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3 Top Tips for a Stand-Out Cornell Essay

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College Essays

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For the 2022–2023 admission cycle, Cornell admitted less than 8% of their total applicant pool. To be one of the students who gets accepted, you need to write amazing essays as part of your Cornell University application.

In this article, we'll outline the different types of essays you need to write for your Cornell University application and teach you how to write a Cornell supplemental essay that will help you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.

What Are the Cornell Essay Prompts?

Most students applying to Cornell only need to answer one Cornell supplemental essay prompt as part of their application (engineering students are the exception).

Don't get too excited though, because this one essay carries a lot of weight. The word limit is on the longer side (usually around 650 words), and the topic depends on which school within the university that you're applying to.

Cornell University consists of many smaller colleges, each with their own required Cornell writing supplement.

Your Cornell essay prompt will correspond to the school that you plan to study at, so give your future as a Cornell student some thought before you start writing. Be sure to write about the subject or area of study that you are currently interested in, even if that may change when you get to college. As with all college admissions essays, authenticity is key. You may have myriad scholastic interests, but for this essay, stick with what you know best and are most passionate about. Your potential topic must correspond with the areas of study at the college too.

The Cornell essay prompts give ample space for you to express yourself and reveal a more complete portrait of who you are as a student and human simply because of the word limit. You can say a lot in 650 words, so take advantage of it!

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2023–2024 Cornell Supplement Essay Questions

Here are the essays and instructions as shown on the Cornell University admissions website :

College Interest Essays

The primary focus of your college interest essay should be what you intend to study at Cornell. In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to the essay question below (maximum of 650 words) that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying. Note that the College of Engineering is the only college that requires multiple shorter essays, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences lists one required and two optional essays.

Here are this year's prompts: 

  • Brooks School of Public Policy: Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals.
  • Required: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals?
  • Optional: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an experience where you had a meaningful mpact on people, a community, and/or an environment of importance to you (200-word limit).
  • A primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity.
  • My extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity.
  • I have experience working in an agricultural entity.
  • I have interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural entity.

Please feel free to share additional details (optional) (100-word limit).

  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues.
  • College of Arts and Sciences:   At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences. .
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration).
  • Essay 1 (Required response): How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about.
  • Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.
  • Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?
  • College of Human Ecology: How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major. (Refer to our essay application tips before you begin.)
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations: Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.

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Cornell Supplement Essays Analyzed

In this section, we'll take a look at each Cornell supplemental essay prompt in depth.

Remember, you may only answer one prompt for your application.

We'll also give tips for how to best approach answering the individual essay questions. Some tips will apply to all of the questions, but we will highlight the important differences for each program.

Brooks School of Public Policy

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals.

To apply to the Brooks School of Public Policy, you'll need to select a specific major . Be specific about what you want to study and why, and make sure that you clearly state why the Brooks School in particular is the best option for you.

Don't panic if you don't have a lot of experience with your chosen major yet! Instead, think about why you're interested in this field and what experiences led you to it . Maybe you're inspired by something you personally experienced, by research you conducted, or by a documentary or article you read.

You should also research the history of the Brooks School and its different programs. Choose the one that best aligns with your goals , and look to see whether any notable faculty or alumni might further inspire you.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Applicants must answer one required essay, but also have the option to answer two optional essays. We'll break down your options below.

Required: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals ?

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences asks you to have an idea of your major as you apply. In your essay, you should commit to one major and be specific about why it's important to you. Choose a topic of genuine interest to you and that you have a personal connection with, even if that personal connection consists solely of articles you've read and documentaries you've seen.

Do your research about the topic and the school. Dedicate some time to reading about CALS—its history, its current faculty, and its notable alumni. Is there anyone from your research who you can relate to or who you think of as inspiring? Are there professors whom you are looking forward to working with?

Lean into the school's reputation, and choose something specific to write about that has a personal connection to you. For example, instead of writing about homesteading trends across the country, write about a local farm in your area that you visited as a child or how you got interested in food science.

You could also write about your personal connection to a specific project of a professor who teaches in the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Optional: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an experience where you had a meaningful impact on people, a community, and/or an environment of importance to you.  (200-word limit)

This is a great opportunity for you to show how you want to use your passion for the greater good . Because the prompt tells you to define your impact "on people, a community" broadly, you have a lot of leeway here. Think about your local neighborhood, your family and friends, any trips you may have taken through school or service organizations—anything that shows your commitment to serving others.

Optional:  Cornell CALS is dedicated to purpose-driven study of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background or interest in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. An "agricultural entity" for the purpose of this question is defined as cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock (e.g., farm, ranch, greenhouse, vineyard, etc.). Select all that apply: A primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity . My extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity. I have experience working in an agricultural entity. I have interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural entity. Please feel free to share additional details (optional). (100-word limit)

This isn't an essay prompt so much as a way for you to self-identify . If any of these options apply to you, make sure to check them!

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues.

The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning wants to know how you connect your creative passions with your scholastic interests here. Think about what you learn about or engage with of your own volition, not just because you're required to. In other words, when you fall down an Internet rabbit hole, what are you often researching?

For example, what design trends fascinate you? Which artists, photographers, or architects do you gravitate toward? What sort of urban planning projects would you be inspired to pursue? What transportation, housing, or infrastructure issues in your community or region do you want to work toward solving? Keep in mind that you'll want to not just describe who or what motivates you but also  why .

Note also that the question asks you to describe either a "passion" or a "creative project," so if you've already had the opportunity to work on an art installation or design project that has inspired you to pursue your degree at Cornell, then describe that project and explain why it motivates you. Remember, the prompt asks about passions, as well as quirks. Don't feel embarrassed! Share something personal about yourself. Maybe you love watching old cinema or make your own pop-up cards for your family. Maybe you watch hundreds of hours of videos from YouTube photographers. Maybe you visit the City Hall of whatever new town you visit.

Whatever you choose, make sure you elaborate on why you're interested in it and how it's affected your life.

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College of Arts and Sciences

At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences .

The College of Arts and Sciences is the most generalized school of study at Cornell University, and the admissions essay reflects that. If you know that you love to learn but aren't sure what your career will look like after college, it's likely you'll be applying here.

Don't be fooled! Just because the question is broad, you don't have to write a broad essay in response. Don't feel like you have to demonstrate an interest in both Russian literature and molecular biology. Rather, describe your real intellectual pursuits with honesty and sincerity .

You don't have to have huge aspirations or a fancy reason for your intellectual pursuits. Stay true to yourself. If you're interested in Tudor history because of some historical fiction novels you read as a child, that's fine! You can say that. Just be sure to always tie it back to how Cornell's academics will let you study your passion.

If you have multiple areas of study that you are passionate about, you may write about them—but don't write about more than two or three at the most. Otherwise, your essay will feel more like a list rather than an in-depth exploration of your actual interests.

If you do choose to write about multiple interests, be sure to connect them back to you and your individual experience as a Cornell student and community member.

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Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration).

For the Johnson College of Business, the first part of the essay question asks you to think about the business-related topics or issues you are interested in; how they're connected with your life, academic, volunteer, or work experiences; and why. The next part of the prompt invites you to discuss your interests in terms of what's on offer at the business school.

Your best approach, then, is to r esearch the programs so that you know exactly what their approach to business, management, economics, and hospitality is.   What topics do they offer classes on? What specific research areas do their professors study? Then, think about what you most often find yourself thinking, reading, or talking about that relates to two or three of these topics. Those connections should be the core of your essay.

For example, did a history class inspire you to research the evolution of print advertising to digital marketing? Did moving from abroad get you interested in international development? Did you grow up in a family of entrepreneurs and want to further explore how to build your own business?

As you build your response, keep in mind that your essay should also indicate why you want to attend Cornell's College of Business rather than any other and how you'll take advantage of the resources it offers. So do some research on what makes the college stand out from others. You can list specific classes you'd like to take or professors you'd like to study with. Doing so will show that you're interested in Cornell, not just any old business school.

If you're specifically interested in the School of Hotel Adminitration and you're having trouble coming up with a topic, use the list of global hospitality industry topics as a jumping-off point. Which are you interested in? How did you become interested in them? Why do you care so much about these topics? What type of career do you want in this industry?

When writing about the experiences that define you and your passions as a future business major, don't generalize. Instead, use stories, anecdotes, and details  that actually happened and that show your personality traits and motivations. Follow that old grade-school writing rule: show; don't tell.

College of Engineering

All applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. Each has a limit of 250 words. Essay 1 is required of all applicants. For Essay 2, you must choose between Question A and Question B.

Essay 1 (Required): How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about.

Essay 2 (Required):

And now for something a little different. Instead of writing one long essay, College of Engineering applicants have to write two shorter essays, and they get to choose from three prompts.

Each of the prompts seeks to understand why you want to study engineering and why you believe you'd excel at engineering. For all prompts, be sure to go beyond the surface level with your answers. Don't just say that you want a steady job after graduation. Cornell's College of Engineering wants to see that you have both ambition and interesting ideas.

The first prompt is required  and is the most similar to the prompts for the other colleges. It's a basic "why us?" prompt, in which you explain to Cornell what it is about their College of Engineering that made you want to apply. Again, the more specific you can be here, the better. Mention things such as specific professors, classes, or internship opportunities to strengthen your essay.

The second prompt is a chance for you to put your thinking cap on! This is a great place for you to shine. Your job here is to choose a problem that is important to you —and say a little about why before diving into the prompt itself. If you know what type of engineering you want to study, make sure the problem you're addressing can be solved through that subfield. If you're not decided, you have a little more leeway.

For the third prompt, you're focusing on diversity and how you'll add to it. This doesn't just need to be racial diversity; think about what your unique life experiences can bring to Cornell's College of Engineering and how that would contribute to its diversity.

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College of Human Ecology

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major. (Refer to our essay application tips before you begin.)

This essay prompt gives you lots of room for creativity. That being said, heed this caveat: don't get carried away in stating your grandiose mission for solving the world's problems. As with the other essay prompts, specificity is key.

For the first question, choose an example from your life to illustrate your answer.  Pick something that has truly been formative in your educational and professional goals , dive in deep, and write from the heart.

For example, if you're interested in studying policy analysis and management, you could talk about how your experience with social welfare programs has affected your life. Or if you're looking to be part of the fiber science and apparel design program, you could talk about why clothing has played such an important part in your life and your passion for fashion design.

Be sure to include your future goals in your answer. The College of Human Ecology has a very specific focus—you'll want to reflect that as you discuss your career and life aspirations.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.

This essay is a great opportunity to show off your academic side. You get to write about your topics of study and describe how you will continue to make it a part of your life in your college career and beyond.

You don't have to limit your answer to school experiences. Academic pursuits can grow from hobbies, travels, or personal experiences. Do you take on leadership roles in your religious community? Have you had a particularly influential summer job? As long as you relate the experience back to academics, you are golden.

You should also specify why ILR is the right college at Cornell for you to pursue these interests. What can you study at ILR that you can't study in Cornell's other colleges, such as the College of Arts and Sciences? It can be helpful to list specific courses or tracks of study at ILR that reflect your intellectual interests. Remember, the prompt specifically asks why ILR is your Cornell college of choice.

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How to Write a Great Cornell Essay

Regardless of which Cornell essay prompt you're responding to, you should keep in mind the following tips for how to write a great Cornell essay.

#1: Use Your Own Voice

The point of a college essay is to give the admissions committee a chance to get to know you beyond your test scores, grades, and honors.

Your admissions essays are your opportunity to make yourself come alive for the essay readers and to present yourself as a fully fleshed-out person.

You should, then, make sure that the person you're presenting in your college essays is yourself. Don't try to emulate what you think the committee wants to hear or try to act like someone you're not.

If you lie or exaggerate, your essay will come across as insincere, which will diminish its effectiveness. Stick to telling real stories about the person you really are, not who you think Cornell wants you to be.

#2: Avoid Clichés and Overused Phrases

When writing your Cornell essay, try to avoid using clichés or overused quotes or phrases.

These include quotations that have been quoted to death and phrases or idioms that are overused in daily life. The college admissions committee has probably seen numerous essays from students who have grand plans to change the world. Only talk about changing the world if you have legitimate interests to back it up.

Strive for originality and avoid using clichés, which take away from the strength and sincerity of your work.

#3: Check Your Work

It should almost go without saying, but you want to make sure your Cornell essay is the strongest example of your work possible. Before you turn in your Cornell application, make sure to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It's a good idea to have someone else read your Cornell essay too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend. Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check to make sure you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it possibly can be.

Recap: Writing a Stellar Cornell Essay

The Cornell essay prompts give you a chance to really show the admissions committee who you are. Regardless of the question you're answering, remember to follow these basic dos and don'ts as you're writing:

  • Be authentic and honest.
  • Be specific when citing people, places, and things.
  • Strive for brevity and clarity; less is more!
  • Be yourself, and do your research—both will shine through in your essays!
  • Base your essays on what you think the Cornell application committee wants to hear.
  • Use clichés or broad sweeping statements.
  • Try too hard to be funny and original. Be genuine and your positive attributes will be visible to the committee.

What's Next?

Are you working on the Common App essay as part of your application? Read our breakdown of the Common App prompts and our guide to picking the best prompt for you .

If you're planning to take the SAT or ACT as part of your application , try out some of our famous test prep guides, like " How to Get a Perfect Score on the SAT " and " 15 Key ACT Test Day Tips ."

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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High school student preparing for college considers how to choose a major

2023-24 Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

High school student preparing for college considers how to choose a major

Is Cornell University on your college list? Because it’s an Ivy League institution with a low admissions rate, your application needs to be extremely competitive. Your responses to Cornell’s supplemental essay prompts can help set you apart if they are compelling, thoughtful, and authentic. Keep reading for some insights into Cornell’s 2023-24 supplemental essays.   

What to Consider Before You Write 

Before you begin writing, it’s important to ask yourself what stories you can tell in your essays that aren’t already mentioned in your application. The admissions committee wants a complete picture of who you are, what interests you, and how you think — this helps them determine how you will contribute to campus life.  

Are the Common App and College Supplemental Essays Really Important During a College Admission Decision? 

You apply for admission to Cornell University through the Common App, which includes supplemental essays. Your application will undergo a holistic review, meaning that the admissions committee will look at both hard and soft factors. Hard factors are indicators of your academic performance, such as GPA, course rigor, and test scores. The supplemental essays are one of the most important soft factors, which also include your extracurriculars, counselor recommendations, and teacher evaluations.  

How Many Hours to Put into Writing Your Supplemental Essay for Cornell University?  

  While there isn’t a specific number of hours you should devote to writing your supplemental essays, it is well worth taking your time with the entire writing process. This includes researching Cornell University to include specific details in your essay, such as professors you want to work with, classes you want to take, and clubs you would like to join. The process of writing a strong essay includes getting feedback from people you trust, revising, and proofreading. Our college essay guide is also a helpful resource.

Does Cornell Look More at Essays and Letters of Recommendation or GPAs and SAT/ACT Scores?  

Even though applications go through a holistic review, the hard factors of the application are still more important than the soft factors — after all, the admissions committee wants to make sure you are capable of college-level work. If your GPA and level of course rigor demonstrate your ability to perform at the college level, admissions officers will then look at the other factors that indicate how you will integrate into campus life.    

Cornell is currently test-optional, meaning you do not have to submit SAT or ACT scores — however, they will be considered if you submit them. That said, the following colleges and schools do not consider test scores at all in the admissions process:  

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)  
  • College of Architecture, Art & Planning  
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: Nolan School of Hotel Administration  
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management  

If you are applying to other colleges at Cornell, test scores will be evaluated if you submit them. Cornell has low college admission rates , so submitting high test scores may give you an edge over other applicants with comparable transcripts.   

How to Write the Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-24 

In addition to the personal statement in the Common Application, you are also required to respond to the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt(s) for the undergraduate school or college to which you are applying.

It’s important to note that many of Cornell’s undergraduate school and college supplements can be broken down into two simple questions: 

  • Why the major? 
  • Why Cornell [undergraduate college/school]? 

The “Why This College?” essay is a common theme for supplemental essay prompts. Though in this case, you will want to address why you’re interested in the specific undergraduate college or school at Cornell, rather than the university as a whole.  

