Answering Prospective Students Questions: Because It’s Been a While

I remember when I was writing Life on the Hill blog posts my freshman year, a frequent thing I’d do was post questions sent to me from prospective students, and add my answers. Since I’ve gotten quite a few questions recently from high school seniors, and it’s that time of the year again where college decisions are being made…I figure, why not answer some more?

Keep in mind, of course, that I’m but one undergraduate among 13,000; be sure to get other perspectives as well! So here we go:

How supportive is Cornell when a student tries to create a club and contribute to a school community? If it is, is it fully funded or does it have to run as a private organization?

While I don’t have personal experience with founding a club, I know the tour guides tout that the administration is really flexible with this kinda thing. The Student Activities Office has a pretty comprehensive website that promotes vibrant student life on campus, so I’d say they’re very supportive. You then have to apply for funding through the Student Assembly Finance Commission, which isn’t incredibly straightforward (been there)…but it’s definitely do-able. The resources are definitely there to help you start a club, if you’re proactive.

im heading to cornell in the fall as a planned economics major, and didn’t plan on transferring, but as i’ve started to realize what i want i feel the AEM major may be better for me. what is the average GPA for transfer? transfer rates? your help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!

As an internal transfer mentor, I’ve been asked this question very frequently; the short answer is…it depends. You need to articulate your fit for the AEM major through your experiences, both work and academic. Detailed information is available here (they say a 3.3 GPA at least is realistic, but I’d say even higher). It’s really hard to prescribe “one size fits all” advice, and they don’t openly publish internal transfer rates/average GPA for acceptance. (They do say, however, that 59 kids internally transferred into the Dyson School this semester–but we would need to know, to fully understand the competitiveness, how many kids applied.)

One tip, though: get involved with business activities. If you want to join the business school, you’ll have a hell of a lot stronger, and more convincing, argument if you say your experiences at [business club] and [business internship] have led you to pursue AEM, as opposed to just saying, “business interests me” without any justification. Plus, getting immersed in these experiences can solidify your academic passion, or make you realize that maybe it’s not such a fit for you after all.

Hey, I am considering going to Cornell, however, for a pre-med student how competitive are the science classes? Is everything graded on a curve. Will it be extremely hard to stick out to the professors. Also, how can a freshman get involved in research?

I’m not a pre-med, but having spoken to many pre-med students…I know that the classes are definitely not easy. Intro biology and chemistry pre-med classes, along with orgo, are indeed graded on a curve; I think grades get less curve-based as you advance in the major/program. With about 400 students in each CHEM 2070 lecture this semester and about 350 in BIOMG 1350, it might be hard to stick out given the size of the courses…but not impossible.

Believe it or not–and I honestly believe this–the thing about large and small sized courses at Cornell is that, courses that need to be small are small, and courses that can be large are large. In large introductory lecture based courses, where the professor is speaking the vast majority of the time–it won’t matter if there are 100 or 500 kids in the course.

Plus, TA’s are your friends! Go to discussion sections, review lectures, office hours, study groups, etc. Being a pre-med at Cornell, from what I’ve heard, isn’t easy, but it’s a very well-trodden path, so there are a ton of resources to help you out if need be.

Hi, how is the t-mobile cellular coverage at Cornell? Also is there wifi everywhere around campus? Thanks in advance for your insight.

T-Mobile’s coverage website shows the 14853 zip code-area as satisfactory, but I can tell you from personal experience most students have AT&T or Verizon. Anecdotally, I can also say my dorm freshman year had cell towers on top of it. In terms of wifi–yes, you’re covered. Unless you’re in the middle of an open field, you should be able to access wifi in most buildings and immediately outside.

Is there segmentation based upon which school you go to or do they mix the kids up-primarily from a living situation perspective? Anything you could elaborate on in this regard would be extremely helpful.

Freshman year, there is no segmentation by major/school. Hotelies live with pre-meds, who live with fiber science majors, architects, and engineers. This is done, I assume, so you meet a wide variety of people on campus from different backgrounds. After freshman year, students break off and either live in Greek houses, move to West Campus, or find alternate housing arrangements (through Cornell or on their own).

Do students take an active role in discussions, or is the class lifeless? 

I’m generalizing here, but I’d say Cornell students are generally active and passionate in classes. You’re not going to get much student engagement in a 500 person lecture, but in seminar courses, I’d say people enjoy talking in classes and are proactive. There are thousands of courses offered at Cornell, and plenty of courses can fulfill a single requirement (e.g. historical analysis)…so generally, people are in classes because they want to be in them (e.g. for their major),or need to do well in them (read: pre-meds and orgo).

Granted, if we’re talking about a Friday 8am thermodynamics review class, maybe this doesn’t apply as much…

Does the advising system really work? 

My experience? It varies by college. Freshman year, when I was in Arts and Sciences, I’ll never forget during O-Week when my business-minded self met my advisor…who was a brilliant theoretical computer scientist that taught graduate student classes. He was a decent guy, but could not help me–we weren’t a fit.

Since I switched to CALS and Dyson, I’ve found my advising experience much improved. My advisor and I share identical academic interests, I’ve had her as a professor, and she’s been super approachable with any academic questions I’ve had. Perhaps it’s because I had to submit a biography about my interests and what I wanted in an advisor?

It all comes down to proactivity at Cornell. If your advisor/major/school isn’t a match, you gotta make the effort to change it!

Feel free to send any other questions to me via the contact form!

One thought on “Answering Prospective Students Questions: Because It’s Been a While

  1. Jessica

    Hello , I really liked your blog post, it gives a lot of knowledge.
    I so understand all about students and school community.
    Thank you very much, I give 5 star for this post. Liked ! 🙂

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