Cornell Letters of Recommendation

December 2, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Cornell Letters of Recommendation

How Many Letters Of Recommendation Does Cornell Require?

Recommendation letters reflect your high school years or your involvement in the neighborhood but they also paint a picture of who you will be in the future, both at college and after. They go much beyond what letter grades can do to give the university of your choosing a clear picture of what to expect and the kind of person you are. How many letters of recommendation does Cornell require? For first-year applicants, three Cornell letters of recommendation are required.

  1. Counselor Recommendation: Cornell needs a letter of recommendation from your college advisor or school counselor.
  2. Teacher Evaluations: Two teacher recommendations must be submitted. Your full name and date of birth should be indicated on every page of the evaluation if submitted through the mail.

College of Engineering Recommendation Letters

A math instructor must write at least one of the two teacher recommendations. You are highly encouraged to request a recommendation from a pre-calculus or calculus instructor who taught you in grade 11 or 12 (or equivalent years).

The second suggestion may come from a professor who teaches any subject of your choice. Cornell strongly advises that the second recommendation comes from a teacher who can speak to your level of English proficiency if you are an international or ESL student.

Additional Recommendations

Students occasionally want to submit more information after submitting their Cornell applications than what is requested. Examples include an update on a recent honor or award earned, a letter of additional non-academic recommendation letter, or a justification for a modification in the syllabus. Required documents are not included in the supplemental information. The admissions office will email you instructions for creating an online application status account or portal as soon as your application is received.

What Should Be In A Cornell Recommendation Letter?

The admissions committee searches for information not included elsewhere in your application in Cornell letters of recommendation. Your abilities will be described in an effective letter in ways that test scores cannot capture.

It can be challenging to select your recommender, and most colleges require two to three letters. Name a few professors, administrators, or employers that you have gotten to know through your coursework, extracurricular activities, or jobs.

Two students talking in a table.

What should be in a Cornell recommendation letter? The best letters are those that have a detailed explanation about you and your performance at school. The writers’ position or title is not nearly as significant as what they have to say about you.

An excellent recommender is someone who:

  • Is knowledgeable about your work in the field and has insightful comments to share.
  • Has a broad understanding of you and your life.
  • Thinks highly of you.
  • Can compare you favorably to your peers based on having worked or taught a sizable class of students.
  • Is aware of the specific institutions to which you are applying as well as the kind of program you intend to pursue.
  • Is respected and well-known by the admissions committee as a person whose opinion should be taken seriously.
  • Writes well.

No individual is likely to meet all these requirements, therefore find recommenders who satisfy as many of the requirements as possible. Plan to speak with the two or three suitably enthusiastic recommenders you have lined up. Be ready to deliver the recommendation forms during the appointments, and make sure to include detailed information for online submissions for the writers’ convenience.

To help the writer create a strong letter endorsing your application, discuss your academic and professional goals as well as the reasons you are applying to these schools. Make sure writers are aware of the dates of your application deadlines.

Do not forget to be nice and polite. You might be shocked by how much work that recommender has outside of class. Additionally, if they regularly teach large class sizes, they can have close to 100 letter requests due at the same time. So, do your part in requesting your Cornell letters of recommendation be able to take off a bit of weight from your instructors’ work.

Supporting Documents

Students are advised to send the following to recommenders:

  1. A current CV or resume
  2. A draft of the admissions essay (if applicable)
  3. A list of programs you are applying for (Include links and deadlines; clarify the process of application in specific programs; add logistical details e.g., “You will receive an automatic e-mail from the application portal committee within a week.”).
  4. Try to make it simple for the reader; they presumably have a lot of other letters to write and will not have time to click links and gather details on programs, so make it clear and concise for them.
  5. A description of how you came to know the recommender, such as courses you have taken (code, semester, and grades received).
  6. Research papers or other works you have written.

What Is the Deadline For Cornell Recommendation Letters?

Whether you choose to apply by early decision or regular decision will affect the deadlines for Cornell applications. The following are the deadlines for Early Decision and Regular Decision plans:

2022–203 Early Decision Deadline – Required application materials must be submitted on November 1st.

2022–203 Regular Decision Deadline – Regular Decision applicants must send the complete application materials by January 2nd.

The Cornell letters of recommendation are included in the required application materials to be provided on the dates mentioned above.

Each letter requires time and consideration to write correctly, even for seasoned teachers and counselors. Make sure to inquire to your recommenders at least a month before the deadlines for your applications.

College councillor talking to a student.

Some teachers place a limit on the number of requests they accept. You should ask even earlier than a month before your deadlines whether they have a first-come, first-served policy so you do not lose out. By the end of the semester, when they may already be busy with assigning grades and scoring tests, not to mention spending time with friends and family during the break, many teachers are overwhelmed with work.

What Are the Requirements To Get Into Cornell?

Cornell is a competitive school for applicants. If you constantly worry about “What are the requirements to get into Cornell?”  let’s now go into detail about what materials you need to prepare to get into Cornell University.

