Student Thoughts on Attending Cornell University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach—they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Felicia is earning her bachelor’s degree in applied economics and management at Cornell University. She lives in New York City and specializes in accounting tutoring, macroeconomics tutoring, microeconomics tutoring, and several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at Cornell University:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options at Cornell University.

Felicia: Cornell University is located in Ithaca, NY—a great college town in western New York. Cornell is surrounded by a beautiful landscape. The campus is large, with different quads separating the different academic schools. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end of the campus to another. Since it is large, the Ithaca public bus system (TCAT) runs through campus. Students are able to take this bus off campus as well. Ithaca is a great college town, and there are a lot of fun activities to do on and off campus. There are great restaurants at the Commons, and the farmer’s market is really awesome. I do not have a car on campus and I’m fine, but a lot of students bring their car after freshman year.

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

Felicia: Professors are very accessible and encourage students to go to their office hours to ask questions. All classes have teaching assistants, but depending on the department, they may be undergraduates or graduate students. Either way, between the professors and teaching assistants there is a surplus of office hours available to get help. Academic advisors are helpful, but it is the student’s responsibility to seek out their help.

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

Felicia: At Cornell, all freshmen live in dorms on North Campus. This is great, because all the freshmen are geographically very close together. There are a number of different dorms, and each has their own set up. My freshman year I lived in a dorm that was all singles (fun fact: my dorm is the largest dorm of all the Ivy League schools). Other dorm set ups include doubles and triples. After freshman year, many students who decide to join Greek life live in their houses, which is really fun. Other options include living in dorms on West Campus. After sophomore year, students generally move off campus to Collegetown, a neighborhood right off of campus.

Dining is great at Cornell. There are a lot of different options, and the food is really good. There are two dining halls on North campus as well as another food place that is open late. There are six dining halls on West campus. On Central campus, where classes are held, there is one dining hall as well as numerous cafes.     

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported at Cornell University? 

Felicia: I am an applied economics and management major, which is in The Charles H. Dyson School for Applied Economics and Management. It resides in the College for Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). I study undergraduate business, and I am concentrating in strategy. Students in The Dyson School can concentrate in 13 areas including finance, entrepreneurship, and international trade and finance. I am interested in business and learning about what makes certain companies successful. Applied economics and management is the largest major on campus. Cornell is very unique because it is a land grant university, meaning that three of its colleges are state-funded. This includes CALS, The College for Industrial and Labor Relations, and The College for Human Ecology. The rest of the colleges are private. They are The College of Arts and Sciences, The College of Engineering, The College of Hotel Administration, and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. Arts and Sciences is the largest college on campus.   

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?

Felicia: It was not hard to make friends when arriving at Cornell University. Everyone is in the same boat as you and everyone is looking to meet people. You meet people in your dorm, classes, and through other friends. I decided to join Greek life because I was interested in continuing to meet new people. Greek life is about 1/3 of campus, so it is prominent but escapable. It is there if you want it, but is in no means necessary to have a social life.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services at Cornell University? 

Felicia: Each college has its own career center. The CALS career center is very helpful in going over resumes, cover letters, and giving practice interviews. Top companies such as Goldman Sachs, EY, Deloitte, and Disney come to recruit.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Felicia: Cornell has three main libraries and many other smaller libraries across campus. Everyone has their favorite place to study because each one has a different vibe and different types of study spaces. I have never had a problem getting a seat; the only time when it’s tricky is during finals. The student union center is called Willard Straight Hall, and it has numerous resources available for students. Willard Straight houses Cornell Cinema, Slope Studio (an art center), cafes, and study spaces.   

Describe the surrounding town.

Felicia: Ithaca is a great college town with a lot to do off campus. Right off campus is the neighborhood Collegetown, where many upperclassmen live. There are many restaurants and bars within walking distance from students’ apartments. Ithaca’s downtown area is known as the Commons, which has awesome restaurants and shops. Surrounding off campus there are a lot of state parks, such as Buttermilk Falls. Gorge jumping is a popular activity in the fall and spring.

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

Felicia: Cornell is about 5,000 undergrads per class. I like the size because there are always opportunities to meet new people. There are many ways to make Cornell feel smaller, such as joining Greek life or being close with kids in your major. Generally, classes are big (especially introductory classes), but small classes are not hard to find. I like both environments; even if it is a big class, there are still opportunities to get help.

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

Felicia: The highlight so far of my undergraduate career was having the opportunity to participate in the class Global Business Trip: South Africa. Thirteen students and three professors traveled to South Africa to learn about business, culture, and the history of South Africa. We traveled to Cape Town and Johannesburg, taking in the sights, meeting entrepreneurs, and touring big businesses. It was amazing to travel and experience a wonderful culture, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Another great class I took was a Plant Science class called Plants and People. The professor was so amazing and cared so much about us learning about plants. I learned a lot about the plants we used. We had lab and we got to do all these exciting things, and we also got to go on field trips such as a trip to a local coffee roasting place.

Check out Felicia’s tutoring profile.

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