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Cornell University Engineering Essay Samples

The “Why Us” supplemental essay is one of the trickiest college application essays to write. Applying to Cornell? Here are 5 successful Why Cornell essay excerpts. 

Cornell University only requires one additional writing supplement—the “Why Cornell” supplemental essay. Applicants are asked to share why they are interested in studying at Cornell and are asked to respond to the specific essay prompt from the undergraduate college or school they are applying to. Cornell University has a total of 8 undergraduate colleges/schools: 

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art and Planning
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Cornell SC College of Business: Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • Cornell SC College of Business: School of Hotel Administration 
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations 

Each of the colleges/schools listed above have a unique supplemental essay prompt. Here are 5 examples for 4 of the schools listed above: 

Maxw2021

Cornell University ‘21

For the School of Industrial and Labor Relations:

Like the Strait, I’m a fluid connective body, but instead of serving as natural barrier or political divide, I seek to reconcile strained relations. Given my strong interests in cross-cultural mediation, inclination to manage disputes, coursework in interdisciplinary social sciences, and leadership and employment positions, I seek “to solve human problems [and] manage and resolve conflicts” within Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR). Read his full “Why Cornell” supplemental essay!

Echen98

Cornell University ‘20

For the College of Engineering:

I must have wanted to be an engineer long before I knew what the word meant. On almost every fork we own, the middle two prongs are pulled half an inch back, a homage to a time before I became strong enough to open a soda can and resorted to making a lever with a fork. I tore through thousands of plastic bags, searching for the perfect cut that would allow me to parachute off a self-made cliff of couch cushions and pillows. Unlock her full successful Cornell application file. 

Cornell2021

Cornell University ‘21

For the College of Engineering:

People in my community believe the only way to be successful is to pursue medicine or engineering and arts are looked down upon here.I have a science background but am also interested in the deeper questions of existence, such as one encounters in philosophy. I don’t want to let go of my passions. Instead, I want to study at Cornell, where, far from being looked down upon, interdisciplinary study that includes the liberal arts are treasured through its unique independent study option, independent major, and distributional requirement system which will give me freedom in designing my curriculum and will let me explore a wide range of fields, from philosophy to literature. Continue reading his Why Cornell supplemental essay. 

Bweintraub

Cornell University ‘21

For the School of Hotel Administration:

I am an anomaly among my peers. While many of them wrestle with the uncertainty of not knowing what they want to do or be in the future, I have always known. Even in elementary school, when the popular options were superhero or sports legend, I had altogether different aspirations. If you had asked me then, my answer would be the same as it is today: I want to work in the hospitality industry. Unlock his full successful Cornell application file. 

Paula2020

Cornell University ‘20

For the College of Arts and Sciences:

I am interested in working with the UN to give researchers in developing countries access to a uniform and politically acceptable set of translation and ethical guidelines. This ensures that work conducted in developing or recently industrialized countries will not be dismissed due to doubts about the way it was conducted or a language barrier. To accomplish my goals of bringing the international scientific community closer together, I will need to study my intellectual interests of biology, foreign languages, and international relations. I am confident that Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences will be the perfect place to pursue my goals.

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Interested in reading successful essay examples that got students accepted into the Cornell University? Unlock all of them in one go with our curated package.

Our premium plans offer different level of profile access and data insights that can help you get into your dream school. Unlock any of our packages or search our undergraduate profile database to find specific profiles that can help you make an informed choice about where to apply!

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.




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!

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!

Admissionscommon application, essay, supplement

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