The following instructions are specific to first-year students from the U.S. Please note that the process is somewhat different for transfer students and international students.

Application options

As a first-year applicant, you have three options for applying. You may submit a Cornell Application—with or without test scores—or you may complete the Common Application. All applications are given equal consideration.

Cornell Application

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Complete our online application
  • Submit your high school transcript with all coursework to date
  • Complete your personal essay
  • Submit your ACT/SAT test scores*

We also recommend (but don’t require) you submit:

Cornell Application (No Test Score Required)

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Complete our online application
  • Submit your high school transcript with all coursework to date
  • Complete two short answer questions
  • Create and submit your personal portfolio or ZeeMee link

We also recommend (but don’t require) you submit:

Common Application

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Complete your common application and list Cornell College as a recipient
  • Submit your high school transcript with all coursework to date
  • Complete your personal essay
  • Submit your ACT/SAT test scores*

We also recommend (but don’t require) you submit:

*Your composite ACT or SAT score, which may be listed on your transcript. If not, you'll need to request an official copy from the testing agency.

Test scores or no test score?

Standardized tests (ACT/SAT) can help us get a feel for how well you’re likely to perform at Cornell, but for some students they’re not the best way to tell us how you’ll fit in our community and learning environment. For the entering class for fall 2016 we’re making our application test optional.  

If you elect to apply without test scores we will be evaluating your application around the same criteria as those who enter test scores, we’ll just expect you to complete two extra questions and submit a portfolio for us to review. Our counselors pay special attention to your GPA, the coursework you’ve taken, and what your extra answers and portfolio can tell us about your personal sense of motivation and how well you’d fit with Cornell’s values.

Scholarship consideration starts now

When you submit your application for admission to Cornell, you will automatically be considered for academic merit scholarships. Upon receiving your acceptance letter, we will also inform you of your academic scholarship.

Unless otherwise notified, Cornell will wait to receive your Free Application for Federal Student Aid to prepare your financial assistance package in March.  Please file the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible—our  FAFSA code is 001856. If your family does not plan to file the FAFSA, let us know and we’ll prepare your financial assistance package immediately.

Application deadlines and notification

After you have submitted all of your application materials, expect to hear from us within two weeks with a decision. 

Application Deadline Deposit Deadline
Early Decision Nov. 1 Jan. 15
Early Action
Dec. 1 May 1
Early Decision 2 Feb. 1 April 1
Regular Decision
Feb. 1 May 1
Late Applications See below

Early Decision (ED1)

If Cornell is your first choice, we encourage you to complete a binding Early Decision Agreement when you apply. By applying ED by Nov. 1, you will receive early notification of admission and scholarship consideration. If you apply ED and are admitted to the college, you must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit postmarked by Jan. 15 and withdraw any applications to other schools.

Early Action (EA)

If you would like to learn of your admission status as early as possible but are still considering other colleges, you must postmark your application by Dec. 1 to be considered as an Early Action (EA) applicant. By applying EA, you will receive priority admission and scholarship consideration. If you apply EA and are admitted to the college, your $300 deposit is due by May 1.

Early Decision 2 (ED2)

If Cornell is your first choice, we encourage you to complete a binding Early Decision Agreement when you apply. This option allows you to submit a seventh semester transcript or a later SAT/ACT score with your application materials. If you apply ED2 and are admitted to the college, you must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit postmarked by April 1 and withdraw any applications to other schools.

Regular Decision (RD)

Regular Decision applicants will be notified of their admission status no later than April 1. If you apply RD and are admitted to the college,your $300 deposit is due by May 1.

Late Applications

The Admission Office will continue to accept late applications on a space-available basis after the stated application deadlines. Please contact your admission counselor for more information.