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What We Are Looking For

Cornell University Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts at Cornell University

We are Looking For….

Admissions committees in the College of Arts and Sciences look for an outstanding record of academic achievement in a rigorous high school curriculum.  Applicants must have a strong commitment to the liberal arts and sciences.

  • Admissions committees in the college are comprised of faculty and academic deans and are organized by geographical region.  Keep in mind that we require certain standardized test scores (SAT I or the ACT AND two SAT II subject tests) – see the link below for a full listing of college requirements.  Although these test scores are important tools for our admissions committees, we also emphasize a number of other critical elements in your application.  In no particular order of importance:
  • Committees evaluate the rigor and level of performance (as reflected in your grades) on the applicant’s academic transcript to gauge the kind of student the applicant is.  We expect to see that applicants have challenged themselves with a demanding curriculum and that they continue to do so with their course selections for their senior year.
  • Committees spend a great deal of time reviewing the applicant’s writing in their application essays.  This allows the committees – and in particular our faculty –  to see the kinds of interests and experiences that each applicant might bring to our college community and also allows the faculty to evaluate the quality of the applicant’s writing.
  • Committees place a great deal of emphasis on the letters of recommendation from teachers and guidance counselors. In addition to having learned about the kind of student you have been (as seen on your transcript) and the kind of student you think you are and hope to be (as seen in your writing), these letters allow us to see what kind of student others see you to be.
  • Committees seek to find out what activities, jobs and interests you have outside of the classroom.  We hope to select an interesting and talented class as well as a class of students that has demonstrated they have the ability to balance academic rigor with other interests.  A key indicator of your ability to handle these demands at Cornell is how you have handled balancing these interests in the past.

No one criterion is more important than another and this list is by no means exhaustive.  Instead, it should give you a sense of the range of the many important criteria that go into our committees’ selection decisions.

Here are the requirements all applicants to the college must have satisfied when applying.


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