The Cornell Waitlist: Part 1

Exactly one year ago was Ivy Day, the day that all students who apply to Ivy League Universities see their decision at 5:00 p.m. on the admissions portal.  By this time last year, I was not accepted to Cornell. I was not rejected. I was placed on the waitlist.

I’ll just start off by saying that the waitlist SUCKS.  Being waitlisted meant that yet again, I needed to send in essays, letters of recommendation and go above and beyond to make an impression on the admissions office; essentially I had to apply to college all over again.

During the first few weeks of this “limbo” period on the waitlist, I committed to Drexel University, given an outstanding financial aid package, and felt entirely prepared to attend school there in September.  At the same time that I set up a Drexel e-mail account and planned on dorming with friends going to Drexel, I kept in contact with the director of admissions at the Hotel School, edited my resume, and recruited teachers and old bosses to write recommendation letters.  It felt as though I was living a double-life.

At first, I did all the research I could about Cornell’s waitlist, which, safe to say, was not reassuring whatsoever.  Stories like this one brought me in check with reality and helped me not to get my hopes up for an acceptance. The Wall Street Journal even nicely pointed out that at Cornell University,  not one of 2,998 students offered a spot on last year’s waitlist was admitted.  On top of that, the Hotel School has even less of a chance of being allowed to accept students of the waitlist because they have a high yield (between 80 and 90%).  Most students who apply to the Hotel School end up going because we have the #1 hospitality program in the world; therefore, there would be an even smaller percentage of spots open for waitlisted applicants than for the university as a whole.  I couldn’t even find statistics about how many students get accepted off the waitlist at the Hotel School (which is probably for the better)…

By the time May hit, I had myself convinced though, that Cornell was too far out of reach.  The stars had not aligned for me and I finally began to accept that.

Over the next few weeks, when people asked, I told them I was going to Drexel and was ok with it. The faculty I met at Drexel included some of the nicest people I have ever met and I felt elated that I could work with them over the next four years.  I had a 4 year full-tuition merit scholarship at my fingertips and would be living in the brand new dorms for the honors students.  It wasn’t a bad second choice.

6 thoughts on “The Cornell Waitlist: Part 1

  1. Hi, Lauren! I’ve been put on the wait-list this year for Cornell. I’m already sending them a lot of stuff, both by email and post. Could you please help me out and tell me, if possible, what else the officers at Cornell are looking at when it comes to wait-lists? Even if not this, any other help or guidance you could give me would be awesome! Feel free to email me, if you feel like it. My address is zrm254[at]


  2. Hi Zain! Hope it’s not too disappointing- I’m sure you also have also been accepted to other great schools so don’t worry! Above all, I recommend that you send 1) additional letters of recommendation and 2)a perfectly written explanation of why you want to come to Cornell and why it is your top choice. Make sure that they know that Cornell is still your 1st choice!

  3. Hey Lauren! This year, I am one of those unfortunate wait-listed students at Cornell. This post helped give me great information on what my next steps are. I am definitely still extremely interested in Cornell and want to send them more letters of recommendation from teachers and an essay about why I would love to go to Cornell but was wondering if it is better to mail or email this material to them? Also who should I email if so? Thanks for your help?

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  5. Pingback: The Cornell Waitlist: Part 2 | big REDefined

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