How to get into Cornell 2022: Acceptance Rate & Tips

Cornell is the largest and most versatile of all the Ivy League universities. It holds a unique place in American higher education, as the only university of its kind that is both private and public.

Yes: despite Cornell’s private charter, it has several colleges that are funded through New York state assistance. This is part of why the university prides itself so much on the diversity of its strong academic programs. It also explains Cornell’s identity as a crucible of social mobility and broad opportunity.

The West building of Stocking Hall. Lewis Pilcher, 1923. Cornell University, Ithaca NY.
Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel, link, under CC license

Nestled up in gorgeous Ithaca are robust STEM and engineering departments that outstrip those of peer colleges in the conference. Students can study business or hotel management as undergraduates, and can even specialize in agriculture or labor issues. Cornell has a history of involving alumni in the institution’s decisions, providing important Board of Trustee positions for alumni-elected representatives. And from a social standpoint, Cornell students have long engaged in social justice, civil rights, and other activist work for causes they believe in.

One of the greatest things about Cornell’s variety of colleges is the intersectional way in which the university composes research teams and projects. Most labs are filled with faculty members from several departments; likewise for institutes, action groups, and other collectives. 

And all of this against the backdrop of upstate New York’s breathtaking cycle of seasons. From Beebe Lake or overlooking Hemlock Gorge, Cornell students can feel a complete and immediate immersion in natural beauty. This beauty is often quoted as a source of inspiration and respite by hardworking students.

The university is in many ways peerless. But what exactly does it take to get that acceptance letter from Cornell? Even though the university is widely known for having the highest acceptance rate in the Ivy League, its admissions standards are no less demanding. Of the 67,380 students who applied to Cornell’s Class of 2025, just 8.7% were admitted, and those that did gain entry displayed astonishing accomplishments in their High School careers.

See for yourself by checking out these data on just how hard it is to get into Cornell:

Class of 2024 Admissions Statistics

OverviewEarly DecisionRegular DecisionTotal
Applicants6,63044,87051,500
Admits1,5943,9205,514
Enrolling1,5221,7743,296
Acceptance Rate24%8.7%10.7%

SAT Scores

SAT Evidence-Based Reading & WritingApplicantsAdmitsEnrolling
750 ‐ 80025%40%32%
700 ‐ 74032%36%38%
650 ‐ 69022%16%19%
600 ‐ 64012%7%9%
550 ‐ 5906%1%2%
500 ‐ 5403%0.3%0.5%
Below 5001%0.0%0.0%
SAT MathApplicantsAdmitsEnrolling
750 ‐ 80058%69%65%
700 ‐ 74017%17%18%
650 ‐ 69012%9%10%
600 ‐ 6407%4%5%
550 ‐ 5904%1%2%
500 ‐ 5402%0.5%0.6%
Below 5001%0.5%0.0%

Gender

Women 54.2%
Men45.8%

Classification

Attended Public High Schools64.2%
Descendants of Cornell Alumni14.8%
First-Generation College15.5%
Recruited Athletes 6.5%

The numbers are daunting to say the least. But they don’t always give the full picture. And they’re representative of macro trends in worldwide education that are outside any single person’s control. That’s why it’s more effective to first understand these numbers in context, then use your time to focus on preparing your own personal application as best you can. 

What do you need to apply to Cornell?

In order to apply to Cornell, you will need to complete an application package with many components that is designed to give the admissions committee ways to gauge your fit both quantitatively and qualitatively. That means there is a significant focus on storytelling—through essays, recommendations, supplemental materials, and in some cases interviews—but also on demonstrable achievements. 

Thankfully, like all the Ivy League universities Cornell uses the Common Application. Creating an account and filling in all the basic information on this platform is an important first step toward getting your application done, and will help you familiarize yourself with just how much personal information colleges are assessing when making admissions decisions. 

Here is the full list of what you will need in order to apply to Cornell University:

Depending on what program or college you are applying to, you may be required or encouraged to submit additional supplementary materials, like a portfolio, or to do an interview. For the full detail on these requirements, see Cornell’s official hub for specific college and school application requirements. And to double check that you have all your ducks in a row, be sure to use the university’s application checklist before you hit submit!

How can you get into Cornell?

There are a variety of ways a top high school student can approach applying to Cornell so as to maximize their chances of admission. The specific decisions of what to highlight and how to make it unforgettable boil down to individual life stories and circumstances that have shaped you into who you are today. That crucial piece of the application—the storytelling—can only come from intensive reflection and earnest hard work. 

However, there are certainly decisions you can make to position yourself to submit a profile that bolsters your personal story and provides you top ratings on several of Cornell’s criteria:

If you’re able to demonstrate your connection to Cornell’s distinctive offerings, achieve an outstanding GPA in the hardest classes, engage meaningfully with personal interests and community problems, and take charge of your own goals by acting on your principles, you’ll set yourself up to submit an application that will impress the Cornell Admissions Committee. None of this is easy, but if you’re deeply motivated to be at Cornell, use every tactic we’ve listed above in order to show it.

What are your chances at getting into Cornell?

Check out our College Admissions Calculator–you’ll receive personalized feedback about your undergraduate admissions candidacy.

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