Tips For Answering Cornell University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Check out our other school specific common application essay tips!

This post about the Cornell supplement to the Common Application is part of a series of posts written to help you complete the 2016 Common Application supplement for Ivy League and other top schools. 

Although the Ivy League schools review the Common Application essay, they also require supplemental essay responses. These help you to convey in greater detail how the specific school and program of study are a good fit for you and how you can contribute to the collegiate environment. The additional essay prompts are geared to help these 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 campus visit is also helpful to get a feel for the school and gain a sense of how it supports your interests. Cornell’s curriculum focuses on the collaborative nature of liberal arts education and fundamental knowledge. In addition, its practical educational approach 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 of which major is right for you, the Courses of Study catalog provides degree requirements for each college.

The Common Application Writing Supplement is based on the undergraduate college(s) or school(s) to which you are applying. Each essay response should be a maximum of 500 words. These questions are fairly straightforward and the content is somewhat similar between colleges/schools.

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.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: How have your interests and related experiences influenced the major you have selected in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences?

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: Why are you excited to pursue your chosen major in AAP? What specifically about AAP and Cornell University will help you fulfill your academic and creative interests and long-term goals?

College of Arts and Sciences: Describe two or three of your current intellectual interests and why they are exciting to you. Why will Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences be the right environment in which to pursue your interests?

College of Engineering: Tell us about an engineering idea you have, or about your interest in engineering. Describe how your ideas and interests may be realized by—and linked to—specific resources within the College of Engineering. Finally, explain what a Cornell Engineering education will enable you to accomplish.

School of Hotel Administration: The global hospitality industry includes hotel and foodservice management, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, and law. Describe what has influenced your decision to make the business of hospitality your academic focus. What personal qualities make you a good fit for SHA?

College of Human Ecology: How have your experiences influenced you to consider the College of Human Ecology and how will your choice of major(s) impact your goals and plans for the future?

School of Industrial and Labor Relations: Tell us about your intellectual interests, how they sprung from your course, service, work or life experiences, and what makes them exciting to you. Describe how ILR is the right school for you to pursue these interests.

These essay prompts ask you to discuss specific examples from your life experience (academic and otherwise) that support your interest in a particular school/college. In addition, they ask you to look toward the future and how your educational experience at Cornell supports your goals. They also want to know how you can enrich the collegiate environment at the school. These questions allow you to focus on what excites you about certain subjects and how studying at Cornell makes sense for you. Consider academics, campus atmosphere, location in Ithaca, and your long-term objectives. This is your opportunity to convey your passion for Cornell!

Cornell has a highly competitive applicant pool. It received 43,037 undergraduate applications for the class of 2018. Only 6,105 were offered admission and 87% of the students admitted were in the top 10% of their high school class with average SAT scores of 690 in critical reading, 730 in math, and an average ACT score of 32. The best way to distinguish yourself from your peers is through your essays.

Applying to an Ivy League school can seem like a daunting process. It is reassuring to keep in mind that these supplemental essays are a chance for you to share your personal stories and real-life experiences. Pay attention to deadlines and word limits as you craft each response to represent your unique perspectives. Start early to allow time for reflection and revision. Your goal is to demonstrate that Cornell is the right school for you and that you are the right student for Cornell!

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Marie Todd By , Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.

Related Resources:

Common App Supplemental Essay Tips
What is Passion in Admissions?
• College Application Essays: Writing Tips from the Pros

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Temple University Medical School 2016 Secondary Application Tips

Check out the rest of our School Specific Secondary Essay Tips!Temple University has several campus locations in Pennsylvania. The school emphasizes hand-on, collaborative learning, community service, and the intersection between research and clinical care. It is one of the top ranked research-oriented schools. Temple also features a “simulation center” where students take a hands-on approach to clinical work.

Temple University’s 2016 Essay Questions:

• No word count. We suggest aiming for about 200-1000 words.

• Applicants should use single-spacing and 12-point font.

Secondary Application Essays: (Optional)

1. What is the nature of your special interest in Temple University School of Medicine?

Describe particular programs at Temple that interest you. Review their website and materials and make a list of 3-5 specific characteristics that you appreciate about Temple. Then, write specifically about each one and why you would like to participate.

Please describe the nature of your special interest in your first ranked Clinical/Regional clerkship campus.

Because Temple has multiple campuses, you should rank your choices and write why you are interested in that particular campus. The main campus is in Philadelphia. You can cite reasons relating to programs, proximity to family, or group dynamics.

2. How do you anticipate contributing to the TUSM community?

For this prompt, make a list of your unique characteristics that might not be evident from the rest of your application. Be sure to include anything that might highlight diversity of experience or background. Then, choose the most compelling and write an essay where you specifically explain what your unique quality is and why it will contribute to the community, keeping in mind the values of the Temple medical school and its mission.

