Q&A

Hello Sarah,

I am a junior in high school and I am planning to apply to Cornell. One of my biggest concerns is doing the interview.What happens during the interview? What questions do they ask? -Victoria Quaicoe

That’s great that you’re thinking about this so early, Victoria! So my interview for Cornell wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be! Usually, if there is an alumni in your area, they’ll email you, asking if you’re available for an “information session”. This is just a fancy way to say interview. Dress business-casual and arrive a few minutes early. If there isn’t an alumni in your general area, they might ask to have a Skype interview. You could totally get away with not wearing pants for this, but I wouldn’t recommend it. 😉 Your interview is a time where you can include information you feel didn’t show in your application. I would show up with an extra copy of your resume and your application. Most importantly, however, I would prepare 2-3 thought-provoking questions about the college that you can ask your alumni interviewer. They will always always always ask if you have any questions and you better have some! Your interviewer will also talk about their experiences at the college- so don’t expect a conversation entirely on you! Hope this helped!

-Sarah

Why did you choose Cornell? -Brooke Reczka

During my Cornell interview, my interviewer asked me this very question. I responded saying, “I was eating Chinese food one night and opened up my fortune cookie and it had said to go to Cornell”. My interview didn’t think it was very funny- so that made for one of my more awkward moments in life. But in seriousness, it wasn’t very much of a choice for me. I just knew- the moment I stepped onto campus that this is where I wanted to be. And as cliche or perhaps unbelievable as it may seem, I was only in second grade, college visiting with my older sister. I applied early, got accepted, and I honestly can’t imagine any other college experience. I can, however, give you the many benefits of Cornell (if my blog doesn’t do so already). First of, it’s a large campus. Not many people would see this as a turn-on, but despite the campus and student body being so large, I still run into so many of the same people around campus. I still feel welcome and the diversity is really encouraging. Also, you can walk anywhere on campus within 15 minutes, so it’s not too bad. Secondly, the state tuition. This was a hugeeeeee plus. Cornell is split into several colleges, and some of those colleges offer state tuition to in-state residents. I believe this is the only ivy that does this. It is really, really nice to know that people here come from a variety of socioeconomic classes and I truly appreciate how they encourage this through their state tuition. Finally (the list goes on, but I’ll only give three reasons to choose Cornell), everyone on campus has the same mantra, “work hard, play hard(er)”. The night life is exciting and if you do choose to go out on weekends, it’ll be a good time.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading! =)

-Sarah

Hi Sarah, I’m a senior in high school and I’ve just applied to Cornell.I know it’s the place for me and I’ve been obsessing over my application. After reading your blog I can tell you love it there, despite some horror called “prelims”. My GPA is a 95, my ACT is a 31, and I think my essays were pretty strong but I’m slacking in extra curriculars and I don’t know if my grades are substantial. What do you think were the attributes admissions looked at the most in your application?
Sincerely yours,
Val Timmerman

Hi Val! First off, congratulations on finishing your application! It’s great that you’ve found a school you think you’d belong. I’d love if there was some sort of formula for college acceptances, but I don’t think there is. I can say, however, that colleges can look at the numbers on your applications — The GPA, the SAT scores, etc. — but in my opinion, the numbers don’t nearly mean as much as the type of person you are. They’re looking at your application to see if you demonstrate hard work and determination. So I suppose the question you should be asking yourself is does your application reflect who you are as a person? I strongly believe that the essay portion of your application is the only portion in which you have full control over how you want to tell colleges about yourself.
Second in my book is your extra curricular activities. If you feel like you’re slacking in them, don’t worry! I would rather see someone who is fully committed to the activities he or she is involved in, rather than just BSing your way through every club.
But really, I can’t say what got me into Cornell. I wish I knew. But best of luck and please let me know if you decide to come! I’d love to meet you.
Hope this helped,
Sarah

Hey Sarah, I am an incoming freshman, and I REALLY REALLY love your blog. However, I am from India, and as an international student, I am expecting to run into all sorts of hurdles at Cornell.

