As yet another year rolls around, a new college admissions cycle has recruited the next group of future Cornell students: The Class of 2026.
On Monday, April 11, the University announced that it had admitted a total 4,908 applicants from both Regular and Early Decision pools, noting a “talented and diverse” class from “a broader range of places than ever before.”
Admitted students represent 85 countries and all 50 U.S. states including Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Guam; American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Additionally, 57.7 percent of admitted students identifying as underrepresented minorities self-identified as students of color and 19.9 percent of admits will be first-generation college students.
Director of Undergraduate Admissions Shawn Felton attributed the diversity of the admitted Class of 2026 to virtual events which enabled the University to reach students in an array of places.
“This expanded audience, due to greater access, speaks to the founding of the university – the diversity of person, practice and thought – that makes us who we are,” Felton said in a University press release.
In December 2021, many incoming students received acceptances to the University under the Early Decision program, marking a rewarding end to the often-stressful college admissions process.
“Honestly, I felt more relieved than anything after I got in Early Decision,” said Jerry Wang, an admitted student from Germantown, Maryland. “It was so stressful writing essays and supplements that I was just glad I didn’t have to apply to any more colleges.”
The University no longer releases acceptance rates during the current admissions cycle, and admission rates for the Class of 2026 will not be released until the middle of this upcoming summer when the admissions cycle has ended. The Class of 2025, however, broke records for the lowest acceptance rate in recent years of 8.7 percent, with 67,830 applicants and 5,836 admitted students.
For high school seniors that applied through Regular Decision to Cornell, March 31 marked a long-anticipated day in the admissions process: Ivy Day, the day when students receive acceptances to Cornell among other universities in the Ivy League.
Haein Kim recalls her excitement at finding out that she had been accepted Regular Decision to the College of Arts and Sciences just over a week ago.
“I was opening decisions with my best friend and when we saw the ‘Congratulations’ at the top of the page, we were both laughing and jumping around,” Kim said. “I felt that a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.”
Many incoming students of the Class of 2026 are looking forward to different aspects of the Cornell experience including the University’s unique Physical Education class offerings, student organizations and college-specific educational opportunities.
For Emma Weiss, Cornell’s academic programs, especially opportunities for her Biomedical Engineering major, prompted her to apply Early Decision to Cornell’s College of Engineering.
“I can have a concentration [specializing] in biomechanics, which is the part of [Biomedical Engineering] that I’m most interested in,” Weiss said.
Similarly, Aaron Zhu, who received his admission decision on March 31, said that the entrepreneurship resources offered at Cornell’s Economics major program led him to apply to the College of Arts and Sciences.
Zhu, from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, also said that he was excited to take Physical Education classes such as Physical Education 1300: Introduction to Bowling, Physical Education 1654: Ice Climbing and Physical Education 1690: Cross Country Skiing.
Although academic and extracurricular programs catch the eyes of many admitted students in their decision to attend, financial aid offers also play a major role in the decision according to the students. Wang said that Cornell’s financial aid office had been “pretty helpful” when he appealed his financial aid package.
“It was resolved in just a week after I got accepted,” Wang said. “Although I think my cost increased because of tuition increases, but aid didn’t increase along with it for some reason.”
Kim is one student who has not yet received financial aid information, and says the package will be a determining factor in her attendance this fall.
According to the University announcement, Jonathon Burdick, vice provost for enrollment, said that Cornell has recently affirmed its commitment to providing need-based financial aid and is ready to assist newly admitted students with the financial aid process.
“Students are arriving along with a renewed Cornell commitment to supporting ‘any person’ with the financial support they need, including a $500 million [To Do the Greatest Good] fundraising campaign for undergraduate financial aid,” Burdick said in University press release.