Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

The class of 2025 had an unprecedented amount of applications and welcomes a diverse crowd of students.

April 8, 2021

Thousands of Applications and 49 States Later, Cornell Admits its Class of 2025

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As Cornell’s newly admitted Class of 2025 received their acceptance letters Tuesday night, students across the world went from waiting for decisions to making their own.

The University accepted a total of 5,836 students from early and regular decision results, including students from 49 U.S. states (not Wyoming), Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and 87 countries outside of the United States. 

Aminata Ba, currently living in Senegal, was overwhelmed with excitement after receiving news of her acceptance. “I had to re-read to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me,” Ba wrote in an email to the Sun. “I quickly ran downstairs to my father and screamed, ‘I GOT INTO CORNELL!’” 

Armen Abrahamian initially applied early decision to the College of Arts and Sciences. After receiving a deferral in the fall, he opened his decision at home in Wayland, Massachusetts. “I totally expected rejection, so it was shocking,” said Abrahamian. “I couldn’t sleep that night, like it was surreal.”

This year’s admitted students reflect the University’s growing diversity, a trend that has been demonstrated in previous admissions cycles: 34.2 percent of admits self-identify as underrepresented minorities, a proportion that increased from last year’s 33.7 percent. And 59.3 percent of the University’s admitted students identify as students of color. 

Among students admitted to Cornell from the United States, Asian students account for 22.1 percent of all admits, while Hispanic students are 18.2 percent of the class and Black students are 11.7 percent of the admitted cohort. At 55.4 percent of the pool, women are the majority of accepted students. 

Last year, Cornell did not release demographic data until the summer, after the admissions cycle had ended. According to Jonathan Burdick, vice provost for enrollment, this decision was reached in an effort to reduce the ‘metric mania’ that often accompanies college acceptances. However, the unusual circumstances of this year prompted the return.

“Avoiding the annual ‘metric mania’ to me means discouraging hype, or overreactions to small differences,” Burdick wrote in an email to The Sun. “This year has been a very large difference in which pandemic conditions played a big role, and that’s legitimate news.”

This year, universities across the country received unprecedented numbers of applications following many colleges’ decision to suspend standardized testing requirements. Cornell received 17,000 more applications than last year and the rest of the Ivy League had double digit percent increases in applications. While other Ivies have released their record low acceptance rates, Cornell has yet to release its rate.   

Typical events for prospective students — like in-person tours and annual Cornell Days — were also canceled, so many applicants found creative ways to learn about the University.

“I used YouTube to watch videos of the college process, as well as asking past seniors,” Ba wrote. “It was a little challenging seeing pre-COVID advice and not knowing whether things would be the same post-COVID.” 

Hailing from San Jose, California, Sarah Yum and her family closely watched Cornell’s COVID response in the fall, reading about Cornell’s low infection rates and strict testing requirements. 

“I want to go to a university that takes care of its students, and I definitely saw that in Cornell,” Yum wrote in an email to The Sun. 

Similar to years prior — despite optional standardized tests and pandemic considerations — Idey Abdi spent countless hours on applications, getting her essays reviewed by everyone from teachers to community members in her hometown of Lewiston, Maine. 

“I had a lot of people helping me and motivating me,” said Abdi. “Cornell is a really hard school to get into and I did have doubts, but they kept encouraging me.”

This year in particular, many college applicants experienced the toll of Zoom fatigue, online instruction and virtual applications on the admissions process. 

After spending months on her application at home in San Ramon, California, Daniela Wise-Rojas noted her weariness with this year’s process, stating she was exhausted by the end of the process.

“A challenge that I faced during the college application process in a pandemic was feeling more alone,” Yum wrote. “It was harder to discuss college with my classmates, teachers, and counselor in an online setting.” 

Admits must reply to Cornell’s offer of admission by May 3 — two days later than usual, reflecting the Ivy Day delay due to the number of applications. But having already become a member of the University’s Class of 2025, Ba is looking ahead to the fall.
“It is finally occurring that I’m taking the next steps in opening a new chapter in my life,” Ba wrote. “I am glad to know that this starts with Cornell.”