"Or they just choose not to act. I would argue that there are a fair number of students (at any university) who would be happier elsewhere, but do not make the effort to transfer."
Yes, but WHY do they choose not to make the effort? Some do -- I in fact did. Of those who consider transferring from a great and diverse school like Cornell, how many come to realize the "grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence" adage? Usually, those who do act on transferring feel very very strongly for one reason or another. My belief is that students at Cornell so rarely transfer because many who might consider the prospect realize that the pros far outweigh the cons there compared to the viable alternatives.
.. which is different than saying there are no cons in existence to be weighed in such decision.
In any event, with regard to this particular item, I think most of us here agree the situation gets better, actually. So those most likely to act on their impression of it being a con are people who don't show up in the first place because of it.
Because by the time you experience it as a con personally and start thinking about acting on that , you may also have some nagging feeling that the adverse situation may actually get better in the future if you stay on. And you may be right.
BTW subsidized NYS tuition is disincentive to transfer for some; great school but just saying..
".. which is different than saying there are no cons in existence to be weighed in such decision." If you look back you will see that I never claimed that, but rather that the cons were non-existent for most, minimal for some, and major for a very few.
"BTW subsidized NYS tuition is disincentive to transfer for some; great school but just saying.." Yes, but only for three of the undergrad colleges -- the so called statutory schools -- and even for them the cost still far exceeds the SUNY schools. The other four undergrad colleges now cost over 51,000 dollars per year for tuition and board, unless you can qualify for aid.
I think if you require a lot of emotional support and hand holding, you may find Cornell challenging. I think that's where the "fit" comes in.
Agreed, especially for the first year or two at Cornell. However, I'm convinced that there is enough diversity and support at Cornell that it is very hard not to eventually find one's fit on campus with due time. This is why so many seniors -- who may have had a lot of ups and downs as an underclassmen -- are so aghast to find themselves graduating and leaving Ithaca. The challenge is making certain that the freshmen can find their comfort areas as quickly as possible.
What is seems to me is that Cornell is in reality just a big Uni, and has all the trappings that go with 'em.
It is and it isn't. Ostensibly it can feel like a big state university, but between the seven different undergraduate colleges and the way the students subdivide themselves across many different and uniquely appealing residential choices, after four years I think it ends up feeling much more like an institution half of its size, say Northwestern or Georgetown.
It's this conflicting duality that has really prompted this discussion.
Also, my guess at the reason for Cornell’s very solid retention rate is that its students either appreciate the quality of the school, its remarkable opportunities (along with its diversity), or they at least come to realize how much they would be giving up were they to transfer.
Indeed, Cornell's retention and graduation rate is even more impressive after you control for aptitude and income effects. Whereas some schools, like Dartmouth or Stanford, under perform relative to what their demographics would suggest, Cornell over performs.
The Washington Monthly rankings spell this phenomenon out quite well. Given Cornell's SAT and Pell Grant percentages, one would expect 89 percent of students to graduate within six years. The actual number is 93, so Cornell is +4 in this regard.
Dartmouth and Stanford, on the other hand, are both -3.
Just a couple of points for clarification: first, the retention rate that I had quoted a couple of times in this thread was for the percentage of freshman who return for their sophomore year, which is 96 percent (source = US News and World Report 2009 Best Colleges). The figures you quoted are, if I am correct, for the percentage of students who graduate within 6 years. Those Washington Monthly breakdowns were very interesting BTW.
Second, Northwestern University is a bit bigger than half the size of Cornell. They currently have 18,028 enrolled in total, of which 8,284 are undergraduates (source = Wikipedia).
Don't know too many people who have attended, and taken the same classes, at all these schools, to give any really insightful answer.
I would expect that all of them are challenging. Including the ones that people label as "easy". They may be "easy" if you are one of the most academically capable and motivated students in america, like all your classmates are. Otherwise, I bet they are actually not so easy.
some say that cornell is the easiest Ivy to get into but the hardest to get out of. How true is this? And how true is is in comparison to Johns Hopkins, WUSTL, and Berkeley?
