Cornell Dropout


<p>After high school, I attended Cornell University with a ROTC scholarship. My father has a high income, so my financial aid is quite low, meaning to graduate I would need to take out about $100K in loans. My father had extremely large problems with his student loans, eventually paying nearly 10 times the initial loan amount. Because of this, he refused to cosign a loan, plus was unable to pay the $100k, which is completely understandable considering the situation. Anyways, this made it so that ROTC was my only financial route. The time commitment with the ROTC program and the rigor of Cornell's academics made the two programs incompatible - I could do ROTC or Cornell, but not both. Plus, ROTC had a 5 year mandated service commitment as a generic officer, which was a significant delay in my career that involves some type of professional school. I made the decision to drop out of the ROTC program and transfer to a state school. </p>

<p>Now I am beginning to question whether this was the right choice. At Cornell, the atmosphere was inspiring, supportive, and hundreds of other adjectives. At my state school, I am surrounded by a bunch of "wanna-be's" and overly confident premeds. There are so many kids who are determine to prove that they are smart - trying, and failing, to use "big words". Everyone at Cornell knew he was smart, so people were able to focus on actually using their intelligence and developing mature relationships. I am so sick of meeting someone at my state school and hearing his plans to buy a Lamborghini after becoming a neurosurgeon, only to find out that his only plans for the weekend are to hang out with friends. I want to be surrounded by people who are active in the community, in research fields, and in academics in general. Simply put, at Cornell I was becoming a better individual - socially, mentally, academically, etc. </p>

<p>At the time of dropping out, I thought only of one thing - my degree. Now I realize that it really is the path that matters, not just the end. Even in my first semester of freshman year at Cornell, I had a research position, a relationship several professors, intellectual friends, and more. At my state school, I can barely understand my foreign professors, let alone develop a relationship with them. </p>

<p>Now I am realizing that dropping out was a bad idea. I have been miserable these last few months at my state school.</p>

<p>What are your suggestions? How difficult is it to transfer back to an Ivy League college after withdrawing? How could I take out $100k without a cosigner? Should I take out loans? If I provide documentation that my parents just this year paid $1.2 million for a $80k loan, could this increase my financial aid amount? Are there any large scholarships for transfer students? Is this entire thought ridiculous, and should I just make due with what I have at my state school?</p>

<p>Thank you for reading this entire post. Your comments will mean a lot to me.</p>

<p>Did you take an official leave of absence? If you did in good academic standing, Cornell will let you return within five years: <a href=“”></a></p>

<p>However, that won’t solve the cost and financial aid problem at Cornell. Taking out $100,000 in student loans is generally considered a bad idea, and you won’t get that much anyway without a co-signer (and your father knows from experience what high student loan debt means). Unless you are willing to wait until you are independent for college financial aid purposes (age 24, married, military veteran, or some less common situations), your financial aid will depend on your father’s income.</p>

<p>Merit scholarships from both colleges and outside sources are much less common for transfer students than frosh (and Cornell does not give merit scholarships anyway).</p>

<p>Realistically, if you can afford your state school, it may be your best option, given your financial (aid) constraints.</p>

<p>Your state school is affordable. Dig in there and keep trying to make it work. How about the honors, scholars and fellows programs there? Clubs that are intellectual, political or service based? Research under professors? Auditing a graduate school class? Study abroad? Overloading to graduate early?
It might be very hard to find a way to afford a return to a top school financially, but perhaps others here can see a way. Otherwise, hopefully you can find you peer group where you are.</p>

<p>Your parents paid $1.2 mill in debt towards one bill and you think that should make you eligible for financial aid?
If you were smart enough to get into an ivy, even Cornell, then you are smart enough to find merit aid.</p>

<p>I know a number of kids who did ROTC on scholarship, my nephew being one doing it right now. They did make concessions on classes they took at school to be able to balance both. Athletes, those working and going to school, those who find the work load too overwhelming, all have to make those sort of concessions. But with ROTC paying tuition, books and and allowance, takes the load off having to have a part time job and the money situation. I don’t see how Cornell would cost you $25K a year if you had a full ROTC scholarship. Why you didn’t keep the scholarship and then transfer to another school, I don’t understand, since now you must still have financial pressures since state schools are not free. </p>

