**Decision: Accepted **
Honestly don’t really know why Cornell accepted me of all people but…
SAT I (breakdown): Superscored 1550 (R&W: 780 M:770 Essay:17)
ACT (breakdown): n/a
SAT II: Bio M: 750, Math II: sent two scores - first time 720, second 800 (took this one in October after 1 week of hardo studying)
Unweighted GPA (out of 4.0): Don’t know unweighted, but my GPA was 4.81/5.0 weighted. There was a pretty steep upward trend, though.
For reference, at my school an A(93+) in an AP or Accelerated class = 5.0, in an Honors class, 4.5
Rank (percentile if rank is unavailable): Don’t know exactly, but probably about top 5% out of 400 or so students
AP (place score in parenthesis): Lang and Comp (5)
Didn’t have the option to take APs until junior year, and there were only very few possible APs. I tried to talk to my guidance counselor but she was unhelpful.
IB (place score in parenthesis): N/A
Senior Year Course Load:
Full Year Courses:
AP Calc BC, AP French Lang and Culture, AP Psychology, AP Comp Sci
Accelerated English (required for 4 years), Strings Orchestra
Wellness (required), AP Music Theory
I received all As for the first term
Major Awards (USAMO, Intel etc.):
Didn’t really have many
National French Exam Gold Medal (freshman + sophomore yrs)
MA National History Day Qualifier
RIT Innovation and Creativity Award (this was a book award)
Extracurriculars (place leadership in parenthesis):
Robotics Club (4 years, Software Manager jr yr, Project Manager sr yr), Violin (8 years, pit orchestra for the high school’s spring musical, Rivers Youth Orchestras (3 yrs)), Anime Club (4 yrs), Japanese Club (2 yrs), Swim Team (freshman yr)
Intern at ECE lab at Northeastern University (unpaid, 4 weeks)
Vascular Biology Intern at research lab headed by a Harvard professor (paid, 6 weeks)
Mentoring kids to code by programming games and utilising STEM toys like robots and drones. (paid, started working senior yr)
Didn’t publish any papers…
My school had required 60 hours of community service so I just put the two organizations I volunteered at
Community Farm - used sustainable farming techniques to cultivate organic fruits and vegetables. Promoted environmental friendly practices to members of the town. Donated produce to the food pantry.
Usher - Ushered for seasonal town concerts. Raised money selling concessions to fund the high school’s music department.
Stuff mentioned above
CIT YMCA (rising soph)
Recreational sailing, e-skateboarding
Essays (rating 1-10, details):
Common App: 7-8/10
I personally don’t think my essay was executed that well. I wrote about how I came to like screamo and punk rock music. I mentioned my previous experience as a child being forced to play piano by my mom (gotta love tiger parenting) and how I grew from that conflict: switching to violin, an instrument that I chose myself. I then compared and contrasted violin and screamo music saying how they both are freely expressive, though they don’t seem to be (did some name-dropping here). Wrapped up by talking about how I learned to resist external forces and believe in my own power, proven by the progress I made with stage fright.
Engineering Supplement: 8-9/10
This essay was pretty straight forward. I talked about my goal (what problem I want to solve) as an engineer, said why I was motivated to do it, gave some examples of experiences, then wrote about what I would do at Cornell. Mentioned some professors that I hope to work with, classes I wanted to take. I also talked about the community (even gender distribution in engineering, which is rare) and collaborative environment. Wrapped up by referencing Cornell engineering’s motto.
Recommendations (rating 1-10, details):
I didn’t get to read any of my recommendations.
Teacher Rec #1: 10/10
AP Lang and Comp Teacher wrote this. I think he liked me - I participated a lot and did pretty well in his class - and we talked a couple times outside of school. He is a genius and has a lot of experience writing recs (he writes like 40 a year or something)
Teacher Rec #2: 8-10/10
Precalc BC Teacher: I had a pretty good relationship with my teacher. We weren’t super close, but he could tell that I was a diligent student and worked well with others in class. He told me it was fun writing my rec? But I’m not sure what he meant by that.
Counselor Rec: don’t know rating. I wasn’t that close with my guidance counselor. I don’t have a high opinion of my guidance counselor, because she rarely gives me helpful advice, but I guess she must have pulled through.
Engineering applicants don’t have an “interview” per se, but there was an opportunity to talk to an alumni.
She bought me coffee and we talked about Cornell mostly. She asked me some questions about why I wanted to go to Cornell ED, but most of the time it was me asking questions about Cornell, Ithaca, her experience there. She brought a book with pictures of Cornell, so that helped me find things to talk about. We talked for about an hour. Her husband and all 3 children went there which is pretty crazy. None of them were in Cornell Engineering, sadly.
Applied for Financial Aid?: Yes
Intended Major and College: Information Science, College of Engineering
State (if domestic applicant): MA
Country (if international applicant):
School Type: public
Ethnicity: Chinese (don’t think I checked that box on the common app, but I did talk about it in my personal statement)
Hooks (URM, first generation college, etc.): none
I sent in a one page resume (it was so hard formatting it to be 1 pg. I made the font tiny. Decreasing page margins helps, too) but it didn’t have a much additional information not on the rest of my application.
While procrastinating writing essays, I made sure it was aesthetically pleasing. It probably didn’t make a difference.
I think my letters of recommendation were quite strong. They probably carried me.
Being a female applying to college of engineering
I think a lot of my activities were stereotypical of Asian-Americans (robotics, violin), but I tried to make myself stand out from the crowd by addressing it in a different light in my Common App personal statement.
I also have some…uncommon… extracurriculars/activities, which I was pretty dedicated to. Call me a weeb all you want, but maybe anime club and japanese club helped me get into Cornell.
Fairly high GPA (based on other’s results, it seems like a high GPA is really important to Cornell)
Clear focus(es) related to major, as well as other activities to be continued in college (music, language)
Not many technical accomplishments or nationally recognized awards
Why you think you were accepted/deferred/rejected:
Where else were you accepted/deferred/rejected:
Haven’t heard from anywhere besides Cornell.
General Comments :
Hope this helps any future Cornell applicants, and can shed some light on Cornell’s admissions criteria.
Go Big Red!