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Articles / Applying to College / Columbia Re-Application for International Student?

May 18, 2017

Columbia Re-Application for International Student?

Question: I was wait listed this year and am planning to apply for ED in October. I'll no longer be in high school then but I am planning to retake my A-level exams (considering i follow the Cambridge International Examination system) in October. I've also changed my mind about which field I want to apply to which is why I won't be accepting the admissions offers I did receive. Considering that this means I'll now be applying to Columbia instead of Columbia Engineering how greatly will the timing of my application affect my chances?

I have a 1550 SAT 1 and 770 SAT 2s. As an international candidate I do feel that my inability to properly understand the nuances of the admissions process and my somewhat mediocre essay were what affected me most the first time round. My academic performance too was not as brilliant as I would have liked but I am taking steps to alter that before reapplying. Unfortunately my A-level results won't be out till December. Should I reapply? Or should I cut my losses and try somewhere else?


Only rarely do Ivy League colleges accept an applicant after a gap year if the student was denied or even waitlisted as a senior. Unless there are significant changes in circumstances ... such as a head-spinning gap-year endeavor ... it is highly unlikely that a candidate who was turned down as a senior would be admitted the following fall. So even if you were to amend your choice of major and improve your A-Levels, it's extremely unlikely that this would make a difference. Your best bet is thus to apply to new colleges.

In order to hone in on a list of places where you might be admissible, I strongly suggest that you invest in a “Stats Evaluation" from College Karma.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: College Karma is a business I co-founded with my College Confidential colleague Dave Berry. The Stats Eval–-along with other College Karma counseling services-–were provided by College Confidential until 2008. I only recommend a Stats Eval in an “Ask the Dean" column when I think that it could make a critical difference, but I promise you that I don't routinely use “Ask the Dean" to promote my private business! And, in your case, I feel that it's especially apt. In today's hyper-competitive admission world, it can be tough for "rookies" to assess their admission odds at selective colleges, and international students, in particular, often underestimate just how steep those odds can be. That's why an "expert" opinion can go a long way toward putting you on the right track.

You can read about the Stats Eval near the top of the page here: http://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/college_counseling.htm

It costs $150 and I assure you that you will get your money's worth. After you complete and submit the Stats Evaluation form, you will receive an assessment of your admission chances at all the colleges you listed on the form along with suggestions of ways to improve those chances, where possible. The Eval report also provides the names of other colleges to consider that should meet your profile and preferences. You will, however, have to estimate your A-Level results since they will not be available by the Early Decision deadlines but—without actual results—the Evaluation won't be as effective as it might be with real test scores. Also, since this will be your second shot at A-levels, even if your scores do improve the colleges will probably not accord these new scores the same respect that they give to first-time-around scores. So do keep these warnings in mind as you decide whether or not you want to proceed with a Stats Eval.

College Karma is also available to help you improve your essay and can assist you with other application needs, providing a stronger understanding of those persnickety admission “nuances!"

My best guess is that Columbia will be out of reach for you if you were to try again, but a Stats Eval might tell another story. Good luck, whatever you decide.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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