Although the Ivy League schools review 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 are a good fit for you and how you can contribute to the collegiate environment. The additional essay questions 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. Take a campus tour and speak with current students. Cornell’s curriculum focuses on the collaborative nature of liberal arts education and 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 of which major is right for you, the Courses of Study catalog provides degree requirements for each college.
The Cornell 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 650 words, which is up from the 500-word limit in 2018. 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 what you plan to study at Cornell is 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)
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. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals?
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
Tell us about your interest in engineering or what you hope to achieve with a degree in engineering. Describe what appeals to you about Cornell Engineering and how it specifically relates to your engineering interest or aspirations.
School of Hotel Administration (SHA)
How have your interests and experiences influenced your decision to apply to the School of Hotel Administration? How does this decision relate to your future plans and aspirations?
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
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.
College of Business
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management: The Dyson School is unique by design. What motivates you to apply to Dyson and where do you plan to go from here?
Your responses should enthusiastically discuss your past and present with an emphasis on your future. Consider the overall Cornell experience. What sparked your interest in a particular field? Then go on to identify why the program at Cornell is the best fit and how your chosen area of study will prepare your future plans. These essay prompts ask you to discuss specific examples from your life experience (academic and otherwise) that support your interest in a specific school/college at Cornell. In addition, they ask you to look toward life after college and how your educational experience at Cornell might support your goals. Keep in mind; you also need to reflect on 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!
Final thoughts on applying to Cornell
Cornell has a highly competitive applicant pool. It received 49,114 undergraduate applications for the class of 2023. Only 5,330 or 10.85% were offered admission and 83% of the students admitted were in the top 10% of their high school class with average SAT scores of 720 in evidenced-based reading and writing, 760 in math, and an average ACT score of 33.5. 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 remember 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 perspective. 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.
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!
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch with Marie Todd.
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