Does Cornell Interview Everyone?

August 21, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Does Cornell Interview Everyone?

For students all over the world, getting into a prestigious university like Cornell University as an undergrad student is a dream come true. If you are such a student, you are going to want to make sure that you know all the ins and outs of the admissions process at Cornell so that you can prepare as much as possible for the challenging, yet rewarding experience ahead.

One such component of the admissions process for a lot of Cornell applicants includes the interview process.

But, does Cornell interview everyone?

At AdmissionSight, we have worked with students all over the world and helped them improve their chances of getting into Ivy League schools like Cornell, Princeton and Yale or other top 10 schools in the United States like MIT, Stanford and Caltech. While we are able to help students with essentially every aspect of preparing for your undergraduate application (including advising and consulting during a student’s high school years), we are most often called upon to work with students as they begin their own application process in earnest.

We help students with gathering letters of recommendation, crafting their personal statements and supplemental essays, discussing their extracurricular achievements, and we help students prepare for their opportunity to meet with a Cornell interviewer and discuss why they believe they would be a great fit at the school.

Young woman interviewing a student in a room.

Our years of experience within the world of college admissions, and the tools and strategies that we have developed and offer the students that we work with offer incredible advantages. They’re a major reason why 75.0 percent of the high school students that we have worked with end up getting into either an Ivy League school or a top 10 school that is not in the Ivy League.

So, if you are asking the question, “Does Cornell give interviews?” or “Does Cornell interview all applicants?” or simply want to know what you can expect from your Harvard interviewer if you do end up getting an interview, then simply keep reading on. There’s a lot for you to learn.

Let’s get started on the basic information about the Cornell interview process.

Does Cornell give interviews?

This is an important question to know the answer to if you are planning on applying to Cornell. The simple answer to the question is – as you may have expected – yes! Afterall, undergraduate application interviews are a common optional aspect of the application process at many of the most prestigious and competitive schools in the country.

The general belief as to why that is the case is because the more competitive and selective a school is, the more comprehensive and involved the admissions process has to be. Admissions officers at these top schools work for many months both one their own and as a committee to identify the applying students who they think will be the best fit within the incoming graduating class.

Two women talking in a table.

However, there are some really important things for students who apply to Cornell to know about even when comparing Cornell to the other seven Ivy League schools. While the answer to the question “does Cornell interview everyone?” is no, there are certain applicants that are required to take part in the interview process.

“Fact is, only applicants to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and specifically only the Architecture majors are required to interview,” the school posted on its official blog. “In addition, applicants to either our Fine Arts or Urban and Regional Studies majors have the option for an interview through this College. None of our other candidates will have the opportunity for a true interview because we simply have too many applicants (67,000+) to meet the demand, and we want to be as equitable as possible during the admissions process.”

While the students applying to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning are required to take part in a formal interview and the Fine Arts or Urban and Regional Studies majors have the option to take part in an interview, students who are not hoping to be part of either of these programs can still take part in a less formal interview process known as the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network, or CAAAN for short.

In all, Cornell has over 10,000 alumni members of CAAAN who meet with over 25,000 undergraduate applicants in any given application cycle. It is important for students who are planning on applying to take part in one of these conversations to know that these are not interviews.

Instead, they are optional, informal conversations that give the applying students a chance to ask questions, become familiar with another person’s perspective on the school, and gather important information that can ideally help them make a better and more informed decision on whether or not Cornell is the best option for them.

Here is a bit more about the specifics in terms of what taking part in the CAAAN conversation means to both the school and students applying to the school:

“The contact process is entirely automated; applicants can indicate their interest through their Cornell-specific Application Status Page (information on how to set up the Application Status Page will be provided to applicants after their application to Cornell is processed). Our CAAAN members will prioritize those applicants who have indicated an interest first and foremost. If we can match the applicant with one of our CAAAN volunteers, then the CAAAN member will reach out to the applicant to arrange a meeting at a time that works for both.”

Here are some key bits of information about CAAAN contacts:

  • Applicants can indicate their desire to a meeting with a member of CAAAN through their Cornell Application Status Page online
  • Contacts are informal, not evaluative and there is no need to stress about your meeting
  • Only about 30 percent to 40 percent of the applicant pool is offered a meeting because of limitations caused by location, timing, availability of alumni members and total applicant volume
  • Students’ applications are not negatively impacted if they are not contacted by CAAAN

How much does the Cornell interview matter?

As you may have already gathered, the CAAAN interview is going to have little impact on how your application performs in the hands of Cornell admissions officers. The truth is that this is the case for the vast majority of interviews for undergraduate students.

More often than not, these interviews are seen as information gathering opportunities for the applying students rather than important parts of the application process. For the most part, schools that offer interviews for undergrad students do say that the interview has little to no impact on an application status, and that not being offered an interview both has no impact on your application and also has no reflection on the current status of your application at the school.

Young woman looking at the window with a laptop on her lap.

With that in mind, it is really important to note that the interview process for students applying to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning is far more important. Unlike the vast majority of interviews at top schools and other Ivy League schools, the interview process for students applying to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning is a required part of the application. Moreover, while students are applying to the AAP’s Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor Science in Urban and Regional Studies, an interview is not required but it is strongly encouraged.

The school urges students to keep in mind that they need to complete their interview by the application deadline, so giving themselves “plenty of time to request an interview, get it scheduled and completed, and with enough time to implement your portfolio’s feedback (if applying to the B.Arch or BFA) before submitting your final portfolio) is really important.

