What is Cornell Known For?

07/06/202312 minute read
What is Cornell Known For?

What do Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill Nye The Science Guy have in common? 

They are both notable alumni who got their start at Cornell and went on to become household names for their work in politics and science, respectively.

Cornell University, proudly known as “Big Red,” has rightfully earned its rank among the Ivy League. Founded by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White in 1865, Cornell has continued to live up to their guiding principle: “Any person, any study.” This motto shaped the commitment to craft an education that is both practical and rooted in the liberal arts. Cornell’s approach to higher learning is unique in that it encompasses seven undergraduate schools all contributing to the school’s academic pursuit of excellence. 

With a competitive acceptance rate of ~7.5%, students lucky enough to get accepted to the “Cornelian Family” lead the way to become the next generations’ influential leaders, scholars, innovators, and activists. 

Get to Know All Things About Cornell - “Big Red” 

Applying to the Ivy League is certainly not easy, but even choosing what school to apply to can be just as challenging. Getting familiar with each school can help you decide which is the best fit for you. It can also give you an idea about your chances of getting in!

Now, let’s get a closer look into all things Cornell. From top majors, research opportunities, school history, alumni networks, campus life, tips for applying and more!

Cornell’s Seven Undergraduate Schools

The selection of majors offered can be a crucial factor in determining the right school for your needs. At Cornell, students can choose between seven undergraduate schools to fulfill their desired major. In fact, Cornell gives students the opportunity to take classes outside of their school. Imagine being able to take classes in STEM, law, and art - now it is possible!

Cornell's Undergraduate Schools
College of Agriculture and Life SciencesPioneers in agricultural research and environmental sustainability
College of Architecture, Art, and PlanningFosters innovation in design and urban planning
College of Arts and ScienceThe heart of Cornell’s liberal arts education, offering dozens of disciplines of study
Cornell SC Johnson College of BusinessRecognized for The Statler Hotel, the global program and curriculum for leadership development. Also includes the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration and The Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information ScienceOne of Cornell’s newest schools that aims to maximize computer and data science throughout all of Cornell’s curriculums
College of Engineering Aims to approach engineering by addressing problems through distinct angles, along with a entrepreneurial push
College of Human Ecology Integrates social sciences, health, and design to address human development
School of Industrial and Labor RelationsOpportunity to analyze issues occurring in workplaces, labor relations, and policy adaptation
Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy Prepares students interested in addressing the complexity of social issues through policy analysis and public service

Top Majors for Cornell Students

Within the seven undergraduate schools, students have even more decisions to make when it comes to over 80 fields of study. Every year, top majors change.  At Cornell, there is a program for everyone. Here is your chance to look over some of Cornell’s top major offerings:

  • Engineering: Over 15% of the student population graduate with degrees in Engineering. Cornell’s College of Engineering offers majors in Chemical, Environmental, Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, and Biological Engineering.
  • Computer Science: Cornell’s Computer Science program is one of the oldest in the country, placing them at the forefront of research in the new age of digital information. Computer science majors often double major in Information Science and Statistics.
  • Business/Marketing: Students interested in Business or Marketing are able to choose between the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and School of Hotel Administration and Management and the School of Hotel Administration

Fun Fact: Did you know Cornell awarded the world’s first degree in journalism, the nation’s first in veterinary medicine, and the first doctorate in electrical engineering?

Cornell’s Campus Life: Repping “Big Red” with Pride

Cornell would not be the same without its thriving student community and well-connected alumni.

Cornell Alumni & Their Contributions

Cornell alumni have left a lasting mark on society through their achievements and contributions:

Which of the following Cornell Alumni do you recognize?

Some famous alumni include:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: U.S. Supreme Court Justice and advocate for gender equality
  • Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author, renowned for her powerful exploration of African American culture and identity.
  • Robert F. Smith: Philanthropist and investor, committed to promoting educational equality and economic empowerment
  • Bill Nye The Science Guy: Science educator and television personality, known for making science accessible and engaging
  • Janet Reno: First female U.S. Attorney General, dedicated to justice and public service
  • Tony Kushner: Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, acclaimed for his thought-provoking dramas
  • Henry Steinway: Visionary behind Steinway & Sons pianos
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: Leading immunologist and public health expert

Alumni Network Opportunities for Cornell Students

Cornell’s alumni network is a powerful resource for students and graduates alike, offering mentorship, career advice, and networking opportunities.

