How To Get Into Columbia

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Your dorm room during that month you were a “DJ”

Ever wonder what Columbia University admissions officers are looking for in your application essay? Wonder no more!

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Columbia Class of 2017 Post Their Application Essays, Say The Darndest Things

For many people, the college essay is the hardest part of their application, as they seek to define themselves in 500 words or less for a faceless committee of admissions officers. The Columbia Class of 2017, though, has given us an inside look at what exactly it takes to be part of the 6.89 percent to win entry to the school this year. A tipster recently directed us to a Google Drive folder in which newly admitted Columbians are posting their application essays for their peers to see. And, thankfully, they left it public.

Topics range from the deeply personal, to the seemingly mundane, to the blatantly ridiculous. We’ve included a list of some of the more notable entries below; feel free to categorize them yourself:

  • The sub-prime mortgage crisis, told as a tortoise and hare allegory (“There are regulators at every mile to ensure the hare plays by the rules established by the Security Enforcement Commission.”)
  • Sketching a nude model for the first time (“As the model stepped out of her robe, I felt unsettled and self-conscious. I was scared. Where was I supposed to look? Was I ready for this?”)
  • Arrested Development getting renewed (“So ‘Arrested Development’ is the epitome of all things—good, bad, or ironic—coming to inevitable conclusions.”)
  • Imagining literary lunch dates with fictional characters (“Generally, my peers don’t understand my compulsion to inhabit the worlds I read, or my overactive imagination’s ability to project those worlds into its own reality.”)

However, some of the essays deserve a closer examination. Here are our personal favorites:

The IvyGate award for “Most Original Essay (For Better Or Worse)” goes to a mock script of a conversation between the applicant, musical theater heavyweight Oscar Hammerstein II (Columbia Class of 1919), and composer Tom Kitt (Columbia Class of 1996). The alums lead our author on a journey of self-discovery as he finds that, yes, he should pursue his dreams and doggone it, people like him. Here are the opening lines, which subtly set the scene for the author’s insecurity:

Hammerstein: Ok, kid. You’ve seen the school. Now what?
Noah: (HE knew this was coming) I—I really don’t know…Major in Drama and
Psychology or choose something safe…Economics?
Kitt: (Bombastic as always) Oh cut the crap, why don’t ya? You worked your ass off for years to get to this point, and now you finally have; if you get in, you’d have all the resources you could possibly want—
Noah: (Frantically) BUT, I don’t know how to use them. I don’t know how to use them or what to do with them. Musical Theater is my life; I love it more than anything else I’ve ever done. To be up on the stage—the songs—the emotion…but as a career?
Hammerstein: Kid, breathe. Pursue it.
Noah: But that’s easier said than done! It’s just so—so…
Kitt: (Like the Hindenburg, exploding) Christ! SPIT IT OUT!
Noah: …Hard. Read the rest of this entry »

Citing Storm, All Ivies Extend Early Admissions Deadline

Overachieving high school seniors affected by Hurricane Sandy need not fret, as all eight Ivy League admissions offices announced extensions to their early deadlines (originally November 1). So now, instead of worrying about the perfect ending to your personal essay, please go find shelter and clean water.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the new and improved early admissions deadlines:

  • Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Yale will accept applications until November 5.
  • Penn will accept applications until November 6.
  • Brown will accept applications until November 7.
  • Harvard and Princeton will accept late applications without deadline, provided there is a legitimate explanation included.

JFK Was Kind of a Dunce on His Harvard Application

Sometimes you’ll be sitting in class with the daughter of a famous politician, and she’ll open her mouth to say something about geopolitics, and what will come out instead is her theory that there must be oil reserves at the Jersey Shore because everyone there is so tan. At those times you may innocently wonder, Jesus Christ on a fucking unicycle, how do these people get into Ivy League schools? Do they even fill out applications? And you’d be right to ask such a thing, because judging from a recent article in the New York Times, American royalty doesn’t need to apply to schools anymore to get accepted to them.

But lo, this was not always so! The Crimson’s FlyByBlog reports that the college application of John F. Kennedy, a Harvard graduate in 1940, has been posted online for the world to peruse. Granted, the Kennedys weren’t quite the social crème-de-la-crème that he eventually made them, but they were still the sort of people who’d be allowed to touch the Gutenberg if they asked. Behold: genuine proof that in 1935, even big fish had to submit college applications!

But they could still have bottom-feeder grades, apparently. His average was a 68, with particularly poor grades in French and Latin. His school principal certainly wasn’t oozing with praise in his letter to Harvard:

Jack has rather superior mental ability without the deep interest in his studies or the mature viewpoint that demands of him his best effort all the time. He can be relied upon to do enough to pass.

That might have been tender enough in 1935, but today it sounds like a libel suit waiting to happen. Kennedy didn’t do much to make a case for himself, either:

The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I felt that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

Harvard is full of definite somethings, that’s for sure. But Kennedy’s application really skimps on smarmy, sycophantic adjective-dropping, a sure sign that he has no idea what he’s talking about. This shit would never pass muster on the Common App. Not to mention the fact that he sounds more eager to own an embossed Harvard money clip than he does to have a Harvard education–although that’s pretty much true for all Harvard students, so pass.

Imagine if that turned up in a college admissions box this year, when the number of Harvard applicants rose to a whopping 35,000. Guess it’s a good thing the Kennedys just have to make phone calls today.

Crazed Ivy League Wannabes Publish Terrifying Blog About Harvard

Duck and cover, folks: early decision letters are dropping like bombs this week over the homes of high schoolers. Or at least, they are for the Ivy League schools that haven’t abolished ED in the name of making their applicants salivate especially hard fairness. Penn, which released its decisions last Friday, is already reporting a drop in admit rates from 31 to 26 percent. High school students must be getting desperate.

But no one’s as desperate as the two girls responsible for the blog Harvard, Please. We’ll leave their names out of it, but they’re as rabid about getting into Harvard as most teenage girls are about Justin Bieber’s hair. They’ve also discovered Tumblr, which honestly seems to exist solely to channel the manic panics of hormonal teenyboppers. The upshot is a cultlike stream of love letters, Dear Santas, and Mariah Carey reduxes–all of them glorifying the Harvard Quidditch team and the shoe of the John Harvard statue that everybody pees on.

There are really no words to describe it, but we’ll do our best. A few frightening details after the jump.

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