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)

How to Write the “Why Columbia” Supplemental Essay

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.


What’s Covered:



This post will address how to write Columbia’s fourth supplemental essay about why you’re interested in attending Columbia.


This prompt encourages you to consider the aspects you find unique and compelling about Columbia. The most important word in this prompt is unique. The best essays written in response to this question give a compelling reason why you want to attend this school specifically. Below are 5 tips to follow when drafting your essay. 


1. Do Your Research


You have to do your research for this prompt. You can’t just say Columbia is an awesome school and it’s an Ivy league school and it’s in New York. These points are easy turnoffs. Don’t mention New York City. There are plenty of schools in NYC; this is not why Columbia is unique.  


Instead you want to focus on what in particular about Columbia appeals to you. Is there a specific professor whose research is related to your academic interests? Is there a unique club or activity that you are passionate about joining? Are there special programs at Columbia that align with your career goals? Things like this are much more compelling for an admissions officer to hear, and they tell the committee more about who you are as an applicant.


2. Discuss How You Will Contribute to the Columbia Community 


A great essay speaks to both individual experiences and activities you’re excited to pursue on campus. It should also demonstrate how you relate to the campus culture and why you find that attractive.


This goes back to the idea that Columbia is really looking for students who are going to be energetic members of their community. Including specific details here is always a good idea. Columbia’s admissions officers want to understand how you will fit into their student body and be active on campus. 


3. Don’t Talk About Generic Features


You want to avoid talking about generic features like location and things that are shared by many colleges. For example, every college has a gym and every college has an alumni network. You want to highlight things that are unique or different about Columbia. 


Because there are many competitive applicants to Columbia, this essay prompt can be a real danger or give you a leg up! It’s one of the real big ways you can differentiate yourself. If you highlight the fact that you have really done your research by including specifics about Columbia’s curriculum, community, or offerings, you will set yourself apart from other applicants.


4. Speak with Current Students for Inspiration


A great way to learn about unique aspects of Columbia is by talking to current students. You can get a perspective that is a little bit more textured and qualitative than what you would read about online.


One way to find current Columbia students is through your own personal network; however, if this is not an option you can reach out to your school counselor and see if they know any alumni who went to Columbia. 


You can also contact a Marketplace expert from Columbia or attend a virtual panel with current Columbia students to learn more about why Columbia is unique. 


5. Don’t Answer Other Prompts 


You could write about career aspirations and unique associated opportunities, but these topics line up better with other essay prompts. You certainly don’t want to get too deep into academics because you want to have material left over for your intended major essay.


Keep these 5 tips in mind when writing your “Why Columbia” essay to differentiate yourself from other applicants.