Cornell University: A Student Interview

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Joe graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics. He is now a tutor in Seattle specializing in Algebra tutoring, Calculus tutoring, Physics tutoring, and many other subjects. Check out his review of Cornell University:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Joe: Most people use the bus system because it is very convenient. I do not suggest a bike because Ithaca has many hills. Also, it snows a lot during the winter, which makes keeping a bike or car a hassle.

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Joe: The vast majority of professors are very helpful. Many keep their doors open, and they allow students to drop by at any time. Students seek most of their academic advice from their professors. Also, many of the more difficult classes are small, giving the students more opportunities to interact with their professors or their teaching assistants.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Joe: Cornell’s dining program is great. It is much better than most other universities in terms of quality and variety of food. The downside is that it is quite costly to eat at the dining halls. There are plenty of opportunities for socializing with other students, such as community events, clubs, performances, etc. As for the dorms, they are generally pretty decent. Most students live in dorms for their first and second year, and then they move into apartments in Collegetown for their junior and senior years.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Joe: Every major is well represented. To list a few, Cornell has a world famous hotel school, amazing engineering programs, and a possibly one-of-a-kind school of Industrial Labor Relations. The founder, Ezra Cornell, is famous for his motto, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” Whatever field you wish to study, even if it is an interdisciplinary field that does not fall under one major, Cornell gives you the opportunity to learn what you want and earn a degree in it.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Joe: It was very easy to meet people as a freshman. People would walk up to you and introduce themselves. Greek life plays a very prominent role. I believe approximately 30% of the students are in a fraternity or a sorority.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Joe: There are regular job fairs. Many students are able to land internships and jobs at large companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Lockheed Martin, Goldman Sachs, etc.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Joe: Students generally study in the library or common rooms. They are easily accessible, spacious, and convenient. During exam week, they may become overcrowded, but not on an average day.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Joe: Ithaca is a quaint little town with lots of local businesses. Most students stay near the campus. However, some students take weekend trips to New York City or Syracuse.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Joe: Cornell has around 21,000 students. Class sizes range from five to 500. For first year classes, one can generally expect class sizes of around 200. For upper-division classes that are more specialized, class sizes are usually around 30.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Joe: My most memorable class was a wine tasting class. Every Wednesday, I would have the opportunity to learn about viticulture and wine tasting, sampling wines from all over the world. 

Check out Joe’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.