Could you tell me a little more about what Greek life really is like? My knowledge of it is based almost entirely on TV shows, movies, and books… Also, I’m really not into dressing up, wearing jewelry or make-up, and generally ‘girlie’ things. Will I face problems fitting in because of that? I’m a little scared of being judged about that sort of stuff :P Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide! -Nebuchadnezzar

Hiii! First, congratulations on your acceptance! From all the news stories, I hear that this was the most selective admissions year! I’m so excited for you, and I think it’s really cool you chose Cornell as an international student! As far as Greek life, I think everyone’s experiences are different. For me, however, it’s extremely rewarding. I would stray away from how the media portrays it. Although Rush doesn’t start until January, my advice for both rush and college is to be yourself. It doesn’t help you to be someone completely different than yourself, especially during rush. In fact, most sororities are looking for girls who stand out and are true to themselves. I promise that if you are yourself, the girls will remember you for it! In fact, I was skeptical about rush because I was afraid I would start acting like the stereotypical sorority girl. I’ve actually found quite the opposite. My sorority encourages me to be myself and they’re looking for a diversity of girls. =)

Hope that helped, and please let me know if you have any other questions! -Sarah

Hi, I love your blog! I was just wanted to ask you, what are the benefits and disadvantages of going Greek at Cornell? I will be attending Cornell in the fall and don’t know whether to rush or not. -Ada Amadi

Hi! Thanks for reading it and congratulations on finalizing here! Unlike most other schools, Cornell actually has spring rush, so you don’t even need to worry about it until the spring! Although I’ve only had one semester of Greek life, I’d say the biggest benefit is its support system. I was one of those people who floated around different groups of friends in high school – and even my first semester here. It is nice to know that there are 200+ girls on campus (and even more nationally!) who have my back and that I have theirs. With this support system, you gain a lot of connections and opportunities as well. Of course, the social aspect of Greek life is also beneficial. One disadvantage is probably the time commitment. However, it is important to understand that you can be as involved in Greek life as you want to be!

I hope this helped – please contact me further if you have more questions! =) Sarah

Hi Sarah, I’m a sophomore in high school. I can certainly relate to your friend: it seems that every year that passes, college looms closer and stress levels get higher. Indeed, I have often thought to myself that whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough, because there will always be people more skilled or more successful than me. This, as you said, is the wrong mindset, and I completely agree with you. You also mentioned that you understand the pressure of feeling like you’re not good enough, which I found strange because you attend one of the most accomplished schools in the country. I don’t pretend to understand much of the challenges of college life, but how do you deal with your problems of stress? -Ricky

I think dealing with stress really depends on the person! A lot of my friends will just go for a run if they’re ever stressed out (HAH. Get me on a run, I dare you). I have a couple of spots in Ithaca and on campus that I find really relaxing. Depending on how stressed I am, my dealing with it changes. It could be as simple as just hitting up one of my friends, taking a shower, or going to the gym. If I’m really having a problem with something, I’ll take a day trip somewhere off campus (sometimes NYC) – but that’s really rare. For the super stressed, there are a ton of on-campus health services that students use, ranging from free creative writing sessions to more professional help. I will say that I think a lot of people here perform well with stress! It’s just making sure that that stress isn’t too much to bare for an extended period of time. Hope that helps 🙂 -Sarah

Hello! I’ve read through your entire blog (albeit, finish to start) in two days. After digging through the official Cornell University website, information about the city of Ithaca, and of course your experiences, I am really interested in the school. I am a junior IB student living in lower Alabama. I noticed that you took a balance of AP/IB courses in high school as well, and so I was wondering how this impacted your academic experience (credits, preparation, time management, etc) so far at Cornell. I have also planned to become a physician since the age of three, and I want to major in biological sciences. I am so impressed by the vastness of the biology department at Cornell! Biology is natural for me and I feel confident that this is what I am supposed to do. However, I received a piece of advice from a Cornell alumni who said that the science department is based on a bell curve and that it’d be really hard to keep up a GPA at Cornell that qualifies for a good medical school. What are your thoughts on this?
Keep writing!! I love reading about your adventures! -Hannah Denham

WOAH. Haha, that’s a lot of reading, but I’m flattered! 🙂 I’m so glad there are other IB students out there. I felt like I was the only one! I would definitely say that filling my high school schedule with APs and IBs was super beneficial. I don’t just mean for placing out of college classes. I think taking on APs and IBs made me more prepared for the rigorous timing of college classes and just preparing me for the stress of college. Also, a lot of introductory science courses here are just an extension of certain AP and IB classes. So definitely continue with the diploma 🙂

I admire that you know what you want! But be sure you keep an open mind about career choices. GPA is certainly very important in getting into medical school, but it’s also not the most important thing. GPA shouldn’t affect YOUR personal decision to become a doctor. It shouldn’t turn you off from doing what you want to do. That being said, having classes based on a curve shouldn’t scare you! I also want to clarify that 99.99% of my classmates so far have not been super serious competitive. People want to help you here. I think I’ve noticed that a lot of people are just competitive with themselves. The bell curve naturally occurs, it’s not forced. I think Cornell is great for pre-med 🙂

