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How to Write Cornell's Human Ecology Essay: Connecting Your Interests to Cornell's Resources (2020-21)

Cornell wants to know how the College of Human Ecology will help you pursue your goals. This is your how-to guide for writing a compelling Cornell Human Ecology essay that impresses the admissions officers.

Let’s take a look at the Cornell Human Ecology essay prompt. (Note that this is a slightly changed version of the 2019-20 prompt.)

How has your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology been influenced by your related experiences? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? (650 words maximum)

In this prompt, you’ll need to draw connections between your past experiences, your future goals, and your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology.


Step One: Past Experiences

In the past, how have you pursued the interests or values that you plan to explore at Cornell? Take some notes, and try to identify 1-2 experiences that had a big impact on your desire to attend Cornell.

For example, maybe your biology research project inspired your interest in public health. Or maybe selling your fashion designs on Etsy influenced your interest in studying fiber science.


Step Two: Goals and Plans

What are your goals and plans for the future? Try to focus on goals that are related to your intended major.

For example, maybe you want to pursue a public health career and fight to reduce mental health stigma. Or maybe you’re interested in nutritional sciences and you want to develop better nutritional products for endurance athletes.


Step Three: Why the College of Human Ecology?

Connect your experiences and goals to specific resources at the College. Explore their website and look for answers to the following questions:

Interests: How will the College of Human Ecology allow to pursue your interests or values?

Goals and Plans: How will the College of Human Ecology prepare you for your future goals and plans?

Let’s take a look at an example student’s brainstorming list!

Major: Fashion Design and Management

Past Experiences: Writing a senior research paper about the way “fast fashion” is harmful to the environment

Goals and Plans: Start an environmentally sustainable retail fashion line

Why College of Human Ecology:

  • The Product Development Track
  • Fiber Science minor
  • Courses on ethics and sustainability, including two courses on apparel and textiles
  • Entrepreneurship@Cornell experiential learning program
  • Cornell Fashion Collective student group


Step Four: Core Message

Finally, tie everything together in a Core Message. This is a 1-2 sentence statement that summarizes your answer to the Cornell Human Ecology essay prompt.

Let’s look at a Core Message for the example student in Step One:

“My interest in environmentally sustainable fashion led me to apply to the College of Human Ecology. The College’s Fashion Design and Management program, Fiber Science minor, and learning opportunities beyond the classroom will prepare me to pursue my goal of designing a sustainable fashion line.”

Why this works: It draws clear connections between the student’s intellectual interests and values, the student’s future goals, and the College of Human Ecology.

Include your Core Message somewhere in the first paragraph of your essay. Then, you can start adding more specific details about your interest in Cornell!


Looking for one of the other Cornell supplemental essays for 2019-20? We’ve got all the Cornell essay prompts here.


Click here for our guide to the Common App essay

Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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