The following strategies and examples can help you respond to these essay prompts.   

Table of Contents

  • Cornell University Essay Question
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Ecology
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Cornell University Essay Question  

In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, Ezra Cornell wrote, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” For over 150 years, Cornell University has remained deeply committed to Ezra’s vision. Explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a learning community devoted to “… any person … any study.” We encourage you to think broadly about your life experiences, including how local (e.g., family, school, neighborhood) or global communities you’ve been part of have helped shape your perspective. (350-word limit)  

This prompt is new, and it’s a lot like other college essays that ask you to describe community and/or diversity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on race-conscious college admissions. It might help you to brainstorm the different aspects of your identity and the different communities that influence you — whether that community is your neighborhood, a place of worship, or a club or organization. Then, think about how any of these influences might demonstrate how you can fit in and contribute to the Cornell community. Here’s an example of what that might look like:  

The cultures and histories behind my Indo-Jamaican identity transcend geographical boundaries and shape my perspective. My dual heritage has provided me with invaluable lessons about diversity, resilience, and harmony. I hope to continue learning and sharing these lessons at Cornell as a history major and migration studies minor. 

One of the most profound lessons from my dual heritage is the importance of resilience. The histories of both India and Jamaica are marked by struggles for independence. The tales of my ancestors’ resilience under colonial rule in both countries, and my Indian ancestors’ fight against indentureship, have instilled in me a passion to delve deeper into the history of colonization and migration. This is why I am drawn to Cornell’s strong Caribbean and Asian history curriculum, in addition to the migration studies minor. Not only will I gain a better understanding of the events and influences that informed my identity, but I can participate in opportunities like the Migrations Global Grand Challenge to learn how to address the challenges that migrant populations face.

My homeland, Jamaica, is a union of diverse cultural influences. Not only was I immersed in my mother’s Hindu community, I experienced the African and European influences on the language, art, food, music, and religion that are part of my father’s Jamaican heritage. The festivals and celebrations of my childhood embody the spirit of communal joy, emphasizing the significance of unity despite differences—Diwali lights illuminate the darkness, while Junkanoo parades infuse the streets with vibrant colors. In this spirit of unity, I hope to volunteer with the Einaudi Center’s Foreign Language Introduction Program to share my knowledge of Hindu and Jamaican languages and culture with schools in the community. 

Cornell’s commitment to “any person… any study” aligns perfectly with my values of acceptance and inclusiveness. I see myself as a bridge between cultures, and I’m eager to learn from my peers and share my knowledge with them. I am excited to embrace Ezra Cornell’s vision and be part of a university that values the unique experiences and perspectives that every student brings to the table.  

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences    

Prompt 1 (required)  .

Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals? (650-word limit)  

If you examine this prompt closely, you’ll see that it asks the two “Why?” questions mentioned above. You have 650 words to tell the story of how you developed an interest in the field you want to study, how you expanded that interest over time, and why Cornell CALS is the right place for you to cultivate that interest into a career. This is illustrated in the following example.  

I have always been fascinated by the natural world and the complex relationships that exist between living organisms and their environment. As a child, I loved spending time outdoors, exploring the woods behind my house, and collecting bugs and rocks. I was also intrigued by my family’s vegetable garden, and I enjoyed learning about how to grow plants and care for animals.  

As I got older, my interest in agriculture and life sciences continued to grow. I took several biology and environmental science courses in high school, and I participated in several extracurricular activities related to these subjects, such as the science club and the environmental club. I also volunteered at a local farm, where I learned about sustainable farming practices and the challenges that farmers face.  

My experiences in high school and in the community have solidified my desire to study agriculture and life sciences at Cornell University. Cornell’s CALS program offers a wide range of courses and research opportunities that align with my interests. I am particularly interested in majoring in Plant Sciences and minoring in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems.  

I believe that an education from Cornell CALS will specifically serve to support my learning, growth, and the pursuit of my goals in the following ways:  

  • Access to world-class faculty and resources: Cornell CALS has a world-renowned faculty who are experts in their fields. I am excited to learn from these professors and conduct research with them. Cornell also has state-of-the-art facilities and resources that will support my learning, such as its research farms and greenhouses.  
  • Opportunities to learn from and collaborate with a diverse student body: Cornell CALS is a diverse community of students from all over the world. I am eager to learn from my classmates and collaborate with them on projects. I believe that this exposure to different perspectives will make me a more well-rounded and informed student.  
  • Preparation for a rewarding career in agriculture and life sciences: Cornell CALS offers a rigorous academic program that will prepare me for a successful career in agriculture and life sciences. I am confident that the skills and knowledge I gain at Cornell will enable me to make a positive impact on the world.  

After graduating from Cornell, I plan to pursue a career in agricultural research. I am interested in developing new sustainable farming practices and crop varieties that can help feed the world’s growing population. I believe that my education at Cornell CALS will give me the tools and knowledge I need to achieve this goal, and I look forward to applying what I learn to make a difference in the world.  

Optional Prompts  

It can be tempting to skip these optional prompts, but the more information you can provide to the admissions committee for their holistic review, the better. Think about what you can add that hasn’t already been mentioned elsewhere in your application — keep it short but impactful, like these examples.  

Prompt 2: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an experience where you had a meaningful impact on people, a community, and/or an environment of importance to you. (200-word limit)  

During my high school journey, I’ve strived to embody Cornell CALS’ mission of leaving the world better than I found it. One experience that truly reflects this commitment was my involvement in organizing a community clean-up initiative. Witnessing our local park’s deterioration saddened me, so I rallied a group of volunteers to act.  

We dedicated weekends to restoring the park’s beauty, picking up litter, planting trees, and repairing playground equipment. Our efforts not only transformed the park but also fostered a sense of pride and unity among community members. Children now have a safe, vibrant space to play, and families regularly gather for picnics and events.  

This experience taught me that meaningful change begins at the grassroots level. It’s not enough to master academic disciplines; we must apply our knowledge to benefit society. At Cornell CALS, I aspire to continue this journey, using my education to address larger issues and make a positive impact on the world.  

Prompt 3: Cornell CALS is dedicated to purpose-driven study of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background or interest in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. An “agricultural entity” for the purpose of this question is defined as cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock (e.g., farm, ranch, greenhouse, vineyard, etc.).   

Select all that apply:  

  • A primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity.  
  • My extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity.  
  • I have experience working in an agricultural entity.  
  • I have interest pursuing a career in an agricultural entity.  

Please feel free to share additional details (optional). (100-word limit)  

I have experience working in an agricultural entity, specifically helping out on my family’s farm during summer breaks. This experience has given me a deep appreciation for the agricultural industry and its importance in our society. While my intended major may not be directly related to agriculture, I believe that understanding the agricultural sciences is crucial for addressing global challenges related to food security and sustainability. I am open to exploring how my education at Cornell CALS can contribute to the advancement of agriculture and its intersection with other disciplines.  

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning  

How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues. (650-word limit)  

This is a lengthy prompt, but on close inspection, you’ll see that it’s the classic “Why?” essay question. How do you envision your future in art, architecture, and/or planning, and how can Cornell help you turn your current passions into practice? These are questions to consider as you craft your response. Check out this example for some inspiration.   

My passion for art and design has been a guiding force throughout my life, and I am excited to channel this passion into my intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP). The intersection of my interests and AAP’s renowned programs presents unique academic opportunities that will help me develop a coherent and impactful art practice.  

From a young age, I’ve been captivated by the power of visual expression. I remember spending hours sketching, experimenting with colors, and observing the world through an artistic lens. This early fascination has evolved into a profound interest in art forms and expression, which is why I intend to pursue an art major at AAP.  

One of the key aspects of AAP that aligns with my interests is its multidisciplinary approach. The college encourages students to explore various art forms and design disciplines, which resonates with my belief that creativity knows no boundaries. I see my artistic practice as an ever-evolving journey that can be enriched by drawing from diverse influences and techniques. AAP’s emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaboration will allow me to incorporate elements from different artistic fields into my work, creating a richer and more nuanced body of art.  

Moreover, my passion extends beyond traditional visual arts into art history, theory and criticism. I am especially interested in spending a semester at Cornell in Rome to immerse myself in art history and expand my knowledge of the art world. Not only will this enhance my undergraduate experience at Cornell, but it will allow me to explore new methods of artistic expression that will profoundly impact my work.  

Additionally, AAP offers access to world-class faculty and resources that will be instrumental in honing my skills and fostering my artistic growth. I look forward to learning from professors who are experts in their respective fields, benefiting from their guidance, and engaging in meaningful discussions about art and design. The diverse range of resources, from art studios to fabrication shops, are ideal for me to experiment with new techniques and materials.  

One of the aspects of AAP that particularly excites me is the emphasis on real-world application. I see art as a powerful medium for addressing contemporary issues and sparking meaningful conversations. AAP’s commitment to engaging with real-world challenges through art and design aligns with my desire to use my artistic practice as a platform for social and cultural commentary. I believe that art has the potential to raise awareness, inspire change, and promote dialogue, and I am eager to take advantage of the resources and opportunities at AAP to create art that has a lasting impact.  

Furthermore, Cornell’s location offers a wealth of inspiration for my artistic practice, from the vibrant arts scene in Ithaca to the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Exploring these environments will undoubtedly inform and enrich my art, allowing me to draw inspiration from the world around me.  

My interests are intricately connected with my intended major at AAP. I am excited to embark on this journey to further develop my artistic practice, drawing from a multidisciplinary approach, engaging with world-class faculty and resources, and using art as a means to address contemporary issues. AAP’s commitment to fostering creativity and innovation aligns perfectly with my aspirations as an artist, and I am eager to contribute to the vibrant artistic community at Cornell while continuing to pursue my passion for art and design.  

College of Arts & Sciences  

At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences. (650-word limit)   

Since the College of Arts and Sciences offers cross-disciplinary programs, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded student who can benefit from the College’s diverse offerings. As you will see in this essay, the student is interested in the comparative literature and creative writing programs specifically but also explains how studying other disciplines like history and philosophy will enhance their primary areas of study. Do your research into the College’s values and offerings as you craft your response so you can include specific details that resonate with you.    

I have always been driven by an insatiable curiosity that has shaped my academic journey and fueled my aspiration to study Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences. This innate curiosity has been the driving force behind my quest to understand the complexities of human expression and the power of storytelling. It is this passion that has led me to embrace a diverse range of academic interests and fields, all of which find a home in the liberal arts education offered at Cornell.  

One area of study that excites me the most is Comparative Literature because of the exploration of universal themes, human experiences, and cultural nuances. Through this field, I hope to delve into the depth of human storytelling, examining how it transcends borders and connects people across the globe. I look forward to dissecting the works of authors like Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami, and Chinua Achebe, and exploring how their narratives capture the essence of their respective cultures while also resonating with a global audience. Comparative Literature offers a unique lens through which I can explore the intricacies of language, culture, and the human condition.  

Storytelling is the quintessential human art, a means of expression that spans millennia. Through Creative Writing, I aim to not only hone my own writing skills but also explore the diversity of voices and narratives that exist in the world. I am particularly drawn to fiction writing, where I can create characters and worlds, breathe life into them, and invite readers to walk alongside them on their journeys. The Creative Writing program at Cornell offers a nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment that encourages experimentation and creativity. I am eager to work with accomplished faculty and collaborate with fellow students who share my passion for the written word. Cornell’s strong emphasis on a liberal arts education will allow me to explore various genres and styles, from fiction to poetry to creative nonfiction, further enhancing my writing repertoire.  

My curiosity extends beyond the realms of literature and creative writing. I am drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. The opportunity to take courses in diverse fields such as history, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology excites me immensely. These subjects provide valuable perspectives that can enrich my understanding of literature and storytelling.  

As a prospective Comparative Literature and Creative Writing student, I am eager to engage in research projects that allow me to delve deeper into my areas of interest. Whether it’s analyzing the impact of postcolonial literature on contemporary society or exploring innovative narrative techniques in fiction writing, I see Cornell as a place where I can expand my knowledge and contribute to academic discourse.  

The College of Arts and Sciences’ emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving resonates with my goal of becoming a well-rounded scholar and writer. I believe that a comprehensive education that encourages intellectual curiosity and fosters a sense of global awareness is essential for addressing the complex challenges of our world. I am excited about the opportunities to engage in meaningful discussions and debates, both inside and outside the classroom, as I believe that these interactions are crucial for personal growth and the development of well-rounded individuals.  

My passion for learning and love for literature and writing has been the driving force behind my academic journey. The academic opportunities and curriculum offered by The College of Arts and Sciences align perfectly with my interests and aspirations, and I am eager to take advantage of them to further my education and contribute to the academic community. My curiosity knows no bounds, and I am confident that Cornell will be the ideal place for me to continue my quest for knowledge, growth, and creativity.  

Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy  

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650-word limit)   

Here they are again — the “Why?” questions. As you’ll see in the example below, the student explains how their interest in public policy started, how they nurtured that interest through volunteering and interning, and why they believe the Brooks School will help them achieve their goals. This student demonstrated a lot of thought behind their decision to major in public policy and provided details about Cornell’s program that appealed to them.  

Studying public policy is not just an academic pursuit for me; it’s a passionate commitment driven by my experiences, values, and a deep desire to make a positive impact on society. As a prospective student at Cornell University, I am drawn to the field of public policy because of its potential to effect meaningful change. The Brooks School of Public Policy offers the resources and opportunities to help me achieve my future goals.  

My interest in public policy was ignited by a series of personal and community experiences. One of these experiences resulted from volunteering at a local homeless shelter. Interacting with individuals experiencing homelessness opened my eyes to the harsh realities faced by marginalized communities. It became clear to me that systemic issues, such as housing affordability and healthcare access, played a significant role in perpetuating homelessness. This experience motivated me to explore the role of government policies in addressing homelessness and related social challenges.  

I also had the privilege of interning with a local nonprofit organization that focused on education reform. Through this internship, I gained valuable insights into the complexities of education policy and its impact on underserved communities. I was inspired by the potential of well-crafted policies to narrow educational gaps and provide every child with an equal opportunity to succeed. This experience affirmed my belief in the power of public policy to make a positive impact on people.  

As a prospective student at the Brooks School of Public Policy at Cornell, I see the unique advantages of pursuing my passion for public policy at this renowned institution. Cornell’s commitment to academic excellence, research, and public engagement aligns perfectly with my goals. The interdisciplinary nature of the program, which combines social sciences, economics, and law, will equip me with a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by society and the tools to address them effectively.  

The Brooks School’s emphasis on experiential learning is particularly appealing to me. I look forward to participating in internships, research projects, and policy analysis initiatives that will allow me to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems.  

One of my long-term goals is to work in a government agency or nonprofit organization dedicated to policy research and advocacy. I believe that the Brooks School’s emphasis on policy analysis and research methods will provide me with the necessary skills to conduct evidence-based research and make informed policy recommendations. Whether it’s conducting research on affordable housing solutions or analyzing the impact of healthcare policies, I am excited about the prospect of contributing to the development of effective public policies.  

I am drawn to the Brooks School’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community because I believe that diversity of perspectives is essential for crafting equitable and effective policies. Cornell’s emphasis on creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment aligns with my personal values of equity and social justice.  

My passion for studying public policy is deeply rooted in my experiences, values, and a genuine desire to make a meaningful impact on society. Attending the Brooks School of Public Policy at Cornell University represents an opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to achieve my career goals. I am eager to immerse myself in the world of public policy, learn from renowned faculty, engage in meaningful research, and collaborate with fellow students who share my commitment to effecting positive change in the world. Cornell’s rich tradition of academic excellence and public service makes it the perfect place for me to pursue my studies in public policy and work toward a future where equitable policies lead to a more just and inclusive society.  

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business  

What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650-word limit)  

Since you’re an aspiring business student, you have an opportunity here to write a value proposition — that is, you’re promoting yourself and the value you can offer to the Johnson College of Business. Demonstrate how the value you offer differentiates you from other applicants and aligns with what the college offers. In the example below, the student is applying to the world-renowned Nolan School of Hotel Administration. She has already developed many important business skills that she can bring to the table, and she describes how her interests and career goals align with the Nolan School’s program.    

