Cornell Admissions: Recommendation Letter & Getting In

Breaking out my Cornell Sunday best attire- PJ’s for class? Yea, they do that.
To say that I have very complicated feelings towards my Alma Mater is an understatement. About a week ago, I was asked to 1. give my opinions on the ol’ Cornell 2. write a recommendation on behalf of an early decision applicant. I took this moment to be candid with the applicant’s mother. 
Cornell is not a walk in the park. I was not a high school student who had done her research. I was very careless to the point of recklessness. The first time I set foot on campus was the first day of COSEP/summer program prior to my freshman year. At some point along the way, I heard that Cornell was one of the easier Ivy’s to get into but potentially the hardest to stay in… On the first few days of COSEP, we were sat in an auditorium and told, “Look to your left and look to your right. One of the people sitting next to you will not be graduating…” Not only was this shocking but it was a horrible predictor and very much a poignant sad truth. COSEP is a program for minorities. It helps to increase the graduation rate of under-represented groups. For them to be delivering that harsh message- speaks volumes. 
After delivering a fair warning about the difficulty of the coursework amongst other barriers that young minorities face in adjusting to the Cornell environment, I agreed to writing the recommendation: 

To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Mary, Cornell Class of 2006, and I am writing in support of Jose Perez’s early decision application to Cornell’s College of Arts & Science. Upon meeting Jose in the Summer of 2012, while he interned, I was struck by his drive and achievements at such a young age. Of his past accomplishments, I can list how he has interned with Congressman, volunteered at various nonprofits, including one that took him to Costa Rica and has made himself part of the very fabric that currently makes up his high school- but all those things would not be remarkable or make him stand out from any other Cornell applicant. 
What sets Jose apart also places him within a distinct group of people who have not only built a wonderful list of accomplishments but also have a spark to aim far beyond what they ever thought was possible. As I have gotten to know him, I can see that his desire to succeed has been a constant in his life. Being the child of a teen aged mother, Jose saw how she cared for him when she herself was a child and also managed to build her career through hard work and dedication. This fostered in him a desire to want more for himself. He has, thus far, amassed at a young age an impressive resume. What truly stands out to me is not what he has accomplished in the past but the potential of things to come that I see within him. 
I am sure that in your line of work, as an admissions person within an Ivy League institution, you see your share of outstanding candidates. I have never been in your shoes but I have been in the applicant’s position and found myself the recipient of one of those highly sought after Cornell acceptance letters. It is with this knowledge and my experience of my time at Cornell that I can tell you with certainty that I believe that Jose, aside from being a highly qualified applicant, will be one that will not only excel at Cornell but will be a high achiever when he is admitted and sits in one of those highly coveted Cornell Freshman class seats.  
As an Alum, I can see within Jose that very special characteristic and drive that exemplifies a Cornellian. Cornell will be lucky to count him amongst its student body.
Best of luck as you build out another outstanding class.  
Sincerely Yours,
I look forward to hearing back in December and learning that he made it in. I, myself, had little help in the application process and getting into a school. I am more than thankful and beyond grateful to have gotten into college,  to be quite honest- any college. The only thing left is to pay it forward at every turn. I wish him all the best in his application process. I made one simple request in return for my recommendation- that he apply to many more Ivy League schools for regular decision. You never know until you throw your hat in the ring. It’s very sad that many of us think ourselves as unworthy- even when our qualifications far exceed the minimum standards. 
And once he gets in, I recommended he attend a Freshman Hosting weekend– you get an opportunity to shadow a student sleep on their dorm floor (sounds like total fun to me!). Best of luck to anyone reading that is going through the process! 
Have an awesome Monday- I am probably sleeping right at this very ::moment::. I have the day off :). Happy Veteran’s day as well! 

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