Skip over navigation
A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: April (IT'S FINALS! SEND HELP!)

Finals are the pits. Finals are the devil’s invention. Finals... More

A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: March

Happy March, Sparklefrosh! You know what March means—Pi Day, the... More

Never Been Kissed in Michigan: THE THRILLING CONCLUSION (Part 1)

Many, many moons ago I was one of SparkLife’s More

A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: January

Okay, show of hands—who’s currently wearing all the socks they... More

A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: December

Hey! Over here! Remember me? I’m your ever-present trusty guide,... More

What Your Breakfast Says About Your Study Habits

Your personality—the very essence of your being—is really just a... More

7 Great Cocurricular Opportunites for Meeting New People

Making new friends isn't easy. Wouldn't life be simpler if... More

A Month-by-Month Guide to Your Freshman Year of College: November

Since last we spoke, Sparkler freshmen, I trapped... More

Quiz: Is your college roommate trying to take over your life?

Whether you hand-picked each other or were randomly matched, living... More

Search colleges:

Cornell University

the basics
Location
410 Thurston Avenue
Ithaca NY 14850
Undergrad Enrollment
8,000
Type
Private
Setting
Rural
Tuition
$ 36,000
Room & Board
$ 12,000
5 reasons it’s cool
  • Enjoy the waterfalls, gorges, and gardens that grace one of the loveliest campuses in the country.
  • A research institution of the highest caliber, Cornell has world-class laboratories and one of the largest library systems in North America.
  • With seven schools, over four thousand courses, and at least five hundred clubs and organizations, the university offers something for everyone.
  • Its reputation as the Ivy League party school isn’t far off the mark.
  • Study under Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners: Cornell professors are the leading scholars and researchers in their fields.

Any person, any study

Oh, the Possibilities!

Ezra Cornell wasn’t kidding when, in 1865, he vowed to “found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” With seven undergraduate colleges, seventy majors, and over four thousand courses, Cornell students certainly have options. Most enroll in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Engineering. Three of the colleges are funded by New York state, meaning that New Yorkers get a break on the hefty tuition. Class size can be large (the infamous Psychology 101 is a class of two thousand!), but higher-level classes usually stay between fifteen and fifty students. The sheer number of options can be daunting, and although the professors are accessible, you need to be motivated and take initiative. The core curriculum isn’t too extensive, which gives students the chance to take electives from any of the seven schools (Wine Tasting at the Hotel School is popular). Cornell professors are at the top of their fields and expect their students to work hard.

The Mystery of Pumpkin Tower

One Halloween back in 1997, a pumpkin mysteriously appeared atop the pointed spire of McGraw clock tower. The resilient gourd kept its perch for five months, leading many to doubt the verity of the vegetable. One group even floated up a mini hot-air balloon to collect pumpkin samples, but the Great Pumpkin Mystery remained unsolved.

Working Hard and Letting Loose

Students accepted by Cornell tend to be motivated overachievers. The university abounds with opportunities for extracurricular activities, such as writing for the popular Cornell Daily Sun newspaper or volunteering through the Public Service Center. If you’re into sports, there’s a climbing wall, tons of intramural teams, and the much-anticipated hockey game against Harvard, in which students release pent-up tension by throwing dead fish at the Crimson players. Most students are heavily involved in one or two extracurriculars, balancing them with their academic load. And make no mistake, the academics are tough; Uris library is a popular hangout. Come the weekend, though, Cornellians let loose. The Greek system dominates the party scene, but there’s also Collegetown, an area of off-campus housing with bars and restaurants. The largest party of the year is Slope Day, outdoor festivities on the last day of classes (when the snow has finally melted). As for housing, freshman from all seven schools live on the recently renovated North Campus. Upperclassmen have the option of living on West Campus, in one of the ten university-run “program” houses, or off campus in Collegetown. Big plus: The food service, run by the Hotel School, is known for cooking up some of the best campus grub in the country.

One Gorges Campus

The pun “Ithaca is Gorges,” which you’ll see emblazoning T-shirts across campus, sums up the Finger Lakes region: It’s stunning and filled with, well, gorges. You’re bound to pass over one, as well as an accompanying waterfall, on your way to class. The 745-acre hilltop campus also features the Cornell Plantations, three hundred acres of trails, gardens, and natural areas. From the 173-foot Jennie McGraw Tower, the focal point of campus, chime masters play daily tunes. Cornell overlooks the tip of Cayuga Lake and the small, artsy town of Ithaca. Although some students find Ithaca sleepy, they don’t deny that it boasts great restaurants, like Maxie’s, and occasional live music. Ithaca is also within ten miles of four natural parks. Students can rent gear from the outdoor education program for activities like climbing, skiing, biking, and hiking.