Accepted to Cornell: Now What?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Buildings in Cornell lined up together.

Accepted to Cornell: Now What?

While the eight highly selective and prestigious schools that make up the Ivy League are known to be some of the hardest schools to get into in the entire world, Cornell University typically has the most forgiving acceptance rate.

For that reason, getting accepted to Cornell is some student’s best bet to get into an Ivy League school at all! With that in mind, however, getting into Cornell is no easy feat. Elite students from all over the world apply to Cornell every year and just a small fraction of those students end up getting in. And getting into Cornell is just the beginning of the journey for students who end up joining the school’s student body.

There are a lot of important steps and pieces of information that students will want to know when it comes to what they should do after they have been accepted to Cornell.

Aerial view of Cornell university.

At AdmissionSight, we work with driven, passionate and highly intelligent students every application cycle to help them get into the schools of their dreams. While we do often work with students during their high school years to help them choose their school curriculum, extracurricular activities and more, we also help a large number of the students that we work with navigate the application process, specifically.

Responsibilities during this stage include helping students identify the schools that they want to apply to, filling out applications in the best way possible, gathering fantastic letters of recommendation from members of the student’s high school faculty, crafting exceptional personal essays and much more.

Thanks to the years of experience that we have within the college application landscape, we are able to offer the students that we work with unique strategies and tools that help them overcome the lowest acceptance rates in the country and get into the most elite schools in the world.

The experience and expertise that our admissions consultants bring to the table is a big part of the reason why 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into an Ivy League school like Cornell, Brown or Harvard or top 10 schools outside of the Ivy League such as Stanford, University of Chicago and MIT.

So, if you want to learn more about how Cornell admissions work, what to do after getting accepted to Cornell, or other important aspects of how the application process at this school works, then you have come to the right place!

Let’s get started on breaking it all down together.

How Cornell admissions works

Before we get into what a student should start focusing on once they actually do end up getting into Cornell, we wanted to spend a little bit of time breaking down how the admissions process at Cornell really works.

As you likely already know, the admissions process at the vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States practice what is known as a holistic admissions process. This essentially means that all information a student provides as part of their application will be considered. Above all, admissions officers are looking for students who are passionate about their education and who seem determined to be a positive and impactful force within the Cornell University community.

Cornell University building with a tower surrounded by grass.

Though Cornell does practice a fully holistic admissions process, there are some specific aspects of the admissions process at this school that any student interested in getting in should definitely know about! Here are some of the specific aspects of how Cornell admissions work.

First off, let’s get some of the important numbers out of the way. Since all of the crucial information regarding the 2021-22 application cycle is not yet known, let’s look back at the previous year and get an idea of what kind of numbers the graduating class of 2025 were dealing with during the 2020-21 application cycle.

In 2020-21, a historic number of 67,380 students applied to the school. Of that number, just 5,836 students were offered a spot at the school, good for an acceptance rate of just 8.7 percent. It was the lowest acceptance rate at the school in recent years. When it was all said and done, 3,750 of those 5,836 students claimed their spot at the school and enrolled at Cornell to be part of the graduating class of 2025.

One good bit of news that we do know is that in the 2021-22 application cycle, the acceptance rate at Cornell jumped back up to 10.7 percent, a rate that is more similar to other years.

Still, with more and more students applying to these elite schools, it is hard to predict whether that 8.7 percent acceptance rate in 2020-21 was just a blip or a sign of things to come. With that out of the way, let’s break down some important information about the admissions process at this school.

First admissions review

From what we know about the admissions process at Cornell, we know that there are two basic review periods that applying students undergo. In the first stage of admissions review, about 80 percent of the applications are chosen to proceed to the next step.

The very first portion of the review is the academic review. It is only after a student has been deemed viable from an academic standpoint that the other important aspects of their application will be taken into consideration.

When it comes to the academic review, it is not about whether or not a student “deserves” to get into Cornell based on their grade point average in high school and their standardized test score. Instead, it is about whether or not the admissions committee believes a student will be able to thrive within Cornell’s rigorous academic standards. While standardized test scores are important, the school does weigh a student’s performance in their high school courses first and foremost.

When it comes to the average academic benchmarks at Cornell, here are the average GPA, SAT and ACT scores for students who end up getting in:

  • GPA – 4.07
  • SAT – 1480
  • ACT – 34

Second admissions review

After the first review has come to an end, the Cornell admissions officers will then review all of the remaining applications in their entirety. This includes factors such as extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation and more. This stage is meant to determine that an applicant would not only be a good fit at Cornell academically but also culturally.

For the most part, this two-part review process is very similar to the way that the other seven schools in the Ivy League operate their admissions process. It is meant to identify students that would be great fits academically, first and foremost, and then find students who would contribute to the community at Cornell in dynamic and exciting ways!

In terms of this second portion of the admissions process, here are some of the primary factors that the admissions officers will consider:

  • A student’s intellectual potential: Have you challenged yourself with the highest-level courses? How have you demonstrated your passion for learning?
  • A student’s character: Honesty. Open-mindedness. Initiative. Empathy. Your values are important to Cornell. Do your application essays and recommendations reflect your strongest personal attributes?
  • A student’s community involvement: Extracurricular activities. Community involvement. Workplace experience. Leadership. What special talents or interests have you developed?
  • A student’s reasons for choosing Cornell: Whether you’ve decided on a major or not, how do you plan on taking advantage of the exceptional learning environment at Cornell? Why is it the right place for you?

