An Interview On
Cornell University

Background

Interview Date:May 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: I went to a public school in San Diego, CA with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a big focus on going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Human Biology, Health, and Society
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: Last year I was just a student-athlete, but a big focus of mine this year is going to be trying to get involved in more clubs. [I’m interested in the] Pre-Health Club for Athletes because last year I signed up for three or four clubs and I couldn’t make most of them because of my practice schedule.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
I have class pretty much every single day. Some days are a little bit lighter than others with how many classes. I had a lot of labs, that was the biggest time commitment last year. This fall I will have an organic chemistry lab. In the future it will be more biochemistry and molecular genetics. There were some problem sets, but not as much as some of my friends had. There was a lot of individual studying and using your own time. It was not completely directed by the professor, but going to office hours, taking supplemental courses, and staying on top of the curriculum.

Is there anything you felt your major’s department did especially well or poorly?
I didn’t get to go to many office hours type things because of my sports schedule, but the professors are really good about working with that whether you email them or try to go in one time and talk to them about your situation. It’s really nice to have them be so accommodating about that sort of thing. It does get pretty tricky trying to prioritize, like, if you want help in biology or maybe I think chemistry is going to be more of a challenge.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly collaborative or competitive?
I would definitely say it’s competitive but you can find some study groups and friends that are going to help you. For me especially, studying in a group was really helpful for being able to talk through the information and not just doing problems on your own. I would really say it’s a very competitive environment and that was something to get used to.

Most of my classes were on a curve, so people are trying to beat me and beat the average. There have been a few times where students have been a little hesitant to give a lot of information when you’re studying for the same class. Once you find a core group of friends, it’s definitely different in that aspect and it becomes more of a collaborative environment.

What was your favorite class last year?
A nutrition class I took was probably my favorite. It covered a lot of different information that was so unique and not something that I had access to or prior knowledge of coming into college. It was also really cool to be able to take a class that wasn’t the general biology or chemistry. The professor was great. He has these coffee chats where you could come and talk to him not necessarily about the coursework, but what he’s doing or pretty much anything.

What was your least favorite class last year?
General Chemistry just because it’s so hard. At the same time, I didn’t learn a lot in that class. That’s one of the more competitive classes because it’s such a large lecture and you don’t really get as much one on one time with the professor unless you’re going to office hours. You start to see the competitive side of Cornell, especially in that class.

How was managing your sport and your coursework?
It’s definitely tough, but it’s doable. There are a lot of resources available to help you do it, which I was really happy to learn about when I got to campus. Having the team there, especially people who took similar classes as you can really help. We have a really cool program where the athletes get free tutoring and they are really flexible and will work with your practice schedules, whereas a lot of the school provided tutors are a little less lenient with that. One of the other biggest learning adjustments was learning not only how to study effectively, but learning how to study efficiently because with my sports schedule time is pretty limited and you have to leave some time to relax and explore the campus and area.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Mews Hall with one roommate. It was really awesome. It’s one of the newer dorms so we had air conditioning. The way they’re set up is sort of a pod-type thing. My roommate and I had a double, and then in our pod was a single and another double, so the five of us shared a bathroom. It wasn’t quite the communal bathroom. You weren’t walking down the hall in your flip flops to shower. Mews is a great dorm because there are a lot of study lounges and things like that. A lot of my friends would come to Mews to study instead of going to the library.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I felt very safe on campus. To get into our dorm we had to swipe into the dorm two times to get in. Once to get into the lobby and then again to get up into the rooms. They also have the Blue Light System on campus.

How was transitioning from San Diego to Ithaca, NY?
That was pretty tough, especially weather-wise. I knew going into college I wanted a four-season experience, or something different from home, but it was very different. That was a big adjustment. Once you’re there and it’s your new reality, you figure out a way to make it work with the weather conditions. Buy a good pair of boots and a good jacket.

The grey skies were the biggest change for me as opposed to at home where it’s pretty much sunny every day. If you don’t like the cold Ithaca’s not the best. The walks to class are the only time where you have to be outside.

The fall’s amazing with all the trees changing color and that’s something I didn’t get to experience, and the cold makes me appreciate home more and helps me figure out if the four-seasons thing is something I want to stay living in for a while. I looked at it as an experiment.

Pros and Cons of being in Ithaca, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s absolutely gorgeous there. Even on campus you’re surrounded by nature and trees. You have easy access to hikes and waterfalls, which is something I appreciate.
(2) They have great food downtown.

