An Interview On
Cornell University

Background

Interview Date:July 2018

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: Public school in Long Island, NY with a graduating class of 250 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Policy Analysis and Management, which is basically Public Policy with Economics and Statistics
Minor: Business
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of a club that does funding for social justice and community service projects, we’re basically a funding board. I’m also part of a fraternity.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
It depends on the class, so it can be a combination of problem sets, readings, and case students. There is room for you to choose what classes you’re interested in, so for me, it’s mostly problem sets and case studies, but somebody with the same major may have a totally different experience.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think it gives you a good background in sort of everything. I think they do a really good job of making it applicable to the real world and job hunting.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s not as competitive as people would assume. There are a lot of group projects, so it’s collaborative in that sense. I’d say it’s more collaborative than competitive.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
Shareholders, Policy, and the Law. It’s a business class looking at how public policy shapes the way businesses set themselves up and operate

What has been your least favorite class in your major?
Multivariate Regression Statistics, just because it’s, like, impossible.

Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think the professors are pretty good at being open to other schools of thought. It also tends to be a very liberal school. I tend to lean pretty liberal, so I never had an issue. If I believed different things, so I may have a different experience so that is hard for me to gauge. It seems relatively open to me and I know that professors always say that you do not have to believe what I believe just make your argument.

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose my major because I thought it was interesting and would help me with jobs. If I chose again, I don’t know if I would choose the same thing or if I would just choose Business, but I’m definitely happy with the choice. I have also enjoyed my business courses.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Kay Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Fraternity house which is on North Campus

Junior: First semester I was in my fraternity house, and second semester I went abroad.

Senior: I’m living in an apartment with 4 other apartment-mates on College Ave.

What was your favorite living situation?
The fraternity house was my favorite.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe on campus. I know they have the Blue Light System, but I’ve never seen anyone need to use them.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Agava, it’s the kind of place you bring your parents to.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
Buttermilk Falls, it’s like a 20-minute drive from campus. There’s also a really cool farmer’s market. There’s a lot of stuff to do if you want to leave campus.

Pros and Cons of being in Ithaca, NY?
Pros: (1) I like that when it’s nice, it’s really nice. During the one to two months when it’s warm while we’re up there it’s really nice and you can go swimming and stuff like that.
(2) The food is great. There are a lot of restaurants.

Cons: It’s absurdly cold during the winter. You need like three jackets.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Most of my nightlife goes through my fraternity. I go to my fraternity’s events and stuff like that. It’s mostly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Certain nights are bigger for bars and certain aren’t. The campus really only goes out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Obviously not everybody does, but if you’re interested, there’s always something to do those nights. We have fraternity stuff Thursdays and Saturdays, and Fridays are more bars. When your fraternity events happen depends on your fraternity.

What have been some of your favorite times at Cornell?
Slope Day, which is our end of the year music festival is really, really cool. It’s right at the end of the second semester. Homecoming is also really fun. It’s the one football game a year people tailgate. Aside from that, our big fraternity events, like formal, are really fun. But, in terms of all campus, those are the two big events. We have on-campus concerts and comedians that are cool.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
We rush second semester freshman year, so freshman year ends up being worse than the others, not that it’s not fun, but you’re less cemented so it’s less stable. There are nights that you go out and you find nothing. Second semester you rush and join a fraternity and all that sort of stuff. I’d say that most people that like to go to parties join a fraternity and sorority. [About 33% of students are involved in Greek life.]

How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’d say I’m very happy with it. There is not much I would change.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Either at random freshman events or through the fraternity.

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s there if you want it to be. It’s very based around fraternities and sororities. I’d say the majority of students that go to parties regularly are in a fraternity or a sorority. If you’re looking for a social scene and it’s something you want to participate in, there’s a lot of stuff to do and you’re never going to be bored. But it’s not a big party school. [About 33% of students are involved in Greek life.]

To what extent do you think people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’d like to say it mixes well. I have friends all over the map. But, I’m also not the best person to be answering that question, so I’m going to give a positive answer knowing that my answer doesn’t matter as much as somebody else’s.

How would you describe the student body?
People are really into whatever they’re doing. Everyone is doing something, there is nobody sort of just skating through, whether it’s they’re really into their academics or they’re really into their clubs. Everybody has something going on.

Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Cornell by the time they graduate?
I definitely am and most of the people I know there are.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not really the alumni network so much, but the school is pretty good at finding stuff. The alumni network is more personalized. Like, my fraternity alumni network has been more helpful than any general alumni network or major alumni network. I think the main thing that helps with jobs is when people see Cornell on a resume it helps.

How helpful has the career office been?
I haven’t really used them much. We have a website called Handshake that has been useful.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve learned Excel just out of necessity for certain classes, not like it was actually taught to me. I learned it so it would make my classwork easier. I’ve learned Stata for a class, which is a statistics program.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Cornell before entering as a freshman?
I wish I understood that it was going to be tough academically. I went in figuring it would be about the same as high school and I’d be fine. I ended up being fine and I think if you’re willing to put the work in you’ll do fine. You have to work harder than you did in high school, at least if you were somebody who was able to coast through.

What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The social life, if that’s something they’re in to. I know the visit I went on it’s not something they tell you about. It’s a lot more fun than the tours make it out to be.

Reasons to attend Cornell:
1) You get a great education.
2) There’s a lot of very diverse classes. I’m taking a class in beermaking next year, but those cool classes are not at the expense of actually getting an education.
3) It’s really fun. I’ve made great friends there.

Reasons to not attend Cornell:
The only reason I can think of is that it is a lot of work, and if that’s not really what you want to sign up for then don’t go.

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