I Got Deferred From Columbia ED. What Now and Why?

Don’t assume loans beyond the federal amount are wise or easy to pay back. It’s hard enough for young adults to repay the 27k fed total.

Yes, you could have included the other ECs. Those are valid and show you as more than one dimensional. Tippy tops have the luxury of looking for kids who offer more than their drives in one area. How you’d add this in a LOCI, I’m not sure.

Robo, the parent who is a Columbia employee should request a document from Human Resources which spells out in detail how the tuition benefit works. Don’t assume- verify. And if you will get 50% of tuition paid at another institution, you need to make sure your family can pay the balance (i.e. 50% of tuition PLUS all the other expenses). You are instate for Stonybrook which is terrific, but the price-tag on some of your other options may be a lot higher than you are assuming.

Your budget is not infinite- as already pointed out above- since the amount of loans you can take is capped.


I suggest you cast a net much wider than the non-prestigious t-20 schools. Most important, as always suggested on this board, is finding a safety that is sure to accept you and that you’d be willing to attend.

As a “faculty brat” odds are pretty good your app got extra attention and probably a review by the top admissions staff. That they decided not to admit you in spite of the tipping factor is worrisome, both for your chances at Columbia and at other t-20 schools (even the non-prestigious ones). Rather than rejecting early applicants they’ve decided not to admit, many colleges will instead give them a “soft” letdown by first deferring them. Especially when there are considerations such as a faculty tie or large donor. This may well be followed by a “waitlist” in the RD round so your dad never sees his son actually rejected from the school where he works, just somehow not enrolled.

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I won’t repeat the advice to apply widely (except I just did.)

Years ago the Tufts admissions officer used to say that the primary reason they deferred students was to see if the second semester grades were good. They didn’t expect to see extra activities or anything like that. Good luck. You’ll be an asset to some college somewhere!

BTW my niece really wanted to do engineering at Columbia. She ended up thriving at the University of New Hampshire.

@RoboPandaX Is that 96 GPA weighted or unweighted? That could offer some insight about why you were deferred. Did you have any grades from freshman or sophomore year that were below a B?

I agree that focusing on your grades is more important than additional activities. Given the number of APs available and the number that you have taken/are taking, your HS is probably better than mediocre. Your record will be evaluated within the context of what your school offers and how the students perform as a whole.

Best of luck as you move forward.

You have a decent profile. I am not too aware of the 96 GPA. If it’s out of 100, it’s not too bad. However, here are some of the worrying points for me: a lot of your research at Columbia may be discounted because of your father. A lot of your activities have not gone further, such as First Robotics, Wharton Investment, Conrad, and NYAS (not selected as a winner/runner up) to present, etc. I am not sure what you did by spending on 3500+ hrs in mechanical engineering? Is this bc of FRC? and yet, for this significant amount of hours, I am not seeing any recognition or achievement, which presumably is what colleges are looking for. I hope I dont come across to harshly but you are competing with an extremely accomplished group of hs students. Good luck.

Being deferred is not a rejection. OP will be re-reviewd with RD. In addition to further grades and other, that’s a review in the bigger pool.

My cousin also did engineering at UNH! From there he went on for a PhD at UMichigan. He’s had an impressive and exciting career. Continues to speak very highly of UNH engineering.

Was surprised to see that you were deferred. Based on your stats, I would have predicted an admission.

Is there anyway you can get your guidance counselor to reach out to the Columbia admissions office? They can sometimes get some information that would be helpful. Especially if there was one weakness. My guess is that your grades were the issue. If you can find this out, it will be helpful so you can address it during the RD round. I wouldn’t reach out yourself, have your GC or someone else contact admissions.

Also having your dad on the peer reviewed paper probably didn’t help. They are attuned to this sort of thing. I don’t think applying BME vs mechE would have made any difference.

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Thank you!

My high school is pretty mediocre, they offer a large range of APs, and don’t really care how well we score, whereas the majority of more upper-level HS will care about their ranking.

Sadly that GPA is weighted, and in freshman year I took a half-year course where I clowned and got a 79. I was an idiot back then, and only got a sudden enlightenment in the end of sophomore year.

Yeah, alot of people were saying that this could’ve been largely the case. Hopefully, they only deferred me so that they could see my progress continuously and if I have continued to improve. and not simply done it for my college applications.

I also realized that I should’ve talked way more in detail of what I specifically did for those activities. I only just realized that, and it kinda sucks now that I can’t edit the application no more.

That’s some great advice! I’ll definitely do that, and hopefully he’ll be able to get some information possibly. Thank you!

