I thought this would be an interesting idea for a post; obviously, not everything here at sunny Cornell is how I pictured it to be (for the better or for the worse). My imperfect foresight is your gain, my friends…because now I’ll give a couple examples of some common Cornell misconceptions I’ve noticed.
- The idea that everyone here has a perfect work ethic, always pays attention in class, and never gets distracted. Yeah, this was one of the more surprising realities I’ve noticed here. When I arrived, I thought that everyone would be attentive, diligent, and taking notes word for word on what the professor said. I could not have been more wrong! Of course, there are students like that–but I’ve seen a lot of slacking take place as well. Students are constantly on Facebook, doodling in their notebooks, and falling asleep (funny story…in one of my classes a student actually started snoring loudly). Granted, I’m not one of those pre-med students who is taking one of those sink-or-swim introductory bio classes–but I’ve definitely been shocked by some of the behaviors in some classrooms.
- Irresponsible and excessive drinking? At an Ivy League university? Naaah! Au contraire, actually. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of students trying to break out of their comfort zone and are willing to push their limits; this has resulted in many negative consequences (I frequently have seen EMT teams heading into the dorms).
- Professors at large, prestigious institutions are snobby, unwilling to get to know you, and unreachable. Granted, this isn’t just a Cornell misconception, but one involving all large schools. You always hear about how the experience at smaller liberal arts colleges (à la Dartmouth, Williams, Amherst) involves close relationships with professors. While it might not be as easy to meet and get to know them here due to the sheer size of the school, I’d say without a doubt that most professors are accessible, happy to meet/get to know students, and kind.3 out of my 4 professors know my name (the one class where the they doesn’t know my name is a lecture with 300 students), and they’re all incredibly friendly.
- There’s nothing to do in Ithaca. Sure, Ithaca may not exactly be the most centrally located, and it’s not like Manhattan where you have a million options for entertainment every night…but there are definitely a plethora of things to do. Look here and here for ideas.
- Every Cornell alum acts like Andy Bernard on the Office. Please, for Pete’s sake, don’t think this to be true.
- A comment regarding the attractiveness of people–Believe me, I’m not one to judge someone based on attractiveness, everyone is beautiful in some way or another, associate with people people based on the inside and not the outside, yadda yadda yadda. I completely agree, and I don’t consider myself superficial in the slightest. However, I have had just about enough of people saying Cornellians are unattractive. In my few short months here, I have to say that I have seen very attractive girls, and I’ve had girls say to me similar sentiments about the opposite sex.
Finally, there are some commonly held beliefs about Cornell that do ring true; it is a pressure-cooker, and it can get pretty darn cold in upstate New York.
Hopefully this helped some prospective students in some form or another. Feel free to send questions–I’m home this week for Thanksgiving (skipping Monday’s classes–I don’t have classes Tuesday and only one on Wednesday) and am always happy to fill my time helping pre-frosh out.
Happy Turkey Day!