College Admissions Info

Columbia University ‘20

Profile Overview

Profile contains
  • Test Scores
  • High School Performance
  • Extracurriculars & Awards
  • Personal statement
  • 9 supplemental essays
  • 15 advice topics

Student Background

Midwestern kid who loves molecular biology and electronic dance music. Let me help you edit your essays!
From: New Albany , Ohio
Gender: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White Non-Hispanic
Legacy: No, Grandparent
Admission: Regular Decision
Applied To: 15+ schools
Accepted At: Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Rice, UMich, UCLA, UNC, UT Austin, Washington, Ohio State, UCSD
Denied At:
Waitlisted At:
Is English First Language: Yes
Other Language(s) Spoken: Spanish

Test Scores

Highest SAT: 2190
Other SAT Scores:
SAT Prep:
Highest ACT:
Other ACT Scores:
ACT Prep:
PSAT Scores:

High School Performance

Top 5%
High School Type: Other Private
AP / IB Classes and Scores:
Academic Performance in High School: Steady

Extracurriculars & Awards

Sports: Squash
Extracurricular Activities: Debate Club/Team, Model Congress / Model UN, Chess, Science Club/Team, School Jazz / Orchestra
How Spent Summers:
Awards Received:
Application Additional Materials:

College Application Essays

Personal Statement: Failure experience
655 Words
Palms, Passes, and PCR They say the only rule of magic is to never tell the audience the secret of the trick. But Wu never cared about rules. "There," he says, his eyes holding a roguish glint, "is that your card?" Disbelief is supposedly a mental state. Yet for me it manifests physically. Shivers trace the slope of my shoulders, up my neck, to my cheeks. The room is suddenly warm, and I can feel my face flushing. My reality...

Supplemental Essay: Strong beliefs/principles
383 Words
Dartmouth Essay: The timer buzzes insistently, signaling my turn to speak. What can I say? Silence. Nothing. "Do you need more prep-time?" drawls the judge, who is perched coolly on the desk across from me. Finally, I let my voice fill the silence. "Judge, my opponents — they — you — they're arguing that — um —" I'm incoherent. I stop, consumed by the failure of the moment. As a dedicated news junkie, I had initially imagined debate to be a contest of raw volume....

Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
299 Words
Columbia Essay: I want to devote my life to solving problems. At Columbia, I see a community uniquely committed to the challenge. I love Columbia's dedication to undergraduate research. I hope to find my spot among the 400 research positions reserved just for undergraduates. I would love to engage in research in a SURF program to pursue a deeper understanding of biology. In particular, I hope to work with the researchers at the Department of Systems Biology. The Department's High-Throughput Molecular...

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
94 Words
Favorite Films, Shows, and Musical Artists: Films Mad Max: Fury Road; Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens; Inside Out; The Theory of Everything Live Concerts The Glass Animals, Matt and Kim, Bear Hands, Civil Twilight, Cake Shows The Great War, The Late Show, The Daily Show Musical Artists Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, Grouplove, ODESZA, Rizzle Kicks, Mura Masa, Vicetone, Thomas Hayden, Big Gigantic, PHANTOGRAM, Duke Dumont, Klangkarussell, Electric Mantis, Point Point, Nora En Pure, Bondax, Mark...

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
92 Words
Most Commonly Read Sources: Newspapers/News Sources The New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, BBC, The Washington Post, Reuters, PBS, Bloomberg News, The Atlantic, CNN, The Economist Websites Reddit (; StumbleUpon (; Quora (; The Onion (; Medium (; Marginal Revolution (; A List Apart (; Ars Technica ( Magazines/Journals Wired, Scientific American, New Scientist,...

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
46 Words
Favorite Books: Foundation and Earth, Isaac Asimov; Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond; Collapse, Jared Diamond; Genome, Matt Ridley; The Martian, Andy Weir; Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman; The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
119 Words
Assigned Reading in the Past Year: Short Stories "The Gilded Six-Bits," Zora Neale Hurston; "How John Boscoe Outsung the Devil," Arthur P. Davis; "Exodus," James Baldwin; "The Goophered Grapevine," Charles Waddell Chesnutt; "Truant," Claude McKay; "The City of Refuge," Rudolph Fisher; "The Lynching of Jube Benson," Paul Lawrence Dunbar Anthologies A Century of the Best African American Short Stories, edited by John Henrik Clarke; The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, edited by Arnold Rampersad Books What Was African American Literature?,...

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
306 Words
What draws you to the fields you listed? Entering kindergarten, I insisted (to my parents' great amusement) on donning a white lab coat as often as possible. At the time, of course, I had difficulty articulating exactly why, at five years old, I was certain that I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Today, though I'm less precisely sure of that career choice, I still find biology fascinating. I'm rapt by its mysteries, its complexities; its harrowing diseases, its triumphs of...

Supplemental Essay: “Why us” school essay
625 Words
Cornell Essay: I've spent much of my time in high school at the lab bench. Initially, my experience was driven entirely by intense curiosity. Something as complex as liver cancer cell signaling naturally pulls me in. It's an incredible challenge. I feel obligated to continue probing, searching, fighting for a deeper answer. Yet week after week, as I worked the cancer cells in my hands, I began to feel an intuition for the awful potential of these tiny enigmas. Cancer...