I am passionate about learning business and leadership skills that I can use to make a positive impact on the world. Additionally, I have always been drawn to the hospitality industry. The managerial leadership specialization at the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration is an ideal way for me to combine these interests and develop the skills I need to manage employees and guests with empathy and professionalism.  

I love creating memorable experiences for guests and making them feel welcome and at home. In high school, I worked part-time as a hostess at a local restaurant. This experience gave me a firsthand look at the day-to-day operations of a hospitality business and the importance of teamwork and customer service.  

In addition to my work experience, I have also been involved in several extracurricular activities related to hospitality and leadership. I am the VP of Hospitality for my school’s DECA chapter, as well as a member of the National Honor Society and the student council. In these roles, I have developed skills in leadership, public speaking, project management, networking, and event planning. I also learned how to work effectively with others to achieve common goals.  

One of the things that I most admire about the Nolan School of Hotel Administration is the focus on developing emotional intelligence and teaching students “how to be service-oriented leaders who make the world a better place.” This aligns closely with my own values and goals. I believe businesses have a responsibility to make a positive impact on the people they serve and the communities in which they operate.  

I am particularly interested in the managerial leadership specialization because it will give me the skills and knowledge I need to become an innovative and creative leader in the hospitality industry. I am eager to learn about the latest trends and challenges in the industry, and I am excited to develop my leadership skills so I can make a positive impact on the world.  

Several topics and issues I care deeply about align with the managerial leadership specialization. For example, I am passionate about sustainability and believe that it is essential for the long-term success of the hospitality industry. I also believe that creating a diverse and inclusive environment is necessary for the comfort and enjoyment of guests and employees alike. It’s also important for the success of any business for employees to stay engaged. So, I am especially interested in learning more about how to develop and implement sustainable practices, promote diversity and inclusion, and create a workplace culture that fosters employee engagement and productivity.  

I am confident that my skills, experience, and values make me a strong candidate for the managerial leadership specialization at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. I am eager to learn from the world-class faculty at Cornell and to network with my fellow students. I am confident that Cornell will give me the knowledge and skills I need to become a successful and socially responsible leader in the hospitality industry.   

College of Engineering  

Essay 1 (required) .

How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. (250-word limit)  

You might recognize this as a “why us?” essay, though feel free to answer the “why major?” question if you know what engineering major you’re pursuing. It’s important to be specific here and demonstrate that you’ve done your research about Cornell Engineering. Check out this example for inspiration.  

My passion for engineering is deeply intertwined with Cornell Engineering’s ethos of innovation and collaboration. While I’m still exploring the various engineering disciplines, I am particularly drawn to the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  

One of my primary interests is robotics and automation. I am captivated by the potential of robotics to solve complex problems and enhance our daily lives. Cornell’s world-class faculty and research opportunities in this field are incredibly appealing to me. I am excited about the prospect of working alongside professors and fellow students to develop cutting-edge robotic systems that can revolutionize industries from healthcare to manufacturing.  

I believe that the most significant breakthroughs often occur at the intersection of different fields. The university’s emphasis on cross-disciplinary projects and its close ties to other departments provide an ideal environment for me to explore diverse engineering interests and contribute to innovative solutions.  

Furthermore, I appreciate Cornell Engineering’s dedication to sustainability. As someone concerned about the environmental impact of technology, I am eager to explore ways in which engineering can contribute to a greener future. Whether through renewable energy systems or eco-friendly design principles, I see my interests aligning perfectly with Cornell’s focus on sustainable engineering practices.  

While I may not have a fixed major yet, I am excited about the prospect of pursuing my interests within the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and leveraging Cornell’s resources to make a positive impact on the world through engineering innovation.  

Essay 2 (Choose either A or B) 

Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem. (250-word limit)  

Since this has a smaller word count, focus on a specific problem — nothing too broad. To make your essay stand out, focus on a problem that is unique to your community, like the student does in this example. Through this essay, this student is also demonstrating that they value problem solving, community engagement, and sustainability.   

The charm of my small town often comes with a cost—a significant disconnect from modern amenities, notably the lack of a robust public transportation system. The solitary bridge connecting the two halves of our community is a rusty testament to bygone days, often becoming a bottleneck during peak hours. The absence of alternative routes exacerbates the daily commuting ordeal, reflecting an engineering predicament crying for resolution.  

The prospect of alleviating such foundational issues stirs enthusiasm within me. My primary initiative would be to design a modern, durable bridge to supplement the existing one. By employing cutting-edge materials and innovative design, the new structure would ensure smoother traffic flow and longer lifespan. Furthermore, I would incorporate pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes to promote greener commuting alternatives, aligning with modern urban planning principles.  

Exploring the feasibility of a small-scale public transit system, like electric buses or shared bicycle programs, could be a game-changer. This initiative would not only ease the traffic load on the bridge but also provide a sustainable commuting option for the residents. By engaging with local authorities and gathering community feedback, I aim to tailor solutions that resonate with the unique needs and preferences of my town.    

The blend of practical engineering solutions and community engagement excites me as I envision leveraging my education from Cornell Engineering to bridge the infrastructural gaps in my community, paving the way for a better-connected tomorrow.  

Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community? (250-word limit)  

Diversity questions are becoming increasingly common, but this question wants you to focus on diversity in the engineering field specifically. Everyone is shaped by the various communities they are part of and the experiences they have had — think about this and the perspectives you have gained that you can contribute to Cornell Engineering. The student in this example has a distinct and creative approach to engineering.    

Engineering thrives on uniting unique perspectives, channeling disparate ideas into a harmonized solution. My journey into engineering began in an unconventional manner—through the strings of a guitar. As a self-taught musician, I spent my early teenage years tinkering with sound equipment, constantly chasing the perfect tone. This endeavor led me down a rabbit hole of electrical engineering principles, amplifying my appreciation for the science that orchestrates our world. The blend of creativity and technical understanding I have honed through music is my contribution to the collective symphony of ideas at Cornell Engineering.  

The art of engineering, like music, thrives on a variety of tones and rhythms. My self-driven exploration into the world of music has nurtured an innovative mindset and a knack for out-of-the-box thinking. When confronting an engineering challenge, I often find myself strumming my guitar, letting the strings guide my thought process and weave a rhythm of creative and logical solutions.  

I am excited about the prospect of collaborative learning and working with peers from varied backgrounds, each bringing a unique narrative and approach to engineering challenges. My musical journey has honed a distinct lens through which I perceive and tackle engineering problems, a lens that I am eager to share and intertwine with the diverse intellectual tunes at Cornell Engineering, creating a harmony of innovative solutions for the complex challenges of tomorrow.  

College of Human Ecology  

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major. (Refer to our essay application tips before you begin.) (650-word limit)  

Once again, this is a combination of the “Why?” questions we already mentioned. Focus on the final part of this prompt — ensure that your response nicely ties your interests and goals into CHE’s offerings and your specific major, as the example below demonstrates. 

Growing up with parents who are social workers really opened my eyes to the importance of helping others. The idea of giving back wasn’t just something nice to do; it was a part of our daily life. Seeing my parents work tirelessly to help those in need showed me the real impact that individuals can have on their community. Their actions shaped my interests, leading me towards wanting to understand more about how people interact and how society affects individuals.  

When I came across Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, everything clicked. It felt like finding the right place where my interests could grow and make a difference. CHE’s mix of social sciences with real-world solutions seemed like the perfect fit for what I wanted to study. I am excited about the idea of learning in an environment that encourages practical solutions to human-centered issues.  

Choosing Human Development as my major was an easy decision because it lined up with everything I was curious about. The range of courses offered, from developmental psychology to social networks, seemed like a pathway to really understanding the challenges people face. I am especially looking forward to courses on social and personality development and getting involved in community outreach projects.  

I see this major as a stepping stone to my future goals, combining what I learn with hands-on work in the community, maybe in organizational consulting or community development. I believe the education from CHE will not only develop my understanding but also equip me with the practical skills needed to make a real difference.  

I love that public service is part of Cornell University’s mission. In fact, I already have my eye on a few student groups that are devoted to community service, such as the Cornell chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Rotaract. I am also keen on finding opportunities to get involved with the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement. These activities seem like great ways to apply what I learn in class to real-world situations.  

The thought of merging my academic interests with community service has always motivated me. CHE, with its focus on addressing human needs and challenges, seems like the perfect place for me to expand my knowledge and give back to the community at the same time.    

I am thrilled at the idea of joining a community that values using knowledge to engage with societal issues. CHE’s vibrant environment is the ideal place to merge my passion with purpose and apply what I learn to helping communities and people in need. I am eagerly looking forward to starting this new chapter of my academic journey at the College of Human Ecology—the ideal platform for me to grow, thrive, and contribute.  

School of Industrial and Labor Relations  

Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School. (650-word limit)  

Again, you can break this down into the “Why major?” and “Why us?” questions. The example below is a great narrative about how the student’s personal experience at their family’s small grocery store led to an exploration of business ethics and labor practices. The student then aligns this interest with the ILR School’s curriculum.   

In a world that’s rapidly evolving, the workplace is a microcosm reflecting societal trends, advancements, and challenges. My journey into industrial and labor relations commenced not in a classroom, but within the bustling aisles of my family’s small grocery store. It was here, amid the clang of cash registers and the soft hum of daily commerce, that I observed the nuanced dynamics between employer and employee, union and management, work and worth.  

From a young age, I was privy to the myriad interactions of our family-run business. I witnessed the respect with which my parents treated each employee, regardless of rank, and the open dialogue they maintained with the small union that represented our workers. They believed in fair wages, reasonable hours, and a conducive work environment. This ethos of fairness and open communication wasn’t just good ethics; it was good business. The loyalty and dedication of our staff were testaments to the symbiotic bond that blossomed in an atmosphere of respect and understanding.  

However, as I grew older and my gaze broadened beyond our family business, I realized that this ethos was not a common narrative. News stories about unfair labor practices, wage disparities, and unsavory working conditions flooded the media. The contrast between the principles I saw upheld in our family business and the injustices pervading the modern labor landscape was stark and unsettling.  

My curiosity piqued, I dug into research and engaged in community discussions about labor rights, gradually understanding the complex challenges facing today’s work environment. It was during a summer internship with a local labor union that my theoretical understanding morphed into a tangible passion. I was no longer a passive observer but an active participant in dialogues that sought to bridge the gap between labor and management. Each negotiation session, every grievance addressed, painted a larger picture of the intricate yet fascinating world of industrial and labor relations.  

The School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University emerges as the quintessential arena for nurturing my burgeoning interest. The school’s focus on labor relations, organizational behavior, and human resources aligns seamlessly with my interests and the experiences. The interdisciplinary curriculum, melding together law, economics, and social sciences, will equip me with the multifaceted understanding required to make meaningful contributions to the labor relations domain.  

I am particularly excited about the prospect of engaging in discourse with a diverse cohort of individuals. The opportunity to learn under the mentorship of a distinguished faculty, whose research and contributions to the field resonate with my own aspirations, is thrilling.  

In the long term, I envision myself utilizing the knowledge and experience garnered from Cornell to advocate for fair labor practices, whether it be through policymaking, consulting, or on-the-ground engagement with labor unions and organizations. I am driven by the vision of contributing to a landscape where the dignity, rights, and welfare of workers are upheld as sacrosanct.    

The narrative of work is a narrative of society, an intertwining tale of aspirations, efforts, and the quest for equity. It’s a narrative I am keen on not just understanding but influencing. Through Cornell ILR’s undergraduate program, I see a path leading towards not just a fulfilling career, but a journey of making a difference in the fabric of work and society.    

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Home » IvyWise College Admissions Blog » College Admission Advice » College Essays » 2023-24 Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

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Cornell University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Early Decision: Nov 1

Regular Decision Deadline: Jan 2

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Cornell University 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 school-specific essay of 650 words or 2 essays of 250 words each

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why , Community

In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to both the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.

In the aftermath of the u.s. civil war, ezra cornell wrote, “i would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” for over 150 years, cornell university has remained deeply committed to ezra’s vision. explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a learning community devoted to “… any person … any study.” we encourage you to think broadly about your life experiences, including how local (e.g., family, school, neighborhood) or global communities you’ve been part of have helped shape your perspective. (350 word limit).

Admissions wants to know what has made you into the person you are today and how those experiences will affect the way you engage with and contribute to the Cornell community. Start by thinking about the kinds of experiences you’ve had in the communities you’ve been a part of thus far. Then, think about how those meaningful encounters will affect your time at Cornell. Maybe you had to fill in as head camp counselor when your team lead was sick—did that teach you the importance of stepping up when unexpected opportunities arise? Remember: admissions wants to invite students to campus who are excited about the chance to meet people from all walks of life and won’t shy away from newness and difference. So, tell a story about an experience that has shaped you and connect the lessons you learned to the ways in which you will contribute to inclusivity on campus next fall. (And though it’s tempting to mention how excited you are to join the a capella group “Here Comes Treble,” let’s leave The Office references in the drafts folder.)

In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to the essay question below (maximum of 650 words) that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.

Brooks school of public policy:  why are you drawn to studying public policy drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the brooks school will help you achieve your life goals..

This prompt is very simple: Why do you want to study Public Policy and how will the Brooks School help you to realize your dreams? If you’re pursuing a degree in Health Care Policy or Policy Analysis and Management as an undergraduate, it’s likely that you have a very personal tie to social issues and other systemic problems that impact the public domain. This is your opportunity to share your story with admissions. Maybe you are passionate about using your persuasive writing and critical thinking skills to implement policies that will benefit the earth (and all its inhabitants). Perhaps you’re eager to take action to close the gender wage gap or reimagine the U.S. healthcare system. Whatever your reasoning may be, show admissions that you have thought carefully about your decision to not only pursue public policy, but pursue it at Cornell.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences : Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals? (Required)

With such a specific professional focus, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is asking for an equally specific commitment from you. Make sure you have concrete reasons and practical experiences to back up your chosen course of study. Why couldn’t you pursue your interests in a more general liberal arts environment? Be specific.

Optional: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good.  Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. (200-word limit)

Cornell wants to hear about an experience you engaged in that made a positive impact on a community close to your heart. Your answer doesn’t have to be connected to Agriculture and Life Sciences in any way, so let your mind wander. Maybe you bring your therapy dog to your local hospital once a month and you love watching everyone’s eyes light up the moment Spunky enters the room. Perhaps you challenged your fear of public speaking to deliver an address at a town hall to advocate for greener public transportation options. When have you gotten involved for the greater good? This essay is optional, but why would you pass up the opportunity to provide admissions with more information about yourself and your motivations? 

Optional: Cornell CALS is dedicated to purpose-driven study of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background or interest in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. An “agricultural entity” for the purpose of this question is defined as cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock (ex. farm, ranch, greenhouse, vineyard, etc.).

Select all that apply:, a primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity., my extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity., i have experience working in an agricultural entity., i have interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural entity., please feel free to share additional details (optional)..

If there’s any information that you didn’t include in the two previous optional short essays, this is the place for you to expand as you wish.

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning : How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues.

This is a simple Why Essay , even if the prompt is verbose. Applicants need to write an essay explaining why they want to study their major, specifically, at AAP. Admissions is looking for evidence of previous interest/experience in your major of choice, confirmation that you’ve taken the time to explore Cornell’s resources and programs thoroughly, and (if you’re hoping to pursue a 5-year professional degree program) an indication that you’ve already started putting your passions into practice with a project. You’d be wise to write an essay that weaves together your interest in architecture, art, and/or urban planning with your vision for the future, hopefully one that includes graduating from AAP.

College of Arts and Sciences : At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences.

You’re never going to guess what we’re about to recommend! (Okay, maybe you will). Before you even put pen to paper, do some research. Spend a little time on the school website, campus, or at local Cornell events to learn everything you can about the academic offerings, opportunities, and curriculum. Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences is the most generalized of Cornell’s colleges, so take this opportunity to show your well-rounded worth. Why have you chosen not to pursue a more specific or vocation-oriented pathway at this point? What will you gain from having access to a diverse array of academic departments? Is there departmental cross-pollination that excites you? What about an Arts and Sciences education at Cornell compels you, specifically? Finally, don’t forget to weave your “passion for learning” into your response in order to address both questions.

College of Business : What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration).

