Columbia University Essay Prompts

Columbia University
Greater New York City Area

Admission Essay requirements

An essay of 250 – 500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below. 

NOTE: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges.


1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. 

2. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. 

3. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence. 

4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence. 

5. A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. 

6. Topic of your choice.

Admission essay/personal statement essay prompts

The personal essay helps university become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.

Office of Admissions Contacts

Office of Undergraduate Admissions
212 Hamilton Hall, Mail Code 2807

How this university ranks
From LinkedIn University Rankings

for Media ProfessionalsGraduate  #1
for Investment BankersUndergraduate #4
for Finance ProfessionalsUndergraduate #5
for Software DevelopersGraduate #7
for Software Developers at StartupsGraduate #7
for Software Developers at StartupsUndergraduate  #9
for Media ProfessionalsUndergraduate #12
for DesignersGraduate #20
for MarketersUndergraduate #20

Columbia University statistics (Alumni data based)

Where they live

Greater New York City Area - 70,681
San Francisco Bay Area - 6,770
Washington D.C. Metro Area - 4,857
Greater Los Angeles Area - 4,560
Greater Boston Area - 4,239

Where they work

Columbia University Medical Center - 582
Google - 514
Citi - 503
Goldman Sachs - 471
Morgan Stanley - 454

What they do

Education - 16,079
Research - 13,027
Media and Communication - 11,779
Entrepreneurship - 9,970
Healthcare Services - 8,640
Finance - 7,654
Consulting - 7,437
Engineering - 6,563

What they studied

Economics - 13,508
Political Science and Government - 9,579
Psychology - 8,532
History - 7,394
English Language and Literature/Letters - 7,207
Computer Science - 5,915
Finance, General - 5,643
Mathematics - 5,215

What they’re skilled at

Research - 33,127
Public Speaking - 24,466
Microsoft Office - 22,259
Social Media - 19,163
Editing - 18,183
Management - 17,928
Leadership - 17,648
Microsoft Excel - 17,161

Notable alumni


EricEric Cantor

Majority Leader at U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman at U.S. House of Representatives
Republican Whip at U.S. House of Representatives
M.S., Real Estate Development




JohnJohn Oringer

Founder/CEO Shutterstock Images
Founder & CEO at Shutterstock Images
Founder/CEO at SurfSecret Software
MS, Computer Science

1996 – 1998


ParksKenneth Parks

Digital Media Executive | Executive Chairman, Pluto TV 
Attorney at Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP●Advisor at Recorded Future, 8 Tracks, Threadless
Development Engineer at AT&T Microelectronics
J.D., Law

1989 – 1992


HaririRobert Hariri, MD, PhD

Chairman and Founder, Cellular Therapeutics Division at Celgene
Co-founder & Vice Chairman at Human Longevity
Associate Professor of Surgery at Cornell University Medical College
Co-founder & Vice Chairman at Human Longevity
A.B., Biological Anthropology

1976 – 1980


 Columbia University Recommendations to apply

Columbia: center of excellence with global outlook
Tradition and modernity combines to foster intellectual, human and ethical growth of an elite that are and will be responsible to deliver a better world, a much better world to the next generation.


Jose Antonio Alves

SilvaDiretor Recursos Humanos
Diretor Recursos Humanos
2013, Executive Development Program




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