Cornell Cognitive Science ED worth it

My son is not sure about regular decisions in UCs, UIUC etc, we are in CA so he is leaning towards Cornell ED with cognitive science major. I am not sure if he will get it but is it worth the money? Its far from CA, weaher is bad but he is interested so we cannot say ‘No’ for just weather and Distance reason. We can afford it, I won’t say comfortably, will have to make few compromises at our end. Very confused, staying in CA but won’t be using the UC system even after paying such high taxes here, we moved here from Seattle 5 years back thinking he will stay in state but things have changed.

Has he visited there? Why is Cornell his top choice?

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We have not visited but his reasoning is because of the reputation, easy to switch majors, programs, campus life, quality of student life

IMO, I would not recommend ED’ing without a visit.

And some majors/colleges are not easy to switch into.


What could be the reasons for saying ‘No’ after the visit? We didn’t visit any colleges thinking that if he gets into a good college, we are not going to say ‘No’ for any reason anyways. Berkley has the worst dorms and campus but kids are crazy about it.

We visited 15 schools with my D and she took 8 off her list after visiting, including Cornell where she would have been a 3rd gen legacy. There were just some schools where she absolutely did not like the student “vibe” and she could not see herself there. I’m happy to get into her impressions of Cornell via PM if you would like more information. (For the record, I had a wonderful experience there but that was 30+ years ago).


Reasons for saying no to Cornell-

1- It is a gorgeous campus-- breathtaking- but in a very small city and pretty isolated. So a kid who wants the hustle and bustle of urban life- Cornell isn’t it.

2- It is hard to get in and out of. Can’t describe it until you’ve done it.

3- It is a hard school to “phone it in”. The kids work very hard, and despite its bucolic setting- it’s somewhat intense. So not every kid wants to work that hard!

Just a few thoughts for you.

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Have you seen Blackwell? It’s super nice - right near campus, has its own gym and swimming pool, is cleaned regularly. It’s like living in a three star hotel :slight_smile:

Absolutely agree! He needs to visit to even consider ED. Applying ED to a school that your kid hasn’t seen that is across the country and has a $85,000 price tag is crazy to me.

Makes sense, not sure if we have time now though considering the apps are due soon. Let me see if we can plan

My bad, thats great to know.

You should not ED without visiting and ensuring you can afford it.

College can cost more than they say - they boys want to go up to Syracuse for a concert or down to NYC. We used to follow our school’s basketball team.

There’s greek life, spring break trips.

Make sure - you say it will impact your life - that you are ok with the changes being made.

What is the end goal? A job, grad school, etc?

Why should you visit - hmmmm - what if he hates it? We visited schools on our app list and took them off after visiting. On the other hand, my daughter was accepted to two schools we couldn’t visit before applying and took them both off after visiting. What sounds good on paper isn’t necessarily good once they get there.

It’s cold, it’s isolated, it’s hard to get to and it’s far from home.

So while ED helps, I’d say heck no to ED without visiting - and if that’s the difference between an acceptance and not, then it wasn’t meant to be.

If you have the means to be full pay, you likely have the means to visit - even if not at the most optimal time.

Best of luck.


I’m not sure I understand this. Applying ED to Cornell won’t require him to apply RD to UIUC (or other unrestricted EA).


Thank you, Love the forum. Recently joined but getting most valuable advice from you all here. First generation in US and lost in these complicated systems.Thank you!

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I meant was he is not sure if he will get into UCs, UIUC with regular decision
etc although we have faith and his GPA,scores is good. He wants to apply Cornell ED just to take a chance there as well and ED increases chances.

Thanks for clarifying. He should not wait to apply RD at UIUC or any other public schools on his list. Definitely apply EA, otherwise it’s going to be a lot harder to get in. Applying ED at Cornell (if he chooses to do that) does not prevent him from applying EA.


I will add to your comment - just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you need to.

I could afford any school but gave my kids a budget. I didn’t want to afford any school. I don’t see the value. That’s me. Maybe not you.

Some top students attend lesser pedigree schools because they get merit and it’s less expensive

What you’re willing to spend is a personal decision.

If spending $380k when you could $100k is an issue for you, then address with your student up front.

If you’re ok with it, that’s fine too.

It sounds like from the first post you’re ok because if I can afford it, how can I say no?

That’s very easy actually - son, college is very expensive, money isn’t unlimited and we need to find a school where the total cost, including scholarships, won’t exceed x $$

There are many fine schools at various price points.

