The All Important Cornell Supplement

I’ve asked my colleague, Angela Herrera, ’03, MPA ’08, Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, to share her insight about the Cornell supplement with you. Enjoy!

Angela Herrera '03, Associate Director
Angela Herrera

My name is Angela Herrera and I am the Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment. I graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs in 2008. I REALLY love my Cornell!

Prospective students (and parents) ask me all the time, “What is the most important part of the application?” The hope is that I can give them exactly what will get them into Cornell – but in reality the application is like a big puzzle, and in order to get that beautiful picture, each piece has to fit together perfectly. Now, if I had to pick the biggest piece of the puzzle or the foundation piece of the puzzle that would of course be academics! A strong academic profile is indeed important and tells us that you can do the actual course work that is expected of you at Cornell. But beyond that, there is another piece of the puzzle that is critical – kind of like a big corner piece that holds it all together! That is the Cornell Supplement.

The Cornell Supplement tells us where at Cornell you are hoping to study. We hope that you do not put the names of our seven undergraduate colleges and schools into a hat and then choose one randomly. The great thing about the supplement for us is that we can tell that you really want to be at Cornell and that Cornell is a good ‘fit’ for you. How do we do this you may ask? It’s the Cornell Supplement Essay! Each of our seven undergraduate colleges and schools has a unique essay question designed to show the admissions committee that you have done your homework about Cornell. When you choose a college or school on the supplement you have to write the corresponding essay and these essays questions are not just “Why do you want to come to Cornell?” We hope that the question will force you to think about your future and how Cornell can help you achieve that future. We also want to make sure that you have some concrete interests. And for those of you who are undecided, (and its ok if you are) many of our colleges offer “undecided” as an option, but you still need to know exactly what the college is going to offer you and the many, many interests you may be torn between! So here are a few tips as you begin to embark on this research project:

  • Be sure you know the differences between the colleges and schools and what they offer! (For example, we do not offer nursing as a major so don’t write about majoring in nursing).
  • Choose the college or school that best fits your interests now – if you change your mind once you get to campus, we have advisors and departments that can help you navigate that process.
  • DO NOT RECITE the websites or brochures (We wrote it after all!).
  • Understand that many of our programs overlap and that some programs are offered in more than one college – this means looking beyond the major so check out graduation requirements, opportunities for double majors, etc.
  • Don’t talk about being a doctor or lawyer because you can’t major in that yet! Talk about how you are going to use the majors available to get to your career goals.
  • Be sure you are accurate in your information about Cornell (For example, it’s the College of Human Ecology, not the major human ecology).
  • If you are undecided, use this as an opportunity to talk about your many interests and how a particular college or school houses those interests.

In the end, we want to know that you really want to be at Cornell and that you will bring something to our campus! So take the Cornell supplement seriously; it’s the piece of the puzzle that holds it all together!

8 thoughts on “The All Important Cornell Supplement

  1. Greetings,

    I am so glad I ran upon this post. It was quite shocking to me simply because I actually met Ms. Herrera this past Spring in Florida. If you are reading this, hello to you! Many thanks for the tips you have provided us students getting ready to apply!

    Appreciate you!

    David Rosado, Jr.

  2. On the final lines of my essays, I mistakenly input the major for the primary college in the last line of the alternate essay and vice versa. So in the essay, the major specific for the one college was input into the other college’s essay. The rest of the essays were great and supported what I wanted at each college. At the 11th hour, while editing the words for the major, I hit the submit button accidentally before fixing it completely. Will that take away any chance of being accepted

  3. If you choose to apply for primary/alternate college admission, you can apply to the same major if it is shared by the colleges you are applying to. You can also choose to apply to a different major that you are also interested in. Either way, make sure that you answer the essay questions on the Cornell Supplement to the Common Application for the colleges or schools you are applying to, I do not recommend submitting the same essay for your primary and alternate choice.

  4. Would it be advisable to apply for the same major in both my primary and alternate college if that is the major I’m most interested in?
    Thank you!

  5. Great post!
    As an insider of Cornell Admission office, could you give me some details on how I could tailor my supplement-especially the essay- to uniquely to Cornell? I want to make sure that I show my interest in the college of Engineering without making a list of information I have found captivating about Cornell.

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