Application via Common Application: Cornell accepts applications through Common Application. With the Common App, you can submit your application online. You will only select one format for all the application materials.

Cornell University Questions and Essay: Along with the basic information needed for each college on your list, you also need to respond to questions and submit an essay, according to Cornell University. Both are required for Cornell application and aid the school in matching your application’s academic objectives with Cornell college.

Application Fee or Fee Waiver: You must include an $80 application fee with your completed Common Application unless you qualify for a fee waiver. Remember that without the application fee, your application is not completed.

To determine your eligibility for fee waivers, consult the application portal’s fee waiver guidelines. You can ask for a fee waiver if you believe your financial situation is acceptable under the rules. By choosing the “fee waiver” option in the application, you can accomplish this.

Standardized Tests: Due to the pandemic, Cornell has suspended the test requirements for 2021 and 2022 applicants. You don’t have to submit test results to apply. However, if you have already taken the test and received satisfactory results, you may submit it for admissions review.

Application Supporting Documents: You must also include the following documents with your application:

The Official transcript and School Report

An official transcript and school report must be submitted by the counselor or other certified school official.

Counselor Recommendation

Cornell University requires a formal recommendation from a guidance counselor or college advisor.

Teacher Evaluations

Two teacher recommendations must be submitted. Your name and birthdate should appear on every page of the Cornell letters of recommendation submitted via mail.

Two people talking in an office.

Mid-year Report

Soon after the application deadline, you should turn in a midyear report. Cornell advises submitting the report online because it will hasten the application processing. If you don’t have it by submission, you are not required to send the report.


You must attend the interview if you are applying for the architecture program. Students can schedule an interview starting in August If you apply to the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Studies, Cornell encourages but does not compel you to attend an interview. Students can visit the websites of the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Studies to learn more about these suggested interviews.

For those who apply to other courses, there is no interview offered.

Additional Requirements for Specific Majors

Some majors call for extra paperwork, portfolios, or design indexes, like architecture, art, design and environmental analysis, and fashion design and management. To make sure you have everything needed for your planned major, check out the First-year College and School Admission Requirements page.

What Does Cornell Look For In Applications?

What does Cornell look for in applications? There is no secret formula that can predict whether you will be admitted to Cornell. What you may have heard is accurate, though: Only 8.7% of candidates were accepted for the Class of 2025, making Cornell admission extremely competitive.

Young woman holding her books while walking.

Access, affordability, diversity, and inclusion are all very important to Cornell. The admissions process is very individualized, and the admissions officers take a lot of time to determine if you will fit well with the university’s philosophy and culture. This results in one of the best things about Cornell, its extraordinarily diverse group of students.

Simply put, Cornell specifically identifies the applicants with these characteristics with the help of the following guide questions:

Intellectual Potential

Have you pushed yourself with the most difficult coursework? What evidence do you have of your desire to learn?


Honesty. Open-mindedness. Empathy. Initiative. Cornell cares about your morals. Do your application essays and personal statements highlight your best qualities?


Extracurricular activities. Participation in the community. Workplace knowledge. Leadership. What unique skills or passions have you cultivated?

Reasons for Choosing Cornell

How do you intend to take advantage of Cornell’s outstanding learning environment, whether you have chosen a major? What makes it the right place for you?

Contrary to many other highly selective schools, undergraduate applications at Cornell are routed to the individual school/program that the applicant has applied to within the university rather than being reviewed by a central admissions office. After that, applications go through a “first review” to see if the candidate has the necessary academic credentials to be given serious consideration. Typically, 80 percent or so of applicants pass the “initial review.”

The applicant’s high school education is examined in the phases of evaluation, and admissions staff carefully read their supplemental essay describing why they want to study a particular subject at Cornell. Additionally, they look for indications of a strong desire to engage deeply with the Cornell student body. Extracurricular activities, Cornell essays, and Cornell letters of recommendation are the best ways to illustrate this.

Genuine greatness in one or more areas is what Cornell seeks. For instance, you might have produced novel scientific research, won a major national physics competition, been the leader of a service organization that had a significant impact, or been among the best violinists in the country. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades but should be a master in one or a few areas only. Athlete recruitment to one of Big Red’s 36 Division I sports teams is unquestionably beneficial. Athletes are recruited at a rate of 6–7% among undergraduates at Cornell.

In conclusion, Cornell rates the following eight criteria as “very important” to their admissions process: the difficulty of the secondary school record, the GPA, the results of the standardized tests (optional for 2022), the essay, the recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities. Your chances of being accepted to this Ivy League school increase if you stand out in each of these categories.

While college admissions have become more strenuous as years come by, college admissions counseling companies, like AdmissionSight, are also growing. If you need assistance in requesting Cornell letters of recommendation or preparing for your interview if you are an architecture program applicant, feel free to consult with AdmissionSight. Schedule an appointment for your initial consultation to start your college admissions journey with us.

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