Cornell University Essay Prompt

Cornell University 2017-18 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: one school-specific essay of 650 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s):Why

Hoo-boy! This sure looks like a long list of prompts from Cornell… psych! You may be shocked to learn that Cornell hopefuls are only required to write one (1!) supplemental essay. So, what’s with the list? Well, each of Cornell’s eight (8) undergraduate schools has its own unique prompt. Just kidding! It’s an optical illusion again. Each school actually asks essentially the same question, and it’s one of the most basic supplemental prompts out there: why here? We’ve written a whole separate guide on this common ask, so we won’t regurgitate all of our advice here. But we will remind you that research is your friend! So, dig into your specific school’s website and mine for information about your major and interests. You should also take note of the way Cornell phrases each any every one of these questions: how have your prior experiences and/or interests inspired you to apply to Cornell? So, your goal, no matter where you are applying, is to tell a story about your path: where has it led you thus far and why is Cornell the inevitable next step?

Let’s dig in!

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?

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 real concrete reasons and practical experiences to back up your chosen course of study. Why couldn’t you just pursue your interests in a more general liberal arts environment?

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: Describe two or three of your intellectual interests and why you are excited to pursue them within your chosen major in AAP. What personal experiences, background, or future goals will you bring to your scholarly and artistic pursuits at Cornell?

Architects need to plan their projects pretty comprehensively and Cornell wants to make sure you’ll bring the same fastidious attention to detail to your life plans. You’ll need to tie past, present, and future into a neat (and aesthetically pleasing) bow to demonstrate that you have the intellectual verve to succeed at Cornell and beyond.

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?

Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences is the most general of Cornell’s offerings, so take this opportunity to show your well-rounded worth. Why have you chosen not to pursue a more specific or professionally-oriented pathway at this point? What will you gain from having access to a diverse array of academic departments?

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management: How have your interests and experiences influenced your decision to study Applied Economics and Management? Describe how you would take advantage of the Dyson School’s unique opportunities, for example, its affiliation with both the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

In other words, show Cornell you mean business about business! If you’re planning on pursuing such a professionally-oriented track straight out of high school, you’ve probably got a plan, so spell it out. Business doesn’t happen in a classroom environment, so it’s important to think about the practical training you’ll gain at Cornell and which specific opportunities will provide the kinds of experiences that will propel you down your chosen career path.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: School of Hotel Administration: The global hospitality industry includes hotel and foodservice management, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, and law. Describe what has influenced your decision to study business through the lens of hospitality. What personal qualities make you a good fit for SHA?

Cornell’s world-renowned School of Hotel Administration has a highly specific training program. If your personal interests and needs don’t match up, you won’t be a good fit for this school. So Cornell has zeroed in on a few key aspects of the industry that you need to address in your response. Unlike some of the other prompts, this one also solicits a reflection on your “personal qualities” because, well, hospitality. In other words, you have to prove to admission that you’re not only a fit for Cornell, but for the industry in general. So, make sure your response covers all the bases to paint a complete picture of you as a person.

College of Engineering: Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities… the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in.

Guess what, Cornell knows you want to be an engineer! Why else would you be applying to the College of Engineering? Unlike many of the other prompts, this one isn’t asking you to demonstrate your intellectual fit. Instead, you’ve been tasked with making the case for your mission fit. This why essay is also more future-oriented than the others, so think about the impact you hope to have on the world? Do you want to make it a better place? What problems do you most want to solve and how? If you get into Cornell, how will you use your powers for good?

College of Human Ecology: How have your experiences influenced you to apply to the College of Human Ecology? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?

Short, sweet, and to the point, this prompt secretly wants to make sure you know what human ecology is before you apply. 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.

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.

Like so many of Cornell’s other specific schools, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations wants to make sure that you understand what kind of training it offers and confirm your commitment to the field. Drawing upon personal experience is key for this prompt, so mine for specific anecdotes that speak to the origins and motivations behind your interest in labor issues.

The “Why Us” supplemental essay is one of the trickiest college application essays to write. Applying to Cornell? Here are 5 successful Why Cornell essay excerpts. 

Cornell University only requires one additional writing supplement—the “Why Cornell” supplemental essay. Applicants are asked to share why they are interested in studying at Cornell and are asked to respond to the specific essay prompt from the undergraduate college or school they are applying to. Cornell University has a total of 8 undergraduate colleges/schools: 

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art and Planning
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Cornell SC College of Business: Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • Cornell SC College of Business: School of Hotel Administration 
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations 

Each of the colleges/schools listed above have a unique supplemental essay prompt. Here are 5 examples for 4 of the schools listed above: 

Maxw2021

Cornell University ‘21

For the School of Industrial and Labor Relations:

Like the Strait, I’m a fluid connective body, but instead of serving as natural barrier or political divide, I seek to reconcile strained relations. Given my strong interests in cross-cultural mediation, inclination to manage disputes, coursework in interdisciplinary social sciences, and leadership and employment positions, I seek “to solve human problems [and] manage and resolve conflicts” within Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Read his full “Why Cornell” supplemental essay!

Echen98

Cornell University ‘20

For the College of Engineering:

I must have wanted to be an engineer long before I knew what the word meant. On almost every fork we own, the middle two prongs are pulled half an inch back, a homage to a time before I became strong enough to open a soda can and resorted to making a lever with a fork. I tore through thousands of plastic bags, searching for the perfect cut that would allow me to parachute off a self-made cliff of couch cushions and pillows. Unlock her full successful Cornell application file. 

Cornell2021

Cornell University ‘21

For the College of Engineering:

People in my community believe the only way to be successful is to pursue medicine or engineering and arts are looked down upon here.I have a science background but am also interested in the deeper questions of existence, such as one encounters in philosophy. I don’t want to let go of my passions. Instead, I want to study at Cornell, where, far from being looked down upon, interdisciplinary study that includes the liberal arts are treasured through its unique independent study option, independent major, and distributional requirement system which will give me freedom in designing my curriculum and will let me explore a wide range of fields, from philosophy to literature. Continue reading his Why Cornell supplemental essay. 

Bweintraub

Cornell University ‘21

For the School of Hotel Administration:

I am an anomaly among my peers. While many of them wrestle with the uncertainty of not knowing what they want to do or be in the future, I have always known. Even in elementary school, when the popular options were superhero or sports legend, I had altogether different aspirations. If you had asked me then, my answer would be the same as it is today: I want to work in the hospitality industry. Unlock his full successful Cornell application file. 

Paula2020

Cornell University ‘20

For the College of Arts and Sciences:

I am interested in working with the UN to give researchers in developing countries access to a uniform and politically acceptable set of translation and ethical guidelines. This ensures that work conducted in developing or recently industrialized countries will not be dismissed due to doubts about the way it was conducted or a language barrier. To accomplish my goals of bringing the international scientific community closer together, I will need to study my intellectual interests of biology, foreign languages, and international relations. I am confident that Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences will be the perfect place to pursue my goals.

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About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




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