Should I apply again?

I just received word today that I was rejected by Columbia as a transfer applicant. I applied last year as a freshman as well and was also rejected. It has been a dream of mine to come here and I really don’t know how to cope with this rejection, other than to try and apply again. Going through the transfer process was hellishly hard, so it’ll be a big commitment for another year. Has anyone ever done this (gotten rejected twice and accepted a third time) before? If so, what advice would you give? What did you do differently?

Please consider being happy at another college. Perhaps if you do extremely well in your bachelors program, you can apply for graduate school.

My advice would be NOT to apply to transfer there…again.

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Why not set your sites on Columbia for grad school instead of torturing yourself further?

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In March, you said you got accepted as a transfer to University of Chicago. So…why not go there?

Scroll down to post 15 or so…it’s where this OP says they were accepted to University of Chicago.

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Sorry but it is time to put Columbia in your rear window and love a school that loves you back

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I’m sorry OP. Some things are just not meant to be.

I would not apply again.

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Love your school. It will love you back.

Columbia has already reviewed your file. If you were rejected as a Freshman, reapplying didn’t change your admission status and it wont change with future, multiple applications. Columbia gave you their answer. They wont reverse it. Applying again will only further confirm their denial.

You were advised, in previous posts, to continue with UMichigan. There were some ethical issues that were noted about authoring a grant, and these were concerning to several of the posters, yet you debated and tried to justify your reasoning and rationale.

Transparency is super important to the universities. They can read into the language in applications. Once they decide that you are not a FIT for their university, they make a decision and stick with it.
UMichigan denied thousands of students. You have a place there and appear to be doing well. If that school loves you, you need to work on loving it back.

It looks to me as if Columbia is just not going to happen, at least for undergrad. I would strongly recommend that you do as well as you can at a different university, most likely where you already are.

There are two stories that might be worth mentioning.

When applying to graduate schools my dream university was Cornell. I was rejected. I went to my second choice and LOVED it. Years later I finally realized that my second choice had always been a better fit for me. Admissions at both schools had figured this out years before I did. This resulted in my getting a great education.

Also, someone I know very well went to a “not top 100” university for undergrad, and got their master’s degree at Columbia. The point was not that they went to a “big name” university for their bachelor’s – they didn’t. The point was that they did very well as an undergraduate student, and then got some very good and very relevant work experience, then they applied to Columbia for a very good master’s program.

You should try to get top grades. Get to know your professors, particularly in the classes that you like and that are relevant to your major. Look for internship and research opportunities.

Things will work out. They just will not work out at Columbia in the short term. In the long term you never know.

Edit: I just spent a bit of time looking at a few of your earlier posts. It looks like you might be at Michigan, and that you have played a significant role in bringing in a significant research project. This is HUGE! If I am understanding this correctly, you are already involved in research at great university! This just underlines my advice that you stay where you are, work hard, and take advantage of the huge opportunities that you have where you are now. This is a really good start on your education.

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Alas, it seems like human nature or societal pressures (not sure what) is programming us to want what we can’t have and look down upon that which is in our reach? Wasn’t it Groucho Marx that famously quipped that he would not want to belong to any club that would want him as a member?

OP, I too would stay at UMICH. A brilliant old friend of mine teaches there. If UMICH is good enough for her, it’s pretty much good enough for anyone in my opinion. Just my 2 cents. Good luck on your undergraduate studies. Please don’t stand in the way of your success.

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Tenacity is a quality that can serve you well in life, but only if you choose wisely about how to apply it. Nothing in your dozen threads about transferring has explained what is wrong with UMich for you. It appears that you have found great research opportunities, and it’s a top-notch university. What is so unacceptable about continuing there? What if you were putting all of this “grass is always greener” energy into embracing your experience at Michigan?

From your “Why was I rejected from Stanford REA” thread all the way through the current one, the recurring theme seems to be that you can’t take no for an answer, even from schools for whom rejections are the overwhelming norm. There’s no explanation of why you aren’t okay where you are - a school that disappoints many, many applicants too - other than the need to reverse those no answers. Nobody likes rejection, but it’s a fact of life, especially when you’re aiming high. If there’s a better reason than hating rejection, why blooming where you’re planted isn’t an acceptable option, you’re long overdue to explain what that reason is. Because many people have asked this question already, and it seems as if Michigan is doing very well by you.

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thank you for all your comments - i was quite emotional when i wrote this post and have calmed down somewhat. i think you are all right. i will move on from this mess that is college admissions and try to start a new chapter in my life.

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Have you considered computational biology as a potential major?

yes! i am quite interested in said field. a phd in computational biology is of interest to me, but honestly, my mind is kind of all over the place in terms of my future ever since ive felt i lost my passion for pure biology.

berkeley has really great compbio offerings. chicago and mich have some but not as extensive.

Comp bio might be a nice way to merge your previous interest in biology and your current interest in CS and algorithms. Are you still intellectually interested in bio, but you don’t like the wet-lab part of it? If so, then you could consider staying at Michgan, where you already have friends, and switching to comp bio. You could explain to your current mentor that about your change of focus, and thank them for everything they have done, but that you are interested in a different aspect of biology. That way you could stay where you have already made some friends, can hopefully deepen those friendships, and still maintain a good relationship with your current mentor even if you choose not to continue in their lab.