Business College hopefuls have also been tasked with writing a why essay , but in this case, it’s more about your fit than the schools’ offerings. Show how your own goals and interests align with the school’s programs and opportunities. But more importantly, demonstrate how your background and pathway to business school sets you apart from your peers. You’ll need to learn how to write a good value proposition eventually, so consider this essay your first foray into marketing—what issues do you care about when it comes to business, why are they important to you, and which Cornell program will help you both address them and achieve your goals?

College of Engineering

Instructions: all applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. each has a limit of 250 words. essay 1 is required of all applicants. for essay 2, you must choose between question a and question b., essay 1:  how do your interests directly connect with cornell engineering if you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at cornell engineering  if you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with cornell engineering. it may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. .

You can get an Engineering degree at thousands of schools across the country, so why are you so keen to study at Cornell, specifically? Remember that your choices here aren’t set in stone, so don’t stress over your vision; just show that you’ve done your research. Maybe Cornell’s Environmental Engineering program will propel you toward your dream career in city planning and hazardous waste management. Maybe there’s an alum who is doing what you aspire to do, and you want to follow in their footsteps! Whatever it is that draws you to Cornell (besides Andy’s school spirit in The Office ), admissions wants you to describe that interest and then connect it to your aspirations. 

Essay 2: Choose either Question A and Question B. (250 word limit) 

Question a: describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. this could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem..

This is your opportunity to not only show admissions that you’re paying attention to the world around you, but also demonstrate your creativity and vision. Start by brainstorming a few problems or challenges—big and small—that bother you or impact your life in some capacity. Maybe it’s rampant wildfires or accessibility issues in your community. Although the scope and scale of your problem can vary, remember that Cornell is looking to accept applicants who want to be a part of the solution. Show that you’re not only informed and concerned, but also actively engaged in addressing the problem head on (in one to three innovative ways).

Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

This is a classic community essay, through and through. Admissions officers want to know not only that you value diversity, but which diverse perspectives you, specifically, will bring to the Cornell community. Where do you come from? What has shaped you as a person and how has that made your perspective unique? What you address can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or a trait specific to you and only you. Consider why your particular background or experience will be useful in an academic setting. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? Were you raised in an indigenous community? Do you identify as nonbinary? Have you lived on three different continents? What has influenced your identity? What do you believe and how will your worldview bring something of value to the engineering community at Cornell?

College of Human Ecology: How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major.

Admissions wants you to build a bridge between your past experiences and your decision to apply to CHE. Then they want you to kick it up a notch and build a (more theoretical) bridge from CHE to your future aspirations. Unlike many of Cornell’s specific schools, this one doesn’t necessarily flow directly into a particular career path, so it’s important for you to demonstrate that you have a plan before committing to such a focused course of study. The more you can demonstrate a deep familiarity with CHE and your vision for your future, the better!

College of Industrial and Labor Relations: Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.

What subject could you talk about for hours on end with your friends, family, or even a complete stranger? Maybe it’s the need for legislation on regulating toxic chemicals in everything from our cosmetics to our food and water sources. Perhaps it’s the impending water crisis, and the public policy that you believe would change the way Americans use and think about water. With this prompt, it’s a good idea that you touch on when or where your passion first began, how it developed over time, and how you are planning to pursue this issue or interest at Cornell. This prompt gives you a wonderful opportunity to reveal something new about yourself through discussing your enthusiastic engagement with a given issue; in the process, you will showcase your curious, well-rounded nature to admissions — and huzzah for that!

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Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

Cornell University is one of the most competitive schools in both New York and the nation. In recent years, the Cornell acceptance rate has only gotten lower . When considering how to get into Cornell , there’s no room to slack off on any part of your Cornell application. Simply meeting the Cornell University requirements will not be enough to gain admission. That’s where your Cornell supplemental essays come in. 

In fact, these essays are a key part of your application. Your Cornell essays allow you to highlight who you are beyond your grades, test scores, and recommendations. This means that you should approach each of the Cornell essay prompts with thought, consideration, and attention to detail.

If you’re feeling stuck when approaching the Cornell University requirements—and particularly the Cornell supplemental essays—then you’re in luck. This guide to the Cornell supplemental essays includes expert guidance on how to approach each prompt. You’ll find a breakdown of how to approach each Cornell essay and tips for creating an application narrative that will stand out to admissions.

Cornell Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • Cornell acceptance rate: 9% – U.S. News ranks Cornell as a most selective school.
  • 1-2 school-specific essays (varies depending on school)
  • Cornell application note: The prompts and word counts for the Cornell supplemental essays vary depending on the college to which students apply. All students will complete the Cornell University requirements via the Common App . 
  • #1 Cornell essay tip:   We strongly recommend answering all Cornell supplemental essays—including the optional Cornell essay prompts—comprehensively and thoughtfully. Well-written Cornell supplemental essays give your readers a deeper look into your personality and passions, which can significantly increase your chances of admission.

Please note that essay requirements are subject to change each admissions cycle, and portions of this article may have been written before the final publication of the most recent guidelines. For the most up-to-date information on essay requirements, check the university’s admissions website. 

How many supplemental essays does Cornell require?

You must complete one or two of the Cornell supplemental essays listed on the 2023-2024 Common App. The number of Cornell supplemental essays and the prompt you answer, however, depends on the school to which you apply.

Each of the Cornell essay prompts corresponds to one of eight undergraduate colleges/schools at Cornell. While there are eight Cornell supplemental essays to choose from—and we’ll cover them in this Cornell supplemental essays guide—you will only answer one or two Cornell essay prompts.

What are the Cornell supplemental essays?

The Cornell supplemental essays are accessible through your Common Application. Additionally, you can visit the main Cornell site for a full checklist of first-year application requirements (including the Cornell essay prompts).

In addition to your Common Application Personal Statement , you will select one of eight Cornell essay prompts to answer. Each of the Cornell essay prompts corresponds to the undergraduate college or school at Cornell to which you are applying (including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; College of Architecture, Art, and Planning; College of Arts and Sciences; Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; Brooks School of Public Policy; College of Engineering; College of Human Ecology; or the School of Industrial and Labor Relations). So, choosing which Cornell majors interest you is a key first step as you approach the Cornell supplemental essays. We’ll dig into each prompt later in this article. 

Although there are several Cornell essay prompts to choose from, you will only answer the prompt that corresponds to the undergraduate school at Cornell to which you apply. For example, those interested in engineering should only answer the prompt(s) for the College of Engineering . This means that every applicant will write only one to two Cornell writing supplements.

Remember that no matter which Cornell majors interest you, all applicants must also write the personal statement essay found on the Common App. Need some help writing your Common App essay? Get great tips from our latest Common App essay guide to build your college application with confidence. 

Cornell Supplemental Essays – College Interest Essays  

The Cornell supplemental essays may seem more intimidating than other college essays—Cornell is an Ivy League school, after all. However, you’ll notice many similarities. It may seem as though the Cornell essay prompts vary greatly based on the college to which you apply. However, that’s not necessarily the case. 

The majority of the prompts for the Cornell supplemental essays pose the same questions. Why this major? And why at Cornell? So, essentially these Cornell supplemental essays are like a why major essay and a why school essay . 

Cornell College Interest Essay Prompts

College of arts and sciences:, at the college of arts and sciences , curiosity will be your guide. discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. your response should convey how your interests align with the college, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in arts and sciences. , college of architecture, art, and planning:, how do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the college of architecture, art, and planning (aap) why architecture (b.arch), art (bfa), or urban and regional studies (urs), b. arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. bfa applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at cornell into a coherent art practice. urs students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues., brooks school of public policy:, why are you drawn to studying public policy drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the brooks school will help you achieve your life goals., college of architecture and life sciences:, why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. how will an education from the college of agriculture and life sciences (cals) at cornell university specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals, s.c. johnson college of business:, what kind of a business student are you using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the cornell sc johnson college of business (the charles h. dyson school of applied economics and management or the cornell peter and stephanie nolan school of hotel administration)., college of engineering:, how do your interests directly connect with cornell engineering if you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at cornell engineering  if you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with cornell engineering. it may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about., choose question a or b to respond to..

  • A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.
  • B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

College of Human Ecology:

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the college of human ecology how will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future  your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with che and your choice of major., school of industrial and labor relations:, using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. your response should show us that your interests align with the ilr school..

Note that some of the Cornell supplemental essays are optional. We’ll take a closer look at these optional prompts later in this guide. 

Each of these prompts is slightly different. However, you’ll notice that the general essence of the questions stays the same. Your Cornell supplemental essays will vary greatly based on your unique experiences, academic interests , and future goals. There will be no one-size-fits-all way to complete the Cornell supplemental essays. Still, there are certain things that can help you craft the best Cornell University essay possible. 

Keep in mind that the most important part of answering a why major essay and a why school essay is being specific. You cannot give generic responses in your Cornell supplemental essay. 

Cornell Essay- Choosing a college

Before we break down each of the Cornell essay prompts, let’s take a look at all of the colleges to which you could apply at Cornell. Each one has its own set of Cornell majors available. However, don’t be intimidated if you aren’t certain of your major just yet. Applicants are by no means locked into these colleges should they reassess their academic and career goals if accepted to Cornell. 

Academic Colleges at Cornell University: 

Brooks School of Public Policy . Applicants who complete the Cornell supplemental essay for Brooks will have two undergraduate majors to choose from. Brooks students can study Policy Analysis and Management or Health Care Policy. 

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) . Students who choose to study at CALS during their time at Cornell have a wide range of undergraduate degrees to choose from. Some options include Marine Biology, Plant Breeding, Food Science, Horticulture, and many more. 

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) . Students who study at Cornell AAP can choose to study Urban and Regional Planning, Fine Arts (BFA), Architecture, or Real Estate. 

College of Arts and Sciences . This is likely the college to apply to if you are undecided on your major as it offers a liberal arts education. Students in this college can choose from many different majors such as Economics, English, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, or Linguistics. 

SC Johnson College of Business . Students who hope to study business at Cornell will choose from two undergraduate programs: Applied Economics and Management or Hotel Administration. 

College of Engineering . Applicants interested in the engineering program at Cornell will have to write two Cornell supplemental essays. Students accepted to the program will have 14 majors and 22 minors to choose from. 

College of Human Ecology . Cornell’s College of Human Ecology offers three different majors: Human Centered Design, Psychology, and Nutritional Sciences.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) . There is only one major for undergraduates to study within ILR at Cornell. However, it’s an interdisciplinary program that studies urgent issues affecting society, organizations, the economy, and international affairs. 

Before reading all about the college-specific Cornell supplemental essays, take a look at an example of a successful why school essay for some tips. Of course, your Cornell University essay will be quite different. However, it should share the same goal: convincing admissions that you belong on campus. 

When writing a “why this college” essay, it is important to write passionately. If you’re waiting to take a tour of campus until after you’ve received your acceptance letter , then why not take one virtually ? Envisioning yourself on campus will help you find motivation and inspiration for the Cornell supplemental essays. So, no matter which of the Cornell supplemental essays you choose, admissions officers should be able to envision you enriching the college community. 

Now, let’s dive into how to write the Cornell supplemental essays for each college. 

Cornell Essay: College of Arts and Sciences

Students who are undecided on their major will likely write a Cornell supplemental essay to this college—unless, of course, a major within a different discipline has captured their interest. The College of Arts and Sciences focuses on an interdisciplinary education. This college is “curiosity-driven” and the perfect place for academic “exploration and discovery.”

Let’s look at the prompt. 

At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences. 

You’ll notice that this is a somewhat typical why school essay and essentially a why major essay as well. So, you’ll need to choose an area of academic interest in order to complete this Cornell University essay prompt. However, as the prompt states, you can mention multiple Cornell majors. You’ll have 650 words in which you can respond to this Cornell supplemental essay prompt. 

You can choose various areas of study interest to write about. However, you want to make sure that they connect. You should also highlight how they’ll help you to achieve your future goals. For example, don’t just state that you’re interested in studying Economics and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies without giving any context. Maybe you’d like to explore the earning differences between different groups and find solutions to bridge those gaps. Whatever your current interests are, use this Cornell supplemental essay to logically link them to you and your future goals. 

Keep in mind

When responding to the Cornell essay prompts, reference specific opportunities only offered at Cornell. Get specific when writing about your academic interests as well as the Cornell community. How will studying at Cornell impact your education and future career?

Additionally, your Cornell supplemental essays should highlight your passion for the subject matter. However, this specific Cornell essay prompt asks applicants to “discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey.” What makes you a curious learner? How have those interests played a part in your education up until now? And, essentially, how will your intellectual curiosity help you when studying in the College of Arts and Sciences?

Still struggling to identify some majors to write about? Check out our article on how to choose a major for some guidance. 

How to Choose a Major

Cornell Supplemental Essays: College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning offers three distinct majors. If you’re applying to this college, you likely know yours—if not, you’ll need to choose one before responding to this Cornell essay prompt. 

Here’s the AAP Cornell University essay prompt for hopeful applicants:  

How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues.

This Cornell supplemental essay prompt is essentially another why school essay and why major essay combined. However, successful Cornell supplemental essays will link applicants’ interests with their intended area of study.

What do we mean by that? Well, let’s say you plan on studying architecture . Rather than writing about your obsession with baking the perfect cupcake, instead, focus on your love of old buildings. Was there a moment, an experience, or a trip that made you begin to notice every little detail of the buildings you step into? Strong Cornell supplemental essays should take the reader into these moments. 

Don’t shy away from using personal anecdotes. However, make sure that it connects back to the Cornell College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. After reading this Cornell supplemental essay, Cornell admissions should know just why you’ve chosen your intended major. Additionally, this Cornell essay prompt asks applicants to specify their interests even further within the school. That means Cornell supplemental essays to AAP should clearly state which area within that college is of interest to you. The anecdotes, interests, and experiences you describe in this Cornell University supplemental essay should relate to your intended area of study. As with every why school and why major essay, students should use specific examples of program offerings, faculty, or internships that they’d take advantage of. 

Keep in mind that applying to an Ivy League school is always a reach. So, it’s important to have other options in mind. Check out some of the best architecture schools to round out your college list. 

Cornell Essay: Brooks School of Public Policy

While our other two Cornell supplemental essays were nuanced versions of the why major essay and the why school essay, the Cornell essay for Brooks is pretty upfront in its intentions. Let’s look at the prompt. 

Clearly a why school and why major essay, applicants to the Brooks School of Public Policy will use their Cornell supplemental essay to tell Cornell admissions why they want to study Public Policy and why at Brooks. So, you’re likely familiar with this kind of college essay. However, this doesn’t mean your Cornell University essay should read as a list. 

Feel free to get creative with this Cornell supplemental essay. You can use an anecdote to make your why major essay uniquely yours. Remember that successful Cornell supplemental essays will be specific. Generic Cornell supplemental essays will do applicants no favors when it comes to impressing Cornell admissions. Think about your reasons for choosing this major, what offerings you will utilize that are only available at Brooks, and how this will all tie into your future goals. Address all of these points within your Cornell essay to Brooks.  

Additionally, keep in mind that Brooks aims to educate students to make positive changes in the world. So, if you can tie that into your Cornell University essay, great! However, steer clear of writing a cheesy Cornell essay that centers around world peace. Of course, if you can reference an experience you had that has had some impact on this larger, important theme, then by all means mention that in your Cornell essay for Brooks.

Learn more about Cornell admissions from the undergraduate advising team for the Brooks School of Public Policy in this helpful video below:

Cornell Supplemental Essays: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Similar to the Brooks College of Public Policy , CALS asks all of its applicants to answer one prompt that reads as a typical why major and why school essay. 

Here’s the required prompt for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell: 

Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals? How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals?

You’ll want to answer this Cornell University essay prompt by exploring why you’ve chosen this major. Start brainstorming just what brought you to this field of interest. Once you have a list, touch on the most meaningful or impactful points in order to write your most passionate Cornell supplemental essay. Or, maybe you know the exact moment when you decided this major was for you. Great! That’s a great place to dive into for this Cornell essay. This prompt asks you to show how your interests and experiences have influenced your choice. 

The second part of this essay asks why you want to study this major at Cornell. It also asks how studying there will help you to achieve your future goals. Strong Cornell essays will mention specific programs, internships , or professors at CALS. Do your research so that you can get the details right. 

