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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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How to Write Cornell’s Essay for the ILR School

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:



Understanding the differences between the colleges at Cornell University is essential when applying. Certain schools may have additional essay prompts, and you should tailor your essay to what the college has to offer. 


In this article, we will discuss the supplemental essay specifically for the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, whether the school is right for you, and how to start this essay. If you are interested in applying to a different school at Cornell, read our post about how to write the Cornell essays for more guidance on the other prompts. 


The Essay Prompt


The supplemental essay prompt for the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) asks:


Using your personal academic or volunteer work experiences, describe the different things that you care about and why they’re important to you. Your response should show us how those interests align with the ILR school.” (650 words) 


This question is essentially awhy majorprompt with an added emphasis on your personal passions, and as a result your response for this essay requires a fair amount of research into the school. Additionally, it is crucial that before, during, and even after your writing process you take the time to reflect on whether or not the ILR school is the right fit for you.



Without a proper understanding of the ILR school, this essay can be particularly tricky for some applicants. The School of Industrial and Labor Relations studies the world of work, and it has broad areas of study applying to business, economics, history, and government. This school is likely a good fit for students with a general interest in humanities. 


It is also key to note that the ILR school is devoted to public service. Therefore, highlighting a passion for social service may be a good way to show the admissions office that you are aligned with the school’s values.


What to Consider When Brainstorming


When writing your essay, be sure to focus on concrete examples and, as mentioned above, a connection to public service. You will also want to discuss how your past experiences have contributed to your intellectual interests and why you’ll be a strong social sciences student. Here are some questions to consider: 


  • What part of your background relates to the study of ILR? 
  • How does the study of ILR relate to public service? 
  • Why do you find subjects related to social science to be valuable and engaging?  


Furthermore, keep in mind that speaking too broadly about society-wide issues is a common mistake. Instead, your essay should be personal and illustrate your answer for the reader through your background and anecdotes. Use your experiences to your benefit while writing this essay toshow, not tellthe admissions officer why your values align with those of ILR.