Whether you are trying to connect with seasoned professionals or fellow alumni, Cornell equips students with their own alumni community found on CUeLINKS. CUeLINKS stands for: (Cornell University: Learning, Informing, Networking=Knowledge Sharing). Students are able to stay connected and form new relationships with fellow graduates.

Cornell’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities

At Cornell, research is not just encouraged – it is embedded in the university’s DNA.

Undergraduate students can even earn credit or funding for their research!

From groundbreaking studies in sustainability to exploring new techniques in hotel hospitality, Cornell faculty are ready to help all students with their independent interests.

Not sure if you are interested in conducting research in college? Get first hand experience now by being part of the Indigo Research Intensive Seasonal Program. High school students can elevate their college application by completing your very own publishable research paper in just six weeks.

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School Traditions

Cornell’s traditions play a significant role in campus spirit year round. Get a taste of some of the traditions:

  • Slope Day: Just in time for exam season Cornell’s campus becomes their very own music festival called Slope Day. Students get to hear popular musicians, celebrate the end of the term, and take a break before they begin studying for finals
  • Frozen Apple Hockey: Students take a trip to New York City to watch Cornell Men’s Hockey Team play at Madison Square garden
  • Dragon & Phoenix Day: Students gather on campus for this rite of spring! Watch first-year architecture students parade a giant dragon against the engineering student’s phoenix.

Getting Involved on Cornell’s Campus

Cornell’s campus is driven by student life. With over 1,000 student clubs and organizations, students can find any group that piques their interest - or create their own club!


  • Community Engagement Opportunities
  • Student Leadership Programs
  • Campus and Community Engagement
  • Sorority and Fraternity Life
  • Intramural and Club Sports Leagues

Fun Fact: Did you know Cornell’s campus covers more than 600+ buildings on over 2,000 acres of land? There is plenty of room to take part in the best school traditions and clubs.

Cornell’s History Highlight Timeline

In 1865, the Cornell Charter was signed into law approving the establishment of the university on the farm of Ezra Cornell. Since the opening of the school, Cornell’s bell chimes have rung over campus three times a day to keep the “heartbeat” of the campus alive. Before the turn of the 20th century, Cornell successfully started both some of the first Veterinary and Medical Colleges. Today, Cornell has a joint collaboration with the esteemed New-York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.

In the 1920’s leading hotel owners requested Cornell to open a school to study hospitality; this would go on to become the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Students take part in the full-time operation of The Statler Hotel.

In 2017, Cornell tech built their next campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. It acts as a hub for alumni connections and continued professional education, with research focused on digital innovation.

Founded over 120 years ago, Cornell Veterinary College became the official veterinary care provider for the infamous Westminster dog show in 2019!

Today, Cornell continues to expand their global impact and uncovers new celebrations in their university history! Now is your time to join the Cornell community.

Your Chances of Getting Into Cornell

So you want to join the “Big Red” community. But you still are not sure what your chances are of getting in.

You've done all this hard work to secure Ivy League academics, extracurriculars, essays, and recommendations. But you still have to present them strategically — or else you can risk blending into the crowd. The most successful applicants tie their applications together with a theme.

While Cornell’s general admit rate is ~7.5%, Crimson students are 6 times more likely to get in - that is a 46.7% admit rate! See exactly what it takes to get into Cornell


Applying to Cornell – or any of the Ivy League schools – is difficult. But with thorough prep and a smart approach, you can stand out and succeed.  Embrace your unique experiences, highlight your strengths, and present a strong application.

Are you ready to join the “Big Red” family and the rest of the Ivy League Scholars?

Crimson can help. Our process involves....

  • Personalized Guidance: We tailor the application strategy to highlight each student’s strengths. They are unique, based on their experiences and aspirations.
  • Theme Development: You work closely with a strategist to find a theme. This theme unifies your academic interests with your achievements, hobbies, and goals.
  • Gap Analysis: We will review the application to find any gaps. Then, we will give targeted support to fix them.
  • Holistic Review: This means ensuring that every part of the application contributes to the story. This includes the essays and recommendations.
  • Continuous Improvement: Refining the app theme in small steps. This is based on feedback and ongoing assessment. The goal is to maximize its impact

With our expertise and resources, we help students stand out to top universities like Cornell. They tell compelling stories that resonate with admissions officers.

Book a free consultation to start building your stand out application for Cornell!

What Makes Crimson Different