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How to write the 2021-2022 Cornell supplemental essays

by Story2 Staff, on Jul 26, 2021 11:42:14 AM

If you’re applying to Cornell, you’re in luck! While some of its Ivy peers require upwards of 10 supplemental essays, Cornell requires just one, with a maximum of 650 words. This word count is on the longer side, so remember: the more detail you offer, the more readers will be able to learn about who you are as a person. NOTE: there's a specific question for each college, so make sure you start with the right one! 

Jump ahead to:

Read on for our guide to answering the Cornell supplemental prompts for each specific college! 

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Essay

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?  

This is a classic “why this major?” question, and it’s designed to help readers understand how you engage with your academic interests and passions. Don’t worry about choosing the “right” major or the one that you’re most likely to actually pursue. Choose the area that interests you the most right now, and demonstrate your interest in it with real examples from your life. They don’t need to be entirely academic; make sure to let your intellectual curiosity and character shine through!

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning Essay

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, inspirations. What are yours? 

The “thing” you choose doesn’t have to be related to your interest in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, nor does it have to be strictly academic. However, if you do have a “thing” that will help readers understand why you’re interested in this particular school — as opposed to any other, at Cornell or elsewhere — then all the better! Describe the “thing” using real details from your life. For example, what was the first time you discovered it? Or what does it look like when you engage with it? Show readers how much it interests and inspires you, instead of just telling them. 

College of Arts and Sciences Essay

College of Arts and Sciences: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interest, 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. 

Again, you don’t need to be 100% committed to the specific areas of study you discuss; you do need to be interested in and excited about pursuing them at Cornell! This is a great chance to show that you’ve done your research and are familiar with Cornell’s academic offerings. What specific, unique things about Cornell make you want to spend the next four years studying there, and why do they appeal to you? 

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Essay

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(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 School of Hotel Administration).

Cornell admissions readers want to know that you’re forward-thinking and have a plan to put your degree to good use. So what will you do with a degree from the Johnson College of Business? Why did you choose this school over Cornell’s other offerings? What specific moment(s) show your excitement about going to business school? Be as specific, personal, and detailed as possible! 

College of Engineering Essay

College of Engineering: Instructions: Applicants must write responses to two of the three essay options. They may choose which two prompts they write abouttheir choice.

  • Engineering is inherently collaborative. What does collaboration mean to you? What strengths do you bring to the collaborative process?

This essay is an opportunity to show Cornell how your character fits into the College of Engineering. Find a moment that demonstrates your collaborative skills and your willingness to problem-solve. This could be anything from building something at camp to building a cool project for school. 

  • For you, what makes Cornell Engineering special? Why do you want to attend Cornell Engineering?

Admissions readers at Cornell want to know that you’re interested in Cornell specifically, over any other school where you could earn a degree in engineering. This is your chance to show that you’ve done your research and are familiar with Cornell’s program! In describing what you hope to do with your engineering degree, show how specific details about the College of Engineering will help you meet those goals.

  • Diversity in all definitional forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Indeed, devising the best engineered solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from broadly different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and 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. Here, admissions officers want to hear your unique voice and to see the impact you will have on the Cornell community. In this essay, you want to build a bridge between who you are today and who you will be at college and beyond. The communities you have been a part of is a big part of who you are, and colleges want to see that. Find a moment that shows your involvement and interest in your own community, whether it’s at your school, camp, job, or anywhere else. 

College of Human Ecology Essay

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? 

This is a cross between two types of supplements: "Why This Major" and "Influences." This one is a great opportunity to use a moment from your life to demonstrate your evolving interest in a specific aspect of human ecology. How was your interest in human ecology first sparked? How do you know it’s a strong fit for you? Tell a story to help readers understand your background in human ecology, as well as your future. What do you plan to do with a degree from the College of Human Ecology? Show admissions readers that you have a specific, ambitious plan for what you will do with this degree.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations

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 is a cross between "Why This Major" and "Influences." What specific moments from your life made you interested in industrial and labor relations? Brainstorm as many topic ideas as you can. What part of industrial and labor relations matters to you now, and how will you use a degree from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in the future? Be as specific, detailed, and personal as possible! 

Go back to main Supplemental Essays post.

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