This section will give you 10 things you either need to know or do to apply. You can then use our checklist for first-year applicants to make sure you’ve got all the required elements together before submitting your application. Want more detail? Download and print our Freshman Application Instructions for 2013.
1. Basic Requirements
Before you get started, be sure that you have completed all the basic educational requirements outlined on the Freshman Requirements Chart.
You will also need to decide to apply for early or regular decision. If Cornell is your first choice, consider applying under the early decision plan. Early decision applications are reviewed in the fall, and you will be notified in mid-December of Cornell’s decision. Before applying early decision, know that:
- November 1 is the application deadline.
- Early decision is binding. If you’re admitted to Cornell, you are required to withdraw any applications you’ve sent to other schools and send your enrollment deposit to Cornell by early January.
- You can be admitted or denied during early decision as well as postponed to regular decision. Students whose applications are postponed to regular decision are no longer subject to the early decision binding commitment.
- While early decision acceptances to Cornell are binding, students may be eligible to be released from the early decision agreement if the financial aid award does not make a Cornell education affordable for applicants and their families (must have applied for financial aid).
2. Choosing a College
You will apply to an undergraduate college or school at Cornell as your primary choice, and also have the option of applying to another one as an alternate. Explore each of our undergraduate colleges and schools at the links below and see which fits you best before filling out your application:
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Engineering
- School of Hotel Administration
- College of Human Ecology
- School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Both early and regular decision applicants are required to select a primary undergraduate college or school for admission, and have the option of selecting an alternate choice. Only exceptional candidates with a serious passion for the alternate choice college or school will be considered. Applicants who choose this option will be required to write essays and satisfy admission requirements for both the primary and alternate choice.
- It is the responsibility of the applicant to make arrangements to complete admission requirements, including any special requirements such as interviews and portfolios.
- Applicants are not permitted to change the colleges or schools to which they have applied after they have submitted the application. Requests to change colleges or schools or to add an alternate choice college or school will not be honored.
- Applicants who wish to apply to the same program in both a primary and alternate choice college are required to submit admission essays for both colleges. In cases where a program is offered in more than one college, we encourage applicants to review the graduation requirements and programs available in each college to better understand where their intellectual interests will be best served.
- Applications that include a primary and alternate choice college or school will be considered sequentially, first by the primary and then by the alternate choice. If an applicant is admitted by the primary college or school, the application will not be eligible for review by the alternate choice.
- The decision to consider an alternate choice application is at the discretion of the admission committee in the alternate choice college or school.
- Applicants will receive only one decision from Cornell University.
Check out our FAQs for some commonly asked questions about your college or school choice or view the Primary/Alternate Admission pdf. If we still haven’t answered your question, feel free to contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.
3. Common Application
Cornell uses only the Common Application, pages AP-1 to AP-5, which can be completed and submitted online at www.commonapp.org. We strongly recommend applying online – it expedites the process. If you need to mail your application package and fee, visit the Application Mailing Instructions page.
4. Common Application Supporting Materials
In addition to the Common Application, Cornell requires that you also submit the following forms with your application. These forms can be found and submitted online at www.commonapp.org:
- The School Report - Your counselor or designated school official should submit this form (or your school’s own report form) and your official transcript on your behalf.
- Teacher Evaluations - You are required to submit two teacher recommendations. Be sure to remind individuals writing letters for you to include your name and date of birth on all pages if they are sending them by mail.
- Midyear Report - Submit the Midyear Report as soon after the application deadline as possible. We strongly encourage guidance counselors to submit this online too, so we can process your application faster. We understand that some students with schools on trimesters may not have any new grade information to report at the time of submission, and therefore do not need to send a Midyear Report.
5. Cornell University Supplement to the Common Application
This supplemental form is required of all applicants, as it includes important Cornell-specific information and required essays. The supplement helps us match your intellectual goals to the Cornell college or school to which you’re applying. If you are planning to use the primary/alternate choice option, you must complete a college interest essay for both your primary and alternate choice colleges and schools. Your Cornell Supplement can be submitted online at www.commonapp.org.
6. Official Transcript
We require you to submit your official secondary/high school transcript(s) before the application deadline. This should be sent by your school online through www.commonapp.org or can be mailed.
7. Standardized Test Scores
You must submit your scores for either the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT with Writing. Some of our undergraduate colleges/schools also have specific requirements for the SAT Subject Tests. Review the Freshman Admission Requirements Chart to see what’s required. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you have taken the right Subject Tests and have the scores officially reported to Cornell from the testing agency by our application deadline. Note that Cornell requires students to submit all scores from SAT tests taken and does not participate in the College Board’s Score Choice.
8. Application Fee
Applications must be submitted with the $75 application fee in order to be considered. Submitting the online Common Application and the $75 online fee or fee waiver* begins the admission process and should be done as soon as possible to avoid delays. Because Cornell receives more than 30,000 prospective student applications each year, we highly encourage that you submit applications online at www.commonapp.org to speed up the process. If that is not possible, the application and fee may be mailed.
* Fee Waiver
In keeping with Ezra Cornell’s vision of “any person...any study,” Cornell is proud to serve students from all economic backgrounds. If submitting our application fee would result in a financial hardship for your family, we encourage you to consider applying for a fee waiver. To apply for a fee waiver, please send us one of the following documents:
- The NACAC Application for Fee Waiver Form completed by your guidance counselor/college advisor and submitted online, if possible, at www.commonapp.org;
- The College Board Request for Waiver of College Application Fee or the ACT Fee Waiver form (obtainable from your guidance counselor/college advisor if you used a College Board or ACT fee waiver);
- A letter from your guidance counselor/college advisor, or representative from a social service or community agency, stating that the fee would cause financial hardship.
If you cannot apply for a waiver by one of these methods, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office at 607.255.5241. If you are submitting your application on paper, your fee waiver request should be sent attached to page AP-1 of the Common Application (pages AP-1 to AP-5). If you are applying online, check the fee waiver box on the Common Application and follow the instructions. We encourage your guidance counselor/college advisor to submit the NACAC Fee Waiver Form online at www.commonapp.org, or you can mail your fee waiver request to: Undergraduate Admissions Office, Cornell University, P.O. Box 516, Ithaca, NY 14851-0516.
A formal interview is required for those applying to the School of Hotel Administration and the architecture program in Architecture, Art, and Planning. Submit an online request to the School of Hotel Administration to schedule a required interview. Students applying to the architecture program are required to participate in an interview as part of the admission process and applicants to the Department of Art are encouraged, although not required, to have an interview. Beginning in August, students may visit aap.cornell.edu/admissions/interview.cfm or call 607.255.4376 to schedule an interview. For all other applicants, there is no interview process and we will not offer interviews for those who request them.
10. Additional Submissions
Finally, there are some other supplemental forms on the Common Application website, like the Early Decision Agreement, an Arts Supplement, etc. These are NOT required and we advise you NOT to submit these additional forms with your application. However, some of our majors, like architecture and art, do require additional forms, portfolios, or design indexes. Review the Freshman Application Requirements Chart to make sure you have all the required items for your intended major.