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I don’t know much about your major so I’ll defer to others on that. Just want to say that UMich is an amazing school and you won’t be short of opportunities having graduated from there. And a big bonus if you’re a football fan! Go Blue!

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there was no greater reason. I just wanted a second chance at Columbia and Stanford, and applied to some other schools along the way.

I thought about what you said and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. A lot of problems in my life - even outside of college admissions - has revolved around wanting things that I can’t have. Thank you for telling me that.

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Have you thought about the Columbia 3-2 program? Allows you to get 2 bachelors degrees, one from your home institution, and second degree in engineering from Columbia. Its rather expensive, but another option you might want to consider.

The admissions criteria for 3-2 are much more straightforward. They used to have a fixed GPA cutoff and guaranteed admission. They don’t call it guaranteed anymore but if you hit the GPA target its almost certainty that you’ll be accepted. The 3-2 students are treated as transfers, and ultimately graduate with their peers in SEAS.

This. Surprise! mentors are really ok with this from their students- they know that your interests are still evolving.

My neice started out as pre-med (JHU), and then things evolved. Her original research supervisor wrote her a great LOR for her new focus- talked about her research ability, the creative thinking that led to her change of focus, etc. She finished her PhD (in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology) a year ago, and went straight into a flashy job that she loves. Here is a quote from her, when she was was being interviewed about the new job

“I come from a completely wet lab background. I was a molecular biologist, and I did a bunch of different molecular research, usually involving signaling systems. Eventually I became interested in being able to predict what my experiments would turn out to be without having to do them, so I went to grad school to learn how to do this type of modeling and simulation work.”

The point is that there are so many ways for your path to go- and you are off to a great start.

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Thank you for responding so graciously. Many great things have been accomplished in the world by not giving up too easily when the first answer is no, so it’s not always easy to discern what and when to let go. But elevating the perceived desirability of things just because you can’t have them only leads to the inability to appreciate what you can have (and applying the same to people/relationships gets even messier!)

As for whether to transfer… do not underestimate the hidden costs of “friction.” You mentioned the need to acclimate to a whole new environment, but there’s more. There’s spending the first semester at the new school in classes that don’t really move your goals forward, because all of the high-demand classes are already filled for the fall. There’s housing, which is an absolute mess in Berkeley if you’re not aware. And perhaps most importantly, there’s a whole new set of general education requirements. If you’re even going to consider a transfer, do a deep dive into mapping out where you stand with the UCB GE’s and the UChicago Core. How much time will you end up spending backfilling, that you could have spent at UMich moving forward and exploring new major and career paths?

Also, if you’re really interested in the quant path, there’s no equivalent of the Ross minor at either of your transfer options. And moving among programs isn’t as easy at Berkeley as it is at UMich.

IMHO, if you are from California and would save $$ by transferring to UCB, then maybe it’s worth considering, and you could even afford an extra semester with the money saved if the regrouping (both transfer-related and major-change-related) takes longer than anticipated. But for the OOS sticker price, I don’t see it… and likewise if you’re full-paying for Chicago and have to go back and take the whole Core, which as far as I can see is required of transfers. I’m just not seeing how either of these schools will ultimately serve you better than where you are. Of course, I don’t have all the details, and maybe there are legitimate reasons… but “maybe I need a change” just doesn’t seem compelling. There are plenty of ways to turn over a new leaf without bolting for greener pastures that may not really be greener at all. It doesn’t seem as if you’ve given UMich a fair shake in terms of fully investing yourself there.

If you stay, you can always toss in a junior-transfer app to Berkeley; at least if you did an upper-division transfer, your lower-division GE’s would hopefully be signed off and you could go from there. You could even apply to Haas if you decided to go the business route - the acceptance rate is low but at least you’d know for sure whether that program would be open to you, before deciding to move. But if you do decide to apply again, I’d really encourage you to get the app done and then try to forget about it and give Michigan a fair chance. There are plenty of California kids at Michigan who chose it over the UC’s, even for almost double the cost - make sure you give yourself a chance to see what they see in your “bird in the hand.”

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Thank you! I think what you say definitely has a lot of merit.

From what I’ve seen, I was actually quite fortunate and will only have to maybe take 2 additional classes to fulfill my GEs at Berkeley. But, yes, UChicago will be a different story - though I actually find myself somewhat gravitated to it, as it offers an experience similar to columbia. Cost-wise, each school will be the same, and I anticipate that I’ll probably stay about the same amount of time (maybe slightly longer at chicago) at each school. Though, like you said, I will probably have slightly less opportunities to explore courses at Berkeley and Chicago.

It’s definitely gonna be a hard decision for me, which has become further complicated because I got into Johns Hopkins today, but I think I will have a better idea once I visit each campus and talk to a few students.

But, regardless of what happens, I think I am forever done with the college application process. The past 3 years have done too much damage to my mental health and general well being. Thank you all for your advice.

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