Where do you stand in terms of class rank? I know you said that your school doesn’t formally rank, but the admissions people can usually estimate. Did your GC give you a breakdown of which decile you were in? If you are outside of the first two deciles, then this is the most likely reason why you were deferred.

So for the RD round, you need to convince them that the grades are improving. There are other ways to show improvement in grades as well: online classes, concurrent community college class, J-term college course, MOOC, etc. Basically anything with a transcript to show that your earlier grades were just a sign of immaturity.

In your LOCI letter, you need to address the issues. Your application will go back to the full admissions committee for a decision. And so you need to give your application handler the most ammunition. The RD round is brutal, but you might be able to make it through. Hope this makes sense.

Our school is weird, and basically a number of students simply take regular classes and scare insanely high due to their ease. However, if I needed to estimate my rank, it should be decent enough (maybe top 20 or something).

What do you mean by online classes? Like if I took EdX or MIT OCW courses or something?

Yeah, how should I address it in the LOCI? Like casually try and explain?

Top 20 out of how many students? What percentile do you stand?

Online classes: anything that offers a transcript/grade for doing college level work. Johns Hopkins CTY has a program online, but there are many others. Many community colleges and larger state schools also have a condensed winter term (J-term) that might work.

LOCI: suggest to wait. Don’t send anything in yet until you find out what the deficiency was. Then use the letter to explain how you’ve improved/addressed the deficiency. You definitely don’t want to make excuses. If you acted like a knucklehead in 9th grade just own up to it. Don’t make excuses that other students took easier classes – they know this already.

I agree with the other people who said it may be because you didn’t necessarily win anything in some of the ECs you listed. However, I also think it could partially be because you are from a very competitive state. In my opinion, you’re definitely qualified. I had much less ECs and honors than you, but I’m from a less competitive region.

At first, I too was surprised that you got deferred. But then, as others pointed out, a paper that your parent was on, detracts from your achievement, no matter how outstanding that paper was.

I too think that your grades will be important. You must strive for straight A’s this semester, and keep it up even after that, because if you’re wait-listed, even your final grades might help move you up on the wait list. What with employee’s child tuition rate, Columbia is by far the best place for you, although of course you need to come up with a list of other matches, and safeties. You are a NY State resident. The SUNY system offers every conceivable major possible. Surely there is some SUNY school with good bio and mech engineering? That’s the best financial option for you, if you don’t get into Columbia. Go to the SUNY school (or another school) and do extraordinarily well there, and possibly you could transfer to Columbia. After all, the free tuition benefit is an understandable reason for you to want to transfer there.

As for the notion of taking a community college class. I have no idea how the admin committee at Columbia would view this, but I can tell you how I, or probably any other person who has gone to a T20 school AND has taken classes at the best CUNY 4-year college, and at a community college, would see it. The level of community college and/or CUNY classes is FAR below that of a T20, and probably also below the level of most AP classes (if they’re taught well). Most of the students from my town’s high school, who then went to our excellent state flagship U, said that their classes there were nowhere near as challenging as the honors and AP classes at our town’s good high school, for their first two years. So I really doubt that taking a winter session class at a local community college would do a thing for your application. Assuming that your midterms are in mid-January, I would pour your energy into studying for those midterms over winter break, so that you can get straight A’s for your fall semester. That would certainly help with proving that you are serious about academic achievement. Stop looking backward at the 770 Math SAT2. Come on! You got a 5 on the BC Calc in 11th grade! You’ve proven that your math ability is fantastic. Look forward, and focus yourself on studying for finals all

Your record is good, you’re a staff kid, and even if you don’t wind up at Columbia, I think that you will do very well anywhere you go.

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Thank you!

I will be applying to a very large variety of schools including some SUNY schools as well.

Is your father faculty or just works in a lab, or is a lecturer? There is an important distinction. If he is faculty, is he in a graduate or UG school? Children of faculty in Graduate schools (such as School of Medicine) frequently do not have a hook, or the hook is very weak. Writing scientific papers when having "4"s on AP classes is weird. Spending hours on ME-related activities and having a “4” on Physics C is a red flag. You would have been better putting more work understanding the fundamentals of basic science. It is actually interesting to see that CU value this more than scientific publications which may or may not have been original work of the student.

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He’s faculty. Owns a whole lab + shares two other ones. Primarily he is for research (he has alot of post-doc students) and has other things, but he has recently taken up teaching hydrology/pollution/sustainability/other stuff to PHD students.

Yeah, there’s not much I can do about those grades. Also all those grades are the COVID Ap exams, which are weird, and I’m sure the colleges are aware that when YOUR ENTIRE GRADE rests on a single or two questions, if you mess up at all, you lose alot of points.

I’m sure I would’ve done far better if given non-covid circumstances.