3. What are your plans for the current year- June 2015 until June 2016?

Explain to the adcom what you are doing during the gap year. Include volunteer and other experiences to give the full picture. If you are currently in school, describe the most impressive things you are doing in school: research projects, leadership roles, community service initiatives, and/or demanding classes.

Temple University 2016 Timeline:

Check out our other school specific secondary essay tips

View our med school resource library for valuable tips on every stage of the application process!

JessicaPishkoJessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She spent two years guiding students through the medical school application process at Columbia’s PostBacc Program and teaches writing at all levels.

Related Resources:

• The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success [Free Guide]
• Attn Med Applicants: A Class Is Matriculated Every Single Year [Podcast]
• Third Time’s The Charm For This Med Student

MIT Sloan Fellows 2016 Essay Tips

Check out our MIT zone page!

Your three MIT Sloan Fellows essays must collectively convey the unmistakable message that you surpass your peers through consistently outstanding impact, and that you are destined to become a leader in your company and even industry.  Simultaneously, the essays must convey fit with MIT Sloan’s enduring emphasis on being an innovative, principled leader and agent of change.  Use the three essays to present different aspects of your experience and your character, to show that you envision and drive change, and to portray your rightful place in the “global leadership community.”  

There is a notable commonality among the two essay questions: their emphasis on reflection, self-awareness, and synthesizing your experience.  MIT SF adcom wants people who are thoughtful and probing.


Statement of Objectives: What are your immediate (1 – 5 years) and ultimate (>15 years) professional objectives for attending the program? Specifically, please indicate your objectives and how they fit with the purposes of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. How would your unique background contribute to the diversity of the Sloan Fellows community? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Let’s break this question into its three parts:  

First, your professional objectives.  Be specific about position, company/industry, expected scope of responsibilities, and vision for what you want to accomplish. Give more detail for the 1-5 year segment.  For the longer term goals, show direction – but not as detailed.

Second, your objectives’ fit with the program.  Identify and describe specific aspects of your objectives that align with the values and purposes of the program.  Focus on the 2-3 key elements of this fit – fewer, with thoughtful discussion, is far better than a “laundry list” of fit points.

Third, your potential contributions to the community.  Again, focus on the 2-3 key aspects.  “Unique background” certainly could refer to professional background, and it can also include other relevant, interesting factors and experiences if they represent a potential contribution, such as intimate knowledge of a poorly represented geographic region.  This section can be tricky – interesting facts alone don’t show potential contribution; you need to add your insight to make it meaningful.

Essay 1: Reflect on your effectiveness as a leader and give us an example of how you have leveraged your strengths to demonstrate ethical and innovative leadership. Now consider the leader you aspire to be – what are the areas of personal development you want to focus on in this program to become that leader?  (500 words or less)

This convoluted question needs to be deciphered before it’s answered.  There are three parts: (1) the story (example) of your leadership, (2) your reflection on your related strengths, and (3) your developmental needs.

To make the most of the 500 words, select an example/story that portrays leadership that has ethical and innovative dimensions AND involves your leadership strengths.  Also, look for a story/example that has as many of these elements as possible:

• Recent
• High-stakes
• Your performance in a high level environment
• Straightforward to describe
• Reflects an aspect(s) of your experience that you want to strategically highlight.

Here is an effective, simple structure: Start right in with the story – the example.

As you narrate the story, “zoom in” on your actions that show your strengths and present an ethical and/or innovative component.  Next, explicitly identify your strengths and briefly discuss how they helped you lead (keeping in mind that the story really will actually show this).  Last, identify and reflect on 2-3 leadership areas you want to develop within the program.

Essay 2:  Tell us about the most challenging experience you have had in trying to collaborate with a person or group who did not share the same ideas. What did you learn from this experience and did it change the way you dealt with similar situations afterwards?  (500 words or less)

When the question says “the most,” you must present an experience of major significance – whether it happened yesterday or years ago.  I’ve seen people reflexively respond to this question with stories about how they convinced people of their point (“got people onboard”) – but it’s not necessarily about trying to convince people. If you give the essay that emphasis, the adcom may worry that you are more self-focused and less substance-focused, i.e., more concerned with getting your way than with listening and weighing different ideas.  In your story, you may or may not convince people of your own idea – that’s not the main point.  It’s really about (a) how receptive and discerning you are with a range of ideas, and how you sift through them, and (b) how you respond to other people and the group (the group dynamic and your role in it) when there are different ideas in play.   

Again, I suggest a simple structure: tell the story, then reflect on what you learned, and give a brief example of how you applied that learning subsequently.

Deadlines: Round 1: September 28, 2015; Round 2: November 9, 2015; Round 3: January 18, 2016

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Related Resources:

• Navigate the MBA Maze
• MIT Sloan 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• A Transformational Year: The MIT Sloan Fellows Program [Podcast]