While obviously it varies from major to major, from people I have known who went to Harvard undergrad, they have said it is easy once you're in and they do everything they can to keep you from failing. I certainly didn't find that at Cornell.
I can't speak for the other Ivies, though. So, probably some degree of truth to it when comparing academic apples to apples.
I'm really glad this thread is still active, because I have a lot of comments to add. I am an old grad with a teenager just starting to look at colleges, but she has decided that a school would have to be pretty special to exceed the experiences she has already had at Cornell as the child of an alum.
Going back to to post #17, "Cornell is the easiest Ivy to get into but the hardest to get out of" - I believe that the that the quote is not referring to the punishing academics - I believe it is still relatively easy to flunk out if you try, but to the extensive network of Cornellians that you met at school, and you can depend on years later. My husband and I both return to our reunions on a regular basis. At one I ran into a friend who had to leave his country of residence due to a military coup d'etat. He had a new job in the US in short order due to his Cornell connections.
For a girl from a small rural/suburban school Cornell didn't seem too big. It was the first place I ever didn't feel out of place for thinking, or doing well in school. And based on my daughter's experiences there is still bias against academic achievement in public schools.
I've never heard that interpretation of the "easiest in...hardest out" line. I don't think that's what it means, but you're absolutely right about the connections - especially on the east coast.
I've found people tend to be very proud of Cornell and happy with their experience at it. Not in an arrogant way, but just in the sense that it was a very transformative experience. A lot of pretty impressive people, as well.
If you want to give your daughter a non-parental assessment of Cornell, there are a number of threads on this subject you can search.
Pros - phenomenal school, can study just about anything, very tough academics, high name recognition, Ivy, college town atmosphere (just ask Yalies or Columbia grads about that one), amazing faculty, great alumni connections and contact.
Cons - it is friggin' cold. And I'm a New Englander. It is dark, and cold, and very very hard. I have two master's degrees, I spent 10 years working for a Big 4 accounting firm, and I never worked as hard as I did at Cornell. Plus the sports teams (except hockey) for the most part suck, but that's true for all of the Ivies. Only Stanford is a great school with awesome sports teams.
Also it's a bit frustrating having the "state schools" sometimes because the classes there (depending on the academic area) are generally not as challenging and yet it's the same degree. That's where the "easy to get in, hard to stay" rep comes from. The state schools skew the admission rates.
When you compare the private colleges to the other Ivies, Cornell's acceptance rate is very close. As far as comparing to the other Ivies, I've told my kids I can live with Yale and Princeton, you will be bummed if you go to Columbia, Harvard undergrad sucks, and Brown is a joke. And Dartmouth, Dartmouth is just too small. But I'm hoping they both go to Cornell.
For me, graduating from Cornell was one of the five best days of my life, right up there with my wedding day and the births of my kids. I'm a third generation Cornellian, and very proud of it. I just wish I could get back to Ithaca more often!
- Has really unique majors that can't be found at many other universities, like Fiber Science and Apparell Design, Human Development and Industrial Labour Relations.
- Has an international reputation for academic excellence.
- Perfect size [not too big, but not too small].
- Students are generally more down to earth than the other Ivy League schools.
- There's like 30 libraries, so there's always somewhere new to study!
- Buildings and campus overall is GORGES [gorgeous].
- Putting all freshmen together on North Campus housing for year one was a really brilliant idea to really foster a transition into college life.
- There is a million organizations, so there is something for everyone. If you want to start a club, it's relatively easy to do so.
- Students are really passionate about whatever it is they love doing, which is cool to be surrounded by.
- Great financial aid, and thus, a pretty good diversity of students from different SES backgrounds.
- Ithaca is not the most booming town, so it can get boring.
- In my opinion, it gets REALLY cold. Wind and snow can make the winters tough.
- Social life can be a bit rough unless you're in the Greek system or have a lot of friends who have house parties in Collegetown.
- Academics can take over your life, especially during prelim seasons and finals.