The Columbia University first-year class of College and Engineering students is chosen from a large and diverse group of applicants. In the process of selection, the Committee on Admissions asks questions about each applicant's academic potential, intellectual strength and ability to think independently. The Committee also considers the general attitudes and character of the applicant, special abilities and interests, maturity, motivation, curiosity and whether he or she is likely to make productive use of the four years at Columbia. In its final selection, Columbia seeks diversity of personalities, achievements and talents, and of economic, social, ethnic, racial and geographic backgrounds. Each applicant's academic record is examined, together with reports on personal qualities that have been supplied by the principal, headmaster or counselor and by teachers. The student's record of participation in the life of his or her school and community is also important, as is his or her performance on standardized tests.
What criteria are used for admissions decisions?
Are my chances for admission greater if I apply Early Decision?
Although a larger percentage of the Early Decision applicant pool is admitted than of the Regular Decision pool, that higher acceptance rate reflects the remarkable strength of a self-selected group of applicants. A candidate to whom we otherwise would not offer admission is not going to be accepted simply because he or she applied under the Early Decision program.
We strongly urge you to apply under the Early Decision program if and only if Columbia is your first choice.
Are my chances for admission greater if I attend a summer program or program for high school students on the Columbia campus?
Not necessarily. Although we recommend that all applicants whenever possible spend some time on campus before applying, applicants who have attended a program on the Columbia campus are not given automatic preference in the admissions process.
For more information on summer programs at Columbia, please visit the High School Programs website.
Does Columbia allow early admission for high school juniors?
Early admission is occasionally granted to students of special promise who are completing the junior year of secondary/high school and who meet the following requirements:
- an outstanding academic record
- the physical, intellectual and emotional maturity to handle the rigorous program at Columbia
- the graduation requirements of their secondary/high schools.
Applicants for early admission should follow the normal procedure in applying, but should indicate they are applying for early admission under the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application or Coalition Application.
Does Columbia have a waitlist?
Columbia places extremely compelling candidates on a waitlist to be considered for admission if spots in the entering class become available. Every year, the number of spots that become available is different.
We do not rank our waiting list, and all candidates are re-considered for admission if spaces do become available. We encourage students to submit an additional one-page statement expressing interest in the waitlist, but do not encourage the submission of additional letters of recommendation.