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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

5 Tips for Writing Cornell’s Supplemental Essays

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


What’s Covered:



If you’re applying to Cornell University, you’ll be writing some supplemental essays as part of your application. Let’s explore some specific tips for writing Cornell’s admissions essays. 


1. Understand the Prompts


As you begin writing your essays, take a look at the shorter prompts and try to identify the most important parts of them. What is the core of the question being asked? Once you’ve identified the key components of the prompt, you’ll be able to write a concise essay that communicates your answer in a succinct way. This is especially important since  these admissions officers are reading so many essays.


2. Use an Interesting Hook


In these shorter essays, it’s important to make sure your first sentence or two contains a hook: something compelling and interesting that will get the admissions officers especially interested in reading the rest of that essay as well as your others.


3. Meet the Word Count


The 650-word threshold is more than just a suggestion. In writing your essays, you should be working hard to meet that threshold. Each essay is an opportunity to wow the admissions officers, so you should be using as many words as you’re allowed to say what you want to say.


Of course, this does not mean you should write to meet the word count just for the sake of meeting it. Each word you write should be impactful and contribute positively to your essay. 


If you find yourself with 30 or 40 words to spare at the end of your writing process, that chunk of words can be an opportunity to make one of your points more effectively by adding supporting information, exploring a concept more deeply, or bringing more of your personality and character to your writing. You don’t want to miss opportunities in the admissions process, so use every word available to show who you are!


4. Tell Your Unique Story


Of course, word quality is just as important as word quantity. In addition to focusing on the ideas you’re trying to communicate in your essays, be sure to consider how you’re communicating them. Writing a great admissions essay doesn’t necessarily mean having a concept nobody has ever written about before; a memorable essay is one that tells the writer’s individual story in a sincere way. With this in mind, don’t try to write the best essay; rather, focus on writing one that is uniquely your own.


5. Demonstrate Your Interest


Lastly, you’ll want to use your essays to show the admissions officers that you are authentically interested in Cornell itself. These essays are about demonstrating who you are, but they’re also about demonstrating how you would contribute as part of the student body at Cornell. Your essays should answer two questions: Why you, and why Cornell?


For more advice on how to write Cornell’s supplemental essays, check out this article on CollegeVine!