and Inclusion Essay for Columbia

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara and Joseph Recuperon in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



What is the Prompt Asking?


The difficult piece about Columbia’s Essay Questions is that they have multi-part prompts where there are a couple of different things you’re being asked to address using a few words; some students may find this difficult to handle. 


Columbia’s Equity and Inclusion Essay prompt reads as follows: 


A hallmark of the Columbia experience is being able to learn and thrive in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives. Tell us about an aspect of your own perspective, viewpoint or lived experience that is important to you, and describe how it has shaped the way you would learn from and contribute to Columbia’s diverse and collaborative community. (200 words)

This prompt has three important aspects that must be covered in a short 200 words:

  1. Talk about an aspect of a unique perspective or lived experience 
  2. Describe how it has shaped the way you learn 
  3. Connect the two points above to how they will assist you in being a positive contribution to Columbia’s collaborative community 


It is critical that you answer all three parts of the question for your essay to seriously be taken into consideration. One benefit to the prompt being phrased in this way is that it provides you with an outline for your essay. As you are brainstorming for this essay, you can test each topic against these three points. If a topic does not address all three points, you may want to consider other ideas for your response. 


Share Your Unique Perspective


Finding Perspective


Your perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion sets the tone for your entire essay. It’s important to note that the essay does not have to be about demographic diversity. Diversity encompasses a range of differences, including but not limited to: race, gender identity, national origin, disability, socioeconomic status, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and many more. 


Diversity in this essay is about anything that offers a differing perspective. As the prompt asks,  “Tell us about an aspect of your own perspective, viewpoint, or lived experience that is important to you.” The most important facet of this prompt is sharing that unique perspective you would bring to the table as a Columbia student. How do you view the world and what brought about this way of thinking? 


Where to Start


A great place to start if you’re stuck is to think about a difficult situation, or even a situation in which you felt you viewed something differently than your peers or those around you. Think about something that makes you unique.


For instance, one student who worked with one of our experts wrote a really interesting essay for this prompt; it was about being diagnosed with ADHD and slight autism. The student realized that hugs meant something very different to them than they did to their peers. The student then worked that perspective into the idea of community engagement at Columbia and how that would show collaboration. 


This essay really is about sharing a different perspective, so make sure to think deeply and reflect on your personal experiences.


Discuss How You Will Positively Contribute to Columbia’s Community


Columbia is trying to understand how you will be a positive contributor and add to a unique perspective of the campus community. Be careful not to say general phrases such as, “I’m going to bring this to Columbia.” Instead, tie whatever you are discussing to something Columbia already has or is working to improve in their community.


There are plenty of initiatives in the works at Columbia right now, as with any university, and they discuss many of these on their websites or you can speak with professors and current students to learn about them. 


Make sure that your response ties the perspective you will bring to something that is specific to Columbia. An ideal essay addresses how your unique perspective will contribute to the diversity, equity, inclusion, and continued growth of the university and your specific entering class.