John’s Roadmap
to the Biology Program at Columbia University

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Cohesive Theme
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Grade Point Average
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Courseload
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Standardized Tests
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Extracurricular Activities
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Accolades
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Letter of Recommendation
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Application Essays/Personal Statements
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Résumé & Transcripts
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Campus Visit & Interviews
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Application Process & Deadlines
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Financial Aid
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Grade Point Average

  • 3.9

    Suggested Minimum GPA

General Information

  • GPA can be unweighted or weighted.

    1. An unweighted GPA (calculated on a scale of 0 - 4.0) does not factor in the difficulty of the student’s coursework (e.g. two students can get a 4.0 GPA, despite only one of them taking AP courses).
    2. A weighted GPA (0 - 5.0, or 0 - 6.0) factors in the rigor of the student’s coursework.

What You Need to Do

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Courseload

  • 16

    AP Courses

What You Need to Do

  • Assuming your school offers the following AP courses, we feel you will maximize your chances of admission if you take the following AP courses and aim for the corresponding score (If you can handle the load, feel free to take any other AP courses that interest you):

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Standardized tests

  • 99th percentile

    PSAT 8/9 & PSAT 10

  • 212

    National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar

  • 1440

    National Merit Scholarship Finalist

  • 790

    SAT EBRW

  • 790

    SAT Math

  • 35

    ACT Composite 75th percentile

  • 11

    ACT Writing

  • 2

    SAT II Subject Tests

    It is recommended that you take two SAT II subject tests of your choosing.

General Information

  • The PSAT 8/9 is offered to 8th and 9th graders to assess how they would fare on the actual PSAT. PSAT 8/9 scores are also used to identify 9th graders exhibiting potential to succeed in AP European History and AP World History. High schools administer the PSAT 8/9 from September to January and February to April. The PSAT 8/9 is scored on a scale of 240–1440.

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Extracurricular Activities

  • At least 1

    Relevant Social Media

  • 1 or 2

    Volunteer Work Activities

  • At least 1

    Internship

  • At least 1

    Program

  • 1

    Study Abroad

  • Writing and Research

    Special Talent

What You Need To Do

Plug your academic work through adept social media usage. Below, you’ll find guidelines for the usage of various prominent social media platforms. Because these platforms all operate on some universal principles, we couldn’t avoid repeating some of the instructions. So, we put any repetitive information earlier in each section so you can skim over that part if you are already familiar with it:

  • Livestream/Live Event

    Setup
    • Pick a platform: Youtube Live Event or Periscope are the best options
    • Post Interval: post at regular intervals (e.g. every Sunday, biweekly, etc.)
    • Have a call to action (CTA) (e.g. add a link for more info, verbally tell your audience to visit XYZ website, etc.)
    • Before the event, promote it on your other social media platforms, with a good hashtag (use Ritetag, Tagboard for help)
    Post
    • Event Topics: How-to, interview, live event, news, Q/A, behind the scenes, giveaway
    • Choose an SEO-optimized hashtag visible during the entire event
    After Post
    • Repost a link of the event on your other platforms
    • Send a thank you email blast
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Accolades

  • 8

    Scholarships

  • 2

    Grants

  • 7

    Competitions & Awards

What You Need To Do

Apply to as many of the following accolades as possible:

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Letters of Recommendation (LoR)

  • 2

    Letters of Recommendation

    Get 2 LoRs from teachers who taught you Biology and Chemistry, Math or Physics, in addition to others explained below.

General Information

  • Ask for the LoR in person, dress nice, and present any LoR-related instructions from your dream school, a short description of the things you’d request the recommender to address, any forms (or website links to those forms) the recommender needs to fill out, addressed and postmarked/stamped envelopes, and a copy of your transcript, résumé and personal statement.

  • Ask the recommender to specifically mention things that reinforce your cohesive theme; the recommender should also mention something about your character and personality.

  • If possible, ask the recommender to mention an anecdote in the LoR.

  • LoRs must come from a diverse audience to show your promise and to reinforce your cohesive theme from different persuasive angles.

  • You need LoRs from teachers and non-teachers. Oftentimes, though not always, its better to get teacher LoRs from junior-year teachers. If, however, an earlier-year teacher would write a better LoR, choose them instead.

  • Give the recommender enough time to write the LoR; ideally, ask 2 months before the application has to be submitted.

  • For every LoR, develop a relationship with the recommender; i.e. regularly meet with your recommenders to secure a promising LoR when the time comes. One excuse to regularly meet with your future recommender is to keep them up-to-date with projects you’re currently involved with. To establish a rapport with your guidance counselor, just visit their office every month or two and talk about your activities and solicit their feedback; and offering to run any errands for them never hurts. During the end of your junior year, you can also ask them about college application fee waivers and transcript-related questions.

  • After securing each LoR, show thanks in some way - e.g. a thank you card, a nominal gift, etc.

  • On your application, waive your right to see your LoRs (otherwise, the admissions board may fear that the recommender was not truly candid).

What You Need to Do

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app
résumé
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Interviews

General Information

  • Arrange for a campus visit somewhere between your sophomore and junior year, preferably early in your junior year. Also, visit when school is in session, not during holiday or seasonal breaks.
  • Arrange to meet 2 professors that teach subjects coinciding with your desired major; try to mention something from these meetings in your essays and interviews.
  • When you get a chance, ask your guide questions that would be harder to find online (e.g. Is the food on campus good or bad? What do students do on weekends, besides party? What do you wish would change at the school? Did you hate taking classes with any specific professors? How safe is campus?)
  • Dress refined casual - be comfortable but still presentable.
  • Travel light - a smartphone replaces the need for notebooks, pencils, etc.
  • After the official campus tour, tour the campus and surrounding area on your own.
  • If you can't visit the campus for a legitimate reason (e.g. financial restraint, family emergency, etc), speak to the school's representative at a nearby college fair. Other than this scenario, college fairs are a waste of time.
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