Keep in mind that while not specifically among the Cornell University requirements for this school, applicants should show passion for intellectual exploration “on the ground.” Basically, when studying at CALS, students will get a lot of hands-on experience. Your learning won’t be confined to a laboratory. Cornell supplemental essays for this college might focus on the applicant’s adventurer’s spirit. Highlight how you constantly explore and dissect the world around you in order to make it a better place. 

Applicants to Cornell CALS can also answer two optional Cornell essay prompts. We encourage applicants to consider the first essay required. After all, strong and passionate Cornell supplemental essays will only enhance your Cornell application. However, you should only complete the second of these Cornell supplemental essays if it genuinely applies to you. 

Let’s look at both of the optional Cornell supplemental essays. 

Here’s the first optional prompt: 

At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. We encourage you to think about community broadly – this could include family, school, or local and global communities. (300-word limit)

This essay may seem familiar from other college applications. Many universities want to know about applicants’ community involvement. This helps Cornell admissions officers understand how you would enrich campus life. 

The prompt makes it clear that “community” can mean many things. So, try to think outside the box with this prompt. There are many ways to write this Cornell essay, so start by thinking about which communities matter in your life. Then, choose one that matters most to you. You’ll need to show how you impacted that community and how you’d bring that experience to CALS.  

Now, let’s look at the second optional Cornell University essay prompt for CALS. 

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is dedicated to the exploration of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background in agriculture or are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. (300-word limit)

Select all that apply:.

  • My family owns or operates a farm.
  • I have experience working in agriculture.
  • I have an interest in pursuing a career in agriculture.

Cornell admissions wants to know more about applicants with significant agricultural experience. Consider this Cornell supplemental essay prompt truly optional. You should only respond if you have significant experience in agriculture or a serious interest in pursuing a career in that field. 

If you answer this Cornell supplemental essay prompt, use specific examples to illustrate your experience. Ideally, applicants should use personal anecdotes in order to show just how agriculture has influenced their lives so far. Applicants should also highlight why these experiences have made them want to pursue a career in agriculture. 

For more information directly from Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences check out this YouTube video below:

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Applicants to the SC Johnson College of Business will need to specify which discipline they’d like to pursue: Applied Economics and Management or Hotel Administration. So, this Cornell essay prompt is another why major and why school essay. 

Here’s the Cornell supplemental essay prompt for SC Johnson College of Business applicants: 

Like the other Cornell supplemental essays, this prompt asks applicants to explore their experiences and show how they connect to their potential business major at Cornell. First and foremost, in order to respond to this Cornell essay, applicants must select a major. Make sure your essay justifies your choice. Strong Cornell essays will show how your past experiences and interests have led you to your chosen field. 

Additionally, applicants should tie in their future goals when writing this Cornell University essay. How will attending SC Johnson College of Business help you achieve your goals? Why do you want to study business there? Again, be specific and reference programs only found within each of these business programs at Cornell. 

Successful Cornell supplemental essays will also consider the values of Cornell’s business program. You won’t simply study business, but “business with impact”. Students at SC Johnson College of Business are educated to be leaders in business by creating sustainable and shared prosperity. So, tie in your personal values with the college’s in order to highlight why you’re a perfect fit for this program. 

Remember that the Cornell acceptance rate is very selective, and it is among the top business schools in the nation. So, when writing your Cornell supplemental essay, start long before the application deadline to give yourself plenty of time to write an impressive essay. 

Cornell Essay: College of Engineering

The College of Engineering prompt is a little different from the other Cornell supplements. Instead of one long essay, applicants to the College of Engineering will be required to answer the first prompt. They will then choose one of the two following provided Cornell essay prompts to complete. Your maximum word count for the two required Cornell supplemental essays is lower as well (250 words), so concision is key.

Like with the other Cornell supplemental essays, we will walk through each College of Engineering prompt. We’ll then put together a strategy for answering these Cornell essays effectively.

Let’s look at the first prompt, which is required for all applicants to the College of Engineering. 

The first of the Cornell supplemental essays for the College of Engineering is similar to many we’ve seen: the why major essay and the why school essay. It’s a combination of the two. So, in order to successfully answer this Cornell essay prompt, you’ll need to think deeply about why you want to study Engineering at Cornell. 

This Cornell supplemental essay prompt does two things. First, it asks you to talk about your academic interests. Then, it checks whether you’ve done your homework on Cornell Engineering. An effective response to this Cornell essay will explain both your interest in engineering and how Cornell specifically fits into your future as an engineer.

When answering a “why this college?” question like this Cornell essay prompt, specificity is key. Represent your future with Cornell in mutualistic terms. What do you hope to gain from attending Cornell Engineering? What will you, in turn, give back to the community, either in the short or long term?

Start with the basics

Let’s start with the basics. Why do you want to apply to Cornell Engineering? Speak honestly. You don’t need to stuff your response with tons of niche details or copy/paste from the Cornell mission statement . Instead, give honest reasons why Cornell fits with your aspirations. Then, highlight how studying at Cornell will help you grow as both an engineer and a person.

Do you have a makeshift robotics lab in your garage? Are you set on studying artificial intelligence within the Computer Science major at Cornell Engineering? Did you visit and fall in love with the community values you saw on campus? Or did you have an interaction with a professor whose research fascinated you? Tell the reader about it! 

Emphasize your interest in engineering as well as specific reasons why Cornell is the right place for you to foster this interest. Make sure that you tie your engineering interests to your intended major. 

If you’re unsure of your intended engineering major, that’s okay. However, make sure that your love for engineering comes through. You can use a personal anecdote to show just how passionate you are for the field, too. Don’t shy away from creativity if it feels right for you. Still, make sure to relate it all back to Cornell. 

Now, on to the second Cornell supplemental essay for Engineering applicants. For this Cornell essay, students will need to choose between two prompts. 

Choose either Question A or Question B. (250 word limit)

  • Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.
  • Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

When choosing a prompt, one question may stand out to you more than the other. Choose that one. If that doesn’t happen, then do a brainstorming session for potential topics for each prompt. Review your lists and see which topic most motivates you. That’s the prompt to write on. 

Let’s start with Question A. This Cornell University essay prompt is hoping to see applicants’ critical thinking skills. They want to know that you can navigate your way through a problem. Start listing potential problems and how you would address and solve them. They don’t have to be the most complex thing. Any problem will do—just make sure that it’s engineering-related and you can legitimately solve it with your response. 

Question B wants to see how your diverse background will impact the Cornell Engineering community. When talking about “backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities,” applicants have a lot of options. Focus on what most impacts who you are and how you navigate the world. First, you’ll want to address those topics and then demonstrate how they will positively influence the Cornell community. What will your unique experiences bring to the Cornell community? How will it impact your future in engineering both on and off campus?

Beyond academics

Top colleges like Cornell want to know that you will be an active participant in the campus community. Of course, your academics are a big part of your college experience. However, you will learn just as much from your interactions with other students on campus. In turn, other students will learn from you.

Question B asks you to explain what you will bring to campus—not only in terms of your own academic excellence, but also in how you will contribute to student life . Will you be an active member of the community? How will you work to ensure diversity and inclusion prevail at Cornell—be it through extracurricular leadership or through inclusive conversations over dinner? In short, what experiences and traits do you bring to the campus community? How will you use those experiences to build meaningful shared experiences with other Cornell students?

An effective Cornell writing supplement prompt will describe how you have fostered diversity and inclusion in your own communities. This Cornell essay will allow you to talk about how you wish to bring your own voice and experiences to Cornell’s campus. 

Ultimately, a strong response to this Cornell essay will make it clear that you belong at one of the top engineering colleges in the nation.

Cornell Supplemental Essays: College of Human Ecology

Applicants to the College of Human Ecology at Cornell should have an interest in studying human health and well-being. Logically, the Cornell supplemental essay prompt asks applicants to expand on their interest in this particular field. 

This is the Cornell supplemental essay prompt for the College of Ecology: 

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major.

For this Cornell University essay, students will need to directly link their passion for the field to their interests or experiences. For example, if you’re interested in studying nutritional sciences, you might want to relate it to your experience as an athlete and a vegetarian. Whatever your chosen major is, you will need to back up your interest in it with direct experiences in this Cornell essay. 

After you’ve shown why you want to study in this college, dive into your future goals. Do you want to work as a nutritionist for hopeful Olympic athletes? Or be the dietician for a professional sports team? Just make sure your objectives tie into the major you’ve selected. Since this is a why major essay and a nuanced why school essay, you’ll want to mention how studying at Cornell will specifically help you achieve your goals. The most impactful Cornell supplemental essays will specifically reference certain programs only offered at the Cornell College of Ecology. 

Cornell Essay: School of Industrial and Labor Relations

The Cornell essay for the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) follows a similar framework as the majority of the other Cornell supplemental essays. Let’s take a closer look at this Cornell essay prompt. 

When applying to the Cornell ILR, there is only one major that students can choose: Industrial and Labor Relations. No surprises there, right? So, when you choose to apply to this school, you’ve already chosen your major as well. 

Now, you need to show Cornell admissions why you’ve chosen this major. This Cornell essay prompt gives you plenty of ways to show your interest in this field. You can use personal, academic, work, and volunteer experiences. Start brainstorming a list of things you care about. Then, see how this list connects to your experiences. Or, maybe it’s easier to do it vice versa. Whatever works for you is fine. 

Once you have your topic, you need to show how it connects to this specific program. Students studying ILR at Cornell have an interdisciplinary major. They’ll take courses in law, organizational psychology, economics, history, statistics, and management. So, you’ll explore plenty of topics in this college—and your essay should show your enthusiasm for them. 

Let’s say you work on the school yearbook committee and notice that one group of students was in none of the photos. You gather your team members together to speak on the topic and decide to get some candid shots of the excluded group. This shows not only your leadership skills, but also that equality and inclusion are important to you. How would those skills and interests align with the ILR major? Show that in your Cornell University essay.

No matter which of the schools you apply to, keep in mind that the Cornell acceptance rate is one of the most competitive in the nation. That being said, your Cornell application will need to stand out among a large pool of qualified applicants. Writing an impactful, passionate, and authentic essay is a great way to make your Cornell application memorable. 

So, when considering how to write the ILR essay, or any others, don’t simply aim to check off another of the Cornell University requirements. Really take your time and write something that not only comprehensively answers the prompt, but also shows some insight into who you are as a person. 

How do you write a Cornell essay?

Next, let’s talk a bit more about how to approach the Cornell supplemental essays. 

To begin, you want to have a thorough understanding of what the Cornell essay is asking. Define any key terms, and ask yourself, “Is this a single Cornell essay with multiple steps/answers?” 

Once you’ve gotten a grasp on what the Cornell writing supplement is asking, then you’ll want to freewrite. In general, freewriting can help you if you’re struggling with how to begin an essay. It can also help you choose one topic from a long list of potential essay responses. For specific guidance, check out CollegeAdvisor’s guide to reflection exercises .

Now, armed with your freewrite, you’ll want to start drafting your Cornell essay. While you can work from your existing freewrite, you can also start fresh. In the early stages of drafting Cornell supplemental essays, don’t worry about the word count. While it’s important, you don’t want to stifle your creative flow. Leave the ruthless editing for later on in the process. 

Once you’ve completed the draft and have edited as needed, take your draft to a few trusted sources. These individuals (teachers, counselors, etc.), should read over your essay with a fine-toothed comb. They should focus on grammatical accuracy as well as tone and style.

This guidance should help you begin the Cornell essay process. However, use the specific breakdowns above for each college for more insights. This will help you approach each of the Cornell supplemental essays with confidence. 

To make sure you’re on the right track, keep in mind the following questions after writing your first draft for the Cornell supplemental essays. 

Cornell Essay Reflection Questions:

  • Does your Cornell essay response reveal what makes you a good addition to campus? Does it highlight your best core values?
  • Do you explain your future aspirations in your chosen field?
  • Does your writing show a true passion for your field of study?
  • Do your Cornell essays make the reader want to learn more about you?

How important are the Cornell supplemental essays for admission?

In a word—very! Each Cornell essay plays an important role in the review process.

Schools like Cornell University receive top-notch applicants from around the world in record numbers every year. High test scores , excellent grades, and meaningful extracurricular achievements are common in the Cornell application pool. Combined with your Common App personal statement, the Cornell supplemental essays give you valuable space to discuss your passions, values, and character.

Cornell admissions looks for students who demonstrate “honesty, open-mindedness, initiative, and empathy,” both academically and in their daily lives. The Cornell essay prompts are designed to find this kind of student. Use your Cornell supplemental essays to make it clear to Cornell that you are passionate about learning, curious about the world, willing to challenge yourself to pursue your interests, and will be a valuable addition to Cornell. Above all, your Cornell supplemental essays should show what makes you special and why Cornell should admit you!

Finally, remember that the Cornell supplemental essays are a required part of your Cornell application. However, try not to see them as a chore. After all, a strong Cornell essay, combined with a competitive Cornell application, will make a huge difference in admissions.

Share your voice

Your Cornell essay is a window into your passions, values, and personality. The Cornell supplemental essay allows you to speak to your readers on your own terms. While this task may seem daunting, a well-executed Cornell essay can be incredibly helpful to your application.

You can read more about what Cornell admissions officers look for in prospective students (and what they look for in applicants’ responses to Cornell essay prompts) on the “What Cornell Looks For” page . This can help you write Cornell essays tailored to the Cornell admissions team.

Of course, Cornell is among the most elite universities in the nation. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your perfect college fit. Before you obsess over writing the perfect Cornell essay, l earn more about what it’s like to apply to and attend such a competitive university from a Cornell alumni per s pective . These insights can also help you write specific and targeted supplemental essays. 

Cornell Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

Completing the Cornell supplemental essays can seem daunting, but don’t let them discourage you from applying. Instead, view these Cornell essays as an opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions. The Cornell writing supplements should help them see why you’d be a great addition to their school. Additionally, each Cornell essay gives you the chance to learn more about the school to which you’re applying. As you write, you should seriously think about what excites you about potentially studying there. 

Check out these successful college essay examples for inspiration. While they won’t be exactly like the Cornell supplemental essay prompts, they will show you how college essays can vary greatly from one another. The most important thing of any Cornell essay is showing admissions who you are while fully answering the prompt. 

Use your essays to your advantage

Maybe you’re applying with a lower than average GPA or SAT score , or maybe you have a couple of blemishes on your transcript. A well-written set of Cornell supplemental essays can work in your favor and make it obvious that you would be a great addition to campus. So, if you’re dreaming about the day you enroll at Cornell, use this guide to help you approach each Cornell application essay with a solid strategy. 

The Cornell supplemental essays are a great way to impress admissions, but make sure the rest of your Cornell application impresses as well. Don’t forget to read our How to Get Into Cornell guide for an overview of application strategy. Good luck!

This Cornell supplemental essay guide was written by Sarah Kaminski .  Looking for more admissions support? Click  here  to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how  CollegeAdvisor.com  can support you in the college application process.

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August 9, 2023

2023-2024 Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts

An aerial view of Cornell University's campus, featuring red-bricked buildings and greenery.

Cornell University has released its 2023-2024 supplemental admissions essays for applicants to the Class of 2028 . For years, Cornell asked applicants to respond to an essay of up to 650 words in length that essentially asked, “ Why Cornell ?” But this year, the Ivy League institution has changed things up, creating essays specific to the individual school to which a student is applying within Cornell. So what supplemental admissions essays will applicants to Cornell’s Class of 2028 be asked to write? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 Cornell Essay Topics and Questions

Essay for all applicants .

In 350-words or less, all applicants to Cornell University are asked to answer the following prompt:

In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, Ezra Cornell wrote, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” For over 150 years, Cornell University has remained deeply committed to Ezra’s vision. Explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a learning community devoted to “…any person…any study.” We encourage you to think broadly about your life experiences, including how local (e.g., family, school, neighborhood) or global communities you’ve been part of have helped shape your perspective.

It’s difficult not to view this new essay prompt as Cornell’s direct response to the SCOTUS ruling outlawing Affirmative Action . While colleges can no longer directly consider race as a factor in the highly selective college admissions process, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a legal loophole in the majority opinion .

Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

While Cornell’s admissions committee explicitly cited family, school, and neighborhood or global communities in the question, students can write about their race, faith, gender, sexuality, or just about anything else in response to this prompt. After all, Cornell’s admissions committee seeks to build a diverse incoming class, and no Supreme Court decision will get in their way. While the Ivy League school wasn’t nearly as bold as Johns Hopkins University in citing race in its supplemental essay prompt, it’s very much implied that race is on the table.

School-Specific Essays

College of agriculture and life sciences.

CALS asks applicants to respond to a required essay of up to 650 words in length followed by optional essays of up to 200 words and 100 words. Of course, no optional essay should ever be considered optional in Cornell’s admissions process. Write it!

Required Essay Prompt

Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals? (650-word limit)

This is a hybrid prompt: Why Major and Why School at Cornell? More so than any Ivy League school, Cornell cares about  school fit . Cornell’s admissions committee not only wants to know why you wish to attend Cornell but why you wish to attend the school within the school at Cornell.

After all, Cornell’s admissions committee wasn’t born yesterday. They, too, know that getting into certain schools at Cornell is easier than others. So if a student is genuinely interested in computer science yet is applying to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, simply writing they enjoy farming won’t pass the sniff test.

In this essay, applicants should avoid name-dropping professors at CALS who may or may not even be there next year or classes that may or may not even be offered next year and instead focus on the enduring aspects of the school within a school. Cornell’s admissions committee wants to see how applicants hope to leave a mark in agriculture and life sciences during their lifetime.

By thoroughly examining specific programs, institutes, culture, traditions, and activities at CALS, applicants can show rather than tell why they wish to attend.

Optional Essay Prompts

CALS applicants have up to 200 words and 100 words, respectively, to answer the following two optional essay prompts:

Instructions: The optional short-answer questions invite you to share additional information about your background, interests, and experiences as they relate to aspects of the Cornell CALS mission. The content of any responses submitted will be included in the holistic review of your application (which is also the case for any optional additional information submitted as part of your Common Application or uploaded through your Cornell Application Portal once you’ve applied).

1. At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an experience where you had a meaningful impact on people, a community, and/or an environment of importance to you.

CALS applicants would be wise to choose an experience that relates to agriculture or life sciences for this prompt. Ideally, the experience the student writes about will also be reflected in their extracurricular pursuits listed on The Common Application. Applicants should tell a small story. Too often, applicants try to accomplish too much by telling grandiose stories. And applicants should be sure to leave out the self-congratulatory sentences. There’s no need to brag in elite college admissions — ever! 

2. Cornell CALS is dedicated to purpose-driven study of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background or interest in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. An “agricultural entity” for the purpose of this question is defined as cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock (e.g., farm, ranch, greenhouse, vineyard, etc.). 

Select all that apply:

  • A primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity.
  •   My extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity.
  •   I have experience working in an agricultural entity.
  •   I have interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural entity.                      

Please feel free to share additional details.

This prompt allows applicants to write a more detailed portrait of their family’s farm or their experience working as, say, a farmhand. It’s another chance for students to show rather than tell why they hope to contribute to the field of agriculture.

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

Students have up to 650 words to respond to the below essay prompt:

How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues.

It’s a hybrid essay prompt as Cornell’s admissions committee not only wants to know why applicants want to study architecture, art, and planning, but they want to hear a specific example of an instance that inspires their interest in the field. Of course, we always encourage our students at Ivy Coach to share such anecdotes when asked why they’re interested in a discipline — whether they’re asked to cite an example or not — since showing rather than telling is always the way to go.

And then the third component of this hybrid essay prompt is a Why College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. This component of an applicant’s answer should be filled with genuine specifics about the school within a school. And, no, name-dropping professors and regurgitating classes listed in a course catalog do not count. Applicants should aim to capture enduring aspects of the school within a school at Cornell.

College of Arts & Sciences

At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences.

It’s a hybrid essay prompt: Why Major and Why School within a School. Cornell wants to understand the origin story of your interest in studying your intended major through a specific narrative — always as a high schooler rather than a child. And they also want to know why Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences. The second part of this essay’s answer should be filled with specifics that only apply to Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences. If a sentence can apply to another university, delete it.

Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals.

It’s a straight-up-the-middle hybrid essay prompt: Why Major and Why Brooks? Cornell wants to hear a narrative about a student’s interest in studying public policy. It could be through their coursework, their activities, or even their reading for pleasure. And then Cornell wants to hear that an applicant has done their homework on the Brooks School of Public Policy. As such, applicants should cite specifics about the school within a school at Cornell that do not apply to any other school at Cornell or any other university.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration).

It’s a hybrid essay prompt: Why Business and Why SC Johnson? Applicants should share a story or stories about their interest in business — ideally as evidenced in their extracurricular pursuits listed in the activities section of their Common Applications.

And then, applicants should transition to demonstrating how they can best pursue their interests at SC Johnson. To do so, applicants should cite specifics about the school within a school at Cornell that don’t apply to any other undergraduate business school. And, no, name-dropping professors and listing classes do not count as genuine specifics. Instead, applicants should cite enduring specifics about the school within a school to show rather than tell why they wish to attend.

College of Engineering

College of Engineering applicants must write two supplemental essays, each of up to 250 words in length. The first essay is required of all College of Engineering applicants. For the second essay, applicants have the choice of responding to the first or second essay prompt option.

How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about.

Cornell’s College of Engineering wants applicants to narrow their engineering focus. If a student is interested in mechanical engineering, their essay response should focus on mechanical engineering. Likewise, if it’s environmental engineering, the student should get specific on their interest in environmental engineering.

To do so, applicants should focus on the curriculum design and the programs and institutes Cornell boasts that tackle research in these areas. And they’d be wise to avoid writing about classes. It’s a Why College essay and Why College essays should not be approached like a game of Mad Libs where a student can insert a class name for one university and change it to another name for another university. It’s all about capturing the enduring specifics of the College of Engineering, and the specific engineering track a student intends to pursue.

Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.

This prompt presents a fantastic opportunity for engineering applicants to showcase how they think and want to change the world in a specific way. Applicants should be sure to pick a small problem in their local community that they encounter — and it need not be a sexy problem. Maybe it’s potholes. Whatever it is, applicants should showcase how they’ll leverage the power of engineering to make the problem better for locals.

Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

While the Supreme Court outlawed Affirmative Action, Cornell’s admissions committee still wishes to admit a diverse class. And diversity doesn’t only mean racial diversity. It also means diversity of faiths, geography, gender, sexual orientation, and thought. So the question is wide open for an applicant to showcase what life experience or perspective they’ll bring to the College of Engineering.

College of Human Ecology

Students have up to 650 words to respond to the below essay prompt. Students are also asked to check out these essay application tips  before beginning.

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major.

It’s a three-part question. Cornell’s admissions committee wants to know why students are interested in studying a discipline within the College of Human Ecology, how they hope to influence this field during their lifetime, and why the College of Human Ecology is the right fit for them. As such, students should share a narrative that demonstrates the origin of their interest in the field — always as a high schooler instead of as a child — before transitioning to their hopes and dreams for shaping the field in their own small but meaningful way during their lifetimes, and then citing specifics about CHE that only apply to this school within a school at Cornell.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.

It’s a hybrid essay prompt: Why Labor Relations and Why ILR? Students should thus begin by writing a narrative that details their interest in studying labor relations — always as a high schooler rather than as a child — which is ideally evidenced in their activities listed in The Common Application.

Applicants should then transition to the Why ILR component of the prompt. And, no, citing that ILR is the most prestigious school to study labor relations sure doesn’t count. Students need to detail specific after specific about ILR — without stooping to naming professors or listing classes — that do not apply to another other university.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Cornell Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Cornell University by submitting powerful admissions essays, fill out Ivy Coach ’s consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors .

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3 Great Cornell Essay Examples

Cornell is one of the top schools in the nation, and a member of the esteemed Ivy League. With an extremely low general acceptance rate, admissions is highly-selective, though keep in mind that acceptance rates vary by schools within the university.

Cornell requires a single supplement for all applicants, but the prompt will vary based on the college you’re applying to. In this post, we’ll be going over two prompts for the College of Arts and Sciences and one prompt for the SC Johnson College of Business (which includes the infamous Hotel School!). We’ll outline what admissions officers are looking for, and we’ll analyze a sample essay written by a real applicant!

Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.  

Read our Cornell University essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 

Essay Example #1

Prompt: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st-century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College. (650 words)

“Give me liberty or give me death!” When I first read this quote, I got shivers. As a fourth-grader, I remember thinking: “How could one love liberty so much that they would give up their own life?” To me, American revolutionaries were too passionate about paying taxes and I shrugged off their fervor for liberty. But five years later, I found myself asking the same question.

During my freshman year of high school, I became completely engrossed in learning about the Atlantic Revolutions. From studying the Storming of the Bastille to Haitain independence, I noticed that people sacrificed everything for freedom. It was soon that I learned about Enlightenment philosophers and the role they played in spurring revolutions by inspiring others to challenge social and political norms. I was amazed that philosophy had the power to mobilize entire populations and positively reform nations. But as I reflected on the circumstances of social inequality and political corruption that led to these revolutions, I realized that philosophy is not just a powerful practice of the past; it is just as relevant today.

The United States is a country of contradictions. We boast values of equality and justice, yet our prison, immigration, and education systems are rife with inequity and corruption. I seek a philosophy education to lend me an understanding of existing power structures and how to create a more equitable society. There is no better place to further my educational career than at the Sage School of Philosophy, the birthplace of the first philosophical review in our country. Cornell’s long-standing commitment to approaching philosophy in a holistic manner is evident in its wide range of courses offered. Specifically, I am drawn to the Discussion of Justice course that focuses on current political controversies such as immigration and racial inequality, both issues I care deeply about. After witnessing the cycle of poverty that plagues my community, I see that our society is facing a moral dilemma. This course will enable me to question the values held collectively by our society and recognize the impact such values have on minority groups.

With a greater understanding of morality and social inequality, I hope to pursue a career in civil law rights, helping underrepresented groups in our country receive the justice they deserve. It would be a privilege to begin my career in law by learning the Philosophy of Law from Professor Julia Markovitz. Professor Markovitz’s expertise in moral reasoning will push me to consider the ethical problems that lawyers face and how to fairly represent those in need. I am energized by this course’s goal to not only learn the law, but also challenge it. Building a fairer future relies on changing current institutions based on the government’s moral obligation to its people. I am eager to study philosophy through a career-oriented lens that enables me to apply my learned knowledge to the field of law.

Among the many political issues our country is facing, I am motivated to learn more about global migration. Just miles from my home in South Texas, the humanitarian crisis at the southern border has shown me the complexity of migration. This year, my experiences volunteering with Loaves and Fishes, an organization that shelters and aids undocumented immigrants, have given me insight into the poverty and violence that many are trying to escape from. To those arriving from the southern border, migration is not a choice; it is a matter of survival. On a larger scale, with rising global temperatures creating climate change refugees and international wars rendering thousands of people homeless, I crave a more extensive understanding of the factors that prompt migration. I plan to pursue a minor in Migration Studies in order to learn how populations can be sustained and thrive in a constantly moving world. Taking classes at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies will allow me to interact with students and faculty from other colleges on campus. I believe there are a myriad of factors that drive international migration; thus, working with students from all disciplines will expose me to a diversity in research that can shape future immigration policies. As a daughter of immigrants, I am moved by Cornell’s dedication to supporting education on migration, namely through launching ‘Migrations’ as the theme for Cornell’s first Global Grand Challenge. By researching, teaching, and engaging with communities to tackle the challenges of migration, I am excited to be part of a generation of activists that assist and empower migrants.

Today, the passion American revolutionaries had for change is no longer perplexing to me. I, too, am ready to enact change in our country and society. With Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences’ broad curriculum that encourages me to explore my many interests, I am confident that I will have the resources to improve our world in a truly revolutionary way.

What the Essay Did Well

This essay effectively accomplished the most important part of a “ Why This Major? ” essay: walking us through the past, present, and future of their interests. The essay starts by explaining how an interest in history spurred this student to care about philosophy and social justice, then they describe how they hope to further their academic passions at Cornell, and then the student tells us how they will make an impact after graduation.

Beyond the structure, this essay does a nice job of integrating the student’s multi-dimensional passions into the college’s offerings. From the beginning where they describe their research on revolutions to concrete examples of current social inequalities, they present their interests in a very real manner that makes it clear exactly what they care about. Because of this elaboration, the reader can clearly see how the student’s passion for philosophy, immigration, and social justice easily fit into Cornell’s curriculum.

The connection between their interests and Cornell was strengthened by the context this student provided about themselves. For example, when they mention the Discussion of Justice class, the student explains that they have witnessed the effects of poverty first-hand and need this class to better understand and address those issues one day. 

Providing detailed, personal context for school-specific opportunities, as this essay does, highlights your genuine interest and connection to the topics you are talking about. The true strength of this essay lies in the ability to connect the Cornell major to this student, with ample background information, at every stage of their academic career.

What Could Be Improved

While this essay starts strong with an anecdote that places the reader in the middle of the action, the rest of the essay falls a bit short on the action and excitement. The essay is a well-written account of this student’s passions, where they originated from, and where they hope to take them, but we are also looking for an energizing story that keeps us reading.

One easy way to bring more energy to the essay is to simply have shorter paragraphs. Long blocks of text are overwhelming and easier to get lost in, but shorter, more direct paragraphs help move the reader effortlessly from one paragraph to the next. Finding natural breaks in a paragraph is an easy way to make the essay flow more smoothly and maintain the reader’s engagement.

Another way to liven up the essay would be to interject more of the student’s personal thoughts and quotes. In the first paragraph, the student provides a quote to show the reader their inner monologue, which is an excellent way to show us what you think or feel rather than telling us. If more thoughts were interjected throughout the essay, we could get a better sense of how this student feels about certain topics, as well as see their personal voice shine through.

Essay Example #2

Throughout middle school and high school, I continuously took advanced science and technology classes. It wasn’t until four years ago when my eyes caught a glance of a flier posted next to my biology classroom: “Academy of Biotechnology! Meeting in room 307 today for freshmen interested in biotechnology,” that I realized my two favorite classes were intertwined in a field of their own: biotechnology. 

I’ve been in Room 307 every Thursday this year listening to guest speakers talk about various topics from sleep to drug development, exploring new advances in biotech, and planning the annual career fair.

Last summer, my internship at Holy Cross furthered my interest in biotechnology. When I was introduced to the da Vinci Xi surgical system – a robot that utilizes high-tech guided targeting and auxiliary technology to achieve less blood loss and a faster recovery time for patients, I was amazed at the employment of technology and its power to renovate the medical field. Cornell’s world-leading academics in its College of Arts and Science, particularly the interdisciplinary Biology and Society major, makes it a dream place for me to pursue my passion in both health and biotechnology. I’m specifically interested in the course on Ethical Issues in Health and Medicine, and the seminar course on Controversies in Science, Technology, and Medicine. These capstone courses under top professors will enable me to acquire knowledge about the breadth of biology within the dimensions of modern medical and ethical issues. 

I love that biotechnology encompasses a public health side as well as a microbiology side. Wanting to further explore the molecular side of biotechnology, I sought out the opportunity to work as a research intern at Montgomery College. I have been modeling protein and protein dockings of a cyanobacterium Synechococcus species through computational biology. I’m also drawn to Cornell’s Biological Sciences major with a concentration in Molecular and Cell Biology, where I can further explore my interest in biotechnology. Cornell’s wide range of courses in this major reflects its commitment to supporting its students with novel opportunities. Particularly, I am drawn to the Orientation Lectures in Molecular Biology & Genetics course. I’m eager to learn about the variety of research that Cornell’s experienced faculty is conducting. 

It would be an honor to learn from and work with Cornell’s researchers at one of the world’s greatest research institutions, through the myriad of opportunities the college provides. I’m especially interested in the research of Dr. Cohen and his team in the creation of micrometer-scale robots for following biochemical signals and encapsulating a soft tissue analog for new future treatments of disease. 

Outside of the classroom, I hope to combine my passions for public health and advocacy by engaging in the American Red Cross student organization, and perhaps the Cornell Sun. I also excitedly anticipate running Club Cross Country through Cornell’s astounding gorges and gardens. I look forward to contributing to the various student organizations at Cornell with my interests and background. 

