The College Search and Reasons to Add Cornell to Your List

By Amber McKay, ILR ‘19
When crafting a college list, students should take several factors into account: the probability of admission, the desired area of study, location, school culture, and affordability. These are imperative prior considerations in order to save both time and money in the college application process. Though time-intensive, when done correctly, this research can help guide you to schools that are a great fit. The first step in creating a college list is to use the 3+3+3 guideline in which you choose three certain, three probable, and three reach schools. To determine which schools belong in which category, you should determine how your grades, academic rigor (a.k.a. challenge level), and test scores align with the requirements of your desired schools.

Next, you should decide on a potential area of study. Though you may be certain of your future career field, it is good to remain open to discovering new interests during college. This flexible or “growth” mindset will be a key piece of your personal development in college. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills complement this mindset and prepare students to handle potential changes along their future career path.

Similarly, you ought to assemble your college list based on your needs and desires. This may seem obvious, but often students feel pressured by parents or classmates to apply to certain schools or programs despite their own wishes. Peer and parental pressure of this type can result in a sort of “Prestige Olympics” in which different types of schools are subjectively ranked by their perceived reputation. This approach not only results in students often focusing their energy on schools that may not be a good fit for them, but also neglects the factors that should hold heavier weight than status in the college search process. While keeping these vital considerations in mind, here are some facts about Cornell that may make it the right fit for you.

Cornell is comprehensive and elite, not impersonal and elitist.

Cornell University is an excellent “reach” school option for students who would like to attend an Ivy League school that has the spirited, collegial feel of a traditional state university. While Cornell is just as rigorous as one would expect of an Ivy, the large, yet cohesive campus community allows for a surprisingly intimate feeling of oneness and pride. With its 9:1 student/faculty ratio and 1300+ student-run clubs, you are bound to know your professors and get involved in campus life outside of classes.

Cornell offers academic flexibility and excellent financial aid.

Founder Ezra Cornell’s original vision of “any person, any study” is at work today. Cornell encourages its diverse student body to follow their academic passions while gaining exposure to a wide breadth of scholarship. If there is not a specific major that piques a student’s interest among the seven colleges and schools, there is not an initial pressure to have it all figured out and there is an interdisciplinary studies or independent study option for those that want to craft their own program of study. Furthermore, Cornell makes a positive addition to college lists as it is rated one of the best value colleges, no doubt partially due to our available financial aid options.

Cornell is part of a gorgeous and dynamic area.

As if the rigorous and diverse programs of study weren’t enough, I encourage you to consider Cornell for its truly awesome and unmatched beauty. Ithaca, New York is consistently rated as one of the top college towns in America, which is no surprise considering the wealth of activities that the city provides. Not only does Ithaca have its own breath-taking waterfalls and gorge trails, but it is also located near several state parks. Throughout all four seasons, Ithaca is uniquely alive with opportunities to try new restaurants, participate in a variety of festivals, and volunteer in the community.

Cornell is accessible and mission-driven.

Cornell is both an Ivy League institution and the land-grant university of New York State. It was founded with a mission to educate generations of global citizens through encouraging public service as well as encouraging a “culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.” Its doors have been open to any qualified student regardless of their background since the beginning. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Cornellians still uphold this commitment to inclusivity and impact, and it is a critical part of what made many of us choose Cornell. If you seek a world-class education in an enrichingly diverse environment while maintaining a devotion to serving others, Cornell would be an excellent place for you to call home.

If you think Cornell could be a great fit for you, why not apply? It’s not too late for seniors to submit the Cornell application and supplement. However, keep in mind that the admissions deadline is January 2 and the financial aid deadlines are January 2 for international students and February 15 for all other students. I wish you the best in your college search!