Cornell University

12 Essays that Worked at Cornell

Updated for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle.

About Cornell

One of the most prestigious institutions in the world, Cornell University is an excellent school located in Ithaca, New York. The biggest Ivy League (both by number of undergrads and campus size), it provides a diverse and rigorous learning environment for its students. With multiple academic fields including sciences, mathematics, technology and engineering—as well as specialized colleges open to undergraduates—students have many options to choose from when pursuing their studies. Additionally, Cornell offers countless social and cultural opportunities to further enrich students' college experience. From its world-renowned sports teams to inventive clubs and organizations, Cornell is an ideal learning environment for those who strive towards a premier education.

At a glance…

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Ithaca, NY

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Real Essays from Cornell Admits

Prompt: 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.

Coding has been my outlet for creative expression since introduced to basic block programming at age nine, but I could truly appreciate the nuances of code after composing this CPU in my CSII class, which followed a curriculum based on my teacher’s experience studying CS as a Cornell undergrad. Whether programming a robot that autonomously picks up blocks, an automated garden that waters itself, or even an anthropomorphic pickle that jumps across my screen, I now reflect in astonishment on how each action, at its core, is enabled by minuscule logic gates distributing electrical inputs. Accordingly, I’m intrigued by Cornell’s computer science program which allows students to approach CS from a sophisticated understanding of efficient hardware. Through comprehensive classes such as Computer System Organization and Programming, Cornell ensures that I’ll be more than just a programmer—I’ll develop practical and real world-applicable solutions. The power of CS is amplified when juxtaposed with physics, as the two fields are entirely complementary—studying quantum mechanics will illuminate fundamental underpinnings of efficient hardware, while emerging AI and machine learning technologies will enable me to scan the deepest crevices of space to understand the formation of our universe. As a [Organization Redacted] intern this past summer, I experienced firsthand the exhilaration of studying galaxies and quasars unimaginably far away. Physics was no longer a set of equations and laws confined to a textbook—cosmological redshift and Hubble’s Law became real devices for analyzing galaxy evolution and the expansion of the universe. At Cornell, the unique Astronomy Data Science minor is the exact confluence of astronomy and data science that fascinates me. I look forward to taking Modeling, Mining and Machine Learning in Astronomy with Professor James Cordes, where I’ll use modern machine learning techniques to probe questions surrounding human existence. I’m also enthusiastic about conducting research with Prof. Cordes on galaxy evolution in the early universe, using data from the Cornell-led Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope. Regardless of their endeavors, Cornell students know that their impact on humanity depends on their civic engagement and social awareness. With Cornell’s AIPP, I’ll attend seminars to understand the social considerations and policy at the heart of all technological innovation on campus. While taking Ethics and Policy in Data Science, I’ll gain insights into the ethical implications of my work in AI, from consumer privacy concerns to implicit biases in decision-making. Heck, I can even combine my love for both astronomy and literature—the Black Holes: Race & the Cosmos class will provide an intriguing exploration of astronomy concepts through the lens of Black Studies literature. Even within the bounds of Ithaca, I can easily impact those around me. In high school, while helping teach a fourth grade STEM class, I was constantly inspired by my students’ enthusiasm for learning. At Cornell, I would join STEP-UP to help facilitate programs at local schools to encourage more underrepresented students to fearlessly leap into STEM. If accepted to the Milstein Program, I look forward to working collaboratively with my cohort as we embrace interdisciplinary learning approaches in the tech industry. While taking a summer course in tech ethics in 2018, I visited the cutting-edge Cornell Tech campus and spoke with [Name Redacted], who provided advice that later influenced me to independently create an iOS app. Whether based in Ithaca or on Roosevelt Island, the unique guidance provided by the Milstein Program would enable me to innovate more impactful, socially-conscious technology. Simply put, at Cornell, there are limitless ways I could grow while giving back.

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Essay by Sarah J.

cs @ stanford!! lover of STEM, taylor swift, and dogs!

Prompt: What three words best describe you?

There’s the physical aspect: Naomi’s OnShape profile popping up onto the CAD document as I adjust the dimensions of the intake mechanism, me stabilizing the robot as Peter removes the lock-nut behind the motor, Emily spotting me as I bandsaw a sheet of polycarbonate, or Lucas debugging the Java helper function I was working on. Collaboration is the concrete foundation of my robotics-team and manifests itself in every one of our tasks. Yet, there is more to collaboration than its physical embodiment. 

There’s the intangible aspect: valuing my team members’ opinions, respecting their unique perspectives, adapting to new approaches, learning different techniques, conceding to my mistakes, and compromising in cases of polarity. It’s the reason the word “team” ensues whenever I say robotics.

Collaboration is the fertile ground for growth, where my strengths become successes. It is the ground where my proficiency in seven programming languages, aptitude in spatial visualization, resilience against obstacles, innovative approaches in engineering, and passion for problem solving can nurture a competitive robot. Whether I am inspecting componentry as the Director of Electronics, researching as the co-founder of [Name Redacted] Science- Publication, or organizing code as the Software Development Project-Manager,  collaboration is how I tie my team together.

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Essay by Rose

Programmer and performer @ Yale!

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