Questions and Responses Compiled

Here is a compiled list of all the questions that students have asked me and I’ve responded to in previous posts (with all the pictures, jokes, etc. cut out to save space). If you have any sort of question or comment, feel free to click on the “contact” tab above and I’ll do my best to respond…but please understand that due to time constraints I may not be able to answer all of them!

Hi david,
I am considering applying to either of Dartmouth or cornell. My academics isn’t too strong, but it is good, so I am quite confused what would be right to me. You must be very busy with the fresh college stuff, but if you can tell me why I should go for cornell, it would be quite a lot of help.

Dartmouth and Cornell are both top tier institutions, and people regularly choose between both of them all the time. Ultimately, it comes down to preference–would you prefer a small school environment, where you would have smaller classes and close contact with faculty in an intimate setting…or would you prefer the dynamic resources and diversity that comes with a large research university?

I don’t  really want to tell you why you should “go for Cornell,” because to be honest–Cornell isn’t for a lot of people. It’s definitely a competitive environment and the size could be intimidating; I highly suggest you come and visit both schools. The difference in environments is big enough that you should be able to figure out which one you prefer. I can tell you, though, that many people–including myself–were initially attracted to Cornell by its’ natural setting, diverse curriculum (I personally can’t wait to take a hotel administration class or two), and fabulous reputation for academics. Oh, and the fact that Ithaca was recently ranked the number one college town definitely helps.

I enjoyed your blog. I am very interested in Cornell and understand that interviews with alumni are possible. How do I go about scheduling one? I live in Michigan. I visited Cornell over the summer, but would not be able to make another trip back there before applications are due.

Hey, thanks for reading.

I don’t trust myself enough to answer your question alone, so I’ll let the Cornell website take it away:

“Most students who apply for freshman admission will be contacted by a member of a local Cornell alumni committee in the fall or winter. These informal conversations with alumni are not required and are meant only to allow an additional opportunity for the student to learn more about Cornell—and for Cornell to learn more about the student.”

So, my friend, I don’t believe you have to do anything…just wait to be contacted. If you’re not in touch with someone a good while into the admissions process, then maybe give the admissions office a call.

Can you please post more photos from Ithaca? I am thinking of where I could study college.. do you think it’s a great school?

Hi there. I do think it’s a great school with an infinite number of opportunities. As I said to the first commenter, it’s not a “one size fits all” kind of place–you definitely have to want to be at a big school. As long as you’re aware that you’re going to have to sometimes push to the front to get what you want and realize you won’t be coddled academically or socially, your options during and after college are limitless.

As far as photos of Ithaca go, ask and you shall receive. (EDIT: For space constraints, I decided to not include the photos from the original post on this page. To see the original post with all the photos click here)

I’m wondering about how many extracurriculars to get involved in. Im already captain of the swim team,Art Director of the yearbook, and a member of The National Honor Society,Social Studies Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders of America. What else should I do outside of school to help better my chances of getting into Cornell?

Hey there! If I’ve learned anything about Cornell admissions, it’s that you need to belong in *exactly* 18 clubs and have 11 leadership positions or your application will end up in the dustbin. JUST KIDDING! The key to extracurriculars on an application–not just at Cornell, but anywhere–is to base it on quality, not quantity. It’s a pointless question to ask “how many” extracurriculars to get involved in–anyone can join x amount of clubs with no effort. While all those honor societies sound great, I want you to make sure that your passion for at least one thing shines in your essay, recommendations, and resumé. Admissions officers are trained professionals who can spot a laundry list of extracurriculars present just to “look good” on an application from miles away, and you want to distinguish yourself in some way, shape, or form. Go be the passionate violin player who plays at nursing homes every weekday night. Or the computer engineering applicant who started a volunteer organization to teach kids how to use computers. Or the entrepreneurial Hotelie-to-be that’s garnered quite a following catering neighborhood events. Take a look at this link, I think it really explains extracurriculars in the application process well.

