How to Respond to Columbia’s Second List Prompt
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Joseph Recupero in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.
- Mix Academic and Personal Interests
- Be Specific
- Balance Out Your Profile
- Give Small Explanations
- Be Human
This post goes over tips for responding to Columbia University’s second list question:
We’re interested in learning about some of the ways that you explore your interests. List some resources and outlets that you enjoy, including but not limited to websites, publications, journals, podcasts, social media accounts, lectures, museums, movies, music, or other content with which you regularly engage. (125 words or fewer)
In this prompt you’re asked to expand upon the other forms of media you consume beyond reading traditional books. It can be everything from publications, journals, and websites to podcasts or social media accounts, lectures, museums, movies, music, etc. Basically this prompt lets you share who you are as a human and how you spend your time outside of school.
Like in the first list prompt, you’ll want to include a mix of one to two serious items and one or two items that are fun. Similarly to an effective tactic for the first list prompt, subverting expectations can be used to catch the admission officer’s eye and make a memorable impression. You can showcase something that doesn’t quite line up with the rest of your profile when it comes to your academics or your resume.
For example, if you have a very serious economics focused profile and you cite a podcast that is all about Broadway musicals, this just might get the admissions officer to stop, think about your response a second longer than they normally would, and remember you!
As the prompt indicates, Columbia admissions officers are looking for the particular resources and outlets that you enjoy. Simply writing that you enjoy all movies of a specific genre or enjoy most podcasts wouldn’t tell the reader enough about you. For example, there is a lot of value in writing about specific exhibits that you’ve gone out of your way to see versus just citing the Museum of Natural History. This shows that you do have a very specific interest that you want to share and express through this essay. Also, it makes your answer more truthful because anyone can say they love the Museum of Natural History. Citing a specific exhibit shows your knowledge.
Another example is writing about the first Boeing 707 at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in D.C. This demonstrates a specific interest in aviation beyond just a general interest in planes.
This prompt is an opportunity to round out your profile. For example, if your application has focused heavily on your interest in STEM, this is an opportunity to show your other interests to demonstrate you will thrive in a multidisciplinary academic environment.
Because Columbia is a liberal arts college, admissions officers are looking for candidates who are well-rounded and intellectually curious students. You can use your response to this prompt to highlight your love of learning and round out a theme or area of interest that is not as developed throughout your application.
Because the word count is a bit larger than for the first list prompt, you can decide to add a very small explanation if you feel your choice won’t be recognized by all readers. For example, if there’s a specific podcast that has a quirky name, you can provide a brief explanation of what topics the podcast covers.
As you’re applying to college, you shouldn’t let this process take over every single aspect of your life. This is great general advice for your high school and college years: take the time to develop interests outside of academics and find hobbies that truly make you happy.
When you have passions outside of school that enrich your life, answering this prompt will come naturally and you’ll be able to let your personality shine through. Never forget that on the other side of the college admissions process, there is another human being who is reviewing your application and making a decision based on a limited amount of information. Showcasing your personality in your supplements will increase the chances of your admissions officers connecting with your application.