An Interview On
Cornell University

Background

Interview Date:June 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: I went to a boarding school in Andover, MA with a graduating class of about 300 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Undeclared
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: Student-Athlete

Academic Experience

What was your favorite class last year?
A Philosophy class I took. It was mostly writing papers and it was very introspective. There was no wrong answer and a lot of it was working on thought processes. I really appreciated the way it developed how I thought about things.

What was your least favorite class last year?
I had to take a semester of Russian and it was really hard and time-consuming.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely competitive. I find that there are a lot of tools that you can use for studying. There are a lot of study groups and you can study with your classmates because we generally have pretty big classes. But, you have to go out of your way to be a part of those. There are no planned study sessions that everyone goes to. You have to go out of your way to find tutoring sessions and stuff like that.

Is there anything that you feel Cornell has does especially well or poorly academically so far?
There is this whole idea of prelims, which are basically just midterms, but there is an extra emphasis on it because there are special time blocks for them at night outside of class and the teachers are stressing it. It’s good because you’re always worrying about the prelim and you’re on top of your studying. But, at the same time, it’s a negative thing because they give it a special name and you have to take it at 7:30 at night in an auditorium, so it makes it a more stressful environment.

How accessible are your professors?
They’re very accessible. They all have office hours and most are very responsive to emails, so if you can’t go to office hours you can find a time to meet.

Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
Yeah, I think so. Especially in the more opinion-based classes, like philosophy, there were a lot of contrasting points of view.

How is managing both your coursework and your sport?
It’s really challenging. It was more than I thought. They do their best trying to describe how much of a time commitment [your sport is]. It takes up almost all of your time between practice, lifts, and team meetings. The classes at Cornell are really demanding, so I had a hard time adjusting to that. It does take some work and some getting used to.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: North Campus in Mews Hall. North Campus is for all the freshmen. I had one roommate. It was nice having all the freshmen in one place because at any time you could go out on any of the lawns and find people to hang out with.

Sophomore: You’re not guaranteed housing after your first year, and sophomores are split half and half if they live on campus or off campus. I’m living off campus right next to campus in Collegetown in an apartment with three friends. [About 52% of undergraduates live off-campus.]

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I found it pretty safe. We have a lot of Blue Lights, so you can press it if you feel unsafe. I also find that the campus police are regularly around. I find the campus police to be pretty accessible. Also, when you’re walking around campus you’re mostly around kids your age.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Collegetown Bagels

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
We’re right on Cayuga Lake. Then also I like Ithaca Commons, which is a downtown area with shops and stuff like that. That’s my favorite place to go because the buses go down there and you can walk if you really want to. It’s a place where you can get away from the college scene.

Pros and Cons of being in Ithaca, NY?
Pros: (1) It’s a big college town.
(2) It’s in the Finger Lakes region, which is beautiful and you have the gorges and everything.

Cons: (1) It’s really hard to get to. You have to take a bus. There is the airport, but you can’t get many direct flights places.
(2) It’s so big and hilly your calves are burning everywhere you go. It’s cold in the winter but you’re still sweating when you walk around.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Unfortunately, my sport limited the amount of nightlife I was able to enjoy, but when we didn’t have morning practice I liked to go out. I thought the house parties were really fun because all the athletes can hang out together and have their own parties. There are also bars downtown that a lot of people go to which are fun.

Can you describe a typical night going out freshman year?
We’d meet at somebody’s house hang out there for a while. Then we’d all walk together to where the party was. A lot of the time there were planned mixers between teams. We essentially would start off where the planned party was and as that goes on some people would go to different frat houses or athletic houses. There’s a lot of walking and moving around, but you’re always in your group.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It has a pretty big impact. For non-athletes especially, the nightlife is largely controlled by Greek life. There are even some athletes who are also in frats and sororities, so I’d say it has a good impact. It’s pretty prominent. [About 33% of students are in Greek life.]

How happy are you with the nightlife at Cornell? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I was very happy with the nightlife at Cornell. I always had fun every time I was able to go out. I don’t think I’d change anything.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends on my team. We spend most of our time together.

How would you describe the social scene?
I find that people are often hanging around doing things. People work hard and people also play hard, not to sound cheesy. It’s huge, there’s a lot to do.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
No matter the demographic difference I think people do mix. I have noticed that I think Greek life gets in the way of that because that White frat boy culture does exist at Cornell. Not all frats are like that but there are some that are like that. There is a lot of diversity at Cornell, so you’re only dis-servicing yourself if you don’t mix with people.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s really big. There are a ton of people from all over the world which is really cool. There are also really rich people who are legacies and then also people who are first-generation students, so it’s kind of a mixed bag. [Socioeconomically, about 10% of students come from the top 10% and 3.8% are from the bottom 20%. In the Class of 2022, 13% of students self-identify as first-generation college students.]

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Cornell before entering as a freshman?
I wish I had known how hard it is to get places without a car. I think that would have helped me a lot because I pictured being able to go places and go home sometimes and I wish I knew that it was unrealistic to expect that I could go places. I also wish I knew how much [my sport] would take over my life because I expected I would have more time and I really don’t have much at all.

What is something a prospective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
It’s a really good community to be in. All the athletes are kind and welcoming to all people. I find that you have a special connection with other athletes so you have a community within a community.

What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I find I spend a lot of time in Collegetown, so definitely get a feel for the vibe down there. Also, odds are you’re going to be living there.

Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) The people. There is a group for everyone. There are always more people to meet so there’s always something new.
2) It’s challenging. It pushes you to the limits. It shows you what you can do.
3) It’s so big that there’s everything. You can find anything you want there. You can study anything you could think of, and if for some reason they don’t have what you want they could fix it for you.

Reasons to not attend Cornell:
1) If you can’t stand the idea of feeling isolated on a college campus or in a certain place. I know a lot of people do feel that way sometimes.
2) If you don’t feel like working hard. If you don’t think had to go to a school where you could do both the nightlife and the schoolwork, and you didn’t sometimes have to pick one to focus on. It takes a lot of work to be able to participate in both.
3) It’s really cold and we have very long winters.

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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