Cornell University—Ithaca, New York
Nerds who can party
What it Feels Like to Go Here
Cornell described in one word: Busy. The campus feels as energetic and bustling as an anthill full of very smart ants. Cornell prides itself on their challenging academics and extracurricular activities. With such a lively campus, most students can be seen walking briskly to their next class, meeting or seminar. Cornell and the surrounding area beckon all nature lovers with their rolling hills, beautiful gorges, lakes, waterfalls, forests and farms. Even though Cornell lives up to their academic reputation, Ithaca’s 45-degree hills become adorned with sweatpants and cheap beer as often as your most hardened party school. Working hard and partying hard(er) go hand-in-hand for these kids, who balance a challenging course load and a pile of clubs and programs against kickass frat parties and tons of local events.
To no one’s surprise, Cornell has a lot of successful (and famous) alumni. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg attended Cornell, as did Charlotte’s Web author E. B. White. Also, the first African-American woman to go into space, Mae C. Jemison, calls Cornell her alma mater. If none of that impresses you, Bill Nye the Science Guy, aka the best part of third grade, trudged up Cornell’s hills also.
Where We Hang
Cornell may not be a big ten school, but students keep themselves occupied. With 35 percent of the campus involved in Greek life, frat houses (typically) host all the best parties. If you ever need a sober weekend, Cornell offers great outdoor adventures. People especially like to hike through the gorges, even at sunrise, and in the summer you can rent paddleboats at the lake. If you’re more into the city vibe, feel free to drive an hour to Syracuse on the weekends and take advantage of the livelier, more urban feel. Ithaca also sits four hours away from New York City, a popular spring break spot for Cornell students.
On campus, students love the Cornell Concert Commission. They’ve gotten Maroon 5, Kid Cudi, Drake and Billy Joel to perform at the school, among others. Due to multiple organizations, traditions and events at the school, some incoming freshman might even feel a bit overwhelmed. “You want to try all these fun things, and you think you have so much time, and then suddenly it’s all gone,” said Cornell sophomore Amanda Pathmanathan. One thing not to miss—Slope Day, when Cornell makes light of their unbelievable landscape by hosting a huge event on their steepest hill. Plates of food, games and general college revelry offer students the chance to laugh in the face of a very long, very exhausting climb.
1. How much are students partying?
“Every Thursday to Monday, it’s all crazy frat parties. In the beginning of the school year it’s insane, but then I think it calms down a bit,” said Cornell sophomore Meghana Machireddy.
2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?
“Every time something goes wrong, it’s at a frat party,” said sophomore Amanda Pathmanathan.
3. How much sex are students having?
“It happens a lot less than people would like it to, but it still happens quite a bit,” said freshman Alex German.
4. What would you tell incoming freshman about your school?
“Time management. If you can manage your time and study efficiently, everything is going to be so much better,” said sophomore Lilly Li.
5. What made you decide to go to Cornell?
“I’m an engineering major, and I know Cornell’s program gives students a lot of hands-on practice…[Cornell] teaches a lot of skills you normally wouldn’t learn until your junior year,” said sophomore Melaney Chen.
“You learn to do your own thing and not compare yourself to other people, because there’s so many types of people here.” – Meghana Machireddy, class of 2019
“I was worried everyone would be intense and cutthroat, but the people I’ve met are very, very well rounded. They work hard, but they know how to have fun. I wouldn’t have been able to survive my classes if that wasn’t the atmosphere here.” – Amanda Pathmanathan, class of 2019
“The workload is more than I expected. There’s a lot of self-study involved.” – Melaney Chen, class of 2019
“No matter who you are or where you’re from, you can find a group here.” – Lilly Li, class of 2019
“People at this school are used to being the best… It takes some getting used to, to realize that not everyone can be.” – Caitlin Dunnett class of 2018
Top 3 Majors
2. Biological Science
Top 3 Most Popular Student Organizations
1. Big Red Marching Band
The Big Red Marching band is more than an organization; it’s a way of life. Hours of practice and frequent traveling for away games makes this just as demanding as a sport. “[This organization] is a huge time suck, but I made a lot of friends before classes even started, and it really has made my experience that much better,” said freshman Alex German. Even so, for many members it’s totally worth it to be part of an almost entirely student-run band that’s so well-known they’ve played at both NFL and CFL halftime shows.
2. Alpha Phi Omega
As the largest service fraternity in the country, it’s no surprise that APO has a strong presence on Cornell’s campus. The co-ed organization isn’t focused so much on partying as it is on volunteering, organizing fundraisers and working with the local community. “It’s important to me to feel like I’m making a difference, and APO is all about community service and doing your part,” said junior Caitlin Dunnett. Of course, members also make friends and have a lot of fun.
3. Society of Women Engineers
Women still make up less than half of engineering majors nationwide, and it’s not uncommon to walk into an upper level math class and realize you’re the only girl there. SWE hopes to give women engineering majors a chance to interact with others experiencing the same thing and also hosts events with local elementary through high school students to encourage young girls to consider engineering. “It helped me find other people who share my interests and my experiences, and I think being a part of it will open up opportunities in terms of professional life,” said sophomore Meghana Machireddy.
Yes, Cornell searches for smarties. You probably shouldn’t pin your hopes on this university unless you have a stellar academic record. And for the sake of your sanity, avoid going to Cornell unless you actively want to test your limits in terms of time management, work ethic and sheer persistence. With that said, Cornell constantly strives to build a unique student body. The class of 2019 stands as the most diverse in Cornell history, but probably won’t hold that distinction for long. They want unique stories and rare perspectives, so use your essay to explain why you’re bringing something to this school that nobody else can.
Location: Ithaca, New York
Tuition & Fees: $50,953
Total Cost on Campus: $67,613
Undergrads Enrolled: 14,315
Grads Enrolled: 5,265
Total Enrolled: 21,904
Acceptance percentage: 14%
Percent Admitted who Enroll: 52.7%
Percentage of Male Students: 48%
Percentage of Female Students: 52%
Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 64.0%
Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 8.2%
Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 5.8%