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"Nerd" Culture at Cornell

Emc2FmaEmc2Fma Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
edited May 2013 in Cornell University
I recently got a LL from Cornell and I've been doing some more research. My prospective major is Physics and Cornell is fantastic in this aspect. However, I've also gotten a LL from Swarthmore and I've been comparing the two.

The "culture" of the schools is what I'm concerned about. One of my top choices was MIT because I absolutely loved the culture there. So my question is, how difficult would it be to find the "nerd" culture at Cornell?

I'm not talking about the stay-in-your-room-and-never-come-out nerds. I'm a guy that prefers to play board games, debate white chocolate vs. dark chocolate, stay inside and watch movies, build neat gadgets with friends, discuss philosophy/astronomy/physics/the meaning of life. I would prefer being around other kids who are slightly "quirky" as well. Of course, I'm not the socially awkward type and can definitely see myself going to a few parties as well - but I don't want a huge focus of my college life to be on parties/dancing/drinking/etc.

I know that Swarthmore offers a culture very similar to this. How hard would it be to find this at Cornell?
Post edited by Emc2Fma on
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Replies to: "Nerd" Culture at Cornell

  • SaugusSaugus Registered User Posts: 3,906 Senior Member
    I'm that type of person too, I suppose.

    Eh. You can find anything in a class of 3,000 people, but it's not really readily available, as least to me. In my dorm at least, where it's all drinking.

    But there's all sorts of clubs you can join.
  • luc425luc425 Registered User Posts: 128 Junior Member
    Good question! I have very similar interests to what you described. I'm also a Cornell applicant and am wondering the same thing.
  • FastNeutrinoFastNeutrino Registered User Posts: 831 Member
    I'm an applicant in a similar situation, really. It's why I was so attracted to MIT.
  • talwartalwar Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    I'm not talking about the stay-in-your-room-and-never-come-out nerds. I'm a guy that prefers to play board games, debate white chocolate vs. dark chocolate, stay inside and watch movies, build neat gadgets with friends, discuss philosophy/astronomy/physics/the meaning of life. I would prefer being around other kids who are slightly "quirky" as well. Of course, I'm not the socially awkward type and can definitely see myself going to a few parties as well - but I don't want a huge focus of my college life to be on parties/dancing/drinking/etc.


    I totally get where you're coming from!
    Im pretty much exactly the person you described, maybe except for the bit about board games :P

    I already got my acceptance, and if both of us end up going, I'd love to meet up...
  • qwer0987qwer0987 Registered User Posts: 107 Junior Member
    You can absolutely find this at Cornell. If you don't like the culture of your dorm, you can easily find like-minded friends in your major or in clubs/extracurricular activities that interest you.
  • galen0805galen0805 Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    My son is an astronomy major at Cornell. He has been very involved in physics and math as well. He finds campus a very good fit. He even mentioned a Go club, although he ended up not going because the meetings were too far away! He has been involved in astronomy club, which meets at Fuertes Observatory right on North Campus. He is not much of a partier, but has found a group of like-minded friends. For college, he also considered Caltech and Chicago. (Not MIT, which seemed much too urban--especially to me! I much prefer the natural beauty of the Cornell campus.) He does seem to spend a lot of time working ... and I've heard the workload in the hard sciences/engineering is similar to MIT, Caltech, etc. But without some of the "perks" they have for first semester, like all classes pass/fail, etc. So you do have to hit the ground running! Unfortunately, my son has not had much time to continue his tinkering. He and a friend built a particle accelerator in our garage in high school and a holographic imaging system in middle school!
  • alamodealamode Registered User Posts: 2,063 Senior Member
    I think you can definitely find this at Cornell. Honestly, I'm personally don't fit that sort of mold so I couldn't tell you exactly where, and it's definitely not as present/everywhere as MIT, but it's here.

    ou would need to seek it out yourself, like most things at Cornell. I would think the best way to do it would be to look into clubs and organizations on campus that match your interests, there are thousands of them.

    But yeah, the fact that we have a Quidditch team makes me think you'll be fine :P
  • mlbrownmlbrown Registered User Posts: 141 Junior Member
    My son has done well finding quirky friends for himself in Risley Residential House. He is a math major. There is certainly still a drinking crowd there, too, but he isn't a part of it. Not everyone is. He participated in the Putnam and the freshman math prize, math club, etc. There are many clubs and discussion groups. He gets together to watch science fiction with friends. I like the program houses for the fact that they aren't just freshman dorms. Kids aren't all on their own for the first time. 3/4 of the building has already found their balance between school and life. And nobody cares that he is only 16.
  • zenziczenzic Registered User Posts: 180 Junior Member
    There is such a culture, you just need to find the right people. If you hang out with STEM majors (the majority of whom are in the engineering school) you probably won't have too much trouble finding people with similar personalities (of course, they don't necessarily have to be STEM majors).
  • FastNeutrinoFastNeutrino Registered User Posts: 831 Member
    "He and a friend built a particle accelerator in our garage in high school and a holographic imaging system in middle school!"
    Wait... a particle accelerator?
    Is this what I'm going against?
  • Emc2FmaEmc2Fma Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    @talwar,

    Yeah haha now that I think about it, I'm not THAT interested in board games..not sure why I put it down. Anyways, I PM'ed you (along with a couple others)!

    @FastNeutrino,
    Don't worry haha! I didn't build any kind of fancy gadget/gizmo/accelerator and I ended up getting a LL to Cornell - you'll be fine!

    Thank you to everyone else who responded! I think I'll have to visit the campus before I can make any sort of judgement though.

    If anyone else is interested in this type of "nerd life" at Cornell, PM me! We (along with a few others) can keep in touch so if we do end up going to Cornell, we'll already have some friends with similar interests!
  • ACC12345ACC12345 Registered User Posts: 30 New Member
    Cornell is surprisingly fratty! The social life is oriented around greek life. There are however artsy enclaves at Risley, the fine arts residence hall! Cornell overall = great academics and depressing weather consider the tradeoff
  • ap1234ap1234 Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    There is definitely a nerd culture at cornell. A lot of quirky kids. For the first year most of them reside in risley, then West campus. West campus aka Weird campus. Weekend nights at cornell when its cold is pretty much staying in watching movies/board games/ nerd culture for those who want

    You can also hit the bars or wander into collegetown, but this gets old quickly especially in the cold.
  • alexissssalexissss Registered User Posts: 2,177 Senior Member
    Is it fratty like Dartmouth? T_T
  • firecyfirecy Registered User Posts: 82 Junior Member
    There is definitely a nerd culture at cornell. A lot of quirky kids. For the first year most of them reside in risley, then West campus. West campus aka Weird campus. Weekend nights at cornell when its cold is pretty much staying in watching movies/board games/ nerd culture for those who want

    You can also hit the bars or wander into collegetown, but this gets old quickly especially in the cold.

    I'm definitely looking for this type of atmosphere-would you recommend putting down risley as my first choice, then, even if I have no interest in art/performing stuff? Or am I better off just going with standard housing? (Cornell needs a STEM program house dorm, that would be awesome).
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