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Cornell University

Where is Cornell University?

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, a rural environment with forests, waterfalls, hiking trails, and exceptionally cold winters, to the south of Cayuga Lake, amidst the hills and gorges of New York State’s Finger Lakes region.

Cornell’s Ithaca campus covers 745 acres and has long been acclaimed as one of the most beautiful campuses in the USA.

Is Cornell an Ivy League university?


Cornell University was established in 1865 and is one of the most prestigious universities in the US and ranked 13th in the world (QS, 2024). A private, research university, it is organised along departmental and school lines, with each department setting its own programmes and admissions requirements, and offers 12 fields of study and over 4,000 courses.

Is Cornell university a land-grant institution? What does this mean in practice?

New York State gave Cornell its original land, and provides it with financial support, in exchange for Cornell developing an educational institution dedicated to serving the people and interests of the state. Consequently, this means that Cornell University runs a huge outreach programme, provides 270 courses aimed at helping the community, and works closely with local representatives, organisations and policy-makers. For example, Cornell University is researching how to introduce a natural disaster coordinating system and accurate weather forecasting, to benefit rural communities in the state. Some 7,000 Cornell students are engaged annually in a range of community programmes, and the university actively encourages its students to enter public service through its Urban Scholars programme, based in New York. To sum up, Cornell University has a total of 56 offices scattered across New York State, in order to drive its mission as a land-grant college, and focusses on five main areas:

  • Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Children, Youth and Families
  • Community and Economic vitality
  • Environment
  • Nutrition and Health

How many students attend Cornell University?

In 2023, the university had approximately 16,071 undergraduate and 10,207 postgraduate students. It is one of the most diverse universities in the US, and has been non-sectarian and co-educational since its founding.

Is Cornell a sustainable university?

Cornell University is rated A for sustainability and green initiatives. In 2021, it came joint first in the US for sustainability, with a score of 100, whereas the national average was 68.2, and gained a STARS platinum award. Approximately 97 per cent of the university’s departments have faculty members focussing on sustainability research and the campus has resolved to become carbon neutral by 2035. Solar farms, air-cooling systems which harness solar energy and hydropower, and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and waste all work together to improve the environment, with the support of the work of the Cornell Atkinson Centre for Sustainability.

What are the main areas of research at Cornell University?

Cornell’s mission is to improve the world we live in and its research is internationally renowned and recognised for its academic rigour and excellent quality. Therefore, Cornell faculty have been involved in a huge range of projects, including:

  • crash-testing, which improved safety for drivers
  • the Manhattan Project
  • discovering the rings around Uranus
  • animal disease control
  • unmanned mission to Mars
  • agricultural experiments
  • setting up a laboratory of ornithology which discovered species assumed to be extinct
  • biodiversity laboratories in the Peruvian Amazon and Dominican Republic

Over the years, Cornell’s research has gained the university an outstanding international reputation and produced 61 Nobel laureates, and 33 Rhodes Scholars, to name but the tip of an immense iceberg of achievement – including 55 Olympic medallists. Moreover, faculty members have included high-profile figures such as John Cleese, Carl Sagan, Buckminster Fuller and Vladimir Nabokov.

Does Cornell University have branches outside Ithaca?

Cornell University has  two medical satellite medical campuses, in Qatar and New York.

Roosevelt Island is home to Cornell Tech, which focuses on technology, business and creativity. Other campuses are located in:

  • Washington DC
  • Rome, Italy
  • Geneva, New York

Which are the most popular courses at Cornell University?

The most popular courses at Cornell University are:

  • Engineering
  • Business, Management and Marketing and related support services
  • Biological and biochemical sciences
  • Computer and Information Sciences and support services
  • Agriculture, Agricultural Operation and related sciences

Are Cornell University class sizes large?

No. Students receive a great deal of personal support at Cornell University, with 56.3 percent of classes having less than 20 students.

Is it difficult to get a place at Cornell University?