Supplemental Essay: Unique question posed by school
375 Words
UC Berkeley: When I was younger, my parents read a book to me every night. We cycled through the bookshelf every couple of weeks, but we always returned to the books with the yellow covers, now warped by repeated use: Curious George. The plot of each book is mostly identical. George is an unruly, lovable monkey who grows curious, does something mischievous, and gets in trouble. Yet, somehow, he usually emerges a hero. In "Curious George Goes to the Hospital,"...

Additional Essay Details:
21 Words
I submitted a research supplement (just an abstract) to Columbia, with an explanation of what my role was in the project.

College Admissions Advice

What might make for a good “Why Us” essay topic at my school
142 Words
Be as specific as possible!!!! I can't stress this enough. These schools want to know why you want to attend there, not why you want to attend "generic good school." It's key to find very specific reasons you are attracted to a school (for me it was research centers/institutes and programs, and/or debate programs, sometimes a business program...

Recommended summer activities during high school and college
133 Words
RESEARCH! The only reason I got in where I did was my research experience. Research also broadens your perspective and exposes you to the world of academia. Universities want researchers because they possess the values that indicate tenacity, critical thinking, and so forth. I think camps tend to not be so important, but if you can do research in the...

Why I ultimately chose my school
80 Words
Columbia's research prowess is really fantastic. But the most important thing to me is the fact that the student body is so diverse and so interesting in so many interests. This is extremely important to me, because the student body is ultimately whom I will learn from, not necessarily the faculty. All the top colleges have excellent faculty in spades,...

What I’d change about my application process
61 Words
I would have FINISHED my essays much earlier. I had a tendency to start the essays right away with a fit of inspiration, then go on to other things. When I finally sat down to finish them up, I had spent clearly too long delaying the process, such that I submitted a lot of my apps at the last possible...

Whether I used a private admissions counselor, and advice I received
23 Words
I did not use a private admissions officer. However, I did solicit advice from, which is a great resource.

List of schools I interviewed with and my interview experience
149 Words
I interviewed at Yale, Penn, Brown and Dartmouth. All of my interviews were a little bit stiff, perhaps with the exception of the Brown interview. I would say that my having done very extensive research about the SPECIFIC perks of each college (residential colleges at Yale, the special academic calendar at Dartmouth, etc.) that most appealed to me showed clear,...

Why I declined other schools
119 Words
I have a lot of relatives (cousins; I was not an immediate-family legacy) who have recently attended Columbia. I I think they will be able to offer me guidance, and their families are wonderful people whom I would love to be closer to. I cannot say this is true for the other schools I was admitted to. Also, I felt...

My advice about getting recommenders
58 Words
Find teachers who KNOW YOU, not just teachers you think are the ones colleges necessarily want to see. If you can manage to find a science/STEM teacher and a humanities teacher, to indicate a well-rounded education. But if you can't manage that, don't sweat it. Finding teachers who will advocate for you should be your first priority.

What set me apart from other applicants
89 Words
I'm certain it was my research experience and the abstract I submitted that clearly set me apart from other teachers. My research was objectively extremely strong, and is something I indicated that I planned to continue if admitted. In fact, I wrote extensively (check in my Why Columbia essay) about how important it was to me to continue trying to...

How I chose schools to apply to
75 Words
For me, it was all about resources and research. I wanted a school with enough resources to support whatever I decide to do. It was also about research. I needed a school with a legacy of research. This narrowed down the list pretty well. Beyond that, I decided to apply to a lot of top schools. I believed that I...

How to increase chances at my school
145 Words
I believe that what Columbia is looking for is for students who 1) get things done, and 2) bring something to the community. In other words, it's very important to indicate through your essays that you care about the work you produce, the organizations you are a part of, and your community. Because ultimately you must function within a larger universe of...

What I like about my school’s location and culture
137 Words
The culture at Columbia is remarkably collaborative, which is a nice change of pace from some of my experience in high school. Yes, some students are cagey, but on the whole, most students are happy to collaborate and share their experiences. There's a genuine excitement and thirst for knowledge that is encouraged and facilitated by the world-class faculty we have...

Most popular extracurricular activities at my college
151 Words
Many students choose to participate in debate (parliamentary), although you honestly will rarely see these people be outspoken about the activity. The newspaper (the Spectator) is extremely popular, although many folks joke about how time-consuming it can be. There are also many financial student organizations (CFIG, CIBD, The Economics Society) to which students subscribe. It's a very economics/finance heavy...

What I’d change about my school if I were student body president
130 Words
I would make events management far easier. This is my #1 complaint about Columbia. If I'm a part of a club, and I want to make an event happen, by FAR the biggest bottleneck is trying to book space for it. It's really tricky to book space in a sustainable way, because it is so scarce on campus and so many...

My favorite course thus far, and why
69 Words
My favorite course so far at Columbia would probably be my Data Structures course. The professor is genuinely very funny, he has a booming voice (I'm not sure he even uses the microphone they provide him to announce himself to the large lecture hall) and he is exceedingly approaching and knowledgeable about the topic. It's a relatively standard course, but...