Columbia is a jazz standard. Walking around on campus, I was overwhelmed

     by the elements I adore in Stan Getz, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.  

     One isalways conscious of the cerebral nature of their art, but one 

     feels their music --the swing, the texture and the soul.

     From an application for admission, 1995

Countdown to the thick envelope.
Admission to Columbia is highly selective. When we choose students for entrance, we look for candidates who show past academic achievement and future promise, intellectual curiosity and creativity and the ability to think independently. We focus not only on academic distinction but also on extracurricular accomplishments and breadth of interest. We also look for special talents and for personal qualities such as motivation, maturity, integrity, tolerance, leadership and compassion.

Our goal is to assemble a class of students who come from a variety of geographic, economic, social and ethnic backgrounds and who bring with them different ideas and different ambitions -- students who, during their four years at Columbia, will contribute to the university community and benefit enormously from each other's experiences and perspectives.

Recommended preparation. Columbia doesn't require a minimum score on a standardized test or a specific number of high school courses. However, you must present evidence that you're ready to handle a demanding college curriculum. We recommend the following secondary school preparation:

For Columbia College. Four years of English, with extensive writing practice; three years or more of mathematics; three years of one foreign language (ancient or modern); three, but preferably four, years of social science; and three years or more of laboratory science. If you're interested in science or medicine, you should study as much mathematics and science (especially chemistry and physics) as your school offers.

For the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Four years of mathematics through calculus; three years or more of science, including physics and chemistry; four years of English; and three years or more of social science. We give preference to students who have take Advanced Placement Math and Advanced Placement Chemistry and/or Physics.

Special circumstances. We recognize that secondary schools vary in offerings and standards, and you can be assured that we'll evaluate your application in the context of your background and community. In addition, I your preparation has differed from the recommended courses but you have taken good advantage of the opportunities available to you, we'll take that into account as we consider your application.

Early decision on admission. You may apply for early decision on your application for admission to Columbia College or the School of Engineering and Applied Science if Columbia is your first choice and if we receive your completed application by November 1. (Be sure to take your standardized tests no later than the October test date in order for your scores to reach us in time for early decision consideration.) In mid-December, we'll notify you of your acceptance, denial, or deferral to regular decision status. If you're admitted under the early decision plan, you'll be obliged to accept Columbia's offer of admission. You must then withdraw you application at other colleges.

Joint-degree program. Each year a number of students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science opt for a special 4-1 program offered in cooperation with Columbia College. If you pursue this program, you'll study for four years in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and then for a fifth year in Columbia College. After five years of study, you'll graduate with a Bachelors of Science degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Similarly, if you begin your studies in Columbia College you may pursue a special 3-2 option, studying for three years in Columbia College and then for two years in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Again, after five years of study you'll graduate with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science.

The Juilliard program. Two programs afford highly gifted music students access to instrumental and voice instruction at the Juilliard School. The first is a program that permits cross-registration for study with members of the Juilliard faculty. The second is a five-year joint-degree program that leads to a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degree. Both programs require successful application to Juilliard and an audition.

Application deadlines. To help us give your application the full measure of attention it deserves, please abide by these important deadlines:

First-year applicants: You may apply at any time after September 1 but your application must be postmarked not later than January 1. If you plan to apply for early decision, your application must be postmarked not later than November 1. First-year students enter Columbia only in September.

Transfer applicants: Prospective transfer students may apply (for autumn admission only) to either Columbia College or the School of Engineering and Applied Science. You must submit your completed applications by April 1. Please call the Admissions Office for a transfer application.

International students. Columbia welcomes candidates from all over the world, regardless of citizenship. Please understand, however, that very limited financial aid is available for students who are neither United States citizens nor permanent residents and that the Committee on Admissions cannot be need-blind in considering such applications. Columbia reserves the right not to waive the application fee for students applying from outside the United States.

If English has not been your primary language of instruction for at least five years, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam and request that your scores be reported directly to Columbia. The minimum acceptable score is 600.

If you aren't a United States citizen or a permanent resident, of if you're applying from outside the United States, be sure to read the Application Instructions for Foreign and International Candidates in the application booklet before you fill out your application.

Financial aid. Columbia admits students solely on the basis of academic, personal and extracurricular merit and without regard to need. Both Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science welcome financial aid applications from all candidates who believe they require such assistance.

At present, more than half of all enrolled students receive some aid (grant, loan or job) from Columbia or outside sources. Financial aid is awarded strictly on the basis of demonstrated need, and we make every effort to help all admitted students and their families find the means to meet the cost of a Columbia education.

Frankly, we're not looking for

students who expect to sit in 

the back of the class without 

contributing to the discussion.  

We're looking for students 

who will ask questions that 

make other people say, "What? 

Wait a minute!"  Active 

participation is what 

Columbia is all about.
     New York City. The Alma Mater statue.  The library.  The energy.  On 
     the tour some scruffy graduate student leaning against a wall said, "You 
     looking at Columbia?" Then, thumbs up, reverent tone: "It's a great school, 
     man. A great school."  Academic reputation.  Core Curriculum.  Jack Kerouac.

     From an application for admission, 1995

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last modified: January 15, 1997
Chris Gwiazda, College Web Manager, [email protected]