Cornell University is a highly rated and over-subscribed institution. In 2023, it received just over 68,000 applications for  4994 places, with an overall acceptance rate of 7 per cent. However, the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management only accepted 3 per cent of those who applied, so the rate does vary from one department and school to another.

How do I apply to Cornell University and what documents will I need to produce?

The admissions system considers not only academic grades, but also character and whether or not you are asking for financial aid.

Academic requirements:

SAT scores matter – the average SAT score is 1560. In addition, you will also be expected to submit:

  • the Common Application form and pay a fee – around $80 in 2020
  • a school report and a mid-year report
  • two teacher evaluations
  • a recommendation
  • high school transcripts
  • proof of English competency, for example IELTS of 7.5 and above; TOEFL iBT, 100 +; Cambridge Advanced or Proficiency: 191.
  • Cornell Questions and Writing Supplement – this includes an essay of around 650 words. When you fill in the Common App, you will be asked which college or school you are applying to, and once you fill in this information, the right questions and essay titles will pop up.
  • Interviews are common but not mandatory.
  • Applicants may also be asked to send in a portfolio or designs.

The deadline for applications is 2 January.

What kind of students is Cornell University looking for?

Personal qualities:

The university specifies that it is interested in students who have shown consistent engagement with their communities, who have a strong sense of values, show empathy, and are honest, open-minded and pro-active. If you are offered an interview, bear this in mind, otherwise ensure that your essay reflects your personality and do not try and second-guess what Cornell might be expecting you to say – just express yourself.

Is Cornell University need-blind or need-aware? And what difference does it make when applying for a place?

Cornell University is need-aware.Therefore, this means that your ability to pay for your tuition plays a part in deciding whether or not you will be offered a place. Requests for aid have to be made at the same time as your application to Cornell University, and thus this is a factor in the admissions procedure. International students are, of course, eligible for financial aid but, taking 2016 as an example, Cornell University had set aside $235 million for financial support, and of this sum, only $11 million was earmarked for international applicants.

How expensive is it to go to Cornell University?

Tuition fees for 2023/4: $65,204
Campus housing: $11,562 and Food: $6992
Books and supplies: $2,000

You need to add travel, leisure expenses, clothing etc. to these sums, so overall it will cost approximately $89,000 a year to attend Cornell University.

Accommodation at Cornell University

You will be living on campus, either in an apartment or dormitory, or in a fraternity or sorority house, where nine per cent of students choose to live. What is more, Cornell students have a reputation for working and playing hard, and your accommodation is also the hub of your social life, where you eat, relax and make friends.

Outdoor courses at Cornell University

Thanks to its stunning rural setting, and the varied landscape, Cornell offers over 130 different outdoor sporting activities. These include rock and ice climbing, camping, mountain biking, tree climbing, backpacking, ice hockey etc. In addition, the university has successful basketball, football, lacrosse and track and field teams, who go under the unofficial name of the Big Red. What is more, there are 37 men and women’s sports teams on campus. One of the oddities found at Cornell, is that every undergraduate has to pass a swimming test, and take two PE courses, before they can be awarded their degree.

What type of societies and clubs can I join at Cornell University?

Cornell University has over 1,000 clubs and societies, and runs a range of newspapers and journals, and a commercial radio station. To sum up, you are spoilt for choice.

And finally – Dragon Day

Since 1901, Cornell’s first year architecture students have built a dragon in secret every year, and paraded it around the university in the middle of March, on or close to St Patrick’s Day. Traditionally, the students then burned the dragon, but health and safety put an end to this in 2009, and now only its nest is burnt. The dragon itself is destroyed in different ways – for example, by being smothered in paint, or covered in Holi powder as a climax to the parade.If you are interested in studying at Cornell University, contact Elab as early as possible.

In conclusion, Elab has a team of US specialist consultants who will prepare you and work with you to submit an outstanding application to Cornell University, an extraordinary university with a worldwide reputation for quality teaching, groundbreaking research and academic excellence.

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