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The College Application Essay I Wrote to Get Admitted Into Cornell University...Word for Word

Brandon Wang

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The below essay was used in my application in 2015 to be admitted to the College of Engineering at Cornell University:

It is eleven-thirty P.M. and I’m still at school surrounded by my whole class. We have stacks of pizza boxes and enough soda to quench the thirst of 4,000 students. We remain at school because we are working on our final project for our Principles of Engineering class. This infamous project for POE pits class against class as a whole to design, build and code an automated assembly line that is capable of assembling a Lego train. It is the final stage of our task. We have been assigned a deadline, and now we have to pull through as a class to finish it. Our machine consists of many simple machines such as, pulleys, ramps and levers and we are busy trying to make it all fit together. 

Looking back, I’m astounded by how much I was able to accomplish when collaborating with my class. In the beginning we struggled during the brainstorming process with some conflicting opinions, but we quickly learned that, in order to progress we needed to agree. Then transferring these ideas into a design that functioned was the hardest part. We realized the hard way that although we might have some incredible ideas, many of them were infeasible. After choosing an idea, we split into smaller groups to create parts of the whole project that would later be combined into the final apparatus. 

Unfortunately, parts both concrete and conceptual were lost in communication and now we had to do some serious improvisation to make all the components work in harmony. That moment when we connected everything, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment. We, as a team of seventeen people, were given a problem to solve. We had bonded together to think, create and implement a solution to that problem, and in the month that it took, I felt like I experienced true insight to what being an engineer means.

I would like to study Operations Research and Information Engineering at Cornell in order to gain the skills to be able to create improvements in efficiency in any setting. This field of study interests me since I will be able to use my strong mathematical background to enhance and bring my engineering education to a higher level. I will be able to fulfill my dream education under some of the world’s top professors at Cornell. Here’s a quote from Professor Henderson, a professor in Cornell Engineering’s School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, and why he finds pure math annoying, “Don’t get me wrong, I have always liked math, but I have also always needed some reason to see why I should care---something useful in the real world.” Realizing how truthful and ardent Cornell’s professors are, I know that even if I don’t enjoy pure math, I will be able to find professors that are excited about what they are teaching at Cornell. 

I want to be able to make the world run more efficiently, and I will be able to do that through mathematical analysis. What makes Cornell’s School ORIE such a great fit for me is that the school is not merely theoretically focused with little to no real world applications nor is it fully application based with no knowledge of the math behind Operations Research and Information Engineering. Cornell’s School ORIE is the place I am looking for that will teach me how to apply what I learn to fabricate solutions to the current world’s problems but also will allow me to learn the ideas to face the problems of the future as well. With such a great school and faculty, I know I will advance further and succeed at Cornell Engineering.

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