Being a Navy Veteran, do I have a good shot at being accepted into Columbia?

I currently have a 3.45 GPA. I attended University of Michigan-Dearborn last year and received a 3.2 GPA. I took some difficult classes including economics, political analysis, and sociology. Afterwards, I took summer classes at a community college (bio, environmental science, stats, composition) and received a 4.0 GPA. During my time in the Navy, I was stationed in Japan and had the opportunity to experience many different cultures. I traveled all over Asia and Australia. I am working with a wonderful program, which is known as “service 2 school”, to assist me with my essays and overall application. Do I have a good shot at being admitted to this elite institution, given my veteran status?

No, not really, and do you really want to attend a school where most students would have a 4.0 at UM-D? Veterans will get a preference as a non traditional student but most are coming from community colleges and have shown a strong academic aptitude. They can see that you are already attending a 4 yr school and really don’t have a solid reason to transfer. Still if you don’t try it, you have zero chance, so go for it.

Most veterans start at a CC then they transfer to a four year. I would suggest this route.

You have a great shot. Veteran status gives you a giant boost to admissions. 3.4 is good enough for a veteran. Read the past forum threads.

If you had trouble with courses at Michigan-Dearborn do you really feel that you could handle a Columbia workload?

You are getting some very mixed messages, but @CU123 and @TomSrOfBoston have a long history of sensible and helpful posts- and I agree with them. A lot of times people focus on the ‘can I get in’ and less on the ‘will it be a good place for me’. You did not shine academically at UMi-D- and with respect, Intro Sociology is rarely considered a difficult class.

If that year at UMi had been done before your military service it would be less of an issue: the supposition would be that 18 y/o pre-service you was less mature than 18 + X y/o post-service you. That maturing and corresponding self-discipline is a big part of why post-service applicants with (pre-service) lower GPAs are disproportionately successful in college applications (which I think may be a part of the more optimistic posts above).

All transfer students at Columbia start with a disadvantage: they have less time to complete the Core along with their major requirements. So, there is little room for maneuver- you will have a heavy course load every term, with a peer group that is accustomed to working at a higher and more intense level. If you found your courses at Dearborn to be difficult, wait until you hit Literature Humanities or Music Humanities (2 of the required Core classes) at Columbia.

And, I read your other threads. For me, a student explaining disappointing grades by blaming 2 profs for ‘screwing them over’ is a red flag. Yes, it does happen- but it is pretty uncommon, and to happen twice in one year, with different profs, would be extraordinary. Most of the times that I hear students complain that they have been ‘screwed over’ boil down to a prof rigidly enforcing a stated policy that the student (often accidentally or unwittingly) fell afoul of. In which case, the mature thing is for the student to own their part in it, even while feeling hard done by.

Please do not listen to any of the nonsense that has been posted here. You will get a lot of posts from people who hate that Columbia has other undergraduate colleges beside CC, or who think that Columbia students are somehow smarter than anyone at a non ivy. The truth is that there are are many students at Columbia who would have a similar GPA as you at the UM-D. You have life experience and a story, and you have the desire to try.

@NYCDadof2, I’m a huge fan of GS (& similar programs elsewhere), and based on what I have seen over the years by @CU123 & @TomSrOfBoston, they are neither hostile to GS or particularly infatuated with the “Ivy” label.

You will note that the focus of my post was not ‘you can’t’ or ‘your shouldn’t’- it was ‘is this the best path for you?’ plus an observation about admissions for non-traditional students.

Saying ‘sure, why not, if that’s what you want’ adds less to the information available to the OP than (for example) ‘actually Lit Humanities does have a tough reputation, but I found it…’- info you can add better than I can (as you actually took the class, whereas I just have friends who did!).

And the truth is that “challenging” is subjective.

Statements like: “a school where most students would have a 4.0 at UM-D?” “If you had trouble with courses at Michigan-Dearborn do you really feel that you could handle a Columbia workload?” and “You did not shine academically at UMi-D” are elitist and irrelevant. The OP had a B+ average at UM-D, I would not call that struggling. Columbia is an excellent school, but it isn’t like students there have special powers or that the courses are particularly challenging compared to other schools. The reputation and advantage is built much more on the resources available and prestige of the faculty.

The OP asked if he had a chance at being accepted into GS. He does. Instead of answering that question, posters instead chose to discourage and criticize the OP instead.


So you are saying that courses at Columbia and other top colleges are no more challanging than at second and thidrdtier schools? The faculty’s expectations, the workload and the level of competition is definitely higher at top schools.

I’m saying that what is “challenging” to any given individual is subjective and course difficulty should be viewed on a case by case basis. The workload for virtually every course I took at Columbia was very simple. Midterm, paper, and final, with a couple of professors throwing in a quiz towards the beginning of the semester. Undergraduate seminars involve more writing, but as long as you didn’t wait until the last minute, you were fine. Most kids coming out of a competitive or private high school are probably used to a bigger workload, IMO.

None of this should be considered an insult to Columbia, as I am a huge supporter of the school, both through donations and participation in various alumni organizations and events. The beauty of GS, IMO, is that the admissions process is truly holistic. This school will make its admission decisions based on the complete applicant and their story.

Course work isn’t markedly harder on a school by school basis from big state school to Ivy+. It’s entirely based on the course taken and the prof. I took some much more rigorous classes at my tier 3 state school relative to many I encountered at my HYPSM alma mater.