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 and remember you can do this! We mean it! Our essay is just a way for us to get to know you better. Any worry you have is just proof that this is important to you. We appreciate that! Your response only needs to be between 200-500 words. Chances are when you sit down to write it, you’ll want to use more words than that. That’s ok with us!
  2. Be yourself and use your resources: There is no right or wrong answer. This is an essay about you! Be authentic and tell us all the great things about you! Ask your family and friends for input or reminders of times when you excelled or used your leadership qualities.
  3. It’s OK to brag: This is your chance to tell us about your best qualities and achievements. If you don’t tell us, we won’t know. Take pride in the person you have become and share it with us. We won’t think you’re bragging; we will be excited to have you join our college.
  4. Just do it: Spend a little bit of time thinking about the topic and then just start writing. Don’t overthink it. It will be easier than you realize. Once you’re finished, read it over. Double check for typos or misspelled words.
  5. Call us for help! Throughout the application process, you always have a personal admissions counselor available to assist you with your questions. Feel free to e-mail us or call us anytime if you get stuck. That’s what we are here for!

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!