Chance me - Columbia ED & Other Ivies

Hi! Rising senior applying for Columbia ED and a handful of other Ivies. Any and all feedback you have would be greatly appreciated :smile:
International (Canadian), Asian female, competitive private school, won’t apply for financial aid.

Intended Major(s):
International Relations, Political Science

Standardized Testing
Didn’t take the SAT or ACT! I decided to pivot to US schools pretty late, and by that time COVID had cancelled pretty much any test I could take.

GPA and Rank:
We don’t do GPAs, but conversion charts tell me 4.0? I had a 93% in junior year, haven’t gotten first term marks for senior year yet. Class rank also isn’t disclosed, but did award for 4 years on honour roll! My stats are probably the weakest part of my application (whoops).

My school doesn’t let us take APs until junior year. Currently taking AP World History, AP Calc AB, AP Lang, Law, Bio, English. I took AP Humgeo & AP French junior year, 5s on both.


  • 2nd place at the World International Debate and Public Speaking Championships
  • 4th place individually at the US National Debate Championships in the largest category
  • 4th place individually & finalist at the Canadian National Debate Championships
  • Won French National Debate Championships


  • On the national debate team, 1/12 members, have a couple decent awards from debate
  • Secretary-General of a MUN conference with 800+ delegates annually
    • Co-led the first iteration of a new MUN conference with 400+ delegates
  • On the national speech team, ^^ some pretty strong awards as well
  • Debate coach & volunteer for about 3 years
  • MUN Club captain at my school, about 100 kids in our club
  • Staffed (director/chair) around 10 MUN conferences
  • Ambassadors club (led families around campus and gave tours, staffed open houses, etc) for 3 years
  • Work experience at a law firm for a week in the summer
  • Volunteered with special needs skaters through the Special Olympics
  • Participated in Youth Parliament simulations
  • Rec leader for generic summer camp
  • STEAM & entrepreneurship summer camp for a month

LORs should be decently strong, I have good relationships with both teachers and one is the sponsor teacher for my MUN club.

My essay right now is uh a work in progress, but it should turn out to be fine? Nothing stellar just yet, but I have relative faith in my writing skills (hopefully)!

I’m ED’ing Columbia, and applying to a handful of other Ivies (3 others lol). Since I’m Canadian, I really narrowed down my college choice and didn’t choose to apply to any US safeties.

Please chance me for Columbia ED and other Ivies - drop any advice you can! Thanks :slight_smile:

You seem to be a strong candidate for the Sciences Po program. Are you applying there? or for Columbia College?

Just Columbia College - would you suggest applying for the dual degree? I’ve always been under the impression that I wouldn’t be competitive enough for the program, so I opted to apply for another university’s dual degree with SP.

Without test scores, other parts of your application are going to be scrutinized. Each school has its own way of standardizing GPA and getting an idea of each student’s class rank and how that stands relative to schools in general. You may have a problem there with a 93 average. I was told a while ago that my kids’ school converted their numerical 0-100 grades to letter grades because it did disadvantage those with the low and mid 90s CS those with high 90s. That’s an A- or even a B average on some grade scales.

Your activities are very good but not great. No real hook

It may come down to LORs and essays. If the teachers and counselors consider you one of the most terrific student in years , unusual intellectual curiousity, etc etc. The most selective schools look for certain catch phrases to distinguish from “just” a very good student.

You are applying to the most selective schools. You see what their accept rates are. Your chances likely 1/3 to 1/2 those chances.

My perspective. The School Report can state what the range is for top performance, equivalent to an A. Just as often it’s 90-100, sometimes 88+, whatever. Adcoms can go on that. So if the hs states 93+ is outstanding, maaaybe it could be borderlline. It can be rare to split hairs that way, though.

But it’s not exclusively about OP’s average gpa. If she’s got better than 93 in the most relevant classes, great. They’ll look at the transcript.

I agree there’s no hook. If there’s an issue, it’s that the ECs lean unilateral: debate and more debate, MUN and more MUN, law firm, YP. Not bad, but as a possible poli sci major, have you done anything with the local political scene, a rep, some advocacy group or ? (This would combine your interests with volunteer work, outside hs, beyond the YP. It’s a step many poli sci kids don’t take, can be noticed positively.) SImilar, with IR, anything that points to some global perspective? This is where you think a little harder, see if you missed something.

Yes, tough for internationals, especially from English-speaking countries, due to the volume of applicants.

i would recommend you get an understanding of acceptances to these colleges from your current high school. your counselor should have the information from past applicants and that will help you understand how your school, grades and curriculum are viewed by these colleges.

You would be much more competitive for the Sciences Po dual degree. Columbia College is a lot more difficult, especially if you are not ranked at the top of your class. Also being full pay helps for the dual program, but not as much with CC.

The dual program is focused on finding students with a good match for each of the language programs. Your ECs are aligned pretty well with the Sciences Po program, so I would take a closer look.

You are a better candidate for Barnard, also a Columbia college. Take a look at it.

Thanks so much for your help! I’ll definitely look into it.

Yeah as other people have already posted, OP is much more competitive for the dual degree. The published acceptance rates for the dual degrees are deflated by a large margin because language ability also comes into play here, and applicants especially from the US have a massively overinflated sense of their fluency in foreign languages. If you’ve won a French debate tournament I’d wager that you would be pretty set.

I have had some experience with Canadian HS students going US, and generally a 93 Junior year isn’t going to be ideal for CC. I know for ED as well they weigh international Sophomore grades only a little less Junior year grades. If your school sends mid-term or progress reports for your Senior year they’ll count a little, but not as much as your finals from the other years. If you have say a 95/96 Sophomore year and Junior year was just an anomaly I’d say you would be good. If you’re absolutely set on CC though, consider applying RD instead if you’re willing to take the risk for better grades, and EA another school.

Your ECs are pretty good, but again as others have said, a bit monolithic. If you’re applying to major in PoliSci, try to see if you can add something to your resumé at this point, or just don’t put PoliSci as your first choice.