First Year Application Tips
Thoughtfully prepare for and approach the application process.
The College of Human Ecology (CHE) Undergraduate Admissions Staff offers our First‐Year Application Tips to help you thoughtfully approach the application process and present an application that reflects you as a person, a scholar, and a community citizen. Be sure to also review our First Year Admissions Requirements.
As you move forward, find time to be still and gather your thoughts and voice.
First Year Application Tips
First Year Application Tips
Choosing a college/school and major requires that you understand your interests, consider your academic strengths, and are well-informed about your options. This is especially true for the College of Human Ecology.
- Make this your own college search and exploration of Cornell University, even if you have family, friends, or others in your community who attended or are familiar with Cornell University.
- Families, we hope that you will support your student(s) as their interests develop, deepen, and evolve.
- Get to know the College of Human Ecology well to better understand how your interests might fit with our offerings and learning environment.
- Watch our recorded College of Human Ecology information sessions.
- Spend time with our major-specific fact sheets, curriculum sheets, and viewbook*.
- Join us for our information sessions. Note that faculty appointments are discouraged unless you are interested in our design-based majors.
- Reflect on how the College of Human Ecology's mission resonates with your values; how the family of majors, which informs the perspective of the academics, will complement your primary academic interests; and how the coursework requirements parallel and expand your interests.
- Test your pre-professional interests through volunteer and work experiences. Consider what you enjoyed/valued about those experiences and how you might grow through further exploration.
- You can also join us for one of our CHE Live (online) Events.
*Download the College of Human Ecology Viewbook version that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. PDF is 45MB in size.
A thoughtful and college-specific approach to the Cornell Supplemental essay and to the application makes for a more compelling candidacy. Leave the rubric behind.
- Carefully read and respond directly to the College of Human Ecology supplemental admissions essay prompt. Copying and pasting essays from other applications is efficient but not effective.
- Address how the College of Human Ecology is uniquely positioned to help you examine your interests, support your goals, and create purpose. Knowing what motivates your interest in and connection to the college and your chosen major helps us better understand your candidacy.
- Reflect on the experiences – academic, research, extracurricular, work, and volunteer – in which you have participated and that make CHE a compelling and meaningful choice. This can inform how you approach and write the supplemental essay.
- Write about the aspects of the College of Human Ecology's education and perspectives that appeal to you, not just the specific classes, clubs, and opportunities of interest.
- Know that we are less interested in the job title you want, than in how you plan to use our programs to support the impact you want to make.
- If applying as “Undecided” be sure to identify the specific CHE majors you are considering and how they will help you explore your intellectual interests.
Design supplements are required for Design and Environmental Analysis, Fashion Design, and Fashion Design Management applicants, in addition to submitting the Common Application. These materials must be submitted by the Common Application deadline for critical evaluation by department faculty. Applications to those majors without the required supplement will not be reviewed.
- Carefully review the design supplement instructions for the major/option of interest, as these supplements are unique to the programs and require written and creative work.
- Submit the design supplement, in addition to the Common Application, by the deadline that corresponds to your application timeline.
- Draw on your creativity in all components of the design supplement. Refer to the FAQs associated with the specific design supplement you are completing for more information.
- Appropriately credit images/photos/creative work if you use those owned by someone else.
The admissions committee considers your academic rigor, preparation, persistence, trending, and growth when reviewing your transcript.
- Competitive candidates, regardless of major choice, pursue the highest level of coursework available at your school, particularly in math and science.
- Competitive candidates earn very strong grades.
- We understand that coursework offerings at your school might have been impacted by COVID-19. Check with your Guidance or College Counseling Office about how those impacts will be communicated to admissions committees.
- Complete advanced level (Advanced Placement; International Baccalaureate; etc.) Calculus and core science work (Biology, Chemistry, and/or Physics) if they are available, regardless of your intended major. Elective science courses in lieu of core sciences are not compelling.
- You can provide a statement regarding coursework choices and/or grades that are not consistent with the points above via a statement on the "Additional Essay".
- Apply yourself to your schoolwork throughout your senior year. The required senior mid-term grades, as well as the final grade reports for accepted students, are of critical importance. Accepted students who do not maintain the academic momentum presented at the time of application will be contacted by the Admissions Committee.
- Accepted students need to consult with the Human Ecology Admissions Committee before making changes to your senior course load.
The Admissions Committee is interested in how you use your time in your school and in greater communities, what engages, informs, and tests your academic interests, and how those pursuits are connected to the college.
- Thoughtfully prioritize your extracurricular activities. Make choices around how you spend your time based on the dimension that extracurriculars add to your life and perspective. Multiple page lists of activities/résumés are not helpful.
- Remember that leadership is more about how your commitment and contribution leads to impact than just a title.
- We encourage you to find ways to test your possible career interests. Know this can take shape in a variety of ways. Be creative around how you find those opportunities, as they are often more accessible than you think.
- Reflect on what you learned about communities, institutions, people, and organizations as a result of your activities. Consider how those reflections might inform your approach to the supplemental essay.
- Research experiences can be presented as an entry on the Common Application listing or on a résumé. Should you want to include more information you can submit a short (100 word) overview of your research topic with a focus on the most significant aspect of it as a learning experience, why it matters, and/or how you were supported in this work. Research abstracts are not helpful.
Letters of recommendation help the Admissions Committee understand your maturity, self-motivation, initiative, character, and role in the classroom and community.
- Carefully consider who to ask and how that letter may support your candidacy.
- Ask a science or math teacher to submit a letter on your behalf especially if you apply to one of our natural science-based majors.
- Limit submissions to the number of letters required in the application instructions.
- Use your best manners to request a letter of recommendation and to thank the letter writer afterwards.
- Our faculty and academic departments are focused on teaching, advising, and conducting research as they work with our current students. Please do not contact our faculty/academic departments during the college search or admissions process.
- Information about CHE research -- faculty projects/labs and undergraduate involvement -- can be found online.
- The “Additional Information” section of the Common Application is best used to contextualize your academic record, address a circumstance that might have impacted your performance, or clarify a specific aspect of your application. Please do not use it to include a second personal essay.
- Email the CHE Admissions Office with questions about academic programs, the admissions process, career development, and student life.