Cornell University Visit Report by cspan37421

Visit to Cornell University in October 2020 by cspan37421
(Parent of Student, HS Class of 2012)
(Member since October 30 2020 with ? posts)

Visit Activities:

Admissions Interview: No - Not offered.

Campus Tour: No - Excellent tourguide - Taylor. She was very knowledgeable and spoke loudly and clearly amid the noise of summer construction season at Cornell.


Friendliness/Courtesy of Students:
2 - Fair
2 - Fair
Tourguides yes - very friendly staff there. Others - most everyone had earbuds in and ignored the outside world.

Friendliness/Courtesy of Staff:
2 - Fair
2 - Fair
Only met student staff. Not a single administrator.

Appearance of Campus:
1 - Poor
1 - Poor
Apart from a handful of buildings, Cornell had an industrial/city feel to it. Even accounting for summertime construction it seemed exceptionally noisy & busy.

Building/Facilities Maintenance/Cleanliness:
2 - Fair
2 - Fair
Clean but worn and most very industrial/plain in design.

We were not shown one.

No idea. Not even shown "blue lights" if they had them.

Overall Campus Impression:
1 - Poor
1 - Poor
Overgrown, industrial, noisy, city-like, just really unappealing.


Area Immediately Around Campus:
1 - Poor
1 - Poor
Some of the bumpiest paved roads I've ever seen.

2 - Fair
2 - Fair
You would think it would be hard to go wrong next to one of the great Finger Lakes. We didn't see west campus but almost nothing of what we saw appealed.

Campus Visit Notes for Cornell University

Visit Description:

Although we knew Cornell doesn't offer interviews, we expected more at the info/tour center. After visiting other schools that knew prospective students by name and offered water, coffee/tea, etc., we were very underwhelmed - almost insulted - by how unwelcoming Cornell's visitor area in Day Hall is. Although the kids manning the desk there are very friendly and professional (good at getting eye contact etc) there's no comfortable seating, they don't track who is visiting (don't care), don't offer coffee/water/tea (there's a fountain down a flight of stairs, and the men's room is 3 long corridors further yet).

Despite this initial bad impression, I was prepared to like Cornell. While I waited I thumbed through a book detailing its founding, and I really like what they do, their values, their mission. On paper they're great. They have a lot of fun, quirky traditions; they have open enrollment across their colleges, excellent faculty and opportunities. Our tourguide was young (rising sophomore) but very knowledgeable and skilled.

That said, it's surprising that a campus tour did not include at least one library and a dorm room. We took a break in one non-descript classroom. I don't recall seeing any labs, dining halls, ... dang, what did we see? A lovely small chapel. A student activities space paid for with money from an alum whose academic exploits were so uninspired that he insisted his gift not be used for instruction. A view of a bell tower and the finger lake below. A quad, a plaza, the outsides of a bunch of buildings.

The level of noise and traffic on this campus was jarring. Granted, summertime on campuses is often busy with construction & renovation projects. But even accounting for that, the number of delivery trucks, noisy buses going right through campus, etc - its very unpleasant. There is no consistency in architecture and the nicer, more collegiate-looking buildings are overwhelmed by ones that look like what you'd find in any big city or commercial research complex. It felt and sounded like a big noisy city, which is not what we expected for Ithaca NY.

Hotel/Lodging Recommendations or Comments:

We stayed in Cortland, 30 min away. Much more affordable.

Other Comments (Transportation, local attractions, parking, etc.):

Covered parking is offered if you stop at the gate (Hoy Rd?) to get a map and hanging pass. That's one of the best perks of the tour.