Cornell has always been different from the other Ivy League universities in that right from its inception, it offered subjects from each field of knowledge - from the Humanities to the Natural Sciences. Located in Ithaca, New York State, Cornell sits well away from any major cities such as New York City or Boston, and boasts a beautiful and somewhat secluded campus. With an acceptance rate of over 12%, Cornell appears to be less competitive than other Ivy League schools. Is this really the case?
Even though Cornell appears to be less competitive, it isn't really that much easier to get in here than into any other Ivy League. For the Class of 2021, there were over 47,000 applicants competing for just over 3,000 places. With many applicants boasting outstanding SAT scores and well-written essays, admissions officers are seeking candidates who have something extra. While every applicant knows that they need to have a good all-round extracurricular profile, few realise that just being a solid all-rounder is not enough. Cornell is seeking applicants who are world level in a particular field. They seek them in order to ensure that their students go on to become alumni who are hugely successful and influential. This improves Cornell brand and network even further and encourages more good applicants to apply, securing the institution's status for future generations. If you want to have a shot at being selected, you need to demonstrate that you are at this world-level or, at least, nationally competitive and interesting.
2) Sit the SAT/ACT exams
While Super-Curriculars are vital, no one cancelled the requirement for the standardised testing. Cornell requires everyone to have completed the SAT Reasoning exam (or the ACT as an alternative). While the writing component is not required, you really should complete the exam with the writing component as most of your competitors would have done it. What score do you need? Aim for 1560 and you won't get it wrong. A good free online tool is Khan Academy where anyone can practice the SAT for free.
3) Create a CommonApp profile
Virtually all of applications to Cornell are submitted via a portal known as the CommonApp. You can find it here. The portal requires you to provide detailed background information such as your name, age, and school details. You will also need to produce a number of admission essays. The questions to these essays are released by Cornell on 1st of August of the year when you submit your application. It is recommended to start drafting them in August so that you are ahead of everybody else and have more time to sort out other parts of your application.
4) Submit the App by 1st November
Cornell has 2 application deadlines: Early Decision (1st November) and Regular Decision (1st January). Statistics indicate that applicants have a significant advantage applying in the Early round. We therefore recommend that you apply by 1st November to ensure that your application gets the best possible chance of being picked by Cornell admissions officers. There is a catch however. The Early Decision application round is binding. This means that if you are admitted, you must withdraw all other applications and are bound to attend Cornell. Another important point to consider is that doing a good job in preparing your application for the Regular round is a much better idea than going a rushed job for the Early round.
5) Continue to provide updates
Once you have submitted your application, it is imperative that you continue to provide the Admissions' Office with regular substantial updates regarding your progression as a candidate. Given the sheer number of people applying to Cornell University, the decision to admit a candidate is not always straightforward. Therefore, it is important to prove that you are a candidate who continues to stretch themselves all the way up until the last day of the decision-making process. In doing so, you demonstrate that you are not someone who will just rest on their laurels. If Cornell is choosing between yourself and one other candidate, assuming all other aspects of the two applications are the same, Cornell is more likely to award the offer to someone who provides updates which in this case will be you. Examples of updates could be a new athletic achievement, an article you just published, or information regarding your charitable initiative.
How to apply to Cornell University?
1) Start very early. If you are leaving the preparation to a mere one year in advance, you are doing it wrong. Most admitted candidates will spend a minimum of two years working on their overall profile and the application. It is not uncommon for successful admitted candidates to start 3 or even 4 years in advance which means starting when they are just 14.
2) Register and complete the SAT Reasoning (or the ACT) and SAT Subject Tests. If you are applying from a country where English is not an official language, you may also have to sit TOEFL - the English language exam. Both SAT exams are not straightforward and take time to master. Perfect score helps but won't get you in on its own. Remember that if you are doing the SAT, you should always include the optional writing component. On top of the SAT or the ACT, each candidate is also required to submit SAT Subject Tests. These are just as important as the regular SAT/ACT in Cornell admissions.
3) Register and complete the CommonApp. This is a centralised portal through which you can apply to all of your US university choices, including Cornell. CommonApp requires you to complete a number of essays and it is best to start early. Essay questions are released each year on the 1st of August. The deadline for Early Decesion is 1st November and the Regular Decision deadline is 1st January.
4) Once you have applied, be sure to continue communicating with the Admissions' Office and to provide them with regular updates.
Claire, a current student at Cornell says: "I didn't get the right SAT score for the Early Decision so I did the SATs again and applied for the Regular round. One of the best decisions I have ever made. Hard work has paid off. Cornell is what you make it for yourself. There are so many opportunities here. You just need to take advantage of them."
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