A Message for Prospective Students - Fall 2021

We know your college search and application process right now looks very different from traditional cycles and that you may have some questions. We hope the information gathered here provides you with some reassurance and guidance.

College Exploration

In a typical year, we encourage prospective applicants to visit our campus to get a feel for our community. However, this is not a typical year, and we are committed to retaining a robust assortment of resources for students who are interested in learning about Columbia. In addition to our limited-capacity, fully-outdoors campus tours, we offer a variety of live virtual programming to introduce you to the hallmarks of the Columbia undergraduate experience from wherever you may be in the world. We hope this will help you determine if Columbia would be a good fit for you.

College Applications

The Common Application and the Coalition Application for Fall 2022 admission are now live for first-year applicants. Please note that Columbia does not prefer one application over the other; applicants should only start and submit one complete application. Detailed application instructions, including deadlines, policies, and how to access the Common Application and the Coalition Application, can be found on our website. We encourage you to become familiar with our application instructionsspecific application questionsclass profile, and our holistic review process as you begin working on your application materials. Transfer applicants should use the Coalition Application.

Academic Experience

Academic decisions about grading and transcripts are at the discretion of individual school systems and students. If and when students have the option to uncover grades, Columbia would prefer - but does not require - that students have them uncovered and submitted with their application. If there are extenuating circumstances or context around a student’s grades or performance, that information would be appreciated in the school profile or counselor recommendation.

Teacher Recommendation Letters

We will be able to provide flexibility if you are only able to obtain one teacher recommendation letter due to extenuating circumstances or disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Affected students are required to email us at ugrad-ask@columbia.edu to provide more information regarding their circumstances.

Extracurricular Activities and Summer Pursuits

We understand that disruptions due to this crisis have almost certainly altered the trajectory of your extracurricular, athletic, artistic and other pursuits. Just as your high school experience and college search process is different, we know that college applications this year and beyond will likely look different than they have in the past, and we will review your application within this context. We invite you to provide any additional context that you may feel is necessary to help us fully understand your extracurricular experiences - including variations in hours per week spent on an activity, changes in responsibilities and other important shifts - in the Additional Information section of your application.


We remain committed to our holistic and contextual review process that considers the individual circumstances that shape each applicant's journey. Due to widespread disruptions in access to standardized testing, Columbia will remain test-optional for the 2021-2022 application cycle, as well as the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 cycles. Students are at no disadvantage in our process if they do not submit scores from these tests. 

Financial Aid

Columbia remains committed to our need-based financial aid program, which seeks to ensure that students from all backgrounds can attend Columbia. We cover the full demonstrated need of all admitted first-year applicants for all four years of study and do so without loans. Anticipate your college costs with Columbia's MyinTuition Quick College Cost Estimator, which can also help you estimate your eligibility for need-based scholarships. We understand that the past year has had a significant impact on the finances of many families, and we encourage applicants and their families to reach out to Financial Aid and Educational Financing directly for questions about eligibility, appeals and any other financial aid related questions.

Deadline Flexibility

We want to assure students who are encountering extenuating circumstances -- such as community and personal disruptions, wildfires, hurricanes and other natural disasters -- that we can provide flexibility with the application deadline.

Lastly, and most importantly, the Columbia community urges you to stay healthy and safe. We are thinking of you all and look forward to getting to know you over the coming months or years.