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Columbia is still my absolute, number one, pick-of-them-all college. I intend to hold my ground here on the wait-list. If a spot does indeed open up for me, I will immediately enroll.
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Columbia matches me better than any other college. I alluded to three reasons for that on my application: the core curriculum, the creative writing program, and New York.
The core curriculum for me is about background. I’m set on being a writerif only an opinionated starving novelistand for that I need focus. I need to understand the history of Literature before I can claw my way in. I need to understand Literature in the context of Art, as a historical and philosophical concept, before I can build on that concept. And I need to be around peers who feel the same way.
Of course, all the while, I will continue writing. I’ll be getting better and better, as the rule “Write what you know” encompasses more and more. It will be a painful but exciting process of sharpening and deleting, retreating and reforming, shaping and attacking. I badly want teachers who understand that process; in my experience, only the very best do.
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Friends of mine and fans of Columbia often say that the academics alonethe core, the writing program, the language department, even the librarywould be intellectually fulfilling enough to draw me to the Everglades, if necessary. But I believe that the academics are in fact inextricably linked to New York, that the great books of the core curriculum were not written simply to be studied in the most obvious sense, but written to be tested. As you journey deeper back toward the roots of Western Civilization, toward the birth of Logic and Concept and Science and Art, you should journey outward to see its result, and to compare. What is literature if not a comparison, an analogy? Where is there a better place to make a comparison to, if not New York?
But it isn’t the theater, the museums, or the coffee shops that draw me to Columbia. Nor is it merely the outstanding creative writing program and what I consider to be the best system of education in the countrythe core curriculum. What makes me care this much, what made me skip through all the packages that afternoon to open the letter you sent, what makes me harass my compassionate college counselor more than she would probably like, is the way all these elements come so nicely together, the way I feel as if each part of me will have its expression in New York, and inside the classrooms, and on the steps of the library, where I sat last November, colder than I can remember, knowing how much it mattered, knowing that Columbia was where I wanted to be. I still feel exactly that way.
Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my application and this overly long letter.
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