Undeclared Option

The Undeclared option is for first-year candidates who connect deeply with the mission of the college and who are equally interested in multiple CALS majors.  Students should clearly articulate their interest in the college and majors of interest through their supplemental essay. This is not for students who are profoundly undecided about their interests. The vast majority of students applying to CALS have an area of academic passion/focus identified and are ready to apply directly (and be admitted directly) to one of the majors. That said, some first-year candidates may be drawn to areas of study where multiple CALS programs intersect but would benefit from exploring which major approach is the best fit for them. These students are now able to apply to CALS Undeclared.

Note:  All transfer applicants apply directly to a major.

  • Beginning in fall 2018, the handful of students who enter CALS Undeclared will be advised by an professor who has significant experience supporting CALS undergraduate students. With this guidance, each Undeclared student will work to individualize their freshman year curriculum, in preparation for declaring a major at the end of their freshman year.
     
  • Applicants who will be the best fit for the Undeclared option within CALS will be students who have excelled in rigorous academics at the high school level and have been engaged in experiences outside of school (research, internships, independent projects etc.) that demonstrate a genuine desire to further learning and making an impact. In addition to academic preparedness, affinity for challenge and desire to contribute to solving important problems, successful candidates will be able to communicate why they identify with CALS as a College and believe they will benefit from a year of exploration prior to declaring a major.
     
  • The Cornell Supplemental Essay will serve as the most appropriate place for applicants to detail their interests in and fit for the Undeclared option within CALS. The prompt is: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from CALS and Cornell help you achieve your academic goals? Instead of focusing on a particular major here, Undeclared applicants should discuss topic-area interests (such as climate change or food security) that can be approached from multiple academic angles within CALS. It will be important for applicants to make connections between the majors that interest them and articulate what insight they hope to gain through the Undeclared year and overall. They should also still be sure to address how they believe an education from CALS and Cornell will help them achieve their academic goals.