Things to do after getting into Cornell

So, now that you know how the admissions process at Cornell works, we want to break down some of the top things any student should do if they have been accepted to Cornell. Just as is the case with getting into any other school in the country, it is important for students to take the time and steps necessary to make sure that they are truly making the right choice in terms of what school to end up in!

A student lounging underneath a tree near an old building.

After all, enrolling at any college or university is not just a huge financial investment, it is also a massive time investment as well. While transferring is always an option for students, it is certainly easier to make the right choice from the very start and get a degree from the school that you start off as a freshman.

So, here are some things to do and think about after getting accepted to Cornell!

Wait to hear your other options

If you concluded that you had a solid chance of getting into Cornell, then the chances are pretty good that you have also applied to some of the other more competitive and prestigious schools in the country. For that reason, it is best to wait to hear back from all of the schools that you applied to before you make a final decision. After all, there is a reason why National College Decision Day on May 2nd is several months after both early admission and regular admission applicants are scheduled to hear back.

Young woman using her laptop while sitting.

Even if you went into the application experience with Cornell at the very top of your list, things can always change as you learn more and gain more personal experience with the schools that you ended up applying to.

Perhaps a campus tour at a different school went better than expected, or maybe your interview with an alumnus from a different school in the Ivy League convinced you to reorder your list. Whatever the reason, you should always plan to make a final decision only after you have heard back from all the schools that you applied to.

Schedule another campus visit to Cornell

Even if you visited Cornell’s campus – or any other school that you are interested in – before you applied, you will definitely want to visit the school again after you get in. Continuing to do research about the school, either online or during an in-person visit to really make sure that it is the best option for you is a great idea.

Students walking during a campus tour.

This will help you feel great about the final decision that you make ahead of National College Decision Day. When you do make your visit after getting accepted, contact the admissions office and let them know. You may be able to meet with a couple students or faculty members so that you can talk to them a bit about the decision that you are going to have to make soon.

Discuss your options with your support system

Whether you are talking it out with your peers in school, your parents, your high school counselor or your admissions consultant, really weighing the pros and cons of each option available to you is a really great way to make sure that you are making not only the right decision, but also an informed one. There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to making sure that you really are making the best decision for yourself and some of the top considerations to make include:

  • What departments or programs have the best reputations, and do they match your needs?
  • What is the student to faculty ratio?
  • How big is the student body?
  • Is the campus located in a city or town that interests you?
  • What kinds of activities are popular outside of class?
  • What study abroad options are offered?
  • Are sports popular?

Of course, these questions are going to differ based on your actual interests and desires out of the school that you end up going to, and these questions are simply meant to get the ball rolling on helping you determine, once and for all, what school is the best option for you!

Knowing the answers to your big questions should allow you to make a clear and informed final decision in terms of whether or not Cornell is the right kind of school for you. Given the fact that it is truly one of the best schools in the country, it is quite likely that all this deliberation will lead you to answering the question with an emphatic yes.

Once you made the decision to commit to Cornell, there are five simple steps that the school advises enrollees to complete. Here are the five steps to keep in mind!

  1. Visit Cornell against on campus and join the school for “Destination: Cornell”
  2. Finish your FAFSA :To receive need-based institutional and/or federal assistance, as well as work study awards, complete your Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) before our priority deadline of March 1.

Complete your 2017 tax returns as early as possible to make filing for FAFSA easier.

Get your FSA user ID and password.

Complete the FAFSA online, and add Cornell College (school code 001856) before submitting.

  1. Submit your enrollment deposit here.
  2. Complete your student checklist: Once you have submitted your enrollment deposit, you can begin working on your student checklist. The student checklist is where you’ll find the forms required to prepare you for a smooth start to college. Forms will be added to the checklist throughout the spring and summer, so check back regularly!
  3. Learn about residential life on Cornell’s campus: Wondering about what to bring to campus? Looking for tips on living with a roommate? Our Residence Life office has compiled a number of helpful resources related to living on campus.

…And get ready for New Student Orientation

Articles will be published here leading up to New Student Orientation. Be sure to check back here for news and useful information.

Congrats on your Cornell admission!

When it comes to getting into some of the top colleges and universities in the United States, students arguably have no harder task than trying to get into a school like Cornell or the seven other Ivy League schools. Without a doubt, these schools and schools that are similar to them outside of the Ivy League offer some of the most competitive, rigorous and involved student experiences in the world. And while getting into these schools – which almost always boast acceptance rates that are well at or under 10.0 percent – is an incredibly daunting task, that is really where the fun and hard work truly begins!

So, whether you are gearing up to start applying to schools next fall, or are still a couple of years away from applying to undergrad programs and simply want to get a better idea of what to expect, then you have come to the right place! Contact us at AdmissionSight to learn more about the application process by setting up a free consultation to speak with one of our experienced admissions consultants. We can’t wait to hear about your admissions goals and what schools you think you would do best at. We’ll make it our top priority to help you get into those schools of your dreams!



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