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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write Cornell’s Essay for The Arts and Science College

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara and Mariana Goldlust in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info. 


What’s Covered:



Cornell University’s essay prompt for the College of Arts and Sciences asks students to respond to the following question:


Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s ‘any person … any study’ founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College. (650 words)


In this article, we will walk through what makes this prompt unique from other similar essay prompts as well as how to approach writing your response. For more information on Cornell’s other supplemental essays, check out our posts on how to write the Cornell University essays.


What Makes This Prompt Unique


This prompt is interesting in particular because it is more nuanced than a standard academic interest prompt, which is one of the four main types of college essay prompts. Students are asked to write about the areas of study, not just one area of study, that they are excited to explore through the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell.


Typically, essay prompts like this ask students to elaborate upon just one discipline that they are interested in and why they want to pursue it at a particular college. As a result, the word count is often shorter as well, since you are generally discussing one area in particular. In contrast, the subtle difference in this prompt allows and encourages students to write about multiple areas of study. Another key point is that this reflects Cornell’s interdisciplinary approach within the College of Arts and Sciences. 


Choosing a Topic


When responding to this essay prompt, applicants should think about connecting a diverse set of their own interests to a more singular, overarching goal. Furthermore, this goal should be something that they are interested in working towards while at Cornell. The mention of founding vision “any person … any study” represents the emphasis the school puts on allowing students to explore new and exciting connections between various subjects. 


One way that you can go about starting this essay is by thinking about how your academic interests relate to your present experiences, involvements, or extracurriculars. By reflecting deeply on your interests and conveying your passions, you will highlight your intellectual curiosity while telling the admissions officers more about who you are and what matters to you. 


Be Specific


One of the most important things to keep in mind when responding to this prompt is that specificity matters. This essay is already focused on one individual college within Cornell University, so applicants need to demonstrate in detail why they are interested in this particular program.


Including specific details about courses, professors, and programs can help you show the admissions committee that you have thoroughly done your research. This is important because it tells the admissions officers that you are genuinely interested in their school and that you have goals and interests that align with the unique offerings of the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell.