An Interview On
Cornell University

Background

Interview Date:July 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: White
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public School in Kirkland, Washington with about 400 students in graduating class. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Environmental and Sustainability Sciences
Minor: Marine Biology
Extracurricular Activities: Student-athlete

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
The past two years I had a lab every semester. I’ve only had a couple of classes that truly had problems at. On a weekly basis, I would have a lab assignment and a couple of writing assignments. I have at least two to three hours of work every day.

What are your major graded assignments?
I have lab practicals, lab quizzes, and exams. Some classes have weekly exams and some classes have three exams throughout the semester and a final exam.

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or especially poorly?
They make it easy to know the requirements you have to fulfill for the major and they give you so many different options and so many different topics. You can go into policy, law, biology, or chemistry. They make it really easy to find a topic that you like while still being that major

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
When I was first was at Cornell I felt it was really competitive because I was never the top student in my class. I had good enough grades to be able to think about going to Cornell, but athletics helped get me into the school. When I first got there, I was really intimidated by everyone else because they were the smartest kids from their high schools. It felt really competitive. The more time I spent at Cornell, I could tell that the professors and the classes were designed to make it more collaborative. You were working with people and learning from fellow classmates, as opposed to just a professor talking to you.

What has been your favorite class in your major or minor?
My favorite class was a population ecology class. It was basically using calculus to come up with models that represent populations of wildlife, which was cool. I never knew that existed prior to taking that class.

What has been your least favorite class in your major or minor?
My least favorite class was Chemistry. I’m really bad at it so that was not fun.

How accessible are your professors?
They definitely do a good job of trying to work with your schedule. If I can’t go to office hours because of my practice schedule and I need to be with a professor, I’ll send them an email and they’re almost always available with the first time I suggest.

What made you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
I’m really happy with my choice. I started as a Biology major [on the pre-med track] just because that’s all I’d really known coming out of high school. I have always been interested in conservation and wildlife growing up, but I kind of assumed it would just be a hobby. I didn’t know Cornell had this major when I first applied, otherwise I probably would have applied to it as my major right from the beginning. When I found this major I decided to switch because I just didn’t think pre-med was for me and I fell in love with it after the first semester. It was the perfect fit for me.

How is managing both your sport and your coursework?
It’s a challenge. You can’t really allow procrastination to be a thing even though I still kind of do it. It works on your time management skills and your motivation and it’s hard especially in-season when you’re traveling. You also have all these teammates who are doing the exact same thing as you. All these other athletes from other teams are doing the same thing as you. You have a lot of resources that are willing to help you get through it.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in Balch Hall on North Campus where the freshmen live. It’s all girls. I wasn’t a huge fan of it but it was fine. I didn’t have a roommate. I was in a single that was probably the best decision I ever made.

Sophomore: I lived in Collegetown on the other side of campus on Bryant Avenue. It is just a little bit uphill from the main part of Collegetown. The street I was on was quiet and like all the parties are on the other side of Collegetown, so you don’t really get a lot of loud music or like drunk people walking around.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I personally have never felt in danger at any point. I know they have a blue light system that a lot of colleges have. Pretty much any time around campus you can see one of those blue lights, so I’ve always felt really safe. My friends have always felt pretty safe and I’ve never had an issue.

How was transitioning from Kirkland, WA to Ithaca, NY?
It’s definitely different because it’s humid in Ithaca, whereas in Washington when it’s warm it’s more of a dry heat. The rain is different. It rains a lot where I’m from which I love. I love the rain but the rain wasn’t the same and it felt kind of gloomy almost. It’s not a huge transition but it was something you get used to. The winters are very cold and it snows way more here than in Washington.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
I’d have to say Ithaca Beer Company. It’s kind of like tap room. It’s just a fun place to go especially when it’s nice out.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Watkins Glen is really nice. I love hiking and there’s a nice hike there. I’ve never had a car on campus I’ve never really had a chance to truly get away from campus. But I’m going to have a car this year so maybe I’ll find out.

Pros and cons of being located in Ithaca, New York?
Pros:
1) The area is really cool. If you’re able to explore it might not seem like it when you’re on campus but the Commons are super cool. It’s a really unique place.
2) It’s a beautiful area. There are a lot of trees that turn bright red in the fall. When I’m in Washington everything is always green but when you’re there, the trees are covered in red and yellow in the fall.

