School Reccomendations for a Columbia reject :)

US Duel Citizen
VA resident
Private small high school
Female, middle eastern and European

Poli Sci major

3.9 and test optional
4.0 college gpa
school doesn’t rank or weight

Taken every AP/honors course available to me

Lots of Honors Societies, Volunteer recognition awards, more awards specific to my ECs…

Ballet dancer (9 and 10), 35 hours a week, quit bc of an injury, Attended highly ranked schools and prestigious programs, Invited to exclusive International Competitions, hand-selected by an esteemed dancer to be privately mentored.
Music (9-12) 5 hrs a week, Songwriter, some recognition within the field, did Violin and Guitar
Tutored orphans internationally 5 hrs a week and worked with the UN.
Statewide president (3 states) of a non-profit and created many programs within the organization
Founded a Model UN Club and competed internationally.
Did Theatre (directed and performed lead roles)
Tutored in Ballet w a non-profit initiative I created
US News Editor on School Newspaper
Small Business owner and designer
Vice president of an entrepreneurship society
Lots of political engagement as well

Essay: 9/10
LOR: 9/10, both teachers have spoken highly of me outside of class

No cost constraints

Applied to UVA EA, applying to Umich, UCB, UCLA, UCSB, Chapel Hill, Vtech (legacy), William and Mary, UVM, UW Seattle, maybe another ivy?, Penn (Safety).

Any suggestions are welcome I’m super discouraged by Columbia

Forgot to mention I have college credit at NYU for Political Science

Just a clarification, you’re listing Penn as your safety?


Edit- I’m unsure of why you are discouraged about Columbia. The school admitted 4% last year. The odds of any student gaining admittance are slim…even a 1600 SAT and it looks like you have no test. You’ll say ED is higher and I’ll counter that with ED includes athletes and others…it’s not a fair #. It’s awesome that you applied. Your mistake was falling in love…never fall in love with any school. There is no perfect school !!!

Onto my original message….

Are you applying TO ? Would you go to a UC over VT? You’ll get no aid…

UVM and Va Tech are your safeties.

UVA and W&M are your matches. So is UW…a low match.

The rest are reaches…meaning the UCs, Michigan, UNC. If you got into any, I’d guess Michigan. But it’s a reach!!

I’ve never seen anyone call an Ivy a safety. Do u mean Penn State ?

Your list is fine as long as you’d be happy (and I would be) at your matches and safeties…and you should be or your shouldn’t have applied…especially given your choice of major which typically leads to lower paid employment or grad school.

Good luck.


I’m sorry you are feeling discouraged. It looks like you have an impressive academic and EC record.

What is the common thread for the schools on your list? Why do you like Columbia? How many applications/ essays do you have left to do? You have plenty of schools, why add more?

What are your preferences? If it’s a strong core curriculum, look into uchicago or st. johns.

This site suggesta schools that would be strong for your intended major, and may expand your imagination with respect to colleges to research further:

Here are a few schools which have some similarities to Columbia but with a range of levels of difficulty for admission, which should be more in your favor:

Washington University/St. Louis

You might also want to consider applying to Barnard. Although it’s a women’s college, it is literally an extension of Columbia. It’s campus is across the street and there is extensive cross registration, so you are not isolated on a women-only campus and you have access to almost all of the same courses as you would as a Columbia student. Technically it is part of Columbia and Barnard students graduate with a degree from both Barnard and Columbia. With an 11% acceptance rate last year, admission is still very challenging but not as impossible as Columbia.


I am sorry Columbia did not work out! I think it may be time for you to honestly reassess: there are some very smart posters here who know a lot about many schools and can help you cast a wider net. In reviewing your other thread, you said:
“97/100 GPA, my school doesn’t rank, 1550, my school doesn’t weight GPA.” The 97 was unweighted (implies mostly A+ grades) but here you say test optional and 3.9 (meaning a few Bs with mostly As). It will really help if you are honest so this community can give you good advice!
Also, meet with your college counselor and have a candid conversation about where you stand in your class relative to other students, and what the counselor says about your likelihood of acceptance to the schools on your list.

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Are you looking for another reach to replace Columbia? Maybe Colgate?

Or are you trying to expand targets? Maybe Boston College or Syracuse?

Or are you thinking you need safety schools? Maybe University of Connecticut or University of Delaware?

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As another potential reach, research Hamilton, which offers semester-length programs in D.C. and NYC.

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Hey there. Hold your head up. You’ve got a lot to be proud of. Columbia wasn’t mean to be. That doesn’t mean all is doomed. You’ll get through this. And probably find a school which was a better fit.

Listen to the great advice from the posters above. I don’t have much to add, but just wanted to give you some positive vibes.

Certainly, if attending and graduating from Columbia University is the someone’s first choice, it does make sense to also apply at Barnard. Columbia College and Barnard College do have separate admission processes, and Barnard uses very distinct, holistic criteria to identify exceptional young women.

This young lady does check-off several boxes, with her international background, extracurriculars, performing arts,… I would have liked to see a mention of the AP Test Scores to round-off the picture.

I hate to be the “downer”, but… Barnard had 17% more ED applications this year and this week already filled 60% of its class. Thus, the acceptance rate for the thousands of RD applicants (based on last year’s total) is looking to be around 3% this spring!


What other nation are you a citizen of?

I like the list that you already have. UVA is a very good university. Vtech provides safer admissions. UVM should be close to a safety for admissions and is also a very good university. Burlington is a very attractive small city. Whether or not you will get a merit scholarship I do not know and test optional might not help. However you have said that your budget is not an issue. UNC is very good also. When I was in graduate school at a highly ranked university one of my best friends in the same program was a UNC graduate. To me UCB and UCLA look like reaches, and U.Mich and UW might be lower reaches. I think that you can do well with a degree from any one of these universities.

What you will do with a degree in political science is a different issue. Are you thinking of law school down the road?

These things usually work out well, particularly for strong students such as yourself. I think that you are going to find yourself in a very good university in September, and there is a good chance that it will be one that is a better fit for you than Columbia even if you do not realize this right now. Plan to work hard and keep ahead in your classes wherever you go, and you will do well.

Did you make the EA deadline at Mich, UVM, UNC, Vtech, PSU (I assume that’s what you mean by Penn)? Did you submit test scores to any? If so, what are they?

The UC deadline is past, did you get UCB/UCLA,UCSB in?

I second many of the schools posters have already suggested. Adding Lehigh, George Washington.

Lastly, be kind to yourself, you have great accomplishments and will succeed at whatever college you attend. Columbia didn’t reject you as a person. You just weren’t selected because you probably didn’t fill any of their institutional priorities this go round. Good luck.

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Would you consider Barnard?


As others have noted, Penn is not a safety. If you are looking for a safety, select a public university from your state of residence; some candidates might be James Madison University and Mary Washington University.

Look at the Common Data Sets for the schools your are interested in; Sections C9-C11 will provide objective data for matriculated students, and may be helpful in “guesstimating” your admissions chances.

Also, Section C7 of the CDS indicates that while “alumni/ae relation” (i.e., legacy status) is “considered” at Virginia Tech, it is not an “important” or “very important” admissions criterion.

Ignoring, for the moment, whether it would be wise - can you apply Barnard RD after Columbia ED?



Not sure why it would be unwise…unless the OP has no interest in Barnard.
You absolutely can apply to Barnard RD after not getting into Columbia ED.
The schools have separate admissions offices and standards.