Cornell University Visit Report by dkata1
Admissions Interview: No - But we did get to talk some Admissions officers informally after the information session
Information Session: Yes - The School of Engineering session was excellent and specific. The general college session speakers kept referring us to go to their website for more statistics, rather than answer the questions.
Campus Tour: Yes - tour guide was excellent and knew her facts. tour did not visit any dorm rooms.
Classroom Visit: Yes - Tried to visit 2 classses. One of the two classes had changed rooms and did not tell Admissions. so no one was there. The other class gave D a good idea on how hard the classes will be.
Campus Visit Notes for Cornell University
We spent two days at Cornell University in April 2013 during Spring Break. The college emailed us a free parking pass so we could park in the visitors parking structure. We used it on the second day, because the Best Western has a free hotel shuttle that dropped us off in front of the buildings we needed to go to and picked us up when we called later in the afternoon.
The campus is beautiful and clean. It has sweeping vistas of the gorges and waterfalls and Cayuga Lake. The Bell tower is handsome, but other colleges have better-looking bell towers. The buildings are a mix of modern, Romanesque and Gothic styles. It is a very walkable campus, though there is bus service to/from the dorms. The only negative thing I can say about the campus was the weather. It was 34 degrees with a biting wind during the first week of April. We had snow flurries the night before. So be prepared for cold weather if you visit. Our tour guide kept telling us that in the late spring and summer, the campus is a wonderful place. I hope so.
On the first day, we attended the general one-hour admissions talk in the morning. It was similar to the talk they give during Cornell’s on the road tour they do with other colleges in different U.S. cities. The information was helpful and useful but the speakers refer you to their websites for specific information like admittance rate, GPA stats, and waitlist rates instead of answering the question directly or giving an honest answer like “Admission is competitive. We have 15% admit rate.” The only new fact I learned from this was the difference between a land grant college and a private college. If you are interested in a specific school or college, I recommend attending that college’s information session, which is what we did that afternoon.
The personal highlight of our visit here came during the lunch hour. We visited the campus store and then ate lunch in the student union, which was crowded. As we were walking through Ho Plaza, a male student suddenly stopped in front of us and said to my D, "Aren't you from _____ high school?" He was from our hometown in California and had a high school class with our D last year. They didn’t know each other that well, so we were surprised he recognized her in the crowd of students.
Since the official college tour doesn’t visit a dorm, we asked him if we could visit his dorm building. And later that evening, he gave us a tour of Mary Donlon Hall. The rooms were good sized for a double. He claimed that this was the most social of all the dorms, but there were lots of students in the first floor study lounge, and it was quiet.
There were separate bathrooms on each floor for men and women (not a given at some colleges). The students on his dorm floor were friendly and open and gave us their “unfiltered” opinions of the college to my D. (i.e. this place is competitive, but not cut-throat. Grades are on a tough curve. And they study hard.)
After lunch, we attended the College of Engineering information session, which was specific to the school, and we learned a lot more about their admissions philosophy. We were able to talk to the Engineering Admissions Presenters after the talk, and they gave us excellent advice on things to do if you are on the “waitlist.”
We then took the tour of the College of Engineering, which goes into the buildings, including Duffield Hall. We were also able to see some of the prototypes the project teams were working on and talk to the students. The tour guide was an engineering student, so she was not as well versed or as well polished as the general campus tour guides, but then what do you really expect from engineering students? Her answers were genuine and she did not hesitate to say how incredibly hard she studied.
On the second day, my D attended (or tried to attend) two college classes that were on the list of classes that prospective students could visit. The first class was a bust, as the class had changed locations and nobody told the Admissions Office. The second class was an advanced math class. My D introduced herself to the professor, and a friendly female student came up to her and asked her to sit next to her so she could answer any questions she had about the campus before the class started. We felt that speaks well of the students who attend here. During that time, the rest of the family drove around campus and visited the Cornell Plantation, the vista pull-out parking points over looking the gorge, the Arboretum and Ithaca Falls. It was sunny but freezing cold.
In the afternoon, we went on the general campus tour starting at Day Hall. There must have been over 80 people waiting for the 1 pm tour. They sent out groups of 10 with a guide every five minutes or so. The general tour was informative and walked by a lot of the campus buildings. Our tour guide covered the history, the traditions and mentioned the “Swim test” requirement. She was well versed in her presentation and gave an excellent tour.
We attempted to talk to a financial aid officer at Day Hall when the tour ended. But because D was waitlisted they wouldn’t meet with us, and would not give answers to any of my general questions. Example: What's the likelihood of getting a Grant rather than a loan? Their reason they wouldn't talk to us was they had to deal with all the “admitted” students financial aid needs first, and that it would be a waste of time to talk to us until D was admitted. They did, however, check that all of our F/A paperwork was in and nothing was missing.
Finally, we asked the student we met where they would go to eat, if their parents came to visit and were paying, and there were lots of votes for the Boatyard Grill, and that’s where we had dinner. It was an excellent choice, with decent food, and a great view right on Cayuga Lake.
Hotel/Lodging Recommendations or Comments:
We stayed at the Best Western, Breakfast was included and they have a complimentary shuttle that took us to campus
Dining/Restaurant Recommendations or Comments:
We ate dinner at the Boatyard Grill. Excellent view of the lake. The restaurant seems to be on the student list of things to do at Cornell before you graduate.