Cons:
1) It’s really small and it’s not close to anything, which is not that great. New York City is three hours away by bus and Syracuse is an hour away by car. If you don’t have access to a bus or car then it’s like you can’t really go anywhere.
2) It’s really far from home for me, but I chose to go to Cornell so it is totally fine. I’ve gotten used to being away from home but it’s hard to adjust when you’re really far away.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
During the first semester, I would go out with teammates maybe one night during the weekend. There are frat parties and also some athlete parties. I prefer the athlete parties because I actually know people there. Most of the time I am kind of a homebody and I like to just stay in my room studying or watching movies. I’m not a huge partier, but it is fun when everyone from our teammates to go over and be with them. I think half the time I will go to frat parties just because they are usually bigger and more people know about them. The other half of the time [we go to athlete parties].

How happy are you with the nightlife at Cornell? If you could change anything, what would you change?
It’s not really a huge part of my life at Cornell. As a freshman, it is hard to get to a lot of places just because you’re far away. I live in Collegetown now, which is just on the other side of campus, where it’s a lot easier to get to places. You’re closer there so it’s easier going out where I am now as opposed to as a freshman.

What have been some of your favorite times at Cornell?
I love practicing and playing games in-season. It is the most fun time of the year because we’re traveling and we get really close as a team. I like that whole time put together is some of my favorite experiences.

Through my major, we have had some cool opportunities where you get to go in a field and do research. I went on a field research trip to the Dominican Republic to study birds. We were with 12 people in groups of 3. We each had a specific bird species and we got to do a research project on them and then we’re still working on getting our research published. That’s probably my all-time favorite moment.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through athletics, I’m not great at making friends so being on a team has allowed me to make friends. My closest friends are on the team. Also, on the research trips that I took, I met a couple of people who I’m still close with.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Cornell?
I would say it’s focused around Greek life as an athlete. That’s a huge scene where most people go partying with on the weekend. Within athletics, some teams are really close with each other. It depends on which team you’re associated with.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
The people who I hang around are all very accepting. I’ve never noticed a problem of racism or anything like that. I personally try to be really accepting and I never thought of anyone as less than anyone else. That’s just not something I do. I know the problems in the past with racism, but I never really truly know what has happened. That’s been a problem a couple of times but it’s not a huge thing always on everyone’s minds.

How would you describe the overall student body?
It’s overwhelming, especially if you are coming in as someone who’s not necessarily the smartest in his or her class. There are people here who are very smart, but at the same time, there are people here who are willing to help you. Once you get used to it you realize that these people are more like you than you think. [Cornell has about 15,000 undergraduate students.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew before entering Cornell as a freshman?
That it’s not all about being smart. I went in telling myself that I have to get good grades to fit in here, but the more classes I took and the more time I spent around people, I realized that everyone is in the same boat as me. The classes are hard for everyone and there are people, like classmates and professors, who are available to help you. It’s not as an impossible task as someone might think it is.

What is something that a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
Come in ready to work hard, but also, it’s supposed to be [doable]. That’s why you’re doing it and people are willing to help you. People have been doing it before you and you’re not alone in the process.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
People probably don’t go as far east on campus as they should. There are some cool spots there like the Dairy Bar. They have ice cream, which is a huge thing at Cornell. They make ice cream on campus and it’s super good. It’s so good they can’t even sell it on campus because it has such a high fat content, but that’s what makes it good. So, they should go to the Dairy Bar or Botanic Gardens.

Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) It’s a beautiful campus.
2) There are many different things you can do at Cornell major-wise and extracurricular-wise. You can do club or intramural sports and there are many different clubs. I want to join these different clubs, but I don’t have the time and I wish I could.
3) The ice cream at the Dairy Bar.
4) Ithaca is a really unique place that there aren’t many towns around the area like this one and if you have the time to explore it, it’s definitely worth it.

Reasons to not attend Cornell:
1) The winters are really cold.
2) The classes are really hard.
3) Ithaca is really small and in the middle of nowhere.

Notice: Cornell University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Cornell University.

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