|Admissions Director Eric Furda|
Rachel Handwerger of Providence, RI, chose Columbia
Engineering because she will be allowed to continue her studies in
foreign languages and the arts, but the clincher was "when I walked out
of the subway station and saw the campus, I knew, at that moment, that
Columbia was the right place for me."
Not only did Rachel choose it, so did 174 other early decision applicants, a record number that has increased 257% since 1994. Early decision binds a student to attend Columbia if they are admitted. As a result, those who apply early have selected the Engineering School as their first choice and are eager to become part of next year's class.
Rachel is typical of the 118 early decision applicants who were admitted. She has many extracurricular activities: she ice skates, co-founded a skating magazine, Glint, and was an accredited photographer at the Goodwill Games. Other admittees include students who play football, wrestle, specialize in Latin dances, rock-climb, perform in theater productions and work in soup kitchens. They represent all areas of the continental United States and Hawaii, Hong Kong, Italy, China and Singapore.
In addition to their extracurricular activities, the admitted early decision students have excellent scholastic qualifications. Their mean SAT scores increased 15 points more than last year's, to a 1383 combined score for mathematics and verbal.
The applicant pool for regular admission has risen just as dramatically as for early decision, in both quality and numbers. This year, almost twice as many seniors applied to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science as in 1995. In addition, increasing numbers of women are applying. The number of women applicants, 641, is almost double that of six years ago.
"Each year, I am impressed by the quality of the applicants we have to choose from," said Dean Zvi Galil. "We are pleased to welcome 'the best and the brightest' to the Class of 2003 and look forward to providing these exceptional young people with the opportunity for not only academic success but also personal growth. Just as their parents are, we are concerned with fostering the development of the whole person, and this School, set within the great University that is Columbia and the great city that is New York, will provide this environment."
What makes Columbia special to engineering applicants varies, but the attraction of New York City is a factor, noted Director of Admissions Eric Furda. "You can't divorce Columbia from New York," he said, "and I believe it is a major factor in why students seek to come here. The city presents tremendous opportunities for technological research, for internships-it is all here in the city."
Another factor Mr. Furda cites is the student's exposure to the core curriculum while taking advantage of the School's investment in facilities and programs. Steven B. Diamond, of High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ, echoed this in his application, writing, "I find Columbia's unique combination of the hard sciences and core liberal arts most appealing." Mr. Furda cites labs such as the Botwinick Gateway Laboratory and programs such as biomedical engineering as desirable offerings that attract students. Steven and Rachel both have indicated that bioengineering is the field they wish to pursue.
Fortunately for students such as Rachel and Steven, the anxious waiting for acceptance to Columbia Engineering is over. But for the more than 2100 other high school seniors who applied, the Columbia Engineering mailing sent in the beginning of April will spell the difference between joy and despair. Only 177 spaces are left to be filled.
"Selectivity of exceptionally qualified candidates promises to be at an all-time high," said an obviously happy Mr. Furda.
Alumni interviewers of applicants to the School think that this is again a banner year. From neophyte interviewers to veterans of a decade, the alumni assessment is that qualifications of applicants seem to know no upper limits.
One ARC member, Arthur S. Graham, Jr., who interviews College and Engineering applicants who live in Westchester County, NY, said he is seeing more outgoing students with varied extracurricular activities-and more women. The statistics (see main story) support these observations.
As part of the admissions process, alumni volunteers who have joined the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) are assigned to interview and evaluate applicants. Alumni are able to see only about 50% of the candidates.
To join fellow alumni in your area as an ARC member, follow the link to alumni from http://www.seas.columbia.edu. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will contact you. For ARC members, the ARC Handbook and Evaluations Forms are available for downloading from the website also.
What should the well-dressed engineer be wearing? The
answer was presented live and on video in Low Rotunda as the Class of
1999 gathered to see the latest in career dressing from Nautica, Garfield
and Marks and Saks Fifth Avenue. The event, organized by Conrad Lung CC
'72, father of Jennifer Lung SEAS '01, presented fashion savvy clothing
for young professionals. It was sponsored by the School, Columbia
College, Barnard College, Asian American Alliance, and the Asian Columbia
In a presentation worthy of the fashion industry, a huge video wall of television monitors reflected giant-size images of the runway fashions. A roving cameraman projected images of attendees in the audience before the show began. Wardrobe specialists spoke about how to put together an effective wardrobe for women and for men.
The School sponsored the reception following the event, where Dean Zvi Galil selected six lucky winners of career outfits by Nautica. In six tries, Dean Galil picked the three male and three female winners from the co-mingled tickets, leading him to give homework to his engineers: figure the probability of that happening.