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CALS or CAS?

HanmelisaHanmelisa 5 replies3 threads New Member
edited December 2013 in Cornell University
Hi everyone,
I'm struggling to decide if CALS or CAS would be better for me to apply to.
During undergrad I'm interested in studying biology, but I'm also interested in taking a couple of "Arts" courses on the side (writing/literature and possibly music courses, to be specific). I feel like this would be more suited towards CAS, but the CALS course requirements seem to have a degree of freedom too
Most of my ecs are biology-related (science fair, lab research, science competitions, etc.)
I'm an international applicant (Canada)
My SAT II scores: 750 MathII, 740 Bio-E (Only two I've taken - read somewhere that CALS appreciates math + science SAT II's)
I'm applying RD.
Would I be able to transfer easily between colleges if I get in?
I plan on applying as a biology major to whichever school I choose. Would it be significantly more difficult to get into one of these schools bearing this in mind?
Would it be easier to get undergraduate research opportunities if I get in to one of these schools? Undergraduate research opportunities are a big factor for me in my college app decisions.

Thank you!! All suggestions + input are much appreciated
edited December 2013
7 replies
Post edited by Hanmelisa on
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Replies to: CALS or CAS?

  • yalesoonyalesoon 195 replies39 threads Junior Member
    I'm not sure about which would be "easier", but I know CALS is very fit-based, meaning they want someone who shows a good fit with their ECs and essays showing a strong interest in agriculture/life sciences. I don't know much about CAS though. Try looking at both the CAS and CALS mission statements and see which one matches you more :) good luck!
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  • jc1332jc1332 23 replies0 threads New Member
    Statistically, CAS more difficult to get into. However, as @yalesoon mentioned, CALS is very fit-based so you better have your essays geared towards the programs they offer and why you can't receive the same education anywhere else. I'm not an international applicant, but I would think that you could use the fact that you are to help you in your essays. Try use ideological reasons followed by specific examples when writing your essay especially if you apply to CALS. (I applied to CALS with an ED application and that's how I wrote my essays.) Internal transfers are possible but I wouldn't recommend applying to one because of a marginally better chance of being accepted; go with where you believe you fit because it will show! Someone else might be able to comment on the difficulty of transferring internally, as I cannot give you any reliable information regarding that. Your SAT IIs are good, even great by most standards, but you would only need to submit them if you decide to apply to CAS, not CALS. CAS incorporates courses related to foreign language, etc. So, since you suggested in your description a preference towards that, not to mention that your first opinion seems to want CAS, I think you should apply CAS. Both colleges within Cornell are extraordinary so choose whatever you think you're a better fit for!

    Best of luck to you during RD time!

    P.S. Do some research on last year's statistics for acceptance into both colleges if you really don't have a preference, which I think you do.
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  • HanmelisaHanmelisa 5 replies3 threads New Member
    Thank you so much for your responses! I'm actually really interested in both the environment and biology and I feel like CALS would be really good for that, but as you pointed out, CAS would be great for the literature/English/music stuff I want to do in addition to bio. Do you think it would be a bad idea to apply using the primary/alternate admission option?
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  • jc1332jc1332 23 replies0 threads New Member
    I also considered the primary alternate option. If you're truly interested in both do it! I knew that if I did it, it was because I thought it would give me two chances to be accepted. On the other hand, just playing devils advocate here, I wondered if it looked as if I was uncertain or if it would diminish my "true fit" claim towards Cornell. I opted to apply only to CALS but this is speculation. I doubt that they would penalize you for the dual application and it's just my overly paranoid mind. From what I can see, I think CAS should be your primary and CALS as your secondary. Or if you think it looks bad, as I have convinced myself, apply just to CAS and trust that your application is strong enough!
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  • crowladycrowlady 1094 replies4 threads Senior Member
    A Cornell professor I know (in a CAS department) recommended that biology students consider applying to CALS because it is easier to get into -- the major itself and research opportunities are identical. My son didn't take that advice because he might also major in Computer Science and didn't feel like CALS was a good fit for him. If you do the primary/alternate option you must write essays for both. For biology majors I seriously doubt it would be seen as uncertainty.

    Years ago I switched majors (and colleges) from COE to biology. I chose CAS instead of CALS. Financially it was the same for me, my preferred non-majors courses were in linguistics, and I didn't mind taking language courses. Transferring took a semester because my grades in engineering started dropping as I became unhappy there. But transferring wasn't that hard to do. Because I'd been taking bio courses all along (for fun!) and came in with credits, I eventually graduated early.

    I agree with jc1332 -- try CAS as your primary and CALS as your secondary unless you really can't write an essay explaining your fit to CALS. Biology at Cornell is awesome and I wish you and jc1332 the best of luck!
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  • jc1332jc1332 23 replies0 threads New Member
    Thanks crowlady! It means a lot coming from a Cornell professor. I'm anxiously waiting for the results. It's good to know that CAS has equal research opportunities since I knew CALS was a better fit for my studies, but there's only so much research I can do online.

    Thanks everyone!
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