Given the fact that interviews at undergraduate programs are rarely required as part of a student’s application, you may be wondering what the purpose of these interviews are. According to the school, the reasons are actually threefold.

  • First off, the interview serves as an opportunity for the school’s admissions officers to understand what a student’s interest in one of the school’s programs is, how that interest has developed, and what the applying student has done thus far to explore the program and their potential fit there. It’s also a great opportunity for the school to learn about the applying student, their work and their goals.
  • Secondly, the interview serves as a fantastic way for the applying student to learn more about the school and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell. As part of the interview, the student chats with either a faculty member at the school or an alumni member from the department that the student is specifically applying to. It’s a great fit to solidify interest in the school and really confirm that it is the best place for any applicant.
  • Third and finally, if a student is applying to B.Arch or BFA, then the interview will partially be a portfolio review of the work that a student has sent in as proof of their past work and expertise. This offers a fantastic opportunity for applicants to get feedback on their pieces as well as feedback on other pieces that the student may want to include before sending in their final portfolio.

So, now you know the answer to the question, “Does Cornell interview everyone?” is no, but that thousands of applicants do get the chance to interview and for some students that interview is required.

Beyond that, the answer to the question, “how much does Cornell interview matter?” for students applying to B.Arch or BFA is actually quite a lot! These interviews are important parts of your application to these programs and can definitely have an impact on the school’s final decision regarding your application.

What are Cornell interviews like?

When it comes to the experience of meeting with your Cornell interviewer, whether you are taking part in the required interview process, the highly recommended interview process or the fully optional CAAAN interview process, it can be helpful to know what to expect so that you can know what to plan for.

Let’s start with the CAAAN interview process, because this is by far the most informal of the three. Truly, students who are offered the chance to take part in a CAAAN conversation don’t have to spend too much time stressing or preparing for their interview. Of course, you should enter the experience with a fair bit of preparation under your belt and confidence in terms of what you want to discuss and what questions you want to ask, but there is no need to overthink the process.

Young woman talking to a student.

Most importantly, this is an opportunity for you – the applying student – to meet a member of the Cornell alumni community and get some more important information about the school itself. This is all done with the hopes that through this process, you will get a better idea of whether or not Cornell is the best option for you when it comes to where you want to get your undergraduate education from. In reality, there is no need to heavily prepare for this interview, but it would be wise to keep a few things in mind.

  • Make sure to dress somewhat professionally, a comfortable button-up shirt or blouse is more than sufficient.
  • Think of some questions you will want to ask your Cornell interviewer so you do not waste time trying to come up with questions on the spot. Some common questions are below:
    • Why did you choose to go to Cornell?
    • What clubs and programs were you involved with as a student?
    • How would you describe the overall academic atmosphere at the school?
    • What are some of your favorite school traditions?
    • How do you think going to Cornell has led you to where you are today?
  • Moreover, you should have a general idea of what kinds of questions your Cornell interviewer may ask you. Some common questions are below:
    • What are you interested in potentially studying in college?
    • What’s the most negative experience you ever had in high school?
    • What do you do when you’re not in school?
    • What have you read recently?
    • What is the last cultural event you went to or What have you done or seen lately?

When it comes to the required or highly recommended interview process for students applying to the B.Arch or BFA programs at Cornell, there is a little more in depth information that students should be aware of when it comes to what they should know and how to prepare.

According to the school, timing is the key factor for a student’s interview. Cornell always recommends that students submit their interview request as early as possible. The reason for this is because by doing this, it ensures that students will have more options when it comes to when their interview is scheduled as well as more time to prepare.

As high school students know all too well, the school year can be quite hectic and unpredictable, and it is much better to be able to prepare for these interviews over a larger period of time rather than try to cram with days left before your interview is scheduled to take place.

Once you submit your request for the interview, you will hear back from the school in a relatively small amount of time with detailed next steps and a trip to help you prepare.

So, to finish up this quick breakdown, here are some tips on how to prepare for your Cornell interview.

Tips to prepare for your Cornell interview

If you are taking part in the interview process to apply to either the B.Arch or BFA programs at Cornell, here are some tips to prepare.

Two women in an interview shaking hands.

First of all, there are some questions that the school specifically wants students to be prepared for, while these are likely not going to be the only questions you are asked, these are a great starting spot for you:

  • “Why are you interested in architecture, art, or urban and regional studies?”
  •  “What appeals to you about Cornell and AAP, specifically?”
  • “Who’s your favorite architect, or artist, or what’s your favorite city?”

Moreover, make sure to spend some time researching your Cornell interviewer (you will be notified who will be conducting the interview well in advance) and think of questions specific to their Cornell experience as well as what they’ve accomplished and pursued since then.

If applying to architecture or art, put together your portfolio-in-progress in a way that will be easy to review, like a pdf or google doc. Also, be sure you’re ready to discuss each piece’s inspiration, process, or intent.

Finally, make sure to practice! Being prepared for these interviews will help you remain calm throughout and will allow you to be more present and perform better overall.

Succeed in the Cornell interview

While taking part in a Cornell interview is not going to be the single deciding factor in whether or not you end up getting into the school, a great interview can certainly help your chances! If you want to learn more about how to prepare for your Cornell interview, or any of the other aspects of the application process, contact AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation.




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