Cons: (1) Extreme cold and snow. At the same time, it is really pretty looking outside at the white backdrop.
(2) It is a very small town, which can make it charming, but it’s also really far away from any major metropolitan city.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Most of the time, especially in the fall, I was hanging out with just the team because they were definitely the first group of friends that I was really able to become close with. There’s a party scene and there’s no pressure to be involved in it, but I did enjoy going out with my teammates and meeting new people. When I did go out, I would mostly go to athlete mixers. We went to a few frat parties too.

One thing next year I want to try to do is get off campus more. It was hard freshman year because I didn’t have a car, so I was kind of stuck walking or taking the bus. Next year some of my friends are going to have cars, so we want to explore downtown more because there’s a lot there to offer, like hiking, and as far as nightlife there’s a lot of great restaurants too.

What were some of your favorite nightlife times last year?
I really liked when we had Slope Day in the spring and they had Galantis come. Before that, we went to a frat and had some fun there. It’s fun because you’re out all day with your friends and then into the night, which was quite a different experience than what I’ve had at home. That was really nice to relax and have fun with your friends.

There were a lot of options, so it was nice knowing that you’re not limited to just frat parties. You can stay in, you can go see a movie or eat out at a restaurant on the water. There are definitely a lot of options, which I appreciated.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Cornell? Is there anything you would like to see changed or added to it?
Sometimes it’s not very inclusive, especially with the frats. It’s hard to describe, but sometimes you just know that we’re not going to get into that party so there’s no point of going. As athletes, we definitely have a good set up with that because we always have other teams to mix with.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my team. I would say they’re my family. Outside of that, it did take me a long time to find a close-knit group of friends outside of the team. Hearing some of my other friends at other colleges had already found their friend group, it made me think I was behind the curve. I had a person in my pod move into my room second semester, and I met my closest group of friends through her.

How would you describe the social scene?
Cornell is a very big student body and, initially, I thought that’s what I wanted. I like having all the different people there available to meet, but it does affect the social life in that because there are so many people, it’s almost impossible to get to know everybody. You have to pick and choose who you’re going to spend your time with and that was a big adjustment for me. [Cornell has about 15,000 undergraduate students.]

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I mean there are times when you can see people of similar backgrounds tending to gravitate towards each other just because of common interests. I wouldn’t say that people are excluded from social groups based on their background, but I would say there are some groups that are formed based on a commonality.

How would you describe the student body?
Very, very diverse, which was really cool for me to see coming from an area that was sort of a bubble. It was nice to find people that you wouldn’t have necessarily met in any other way. Like, one of my closest friends is from Ghana and it’s really cool to hear about his life growing up. [34% of the Class of 2022 is White and 10.5% are international students.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Cornell before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how important going to office hours and tutoring sessions was because I definitely missed quite a few opportunities in regards to that. [I wish I knew the importance of] making a connection with your professor, which is something I didn’t do last year. If you just go up and talk to them once a week to make a connection with them, because you will find in the future if you want to do research or something they will be great resources. It’s important to realize that it’s not embarrassing to ask for help because it will help you in the long run.

What is something a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
Definitely the schedule. You’re going to be exhausted like 90% of the time. It’s hard coming back super late from practice and realizing you still have to write a paper. It’s disheartening, but just be able to take that with a grain of salt and get it done. I am still learning how to effectively manage my time, and I think I will always be learning out to study better. Don’t let the exhaustion get in the way of your academics or your social life.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are a lot of really nice libraries on campus and a lot of them have a great view if you sit by the windows. A lot of people find they fit better in different libraries. I personally don’t like studying when it’s completely silent but some like the quieter ones. Libe Slope is a really nice place to sit down on a blanket or something and relax and watch the sunset. Off-campus wise, Buttermilk Falls State Park is a great place to go. There is some really easy hiking with nice views of the gorges.

Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) Challenging academic environment. You’re here to get better and learn and it really pushes you. That’s something I’ve really come to appreciate.
2) The area is really pretty, even in the winter when it’s freezing. I really like how nature is embedded on the campus. There are lots of trees and places to relax.
3) The large, diverse student body. You miss out on the tight-knit, everybody knows everybody environment. But, it gives you the chance to meet so many people. [About 21% of the undergraduate population are underrepresented minorities and about 10% are international students.]
4) The professors are world renowned and they’ve done so many amazing things and are still currently involved with a lot of research. There are lots of research opportunities to get involved in.

Reasons to not attend Cornell:
1) It is a very challenging academic environment and sometimes it becomes something that is overly stressful and overly exhausting and mentally draining. All your tests end up being in the same week so you have to figure out how to study for each of them when you only have a day or two between each test. If you’re not up for that challenge, I would say that’s the biggest concern. People can get very frustrated with the academics.
2) It’s super competitive, but I like competitive, so I did enjoy that part of it. But, it can be too much sometimes.

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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