I was wondering about the structure of the classes at Cornell. What is the size of an average class? I am almost positive I want to apply ED to Cornell, but I want to make sure it’s the right choice… So any advice or insight you could give me would be appreciated!

Thanks for the question. The size of an average class, as any Cornellian could tell you, varies tremendously depending on the subject matter and the format of the class. Before I arrived at Cornell, I pictured all my classes as being these huge lectures with 400 students in a hall with little to no professor-student interaction. However, 2 of my classes this semester–my writing seminar and my French class–both have less than 20 kids, and both professors know everyone’s name! I only have one HUGE lecture, and that’s Intro to Macroeconomics. There’s a discussion section, though, with about 20 students where we can ask the TA questions. So, if you’re signed up for broad introductory classes (i.e. Astronomy or Psych 101), expect to be simply a number in the audience. Otherwise, in the case of some foreign languages or discussion-based classes, you’ll be able to interact with your professor well. Understand, though, that this is Cornell and not a small 1,000 student liberal arts college: if you’re looking for more personal interactions, perhaps a smaller school would be a better bet.

Hey, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I sent in my application yesterday and my ED agreement was picked up by the mailman an hour ago (I’m applying to A&S for comp sci). I love Cornell and I’ll be kind of mortified if I don’t get in, but other schools are nice too, I guess. So, I’m wondering about dorms. I visited Cornell over the summer, but I didn’t get to see where I would live, and that’s kind of important. In your last post you had a picture of your room and it looked a little small, are the freshman dorms generally tiny or are they actually a lot bigger than the picture showed? Are they usually doubles? It’s just something I was curious about. Also, I thought the care package thing seemed sweet. Hope to see you at the rally/ at school!

Aah, congratulations on your choice to apply Early Decision to Cornell! Now that it’s November 1st and the ED deadline has passed, you can hopefully try to take it easy knowing that you’ve done all you could. Best of luck! Now, about the dorm situation. You might have noticed in the picture (besides the fact that I was drinking a Brisk iced tea) that my room was a little small. Yes, you’re 100% correct–it’s definitely cramped. It’s actually because I’m on the way end of the hall in Donlon, where it’s a known fact that the rooms are the smallest. Seriously, I’ve been in many other hallmates’ rooms and they are much bigger. Luck of the draw, I guess!

Freshman housing in general is definitely a crapshoot, to be perfectly honest. I’m in Donlon, the “social dorm,” if you will, and while my room is smaller than all the others there are many people that would love to be in here because of its’ lively atmosphere. I visited one of my friends in Mews–one of the newest buildings–and her dorm was a PALACE compared to mine; it was cleaner and bigger.

Think Marriott, minus the daily housekeeping (which my friend told me GW had for a while). You could also be placed in the Low Rises or High Rises, which, from what I’ve heard, were designed to be “riot-proof” in the ’60s and have somewhat isolated dorms (you have to walk up stairs to go downstairs, etc.) While most dorms I believe are doubles, chances are if you request a single you’ll get it. Sometimes you’ll even receive a single if you don’t ask for one, if they have a surplus. The bottom line about housing freshman year: don’t fret, as there really is not a ton you can do about it because it’s random. Take a peek at the housing possibilities here, if you’re so inclined.

Hello! I submitted my ED application to Cornell’s College of Human Ecology a couple days ago. I love what majors that college has to offer based off my interests, but I was just wondering if you know how easy it truly would be for me to switch to a different college such as CAS if I have a change of heart?

