How to Write the Cornell Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

How to Write the Cornell Supplemental Essays 2022-2023

Cornell’s recognizable motto hinges on the idea of “any person… any study” and as a university comprising several schools each focused in one broad area of study, it lives up to its mission through rich academic and extracurricular offerings, not to mention its gorgeous campus in upstate New York. However, you may only apply to one specific college at Cornell, with little flexibility for changes down the line. This requires you to think deeply about what it is you seek from your college experience. Asking yourself concrete questions (what draws you to the particular field you’ve chosen? what do you hope to accomplish with the specialized education you’ll gain?) before embarking on the application process will prove to be helpful when it’s time to write your Cornell supplemental essays.

Once you’ve chosen which school you wish to apply to, you’ll need to extensively research it and its courses, professors, and areas of research to define not only where you’ll belong, but what you’ll bring to this school. Try to craft a unique angle in your essay(s), not in the sense of creating a gimmick for the admissions reader, but rather showcasing an understanding of what you as an individual will contribute to the Cornell community and vice versa. Strive to be specific and tie in anecdotal experiences with your research on Cornell.

Cornell’s 2022-2023 Prompts

Brooks School of Public Policy Essay

  1. Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650 words)

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Essays

  1. 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? (650 words)
  2. (Optional) At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. We encourage you to think about community broadly – this could include family, school, or local and global communities. (300 words)

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning Essay

  1. 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? (650 words)

College of Arts and Sciences

  1. 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. (650 words)

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Essay

  1. 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 to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 words)

College of Engineering Essays

  1. How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. (250 words)
  2. (Option A) Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem. (250 words)
  3. (Option B) Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community? (250 words)

College of Human Ecology Essay

  1. 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? (650 words)

School of Industrial and Labor Relations Essays

  1. 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. (650 words)

Brooks School of Public Policy Essay

Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650 words)

Public policy is rooted in a desire to improve our conditions, and with the Brooks School’s goal of making “positive change in the world,” you’ll want to explain where you too developed this goal. This is a good space to expand, perhaps, on an initiative you’ve taken for your community, a political campaign or volunteer center you’ve worked for, or even what gets you thinking about ways to better the world. Whatever it is, heed the prompt’s request that you talk about your experiences: it’s also always easier to be compelling when writing what you know, especially when it comes to applying to a school whose teachings will (hopefully) yield concrete benefits to society.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Required: 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? (650 words)

If you’re passionate about ecosystems, food systems, agriculture, and human interactions with nature, there’s probably a cool story behind that. The key here is to match the school’s emphasis on real-world commitments: how will you apply your education beyond the theoretical? What steps will you take outside of the classroom to reinforce your knowledge and community contribution? Couple that with your academic goals and make sure to weave a narrative about your interests as they relate to this college.

Optional: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. We encourage you to think about community broadly – this could include family, school, or local and global communities. (300-words)

This is essentially asking you to describe a community-service activity you’ve participated in, but even better if you can connect it to the agricultural sector. There’s also no particular pressure here to list something impressive — even just showing care toward a community, and how you’ve taken steps to be a good member toward it, goes a long way to show your values.

There’s also a third optional question asking about your past experience with farming/agriculture, whether through your family, internships, or community service. Feel free to share additional details if you have such experience, otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to skip the question.

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? (650 words)

This is an extremely open-ended question that lets you express something you perhaps haven’t yet shown in your application. While you can approach this like a second Common App essay as far as the broad strokes of writing about a specific experience, you should absolutely tie this back to Cornell in a meaningful way. As it relates to architecture and art, what does this “thing” show about you? Really reach into the depth of what makes you you — why does it make you unique?

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. (650 words)

The College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell offers the broadest liberal arts education, and that’s certainly reflected in the multidisciplinary interests of the students they admit. In this essay, it’s helpful to describe a few (no more than two or three) of the topics that interest you and why they’re all related and relevant. Bear in mind that the biggest thing you should be accomplishing with this essay is explaining reasons why Cornell would be the place for you to combine said interests.

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

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 to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 words)

As business schools on the whole tend to be more professionally-minded, this is a good space
to reflect on the real-world impact you wish your business school education to give you. Pay special attention to how the prompt asks you to explain how what you want to achieve aligns with the specific school you’re applying to: if you’re applying to Dyson, perhaps focus on the marketing skills and business savvy you’ve been building up throughout your life, but if you’re applying to be a Hotelier, use this essay to communicate what it is about the hotel, food, and administration industry that intrigues you.

College of Engineering

Required: How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. (250 words)

As you only have 250 words to fulfill this prompt, you must be concise about your interests and how they connect to Cornell Engineering. Don’t hesitate to show you’ve done research on the school by name-dropping classes, professors, or areas of research you would ideally pursue should you be admitted. A great exercise to get you started is to visualize yourself as a student there — what classes would you be taking? What major would you eventually choose? Which professors would you elect to work with? Imagine yourself at Cornell: not only will help drum up your excitement for applying, but it will also help you craft a more compelling picture of your reasons to the admissions reader.

Choose either Question A and Question B:

Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem. (250 words)

This has the potential to be a very fun question as you reason through a problem with an engineering mindset. In a question like this, think about the structure of your essay: describe and introduce your problem, and why it’s important to your community/to you, then detail the steps you would take to solve it, and follow through those steps with reflection on how they would work. This question is two-fold in the sense that it asks not only to see how you think through issues as an engineer, but also how you seek to apply your engineering skills to the world. Essentially, they want to see that you think about how those engineering skills will help better the world (and that they won’t just live in a vacuum).

Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community? (250 word limit)

Increasingly, as minorities continue calling out the disparities in access to opportunity within the field of engineering, diversity has become a holistic factor in an engineering education. Beyond being an aspiring engineer, who are you? What experiences make you you, and why do they contribute to your study of engineering? How would you contribute to the humanistic side of engineering? Understanding the role that your lived experiences and identity play into your Cornell engineering focus will help build your voice in that community.

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? (650 words)

Unlike some of the other schools’ more clear-cut questions, this one asks for a more big-picture approach for how you will apply your education to a real-world setting. The College of Human Ecology is rooted in its mission to improve the human connection to nature in all kinds of ways, as evidenced by its multidisciplinary approach. While you’ll want to talk about your own big-picture goals in this question, don’t forget to still include the nitty-gritty details of this vision: which classes you’ll take, professors you admire, etc. Working some of the details of the four years you’ll spend at Cornell into your broader vision will help you write a cohesive essay.

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. (650 words)

The ILR school leads in all things labor relations, economics, human resources, and management. Some of the most pressing problems it seeks to tackle are labor negotiations, conflicts among employers and employees, and the social sciences (in diversity, statistics, etc) surrounding labor and employment. Such things seem to be in the news all the time, and are certainly relevant to a large number of people — what makes them relevant to you? Why have you taken an interest in labor relations? This prompt reads as a more personal question. While you’ll still want to write about how the school and its programs will help you accomplish your goals in labor relations, don’t hesitate to get personal about the motivations behind your decision to apply to this school, as there are few like it.

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