But that’s something you need to decide for your family.

No school provides an assurance of success - so ‘better’ depends as to what you deem is better.

You might look at career outcomes at each school to determine ‘bang for the buck’ if you have any concerns.

Cornell is fantastic as are many others and if that’s where you decide to send your son, as long as it’s your decision on the financial end, then that’s wonderful.

Good luck.

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Cornell is most definitely a “fit” school. If your kid likes cold, lots of intellectual challenge, having a very campus oriented lifestyle (there’s tons to do on campus; some limited stuff in the actual town of Ithaca, gorgeous gorges and hiking paths around but NOT a lot of urban attractions), Cornell could be fantastic. I don’t see the logic of applying just to take a chance there- if he’s not 99% committed to Cornell, ED is a bad choice on his part.


And being in California - where there are many and varied UCs and CSUs, all of which are excellent value - I can see why the OP is feeling quite concerned about possibly footing the Cornell bill. But, as you say, everyone here is different in terms of what they are both able and willing to spend.


From the way the original post is phrased, it sounds as if you’re feeling pressured into applying ED to Cornell, just because of the uncertainty of UC admissions and the desire for the best shot at a highly-ranked school, irrespective of its other attributes.

In my opinion, this isn’t a good enough reason for a binding application to a school you haven’t visited, with an $88K/year-and-rising price tag that obviously isn’t comfortably affordable for you.

Berkeley isn’t the be-all and end-all of the UC system, especially for CogSci. A student who could get into Cornell is also likely to have a strong chance at UCSD, which has an extremely strong CogSci department with multiple tracks and a wealth of research opportunities. If I knew I wanted a CogSci major, I would think long and hard about spending 2.5x as much for Cornell over UCSD at in-state rates.

Since he’s open to upstate NY, consider Vassar, which was the first US college to offer an undergraduate CogSci degree in 1982 and still has a very strong reputation in that field. Also U of Rochester, which is very strong in STEM and research generally, and has a great Brain & Cognitive Sciences department (and might well offer some merit.) URoch is particularly good in terms of flexibility, both for moving between/among programs and also just in terms of their flexible curriculum, which requires concentrations but can be freely tailored to the student’s interests. If he wants a CS-heavy CogSci program, consider both RPI and Carnegie Mellon. Pomona has an excellent CogSci department as well; it’s a joint department with Linguistics, so it’s particularly strong in that respect, but also has excellent neuroscience, CS, psychology and philosophy offerings. (Also, if linguistics is of particular interest, the UCLA CS+Linguistics major in L&S could be a good option; you can always add in the psychology/neuroscience/philosophy pieces through electives or a minor.)

Consider WashU - they have this first-year ampersand program which is great for prospective CogSci majors Mind, Brain, and Behavior | Arts & Sciences as well as a strong major in Cognitive Neuroscience. Psychological & Brain Sciences Major: Cognitive Neuroscience | Arts & Sciences

It sounds as if part of the appeal of Cornell is the accessibility of various programs and activities. Do keep in mind that a lot of extracurricular pursuits have competitive application processes and thus aren’t as freely accessible as they appear. We definitely see posts from discouraged Cornell students who have gotten shut out of the very activities they were excited about when they committed. Also note that housing isn’t provided for all four years, so you’ll be dealing with the rental market in Ithaca, which is definitely better than the rental market in Berkeley or Santa Cruz, but still isn’t without its stresses and pitfalls.

Is he by any chance a National Merit Semifinalist? (You mentioned strong scores.) If so, there are some great programs that would be nearly free. For example, UT Dallas has a great CogSci department (similar to UCSD’s in its strong course offerings and multiple specialty tracks) and a very strong and academically-serious student body.

ED can be a great option if you have a true first choice. But I don’t like the way students and families feel pressured into choosing an ED school, just out of the fear that they might miss out on their best shot at an elite acceptance if they don’t. If your son can get into Cornell ED, he’ll have good options in the RD cycle too. I would resist the pressure to overspend sight-unseen, and keep his options open.

If you’re still worried about having a sufficiently-predictable acceptance from a school with a strong reputation, consider applying to UBC - Canadian admissions are much more straighforward, and he can reasonably expect that he’ll get in if he has the grades and scores. It’s also relatively affordable, and has a top-notch Cognitive Systems program

Good luck, and don’t let anxiety govern the process - he will do fine without an ED application, if he doesn’t have a true, affordable first choice that offers ED.