Congrats, and best of luck to you too on your app! Cornell knows that students’ interests change; I mean, how could you possibly know what you want to do for the rest of your life senior year of high school? Transferring between colleges is definitely not rare at all, and I’ve heard of a fair amount of people switching schools or contemplating it. Personally, I’m contemplating a switch from Economics in CAS to Applied Economics and Management in CALS or possibly Hotel. To be honest, it isn’t an insanely easy process–it’s not like you push a button and WHAM! you’re done.You have to prove to the target college that you deserve to be there and it’s a better fit for you, through grades and essays. Cornell has set up an organization called the Internal Transfer Division (ITD) to help students with decisions like these. Click here to snoop around their website (especially the FAQ’s), and you should get all the answers you need.

I will begin by saying I love your blog! It is extremely informative and helpful in portraying a broad image of Cornell. However, I was wondering what your average workload consisted of? Do you find it incredibly overwhelming or manageable so far? I am a bit worried that my high school will make me ill prepared me for the college workload, how do you feel that your high school prepared you?

You might be surprised, as I was originally, that there are often people studying on Friday nights and Saturdays. Personally, the majority of my workload has consisted of problem sets (graded homeworks) for my probability/statistics course, preparing for quizzes and tests for French, spending a good chunk of time writing essays for my writing seminar, and just reading the textbook for Macroeconomics. Yeah, there’s a lot of work and you’ll definitely find yourself swamped every once in a while–but, as I alluded to in an earlier post, it’s a different kind of work from high school (less repetitive) and it’s more enjoyable to do. Personally, I feel like my high school did prepare me well; as long as you developed a strong work ethic during your high school years you shouldn’t have too much of a problem adjusting to the academic workload here.

First off, I found your blog earlier today and promptly read every single entry. It’s really entertaining and informative (and I enjoy all the big red arrows!). Anyway, I do have a point. Like you, I applied ED to Cornell (the College of Human Ecology was the one for me). After receiving my acceptance almost a month ago, I’m starting to go stir-crazy! I’m ready to get out of here and set off for my four years at Cornell, and I’ve had it up to here with high school. Can you give any tips on making it through the rest of my senior year without going completely insane? How did you manage those last six months of incarceration?

First off, thanks for the compliments!

Knowing where you’re going in December of your senior year certainly is a great feeling, but it also leaves you with an inordinate amount of time when you’re essentially in limbo–you’ve basically “won” at high school as your hard work has paid off, but can’t officially move on just yet. Last year, I do remember a few people getting in early and saying how the remaining months of high school were going to be “hell.” My advice? Don’t let it be! In my opinion, senior year is one of the most fun times in your life as you don’t have to worry tremendously about grades, can enjoy your time with your longtime friends, and have a bunch to look forward to (proms, graduation parties, award ceremonies, senior outings, graduation, yadda yadda). Think about all the things you’ll miss next year–proximity to friends and family, relationships with teachers, the Wendy’s within walking distance of your house–and try to appreciate them as much as you can now. Good luck!

David, Is on campus housing guaranteed all four years? and if not where do people go? what will you do?

Hey there, great question.

According to this somewhat old document, campus housing is guaranteed for freshman year and sophomore year only (assuming for sophomore year you abide by their deadlines). As you progress through your Cornell career, you’ll notice that people do tend to either go Greek or go off-campus, living in Collegetown apartments or other places close-by.

A lot of places cater to Cornell students–take Gun Hill for example.Personally, I have no idea what I’ll be doing junior or senior year…nor am I 100% sure what I’ll be doing next year (although I can tell you that West Campus housing is sounding very attractive…). If you have any other housing questions, I’m sure the wonderful people at Cornell housing would love to help you out–click here for info.

Hey David-I was accepted ED into Human Ecology! I’m very excited and eagerly awaiting my formal letter of acceptance (I checked the notice online to find out). I was just wondering – what’s next?

Hey, congrats! You and the first commenter on this post are practically related HumEc-er’s. What’s next, you ask? Enjoying senior year, that’s what’s next. Cornell doesn’t really do anything in the time between Early Decision notification and regular decision notification, so you can just hang back and wait for everyone else to get accepted in late-March to early-April, when you’ll receive a huge packet in the mail with housing and dining information, as well as lots of other good stuff. Oh, and enjoy the weather you’re experiencing, which, unless you’re from north of Ithaca, is probably a tad warmer than what you’ll be experiencing once you arrive!