Cornell’s unique freedom of course selection offers an uncommon opportunity for career exploration. I’m confident Cornell’s College of Arts and Science’s opportunities, courses, cutting-edge research and researchers, and community will make it my perfect next Room 307: an opening to practically endless exploration and growth that cannot be found elsewhere.

A positive aspect of this essay is how it neatly parallels the student’s interdisciplinary interests in science and technology to the interdisciplinary aspect of the major and the College of Arts and Sciences. The reader gains a full appreciation for the diverse interests this student has and exactly how they align with a Cornell education.

Providing context about the biotechnology club, their internship at Holy Cross, and their experience as a research assistant at Montgomery College are all great ways to show the reader how this student has already expressed intellectual curiosity in this field in the past. Although you don’t need to go into too much detail about things that will be included on your extracurricular profile, it’s always a good idea to tie in your experiences whenever possible.

Additionally, this essay successfully employs an echo back to the opening in the conclusion. The essay starts by introducing illustrious Room 307 as the birthplace of this student’s joint passion in science and technology, so circling back to that room in the conclusion helps bring the essay to a satisfying full-circle moment. It was also clever to use Room 307 as a metaphor for exploring their interest, and thereby comparing Cornell to the next Room 307.

This essay exceeds in covering a breadth of opportunities at Cornell that excite them, but it could use some work on the depth of each opportunity. What do we mean by this? The student mentions nine different aspects of Cornell that excite them, but they provide little meaningful elaboration on why they want to get involved with these particular choices, how they relate to their interests, or what they hope to gain from these experiences.

For instance, instead of just telling the reader they are interested in Dr. Cohen’s research, the essay should delve into what about micro-scale robots following biochemical signals excites them so much. Have they or a loved one been affected by a disease these robots could cure? Did they read an article about this technique a few years back and have been dreaming about implementing it up close? 

Asking these questions to probe deeper than the surface layer of “ I like this topic ” helps bring the essay (and you as an applicant) to life. If the student chose to cut back on the number of offerings they included and instead focused on the depth and context for each one, it would make the essay much stronger.

One more thing this essay does that we’d caution against is the empty flattery of the school. Cornell admissions officers know that it’s one of the greatest research institutions and there are many opportunities for supporting students, so it’s unnecessary for the student to repeat that in their essay. What they don’t know about is you . Try to steer clear of mentioning the college’s accolades and rankings, and maintain attention on you and how you fit in.

Essay Example #3

Prompt: What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 words)

I rounded third base; dust flew in a whirling cloud of dirt behind me. On my wrist I sported a stained pink wristband with the name of my grandmother, who had recently finished her last chemo treatment. I slid into home plate, narrowly escaping the daunting reach of the catcher. As I got up, I looked around at the field of players, all donning a similar wristband with the name of someone close to them that had battled cancer. I turned to the bleachers and smiled as a sea of pink cheered me on. While cancer can be a dismal matter, it was a merging force that brought a community together for that charity game. Seeing what a unifying tragedy cancer can be, I knew I wanted to help.

At the Dyson School within the Cornell SC Johnson School of Business I aim to gain a strong foundation in business, with a concentration in marketing, to conduct meaningful research as an undergraduate. Taking part in the CALS Honors Research program, I aspire to research marketing strategies for increasing cancer screening rates. Having numerous family members that have battled with cancer has shown me the burdensome effect it can have not only on the individual, but on the family. Through my project, I hope to minimize those effects, as catching the disease early on is vital to a patient’s recovery. With the unique opportunity provided by the program, I know that I will have that chance.

After graduation, I want to continue with a career in marketing for the betterment of society. For me, the importance of marketing is not about convincing consumers to buy the latest product to boost sales, it is about encouraging consumers to make decisions that will benefit themselves and their community. With a focus in healthcare, I will have the ability to positively influence people’s precautionary screening measures, keeping them safe and healthy. Similarly, I aim to apply the same principle in other fields during my career and my time at Cornell.

One of those fields is green energy. Protecting the planet is a sentiment that is also very important to me, and with its beautiful, vast landscape and focus on environmental conservation, Cornell is the perfect place for me to advance that mission. With the state of today’s climate, the need to act swiftly is paramount, and citizen participation is key. As a marketer, I would strive to convince consumers to make the switch to green energy. In the digital age, marketing relies heavily on the internet, and I am excited to take Digital Marketing with Professor Tomaso Bondi to develop my skills in that area.

With Cornell already performing groundbreaking research in sustainable energy, I want to get involved with the initiative from a marketing perspective. An opportunity that intrigues me is the student project Cornell Electric Vehicles. Although it is an engineering project team, I would love to get involved as a student from Dyson working on marketing the effectiveness of the vehicles designed by the team. Switching to electric cars is an efficient way to reduce our carbon footprint and sharing the successes achieved by the team would be a great way to showcase the capabilities of electric vehicles.

As a student looking to make a positive impact on his global community through research and marketing, I know that Cornell can provide me with the opportunities to achieve my goals. Whether it be persuading an unknowing cancer victim to receive a screening or a consumer looking for a new car to switch to green energy, I will make a change through marketing. By gaining a strong understanding of the foundations of business and marketing, I will strive to ensure that everyone after that charity game will be able to return home and hug their loved one and have a healthy and thriving planet to call home.

This student exemplified the prompt by showing us exactly what kind of business student they are. They are a student passionate about having a social and environmental impact through marketing. The fact that the reader can walk away with such a clear impression of who this student is and what they hope to accomplish with a Cornell business degree is a result of the concise and dynamic flow of this essay.

Every new idea they introduced—whether it was pursuing the honors research program or joining the Cornell Electric Vehicle project team—was supported by contextual reasoning and personal connections. Tying everything back to their past or their goals for the future really brought the student front and center and made it very easy for the reader to feel like they know this student.

In addition to connecting everything to the student, the essay also managed to connect interdisciplinary topics that you might not immediately think of when you hear business to marketing. Not being afraid to delve into healthcare and sustainability in an essay for a business school brings a personal and unique perspective to a prompt that admissions officers are sure to appreciate.

Another source of this essay’s strength is how each paragraph is concise and focused. There is a very intentional use of space that makes it extremely easy for the reader to follow along with each new idea and take away the main points from each paragraph. 

Although this essay is quite strong as it is, one weakness was the abrupt switch from cancer and healthcare to sustainability. It’s great that this student has multifaceted interests and that they were able to touch on both, but given that the anecdote at the beginning was solely focused on cancer, it felt somewhat jarring to switch to green energy halfway through the essay.

One way this discontinuity could be addressed is to find a different anecdote to begin the essay, ideally one that combines cancer and sustainability if at all possible. Or, the student could keep the cancer anecdote and add a second one that connects to their interest in green energy more. However, it’s important to not let the anecdote overwhelm the essay and take up too much space, so keeping it concise and providing just enough to spark interest is key.

This essay only includes three Cornell-specific opportunities, and while this allows for more personal connections to be made to each offering, the student’s interest and research on the college could be demonstrated with one or two more details. It might be nice if they found a club that related to marketing and healthcare on campus and a class that relates to business and green energy to show how they plan to address both of their passions in and out of the classroom.

Where to Get Your Cornell Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your Cornell essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Advice

September 6, 2023

The 7.3% acceptance rate for Cornell’s Class of 2027 was just a touch higher than last year’s 6.9%; as late as 2003, the school still had as high as a 31% acceptance rate. Clearly, getting into Cornell in 2023-24 is a vastly different enterprise than earlier in the millennium. Even if you earned a 1450+ on the SAT and maintained straight A’s throughout a high school career littered with AP and honors courses, you still need to find a way to distinguish yourself from other high school superstars. Fortunately, Cornell’s supplemental essays present applicants with just the opportunity they need to showcase their unique personality, writing ability, passions, and talents.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Cornell University? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Cornell: Admissions Data and Strategies  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

In addition to the required supplemental response for all applicants (new this year), each college within Cornell has its own essay requirement(s). Below, we examine the Cornell supplemental essays for the 2023-24 admissions cycle.

Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-24

Required for all applicants:

In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, Ezra Cornell wrote, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” For over 150 years, Cornell University has remained deeply committed to Ezra’s vision. Explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a learning community devoted to “…any person…any study.” We encourage you to think broadly about your life experiences, including how local (e.g., family, school, neighborhood) or global communities you’ve been part of have helped shape your perspective. (350 words)

Cornell is inviting you to share more about your background/identity/community through the lens of how that will impact your experience at the university. Take note of the wide-open nature of this prompt. You are essentially invited to talk about any of the following topics:

  • A perspective you hold
  • An experience/challenge you had
  • A community you belong to
  • Your cultural background
  • Your religious background
  • Your family background
  • Your sexual orientation or gender identity

Although this prompt’s open floor plan may feel daunting, a good tactic is to first consider what has already been communicated within your Common App personal statement and activities list. What important aspect(s) of yourself have not been shared (or sufficiently discussed)? The admissions officer reading your essay is hoping to connect with you through your written words, so—within your essay’s reflection—be open, humble, thoughtful, inquisitive, emotionally honest, mature, and/or insightful about what you learned and how you grew.

You’ll then need to discuss how your background/identity/experiences will best allow you to contribute to Cornell’s “any person…any study” vision. Firstly, what does “any person…any study” mean to you? Defining that for yourself will enable you to more fully discuss how your background and life experiences will contribute to the University’s mission.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals?(650 words)

There are 22 undergraduate majors and more than 40 minors within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Obviously, the content of this essay is going to be quite different for a prospective American Indian Indigenous Studies major versus someone looking to study Biomedical Engineering. Firstly, you’ll need to discuss your motivations and past experiences related to your major of choice—how have you engaged with the subject, formally and/or informally? What drives you to pursue this course of study in college? Moreover, you’ll need to clearly lay out your academic and career goals, providing explicit evidence of why CALS is the ideal place to help you achieve them. For instance, this may involve researching the professors, courses , study abroad programs , undergraduate research opportunities , and student-run organizations relevant to your major of choice.

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

What three words best describe you? (30 characters each)

No tricks here—you truly only need to choose three words for this response. As such, make sure those three words are pulling their weight. For example, “interesting, hard-working, dedicated” could likely describe any number of Cornell applicants. Instead, try to think of descriptive or evocative words that capture what makes you unique or what you most value—perhaps it’s your wit, your bibliophile tendencies, or your generosity, to name a few.

Cornell Supplemental Essays (Continued)

How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues. (650 words)

There are five departments within the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning : Architecture. Art, City and Regional Planning, Real Estate, and Design Tech. Firstly, you’ll need to discuss your motivations and past experiences related to your major of choice—how have you engaged with the subject, formally and/or informally? What drives you to pursue this course of study in college? Moreover, you’ll need to clearly lay out your academic and career goals, providing explicit evidence of why Cornell AAP is the ideal place to help you achieve them. For instance, this may involve researching the professors , courses, study abroad programs , undergraduate research opportunities , and student-run organizations relevant to your major of choice. Note that the prompt provides specific guidance on what exactly should be addressed in the response depending on prospective major, so be sure to integrate that guidance into your essay.

College of Arts and Sciences – Cornell Supplemental Essays 

At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences. (650 words)

With 78 different majors and minors , the College of Arts and Sciences offers myriad opportunities for any student. As such, Cornell wants to see evidence of your drive, passion, and intellectual ambition as well as your specific plans for continuing to be academically engaged while in college. What are your current interests? How have you explored them inside and outside the classroom? How do you hope to continue pursuing them as an undergraduate? Great things to highlight here include:

  • Departmental offerings , curriculum attributes , and/or specific courses offered in your discipline(s) of interest at Cornell.
  • Undergraduate research opportunities  in the summer or during the school year as well as independent research you would like to conduct under faculty supervision.
  • Cornell professors whose work/research/writings you find fascinating and how you might want to connect with them as an undergraduate.
  • Last, explore academically focused  student organizations  at Cornell.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 words)

To stand out as an applicant to Dyson or the School of Hotel Administration , applicants need to show that they have availed themselves of every opportunity to dive into the business world during their high school years. Of course, not everyone has parents who hand them money to invest in the stock market or hook them up with a Goldman Sachs internship in ninth grade. Relevant experiences can include high school investing clubs, participation in activities like FBLA, summer programs/courses in business/finance/economics, running your own local small business or e-business (Etsy, landscaping, etc.), or just a regular old retail job. From there, and as a result of your experiences, what topics or issues are you interested in? How do you plan to explore said issues or topics at Cornell? You might consider citing departmental/curricular attributes , specific courses, research opportunities , and/or experiential learning opportunities, among others.

College of Engineering – Cornell Supplemental Essays 

Instructions: All applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. Each has a limit of 250 words. Essay 1 is required of all applicants. For Essay 2, you must choose between Question A and Question B.

Essay 1 Required for all engineering applicants

How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering?  If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. (250 words)

For the “Why Cornell Engineering?” prompt, refer to our recommendation above for the College of Arts & Sciences essay. Do your homework. Tell Cornell about the departments , courses , professors , facilities , research opportunities , and unique programs that make their College of Engineering your top choice. In addition, be sure to follow their advice and focus on one or two things that you are most excited about vs. trying to squeeze in a laundry list of offerings.

Essay 2 Choose either Question A or Question B. (250 word limit)

  • Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.
  • Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

Question A is, in many ways, a quintessential engineering prompt. It is truly as simple as identifying a problem and proposing a solution. However, you’ll want to follow Cornell’s guidance and focus on a problem that manifests in your local community. For example, this could involve something in the realm of:

  • Climate change
  • Energy efficiency
  • Pandemic management/data tracking
  • Infrastructure
  • Sustainability
  • Rethinking how cities and towns look and work
  • Safeguarding personal data

Question B choice may be challenging to answer in a deeply meaningful way if you are not a member of an underrepresented group with respect to ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual identity. If this one doesn’t “sing” to you, it’s best to stick with Question A. If you do select Option B, you’ll also want to be sure that it does not overlap with the required essay for all Cornell applicants, which also has to do with your background and life experiences.

Engineering Short Answer Questions (Required)

See advice under the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

What are three words you would use to describe Cornell Engineering?

Before attempting to answer this question, make sure to do your research. Read through the School’s mission statement as well as the departmental websites, diversity goals, research initiatives, and student life offerings. What stands out to you most about Cornell’s program as a whole? Then, do your best to capture that in three words.

College of Human Ecology

How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major.  (650 words)

The direction of your essay will be guided by your choice of major within the College of Human Ecology . For example, the content will look substantively different for a Fashion Design and Management major versus a Nutritional Sciences applicant. Regardless of your area of study, the prompt seeks to get the heart of why you’re interested in your particular field and where you see your education/career moving forward. In summary, speak honestly about your goals for the future and how your major will help you achieve them. Along the way, be sure to cite specific CHE offerings like courses , professors , research initiatives , student organizations , and/or special programs.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School. (650 words)

Labor relations is not exactly the most common topic for a 17-year-old to fall in love with. Therefore, there is probably a pretty interesting story behind your desire to pursue the ILR path. Given that this major is an intersection of areas like business, economics, government, history, law, and public policy, among others—your interest in Cornell’s ILR program may have been sparked by traditional classroom learning. Or, on the other hand, perhaps the spark was the experience of a friend or relative. Perhaps it was even something you have been following in the news (e.g., Starbucks workers trying to unionize). Above all, let your passion and commitment for this field shine through in your composition, and be sure to cite ILR offerings that will allow you to pursue your interests even more deeply, such as the curriculum structure , research opportunities , internships , or student organizations , among others.

Brooks School of Public Policy

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650 words)

At Brooks, you can pursue one of two majors: Public Policy or Healthcare Policy . As such, in this essay, you’ll want to be sure to communicate why you’re interested in your major of choice. What related experiences have you had? How have you explored your interests and curiosities inside and outside the classroom? Most importantly, how do you hope to continue pursuing them as an undergraduate? Great things to highlight here include departmental offerings , specific courses, research opportunities , faculty members , student life , and/or experiential learning opportunities of interest.

Want Personalized Coaching with your Cornell Supplemental Essays?

In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Cornell supplemental essays, we encourage you to  get a quote  today.