Good luck with everything 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!! -Sarah

Hi Sarah!
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and your experience at Cornell. I am considering different universities at the moment, and am wondering how tall the people are at Cornell especially on the basketball team because I’m Asian and was just wondering if I would be able to make it to the bball team at Cornell.
Thank you for any insight you might give. -Gabriel

Haha….I’ve been to the basketball games, most of the guys are pretty tall, not gonna lie! But I don’t think that should discourage you from trying out for the team. Also, I know a lot of tall Asians, so I’m not sure if ethnicity has anything to do with it? Hahaha! Good luck! -Sarah

Hi Sarah!
First off, I want to say you seem like you had a great time at Cornell, and you’re really adorable! 🙂
I wanted to ask if it ever seemed like the atmosphere at Cornell was tense or overly competitive? Of course, there is going to be competition. But I’ve heard horror stories of students refusing to help each other on the smallest things, like confirming the page number on an assignment, for example. Would you say it is cut-throat there, as I’ve heard, or is it more relaxed than that? Thanks! -Ashley Rohacek

Hehe, thanks! I think you do sense that competitive side of students here, but none of that horror story stuff! Most people, if anything, are just competitive with themselves. If anything, so many students here are willing to reach out and help, without even having been asked! There is competition, but it’s a competition that’s healthy, I suppose. It’s not uncommon for someone to come up to you after class and ask if you want to study with them. In fact, my last class, there were so many study groups that just kind of merged and we ended up hanging out as a class at the library (and at the bars!). Of course, I’ve met a few people who seem to think that all college is is a race, but those aren’t the type of people you want to surround yourself with! Hope this comforted you! Best, Sarah

8 Responses to Q&A

  1. Val Timmerman says:

    Hi Sarah,I’m a senior in high school and I’ve just applied to Cornell.I know it’s the place for me and I’ve been obsessing over my application. After reading your blog I can tell you love it there, despite some horror called “prelims”. My GPA is a 95, my ACT is a 31, and I think my essays were pretty strong but I’m slacking in extra curriculars and I don’t know if my grades are substantial. What do you think were the attributes admissions looked at the most in your application?
    Sincerely yours,
    Val Timmerman

  2. Cathy says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I just got admitted to Nutritional Sciences at CHE for early admission and I found your blog to be very helpful to me especially since you’re going through what I will probably be going through next year. Is it okay to contact you via email/facebook sometime? Thank you 🙂

  3. Sarah Lam says:

    Congratulations Cathy!! I must say, I really do think it’s one of the better majors 😉 Thank you so much for your feedback though! Of course you can contact me anytime — my email is sl772@cornell.edu and you can find me on Facebook =)
    -Sarah

  4. Victoria Quaicoe says:

    Hello Sarah,

    I am a junior in high school and I am planning to apply to Cornell. One of my biggest concerns is doing the interview.What happens during the interview? What questions do they ask?

  5. Nebuchadnezzar says:

    Thanks for answering my question Sarah. Your reply was comforting 🙂 I can’t wait to get to Cornell!

  6. Gabriel says:

    Hi Sarah!
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and your experience at Cornell. I am considering different universities at the moment, and am wondering how tall the people are at Cornell especially on the basketball team because I’m Asian and was just wondering if I would be able to make it to the bball team at Cornell.
    Thank you for any insight you might give.
    Gabriel

  7. Ashley Rohacek says:

    Hi Sarah!

    First off, I want to say you seem like you had a great time at Cornell, and you’re really adorable! 🙂

    I wanted to ask if it ever seemed like the atmosphere at Cornell was tense or overly competitive? Of course, there is going to be competition. But I’ve heard horror stories of students refusing to help each other on the smallest things, like confirming the page number on an assignment, for example. Would you say it is cut-throat there, as I’ve heard, or is it more relaxed than that?

    Thanks!

  8. Elli says:

    Hi Sarah!

    I just found your blog and I wanted to say that it is so helpful and fun to read! 🙂

    I’m a sophomore in high school and have wanted to go to Cornell for some time now. However, I live in a small town that doesn’t offer a lot of AP classes or other ones that would look especially good on an application. I am really worried that I won’t be able to distinguish myself from other students who are applying. How did you manage to do this, and do you have any tips on what I can do in my remaining two and a half years of high school to become the best applicant I can be?

    Thank you for any advice you might have.
    Elli

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