Hi David! I’ve been reading your posts since forever.. and a quite random question just popped up the other day. I’m just curious as to why you’re the freshman that’s writing this blog– like did Cornell contact you and asked you to start a blog? or was there some sort of application involved? Does Cornell give opportunities like this to newly admitted students every year? Thanks for answering my somewhat-random question! :)

Hey there! I applied for the job after seeing this page on the Cornell website that said Life on the Hill was hiring. I loved reading other students’ blogs and it helped cement the idea in my mind that Cornell was the place for me, so I wanted to give back and do the same thing for prospective students.

I have just spend the last thirty minutes reading every entry of your blog, and I love it! It is super funny and captivating, and it has made me fall in love with Cornell even more. I’m a junior in high school right now, and I’m 99.9999999999% sure that I will be applying to the College of Human Ecology ED later this year. I have very strong academics, pretty good SAT scores, and good quality  extracurriculars. Do you have any advice that would help me get in?

First off, thanks so much for your compliments! I really appreciate it.

As far as “tips” on getting into Cornell, that’s definitely a tricky question. I think I’ve alluded to it on my blog before, but it seems like the admissions office could easily fill up each class with straight A, 2200+ SAT students. However, they wouldn’t want to because that’d call for a pretty boring class! They’d prefer to accept unique, fun, passionate people who could contribute to the the community.

So…make sure that you sound fun, exciting and let your passions shine through via your essays, relevant coursework and extracurriculars! If you do that, you have as good a shot as the next person.

8 thoughts on “Questions and Responses Compiled

  1. Clare

    This is really a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Abbey

    Hi, I just found your blog and am finding it really helpful. I am a junior in high school and right now Cornell is my top choice. My only concern is that it is far away from my family (I live in Virginia) and I was wondering if you could give me a little input on campus living. I really want to visit the campus myself and talk to students, but it is a little bit too far away.

  3. Tomorrow

    Hello. Thanks for this forum I just heard a rumor that Harvard, Yale and Princeton created a new admissions outcome. Is this true? A select group of applicants lacking credentials to be admitted to HYPMS are being urged to accept Cornell’s offer, stay for year, and as they get As they will be assured a transfer acceptance after one year. Sucks for Cornell’s retention stats and for the students who won’t be fully engaged in college their first year but..what the heck-worth it for a guarantee transfer to one of the better schools!

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  5. Rachel

    Hello, I am so glad I found this blog. I have recently applied Early Decision to Cornell. It has been my dream school since sophmore year and I have worked hard to have a good chance of getting in. I not only volunteered for the DEC as a Waterway Assessor, but also interned at a Cellular Research Lab for 35 hours a week during my summer. Additionally, I am valedictorian of my class with a 98.1 average and scored in the 99th percentile on the writing portion of my SAT. Throughout my high school career I have applied myself in every way possible. I took two independent study courses, am vice president of Drama Club, president of National Honor Society, and the most valuable runner on both my track and cross country teams. I grew up in a very small school district with not a lot of money. My parents worked hard to submit all of the necessary financial aid information in time for the Early Decision deadline. Yesterday, the applicant decision was announced and I was told that my application is being pushed to regular decision so that their final decision won’t be made until April. I am worried as to why I wasn’t accepted for Early Decision because now I won’t know until April whether I am going to be going to my dream university in the future or just another one I am much less interested in. If they do not accept me now, I fear that there is a reason for it and I won’t be accepted in April either. Do you know of anything specifically that I could have done wrong to make admissions feel that I may not be fit for Cornell? Or anything I may be missing that they are looking for? Thank you for taking time to read this. Attending Cornell University is an opportunity I don’t want to miss, especially if the problem at hand can be solved.

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