Cornell is beautiful. Seriously gorgeous — a sprawling bucolic campus with amazing gorges, waterfalls and views of Lake Cayuga. (Check out my Facebook post for a picture). It also has a rich educational tradition with seven schools or colleges that rank among the best in the world. That much I expected from the youngest (founded in 1865) and largest of the Ivy’s (20,000 undergrad students). What I wasn’t prepared for was Cornell’s big and almost irreverant sense of humor about all that. Case in point: I’m betting that Cornell is the onlyIvy to make its ‘Hi Mom Momcam’ (where Mom’s or Dad’s can sign up at one-minute increments to catch a glimpse of Little Missy’s new boyfriend, for example) a highlight of the general tour. Another fun-fact about this revered institution: for every student sponsored club, there exists an equal and opposite student club to counter that group. There’s a club for vegetarians, for example… and then there’s MEAT or ‘Men Eating Animals Together’ to annoy the vegetarian club. I know I digress, but now I can see why Keith Olbermann (’79) fit in so nicely at Cornell.
A couple of highlights from our morning at Cornell:
– Cornell is huge (like a little city unto itself). There are 18 libraries on campus. To get a real feel for the school, you really need to spend a day. The information center (which is located at Day Hall — not at Admissions) provides a general campus tour AND a special tour called the Freshman Experience that focuses just on student life. If you are truly interested, I suggest you do both tours AND an Information Session — which is more personalized and targeted to the admission & application requirements. Since you do not have to sign in for the tours, if you want to demonstrate sincere interest, you really should do an Information Session.
– The student faculty ratio here is 14:1 and ALL classes are taught by Professors (which sadly is an anomaly in many of Cornell’s research-centric IVY bretheren.) It has world-famous programs in hotel management, architecture. the sciences and agriculture.
– And Cornell is sincere in its mission of educational accessibility to all. Not only were they the first Ivy institution to admit women, they have pledged to match any financial aid offer from any other Ivy, in an effort to increase its yield.
– Cornell also pointed out its career offices (there are separate career offices for each college/school). Perhaps it’s a sign of the times and we’ll be seeing more schools put career centers on their tours… I’ll let you know if this trend continues at Skidmore tomorrow…
Net net: The intellectual student with a sense of humor can certainly find an outlet for both at Cornell.
One final note as I get ready to depart Ithaca. It’s cold here in the winter (like 20 degrees). And it snows a lot. The good news is there is skiing nearby. It is served by two airports (a regional one that is served by Jet Blue – through NYC; and the Syracuse airport, an hour away).