7 Tips for Writing Your CIA Application Essays

Writing college essays can seem overwhelming. In fact, many students will put them off as long as possible. We get it.

Potential students talking to a Culinary Institute of America admissions counselor.

That’s why we asked CIA Admissions Director Michelle Mullooly to share some of her best essay-writing tips with you.

  1. Relax. We mean it! Our three short CIA essay questions are just a way for us to get to know you better. Any worry or nerves you have are just proof that this is important to you. We appreciate that.
  2. Remember, they are SHORT essays. They only have to be 100 words. That’s about two tweets. Chances are when you sit down to write it, you’ll want to use more words than that. That’s okay with us! You’re welcome to use as many words as you need to in order to answer the questions. We’ll read every word.
  3. Be yourself. Answer the questions honestly. It’s not a competition. Your essays are your opportunity to tell us what the rest of your application can’t. Genuine answers are always best.
  4. Dig deep. You likely have more to write about than you might think at first. Ask your family and friends for input. Maybe your mom will remind you of a childhood memory or a friend will tell you how much they admired a time you stepped up to the plate and acted as a leader.
  5. Brag. This is your chance to tell us about your best qualities and achievements. Take pride in the person you have become and share it with us. We won’t think you’re full of yourself—we will likely be proud of you.
  6. Just do it. Once you’ve decided what you want to tell us, sit down and start writing. It will be easier than you think. Once you’re finished, re-read it. Double check for typos or misspelled words.
  7. Call us! You have the option to call your Admissions Counselor and do a short phone interview to answer these questions instead.

Need more inspiration? Here are the three Culinary Institute of America example essay questions and some things that we have heard from applicants:

1. Food. We’re passionate about it. Are you? If you’ve made the decision to apply to the CIA, you’re likely already passionate about food. Many students tell us how their family, classes in high school, or a job sparked this passion. We’ve read about many Easy-Bake Ovens!
Student run Ra.Me noodle shop in the Innovation Kitchen in The Egg on The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus. Menu research and development.
2. CIA students don’t follow—they lead. Tell us how you’re a leader. Sometimes these answers are obvious for applicants, but sometimes they’re not. Maybe you’ve been a team captain or a class representative. Or maybe you’re the person who steps up to complete a task before being asked. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be leader just yet, tell us what you think a good leader does.
A graduation being catered by the school on The Culinary Institute of America's New York campus. Photographed for a Hospitality campaign
3. Where do you picture yourself 5 years after CIA? Tell us about your career dreams. What would you love to do? What kinds of experiences do you crave? Applicants tell us about businesses they would like to own, places they would like to travel to, and paths they would like to take. Remember, there are no wrong answers!
Famous Culinary Institute of America alumni, Anne Burrell, Julia Collin Davison, Amanda Freitag, Sara Moulton, Geoffrey Zakarian.

We look forward to receiving your Culinary Institute of America essays. We hope you enjoy writing them as much as we enjoy reading them!