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cornell common app essay

October 3, 2022

Tips for Answering the Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 – 2023]

Tips for Answering the Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts

While Ivy League schools require the Common Application or Coalition Application essay, they also require supplemental essay responses. These help you to convey in greater detail how the specific school and program of study to which you are applying are a good fit for you and how you can contribute to the collegiate environment. This, in turn, helps elite schools glean a better understanding of you as a potential student. To respond well, think about your future goals and how attending Cornell will help you achieve them!

It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific character of the school before sitting down to write your essays. You can begin by visiting the school website. Whenever possible, a virtual campus visit is also helpful to get a feel for the school and gain a sense of how it supports your interests. Take a remote campus tour, call the admissions office to learn more, and speak with current students. 

Cornell’s curriculum focuses on the collaborative nature of a liberal arts education with fundamental knowledge. In addition, its practical approach to education is intentionally designed to impact societal and world problems. As you respond to each prompt, think about your personal objectives, the mission of the school, and why Cornell is the best place for you.

Cornell boasts 14 undergraduate colleges and schools with over 80 majors. Through the broad scope of majors and the individual course of study options, it prides itself on being “a place where any person can find instruction in any study.” It fosters creative collaborations with a bottom-up approach. If you are unsure which major is right for you, the Courses of Study catalog provides degree requirements for each college.

Get a free consultation: Click here to schedule a call to find out how our admissions experts can help YOU get accepted to Cornell!

The Cornell Writing Supplement varies among the undergraduate college(s) or school(s) to which you are applying. Each essay response should be a maximum of 650 words. These questions are fairly straightforward and the content is somewhat similar between colleges/schools. Your goal is to do your research and convincingly explain why your selected school and desired course of study at Cornell are the best fit for you and vice versa .

Note: If you are utilizing the Primary/Alternate admission option, you must complete an essay for both colleges/schools that correspond to your primary and alternate selections.

Cornell University writing supplement essay prompts (by college/school)

Brooks school of public policy.

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Required: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals? Optional (1) : At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. We encourage you to think about community broadly – this could include family, school, or local and global communities. (300-word limit) Optional (2) : The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is dedicated to the exploration of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background in agriculture or are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. (300-word limit) Select all that apply:

  • My family owns or operates a farm
  • I have experience working in agriculture
  • I have interest in pursuing a career in agriculture

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, and inspirations. What are yours?

College of Arts and Sciences

Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.

College of Engineering

All applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. Each has a limit of 250 words. Essay 1 is required of all applicants. For Essay 2, you must choose between Question A and Question B. Essay 1 – Required response (250 word limit) How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. Essay 2 – Choose either Question A and Question B. (250 word limit) Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem. Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?

College of Human Ecology

How has your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology been influenced by your related experiences? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.*

College of Business

What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school(s) to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business ( Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and/or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration ) .

No matter which essay prompts you are addressing, you should discuss your past, present, and future , both in terms of your academics, your passions, and your interests and goals. Is there a story you can share that helps illustrate your passion for cooking? A particular set of ideas or subject from school that you can’t stop thinking about–something that you simply feel driven to pursue on the college level? What sparked your interest in a particular field? By tapping into the topics that excite you and the goals that feel like your truest ambitions, you’ll be sure to present the adcom with an authentic picture of who YOU are. In addition to your impressive credentials and your unstoppable passion for a certain subject or academic path, demonstrating a strong sense of self-knowledge and self-articulation will be crucial to your admission.

But, in addition to revealing who YOU really are, you have an additional job to accomplish in these essays. And that is to show a thorough knowledge of Cornell and its offerings. These should include specific courses of interest and extracurricular opportunities and communities you would like to join. When thinking about how Cornell appeals to you, consider the whole package of academics, campus atmosphere, location in Ithaca, and your long-term objectives. This is your opportunity to convey your ardent enthusiasm for Cornell!

Putting all this together, you must reflect on how you will enrich the collegiate environment at the school. Based on all the thinking and writing you have done for your essays, what skills and character traits do you know you will bring with you? Which particular communities or clubs (sports teams, debate club, Catholic student union) do you have experience with already and would love to join on campus? Explain how your attending Cornell can play a part in helping Cornell achieve its goals as a university.

Final thoughts on applying to Cornell

Cornell has a highly competitive applicant pool. It received 67,380 undergraduate applications for the class of 2025. Only 5,852 were offered admission. The best way to distinguish yourself from the accomplished applicant group is through your essays.

Applying to an Ivy League school can be a daunting process. Take heart: these supplemental essays are a chance for you to share your personal stories and real-life experiences and boost your candidacy. Pay attention to details. Deadlines and word limits matter–make sure you honor them. Start early to allow time for reflection and revision. Following this advice, you can demonstrate that Cornell is the right school for you and that you are the right student for Cornell.

If you’re applying to Cornell University, you already know you’re up against tight competition. Don’t be overwhelmed. Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from the highly competitive applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!

Ivy League and Common Application Tips: How to get Accepted

Related Resources:

  • 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays , a free guide
  • The Essay Whisperer: How to Write a College Application Essay
  • Mining Identity for College Essays, Personal Statements

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cornell common app essay

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Applicants who graduated from high school but have earned fewer than 12 credits at a college or university are considered first-year candidates

Applicants are considered transfer applicants if they have:

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If an applicant has earned 12 or more semester hours of credit since completing high school (or earning an equivalent), they must apply as a transfer.

If an applicant has enrolled as a full-time student at another institution, they must apply as a transfer. 

If a student has previously earned a bachelor’s degree, they cannot apply for a second bachelor’s degree at Cornell. 

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Cornell Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Search cornell admissions, how to submit your writing supplement, please allow 5 business days for application materials to be added to your checklist., first-year students.

The writing supplement is a separate submission. 

  • Log in to the Common Application.
  • Click "Questions" under the "Writing Supplement" section in the left navigation to view the Cornell Writing Supplement.
  • Please be sure your response(s) follow the guidelines provided regarding minimum and/or maximum word count.
  • Hit continue to review your submission, and complete the submission. You will see a confirmation screen. 

Transfer Students

Both the Writing Supplement (found on the “Questions” tab) and the Personal Statement (found on the “Documents” tab) in the “Program Materials” section of the application are required. Please note, you must select the college/school you are applying to under the “Academics” heading in order for the Writing Supplement question to populate. You will not be able to submit your application until both essays are complete.

For information on how to submit other materials for your application, please visit Application Material Submission Instructions .

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Cornell Supplemental Essays?

I'm thinking about applying to Cornell for computer science. Today I checked CommonApp to see if Cornell has any supplemental essays, but I didn't find any. So do I just need to submit my common app essay?

I'm mainly asking because hyper-selective schools tend to have a few supplementals along with the common app. My counselor said they weren't released yet, but it's been ten days and still no supplementals.

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July 10, 2024

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Writing about identity and values can boost teens' self-esteem

by James Dean, Cornell University

teens

Providing teenagers opportunities to affirm positive aspects of their identities can help bolster their self-esteem over time and ease transitions to high school, new Cornell psychology research finds.

In a study involving nearly 400 ninth graders, students who completed short essays every few months about identities or values important to them reported stable or even improved self-esteem throughout the year, on average. Peers who didn't complete the self-affirmation exercises saw average self-esteem drop significantly—a common phenomenon when starting high school.

The results suggest that in addition to values-based affirmations, which have been studied more extensively, identity-based affirmations could be beneficial at a time when teens are forging and becoming more aware of their identities, said Adam Hoffman, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and College of Human Ecology.

"Self-esteem is derived from our social identities in some ways, and teens are starting to be shaped by their social identities in adolescence," Hoffman said. "If we can encourage explicit socialization of their identity and frame it in a positive light, we may see better outcomes in mental health and overall well-being."

Hoffman is a co-author of "The Promise of an Identity-Based Self-Affirmation Intervention in Protecting Against Self-Esteem Declines at the High School Transition," published in Developmental Psychology , with Hannah Schacter, assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University.

Though strong self-esteem is linked to better health and academic performance , it is known to stagnate or decline among adolescents starting high school. At that age, Hoffman said, students are developing a more complex and nuanced sense of self, while navigating new social relationships and being confronted with frequent opportunities to see how they measure up, such as through grades and athletics.

"Adolescents' social cognition enables them to have more realistic self-perceptions and understandings of their abilities, and there are many ways to assess themselves in comparison with others," Hoffman said. "We were interested in finding ways to help mitigate those normatively occurring dips that we see in self-esteem."

Although prior research has focused on how self-affirmations influence academic outcomes, Hoffman said, the new study is among the first to investigate their effects on psychological well-being, specifically self-esteem. Research to date has also overwhelmingly tested more traditional affirmations of values.

To test the benefits of an intervention affirming identities, the researchers recruited a diverse sample of 388 students from 38 schools in Michigan, averaging 14 years old. Participants completed up to five self-esteem assessments during ninth and tenth grade. Starting in the fall of 2020, as ninth graders, they were randomly assigned to one of three groups that completed a series of three writing exercises.

Responding to prompts every few months, participants in one group explained what they liked about an identity, selected from race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, weight, immigrant status, language, disability, socioeconomic status or "other." Another group focused on a value they considered important, such as creativity or sense of humor. And a control group wrote about that day's morning routine.

The results showed self-esteem held steady for the first two groups, but declined over time for the control group , suggesting that the interventions had a "large effect" on average. That was particularly notable since the study took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, when students and adults were experiencing higher levels of stress, though the authors said additional research should be done in more normal conditions.

The scholars had expected to identity-based affirmations to bolster self-esteem the most. But they noted that teens are concurrently developing both identities and values that could protect them when facing increasing academic demands, difficulty with friends or family, or instances of discrimination.

"Perhaps it is not surprising that having repeated opportunities to positively reflect on anything of personal significance to the self—whether that be personal values or social identities—may offer a method for preserving a sense of self-worth," the authors wrote.

Schools, counselors and parents could provide those opportunities with minimal disruption, the scholars said, to help teens feel better about themselves as they transition to high school.

"This is something that could be done in an English class in 10 minutes, a couple of times a year, and it's super-easy and relevant for kids," Hoffman said. "Any type of affirmation intervention, whether it's based on their values or identity, is showing to help with self-esteem ."

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IMAGES

  1. reading my Cornell Common App essay + essay tips

    cornell common app essay

  2. STORY TIME: Reading My Common App Essay!

    cornell common app essay

  3. Reading the Common App Essay that got me accepted to Cornell University and Northwestern University

    cornell common app essay

  4. How to Write Common App Essay Prompt 1

    cornell common app essay

  5. Common App Essays Prompts 2023-2024

    cornell common app essay

  6. Common App Essay

    cornell common app essay

VIDEO

  1. Reading my Cornell Hotel School college app essays + TIPS

  2. How Do You Write Great Supplemental Essays?

  3. Ontario Skatepark Tour Bonus Episode: Markham & Vaughan May 9-24 #OntarioSkateparkTour

  4. Reading My Common App Essay About Clothes

  5. The Common App Essay That Got Me into 5 Ivy League Schools

  6. reading the common app essay that got me into an ivy league + tips & advice

COMMENTS

  1. Cornell First-Year Writing Supplement Prompts

    In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to both the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.

  2. How to Write the Cornell University Essays 2023-2024

    Applying to Cornell University? Here's how to write standout supplemental essays to improve your chances of acceptance.

  3. Preparing for Your Cornell Application

    There are two parts to your Cornell application - the general Common Application and the Cornell University Writing Supplement, which is also completed through Common App. Give yourself enough time before the application deadline to complete both. You can review the writing prompts for first-year applicants or transfer applicants before you ...

  4. reading my Cornell Common App essay + essay tips

    In this video, I read my Common App essay that got me into Cornell University! And I share some tips to help you SLAY YOUR ESSAY 😤 I hope you appreciated wh...

  5. 3 Top Tips for a Stand-Out Cornell Essay

    Struggling with the Cornell essay prompt? Learn how to write a great Cornell supplement essay that will make your application shine.

  6. First-Year Applicants

    Before submitting your Cornell Common Application, you will also need to write and submit your Cornell First-Year Writing Supplement. Please note that each college and school at Cornell has a different supplement. Writing Supplement Prompts.

  7. 2023-24 Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    How to Write the Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-24. In addition to the personal statement in the Common Application, you are also required to respond to the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt (s) for the undergraduate school or college to which you are applying. It's important to note that many of Cornell's ...

  8. How to Write the Cornell Supplemental Essay

    In this guide, learn about each of the Cornell supplemental essay prompts with exercises and essay examples to help you along the way.

  9. Cornell University 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

    The Requirements: 1 school-specific essay of 650 words or 2 essays of 250 words each Supplemental Essay Type (s): Why, Community In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to both the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.

  10. Cornell Supplemental Essays & Cornell Essay

    You must complete one or two of the Cornell supplemental essays listed on the 2023-2024 Common App. The number of Cornell supplemental essays and the prompt you answer, however, depends on the school to which you apply. Each of the Cornell essay prompts corresponds to one of eight undergraduate colleges/schools at Cornell.

  11. First-year essay prompts

    Here are Common App's essay prompts for this year. Get tips and best practices for writing your college essays as you prepare to apply to college.

  12. How to Write the Cornell University Essays 2020-2021

    Cornell requires all applicants to submit a supplemental essay in addition to their Common Application piece. The student's selected college determines the prompt they will complete.

  13. 2023-2024 Cornell University Supplemental Essays

    Cornell University has released its supplemental essays for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle for applicants to the Class of 2028.

  14. 3 Great Cornell Essay Examples

    3 Great Cornell Essay Examples. Cornell is one of the top schools in the nation, and a member of the esteemed Ivy League. With an extremely low general acceptance rate, admissions is highly-selective, though keep in mind that acceptance rates vary by schools within the university. Cornell requires a single supplement for all applicants, but the ...

  15. Transfer Applicants

    The Common Application with Cornell transfer questions and writing supplement; $80 nonrefundable application fee or fee waiver; Official (final) high school transcript ... In the Documents tab, upload a 250- to 650-word essay answering "How does continuing your education at a new institution help you achieve your future goals?" ...

  16. Cornell Supplemental Essays 2023-24

    We cover the Cornell supplemental essays in 2023-24. Applicants follow a prompt specific to the college/school to which they are applying.

  17. Tips for Answering the Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts

    Tips for Answering the Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts [2022 - 2023] While Ivy League schools require the Common Application or Coalition Application essay, they also require supplemental essay responses. These help you to convey in greater detail how the specific school and program of study to which you are applying are a good fit for you and how you can contribute to the ...

  18. Apply to Cornell University

    Cornell is a privately endowed research university and a partner of the State University of New York. Cornell is an Ivy League university and the land-grant university for New York State. Cornell's mission is to discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge; produce creative work; and promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community. Cornell also aims, through ...

  19. Analysis on Accepted Cornell Common App Essay

    Personally, that evoked emotions of despondency. It brought me to a kind of low point for a moment, but it's also a low point that I'm familiar with, which makes it somewhat relatable. This is an important part that I'll address later on in the analysis. Now, at this point in the essay, I'm really hoping that the student shifts from a ...

  20. Cornell Essays on Common app seem repetitive

    Cornell Essays on Common app seem repetitive. It might be just me but the Cornell Essays on Common app seem to be asking the same thing. Here are two essay prompts: Prompt 1: Tell us what you'd like to major in at Cornell, why or how your past academic or work experience influenced your decision, and how transferring to Cornell would further ...

  21. How to Submit Your Writing Supplement

    The writing supplement is a separate submission. Log in to the Common Application. Click "Questions" under the "Writing Supplement" section in the left navigation to view the Cornell Writing Supplement. Please be sure your response (s) follow the guidelines provided regarding minimum and/or maximum word count.

  22. Showing articles from Common App tag

    Can I use the SUNY application to apply to the College of Human Ecology? No, we do not accept the SUNY application. Students must apply using the [Common App] [1], including the Cornell supplement and the Human Ecology interest essay.

  23. Cornell Supplemental Essays? : r/ApplyingToCollege

    I'm thinking about applying to Cornell for computer science. Today I checked CommonApp to see if Cornell has any supplemental essays, but I didn't find any. So do I just need to submit my common app essay?

  24. Writing about identity and values can boost teens' self-esteem

    Providing teenagers opportunities to affirm positive aspects of their identities can help bolster their self-esteem over time and ease transitions to high school, new Cornell psychology research ...