Expert guidance for all your college essays

Prompt’s Essay Specialists share tips to help you write better essays in less time

Get fresh essay tips in your inbox

All Posts

How to Write the Cornell Engineering Essay 2018-19: Connect Your Goals to Cornell

UPDATE: There have been some changes to the Cornell Engineering essay prompt. Get the details here.

If you want to attend Cornell College of Engineering, you’ll have to write a supplemental essay about your goals. This guide will help you develop a Core Message that draws a connection between your desire to improve the world and the unique resources at the College of Engineering.

First, let’s take a look at the Cornell Engineering essay prompt!

Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem-solving that helps people, communities… the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in. (650 words maximum)

So what’s the best way to approach the Cornell Engineering essay? First, figure out how you want to make the world a better place!


Step One: Your Goals

How do you want to use technical problem-solving to improve the world? Write down some thoughts and ideas about how you want to use engineering to build a better future.

Tip: As you develop your topic, jot down a few notes about how your personal experiences have informed your desire to improve the world. This doesn’t need to be the main focus of your essay, but a few personal details will give your reader more insight into why you care about this issue!

For example:

  • How I want to improve the world with technology: Design a better system to predict hurricane tracks
  • Personal connection: Growing up in the Florida Keys, frequently evacuating for hurricanes


Step Two: Cornell’s Resources

How will you prepare to achieve your goal(s) from Step One? To answer this question, research the resources at the College of Engineering. Dive into their website and look at resources in and out of the classroom that will strengthen your problem-solving skills and prepare you for your future goals. For example, you may be interested in specific courses or concentrations, student groups, research opportunities, internships, campus events, or study abroad opportunities. How will Cornell prepare you to solve the world’s problems in the future?

Tip: Try to focus on resources that are unique to Cornell Engineering. For example, instead of saying that you’re interested in the introductory course The Earth System, you could share your excitement about Cornell’s unique course on Meteorological Observations and Instruments.

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

Goal: Design a more accurate system for predicting hurricane paths

Personal Connection: Growing up in the Florida Keys

Resources at Cornell:

  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences major
  • Research with the Northeast Regional Climate Center
  • Climate Change minor
  • Study abroad in Samoa: Social and Environmental Change in Oceania program
  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Student Association
  • Opportunity to take field courses at Shoals Marine Laboratory


Step Three: Your Core Message

A Core Message is a 1-2 sentence statement that summarizes your response to the prompt. Try to develop a Core Message that draws a connection between your goals and the resources at Cornell Engineering.

Let’s revisit the example student. Their Core Message might say something like this:

“Growing up in Florida, I learned about the way that meteorologists struggle to predict hurricane paths, and this made me want to create better technology to monitor hurricanes. Cornell’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences program offers resources in and out of the classroom that will help me learn how to design a more accurate hurricane monitoring system.”

Why this works: The student summarizes their response to the prompt and draws a clear connection between Cornell’s resources and the way they want to improve the world.

Try to include your Core Message somewhere in the first paragraph of your Cornell Engineering essay. Then, you can start adding more specific details about how Cornell will prepare you to achieve amazing things in the future!

Looking for one of the other Cornell supplemental essays? 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.

Get Your Essay Reviewed

Related Posts

How to Write the Pitt Honors College Application Essays

To win admittance to the University of Pittsburgh Honors College, you'll have to respond to two short ans...
Reina Dec 23, 2019 11:51:56 AM

How to Write the Cornell Engineering Essay 2019-20

If you want to attend Cornell College of Engineering, you’ll have to write a supplemental essay about you...
Nick Dec 19, 2019 4:09:57 PM

Writing the Cornell Supplemental Essays 2019-20: the CAS Essay

If you’re applying to Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, you’ll need to write one of the ...
Reina Dec 19, 2019 9:44:48 AM