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The Essay Guide Series: Cornell University

Cornell University is an Ivy League institution located in New York and was founded in the year 1865. They have been infamous for their inclusive policies with their motto being “Any person, any study” which indicates that they created the institution with the mindset that they are open to any student who wishes to study anything ranging from classics to sciences.

In this guide, we will discuss the supplementary essays that need to be filled out specifically for the school you are applying for. Not only do you need to choose the school but also decide your major before applying, so we suggest that you do your research months before you decide to apply and make a firm decision for the same. These essays are longer than the usual prompts you come across so it’s important that you go in-depth in your discussion here. Let’s discuss the prompts below.

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?

There are many points to consider when you’re applying to CALS especially if you’re a local. If you’re a local, you get a tuition discount and also they have a broad range of courses that are not limited to the Agricultural and Life Sciences field. There are a few additional ones such as communication and the like so you could explore more opportunities and courses which fit your passions and interests. Since it is the field of science, most likely you have a great academic background and extracurricular activities that fit into your interests, so mention them. Choose a theme that reiterates what you’re talking about and expand on it.

How did your interest in this specific field come about? Speak based on experience as it would lead an authentic feel to it. It’s best to speak about professors you would be interested to work with because it shows genuine interest and requires a lot of research on your part too.

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?

This supplemental essay is in addition to the portfolio that you will be submitting for your application. It is important that you include strong examples of your creative side because the degree you’ll be pursuing relies heavily on your creativity. As these are primarily pre-professional degrees, it is important to include what your plans are after your degree as well. Nobody is saying that they’re set in stone but it could show that you are aware of the long journey ahead to certify yourself and you have given it ample thought prior to your application. Make sure you include different aspects of yourself and not a simple repetition of your previous 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.

The prompt is very clear and straightforward in what it’s asking so there should be no confusion as such. It’s a liberal arts college so you will have many majors and minors to choose from and with different combinations, you could land up with a lot of choices! So, go through the website and look at what pulls you in the most and which combinations would be within your area of interest. Put them down and talk about why exactly you think they’re the ones you will want to study.

A good starter would be to talk about how you have managed to pursue a combination such as the one you chose in high school or have thought about it. Why do you think they’re a good combination and where can you apply them? How does Cornel fit into that? Why not any other university? This has to be as Cornell-specific as you can get because a liberal arts degree can be gotten anywhere. You need to show the admissions committee that this is where you should be getting your degree.

Cornell SC Johnson 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?

Since you’re applying to the school of Business, it makes more sense to include any experience you have in this arena. As an undergraduate, you have planned your prior education in a way that you must have some experience in the same, so this would be a good place to talk about that experience. What did you learn from this experience and how have you applied this in your life? How has it motivated you to apply for a business degree and shape your perspective on it? It is important to include your future plans as the prompt specifically asks for it. Do you want to start your own business or help another business grow? You already have a small-time business and want to expand your business in the near future? Speak about that. Have you been able to learn a few skills necessary for this field? What are they and why do you think they’ll help you shape your future? It’s not about telling them your entire life plan but rather giving the committee an idea of where the motivation comes from and what you will be doing with it.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

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?

Since this comes under the school of business, the same advice could be followed for the one given previously but in this case, there will be a slight change in your approach. As you will be applying for the hospitality course, you need to demonstrate an interest in the business part of it as well. Be mindful of the fact that the majority of the essay must be hospitality oriented and must mention specific aspects of the university in your essay.

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.

This should be fairly simple as you might have previous projects or experiences that pertain to the subject of engineering. Explain why taking engineering would help you succeed in your aspirations and career goals but also speak beyond the academic aspect of it. Let’s say you were interested in robotics and it's highly likely you liked building things that’s why you have an interest in engineering. But what can you do with this? Help the automotive industry maybe? The pharmaceutical industry? Think about it and jot it down.

You will have the option to pursue a minor so what would you like to go ahead with? Write about it and speak how it will impact your future. You need to specify why getting this degree from Cornell, will significantly impact your career ahead and what aspects of their curriculum will benefit you.

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?

At Cornell, the beauty of the Ecology courses is that they are very interdisciplinary and they recognize its importance in the real world. You need to reiterate that in your essay where you correlate a course with the career path that follows it. Why this specific course and why that career path? What do you think you can achieve from it? What kind of impact can you expect? Since the majors are very specific in the department, you need to make sure you are too when you’re writing your essay. Talk about your experiences beyond the classroom and explore the issue further to create a story.

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.

Since the courses in this department focus on the labor force and its relations, you need to look at how specific policies can impact them. What do you hope to achieve through this degree and why the specific interest? What is your understanding of labor issues, give an example. Most students take a pre-law or human resources route so you can consider that as well. You can also talk about how these relationships impact the workforce so that the admissions committee can gauge where your motivations stem from.

This essay is too much for a high school student because such experiences are not easy to come across so it’s best to stick to your understanding of the field and your aspirations. Keep in touch with real-time developments to show your awareness of the current issues. Applying your perspective on these issues really helps and tying them up with your personal experiences could result in a really good essay.


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