The Three Activities that got me into Columbia University


This week’s update and advice about university applications is an analysis of the three top activities that I used to represent who I was to the Columbia University admission officers! Read on to find out the three activities and how you can use a similar framework to best present your application, or you can check it out on our YouTube channel!

Check out the video if you like audio content instead!

Activity 1: Philosophy Channel and Podcast

The top activity that I used was my philosophy channel, podcast and blog. I aim to make it clear that if you look at my activities you should be able to say, “Well, this is Josh Yen.” It shouldn’t be, oh, I’m going to throw in charity for the sake of doing charity, I’m going to throw in some sports just for the sake of doing sports, but I have no interested in at all. I think there’s a massive myth going around the academic US college application scheme, which is saying you have to have a broad range of activities, you have to do a million different charities, you have to do a million different sports, you have to do a million different pedantic things. And, and of course, it’s all well and good if you are actually truly passionate. Or if you truly love to do charity, if you truly love to do sports, but they’re all disjointed, then there’s no one unified kind of schema in which it fits in or when which you’re fit into that I think that is kind of pointless. And as a result, I always am a strong advocate of having good quality activities, which show who you are, and a single theme in my common app essay, and all my supplement essays are all about, I love philosophy, I’m searching for the truth, I’m searching to learn more about different people’s culture, I point to my philosophy channel, which has 3000 plus subscribers, I point to my podcast, which is ranked top 200 In the UK, top 50 In Slovenia and other countries like that. So it’s something which is really part of me. And it’s something that I want to share to the college admissions counsellor to say, well, this is who Joshua is, imagine you did all these crazy charities, what’s going to happen to you? It’s like, they’re going to look at this and say, well, he’s mean the philosopher, well, why did then doing some charities that the other day he’s doing another type of charity or or another day, he’s going to play a sports and then he’s going to play do X, Y, and Z, all these, these different things. It’s like, well, who actually is this is versatile computing, there is no core identity numbers, I think that have a similar core identity, so important.

Activity 2: Book

And that’s why my second activity is for people to sort of form the base as well. And it’s my book that I’ve written on Christianity which can be accessed on Amazon. Well, I’m a Christian, I’m a philosopher. I love philosophy. I also love my religion, I love God. And that is at the core of who I am as a person they’re truly gathered, by searching for the truth is linked to the idea that, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free”. I mean, whether you’re a Christian or not, I think that has that link together to say, well, this is your goal, this is your purpose. That is your mission, that is your vision for your life going forward. It’s something which all college counsellors are looking for. They want to have someone who is not only trying to reach their goals, it’s someone with principles and balance, and they hold strong. And of course, you can say, Well, okay, maybe a religious kind of foundation is, of course, very obvious kind of value. But it could also apply to you, if you were doing maybe you want to do scientific inquiry. And then if that’s the case, in your entire activity, this maybe not all of it, but a lot of damage could be related to your scientific vision, maybe you want to develop as a med student a cure to some form of cancer, well, maybe you’re donating money to support Movember or something, like, right, or you’re doing some awareness for some breast cancer organisation, right. So even if you’re doing a charity, where it’s not completely detached from your core principle, you might be writing academic papers about it, you might be researching about, pat yourself on the side, you’re also saying, Well, yes, I also have clarity. I also like doing activities. But that ties back to my fundamental vision.  

Get our latest posts in your inbox.

Activity 3: Student Leadership

My third activity was student government. And that was me being a prefect ahead of house in my school, and also had a performing arts. So I was really interacting with people to teach them, guide them and mentor younger students in my high school. And that once again, you could see as well that ties into my vision, my vision was always to meet new people. My vision was to help people make the most of their high school experience. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this channel to motivate and to give you advice in order for you to get into your top universities. So as a result, that third activity was precisely to support that. The reason also why I did a student government is that it shows I’m contributing to the community. My philosophy channel is a very kind of individual activity. Of course, I’ve had to work with publishers. I have to work with my family members to convince them to support me in these projects. And all those activities, even though I do have to interact with other people, it’s very individual in the sense that I am kind of my own boss. If you’re in a student government, it shows that not only can I work by myself, I work in a team. And even though it’s still my vision, it’s kind of an example of how you can move away and show a different activity, different sides of you yet still remaining within that vision, because it’s undeniable that those two things can be linked together. And that link doesn’t have to come from a philosophical base to see their body. It could also be from a scientific base as well, I want to spread a certain message in the school, how to develop scientific appreciation in school, and in a world where people like to deny a lot of things about whatever concepts in the world I mean, you could always make a story and make a narrative about yourself to show why you like and are you and you’re prioritizing different things. And you want to link all your activities together, you could be able to have an activity list, put yourself in the middle, write all your activities on the side, and then also draw spider diagrams and draw links to every single activity written and say, well, this activity one type of activity to activity, two types of activity for activity, fourth type activity, three, three to 10, whatever, right? You should be able to link it all together. And that’s a very, very important thing when I’m looking at my third activity. And I was like, Well, what else can I do that links into everything yet, at the same time demonstrates a different aspect of me, I thought, Well, being a prefect, being a head of house is definitely one of those activities. Now of course, or other activities, I did sports, music and all these other things, but then that always take them back to my core mission, my core vision in life, which is to understand the world around me to meet new people to understand different cultures, ideas, philosophies, and ethics out you could also see that my common app, so that so you always have to talk about your activities in the same way you’re looking at your common app, is that and supplement essays Is this the same person? Can I give if you gave me those three different things or activities independent of the Common App independent or supplemental essays? You look at what can you see without actually seeing your name? Can I see that this is the same person with the same vision if the answer is yes, you definitely do strengthen your opportunities a lot like always.


I hope you enjoyed this post, for more information, remember you go sign up to my newsletter or go check out our university admissions channel @Logos Education!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: