My Students’ Insights into Freshman Year at Cornell University

I recently shared student insight into freshman year at Emory College of Emory University and at the University of Cambridge. Now I am giving you a glimpse of the first year experience at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, courtesy of one of my students.

What are the students like?

The students are incredibly ambitious and driven. Everyone at Cornell knows how much of a privilege it is to receive an education at one of the most prestigious universities in the country and acts accordingly. People take schoolwork very seriously and buckle down when necessary. On the flip side, there is an incredible, “work hard, play hard” environment in which students have fun just as much as they study. There is a lot to do between Cornell and Ithaca and Cornell students definitely find a way to make the most of both.

What do you love most about the school?

I love most how much diversity there is in that there is a group of people for everyone. Whether you love sports or art, there is someone who feels the same way and something for you guys to do to enjoy your passion.

What do you like the least?

The thing I like the least about the school is the weather. This is the obvious answer but perhaps the only thing I dislike about Cornell. Plain and simple, there is no moderate weather. It is extremely hot in the beginning and end of the year and quite cold and snowy for the vast majority of the year; you definitely get used to it after a while.

What is your favorite class? Why?

My favorite class was probably environmental conservation. The professor was incredibly dynamic and very engaged with the students and the content and he structured the class accordingly. There was minimal stress on grades with the main grades coming from research papers in which you choose the topic. This created a stress-free environment which allowed me to learn for the sake of learning and even enjoy writing the research papers.

What is your biggest class? How big?

My biggest class was Introduction to Psychology with close to one thousand students. The professor is a great professor and I highly recommend the course.

How challenging are your classes?

There is a huge range of difficulty between my classes. It varies dramatically depending on the class and the professor. In general, it is a significant step up from high school. The same study methods that I applied in high school were not the same that I used in college. There definitely is a learning curve and it comes with practice and time, but chances are if you are accepted to Cornell, then you have the ability.

What percentage of your time is spent studying? What percentage doing other things?

I’d say overall probably about 40% of my time is spent studying or doing work. This statistic may be misleading, however, because the work comes and goes in waves. On a given day or week, you might not have much work to do. It is imperative, however, to keep up with the class because most classes are structured with two midterms and a final as the main and maybe even only grades. As such, it is important to constantly keep up with the content. Students definitely spend a large portion of time in the library doing work, but this does not mean that there are no other activities that students get involved with. I was able to balance my school work and social life and found it manageable.

What advice would you give to a student who is interested in or applying to your school?

Cornell is an incredible place to live and learn at. There are a ton of different things to get involved in and many ways to enjoy your time there. Studying is definitely important and will take up a lot of time, but graduating with a good GPA from a university as prestigious as Cornell will accelerate the job searching process exponentially. With almost 14,000 undergraduates, there is something and someone for everyone. I have loved every minute of my time at Cornell and am looking forward to going back and loving more.