<p>Right now, what you need to do is focus on your own achievements and your course of study. You’ll find kids at state schools that are every bit as motivated and talented s those at ivys. I just went to an award dinner for someone who transferred out of COrnell to a small regional college with a fraction of the opportunities and stats that large, research supporting state schools have and became a Rhodes scholar. She liked the smaller environment better, and found that being a big fish in the small pond worked far better for her, giving her the better chances for goodies at the school instead of having to fight for them with other highly talented students. What should you care what others have and are doing? There are many well to do kids at COrnell and there are many diligent kids at state Unis. You have to provide your own filters. There are a lot of grad students, foreign ones as well at Cornell too. You need to seek your opportunities at State U and may find you are in place for better ones there than in a competitive environment.</p>

<p>There is the old “Bloom where you are planted” adage as well as the " Grass is always greener" one. How are you going to pay for Cornell now that you gave up your ROTC scholarship, when you couldn’t make payments there with it–that part of your story, I don’t quite get. Your parents are not signing for loans, and you can’t get them alone. Lenders want a qualifed cosigner for any significant amount. Getting your ROTC money back is not going to be easy, will take time, and likely not an option. So I don’t see how you can afford Cornell now. The best you can do is finish school doing as well as you can and go from there at your state school. Repayment of loans, having debt isn’t going to help you and your parents on the financial aid front. The only debt that counts is that which secures an asset which means the asset’s value is decreased by that debt, such as a mortgage on a home. Sometimes medical debt. BUt for school loans, other debts, nope. No go. Not likely you are going to get any more aid from COrnell, though you can talk to them about the situation. </p>

<p>My advice is to get your UG degree as best you can, and look into funded graduate programs if there is a subject that interests you. Many of the graduate academics do have funding, stipends, and if your grades are good and you have a passion for an area, you could find further study funded for you, maybe at Cornell back with those profs you met your freshman year. My friend’s DD is going for a PHD at Cornell after graduating from a state school. It does happen a lot. </p>

<p>Thank you everyone for your comments.</p>

<p>cptofthehouse, Is your nephew at Cornell? The problem came from being in Cornell’s ROTC unit, which is known for being one of the most challenging, combined with Cornell’s academics, also known for being one of the most challenging (easiest Ivy to get in, hardest to get out).</p>

<p>Why did I chose to not do ROTC at my state school? Because (1) I had some state-resident scholarships and AP/IB credit which made the total cost of attendance less than $10k, and (2) I would never give up 5 years of my life for a few thousand dollars.</p>

<p>That is encouraging to hear about the other Cornell dropout who became a Rhodes scholar. I will talk to Cornell’s Financial Aid office, but if it doesn’t work out, I will use your advice and “bloom where I’m planted”.</p>

<p>Thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate it.</p>

<p>I don’t think I would consider serving your country in exchange for tuition to a well-respected university ‘giving up 5 years of your life’. Even the value of your remaining costs at the state school would not be a loss by serving your country. Not only that, but the 5 years you are active duty are years of work experience including leadership which many graduates do not have in a competitive job market. If that is your attitude about ROTC and serving your country, you would not likely have been a successful officer anyway. </p>

<p>Sounds like you are taking some good advice otherwise. Best of luck working it out. </p>

<p>He is not at Cornell. However, he and my son as well, had to temper some of their aspirations to fit better into reality. Not all courses were compatible with his ROTC regiment. My son found work and some of his courses were not compatible. I’ve known athletes who had to change majors if they were going to continue in sports. My niece has a great job and it gives her a lot of flexibility but when it does not, she has to make a decision as to what would go. So far, she’s been able to substitute without huge sacrifice. </p>

<p>You made your decision at Cornell. You could not balance the ROTC and the courses you wanted there, and could not afford to go there without the ROTC money. Replace ROTC with athletic scholarship, part time job, whatever other commitment folks have to make to get the money to go to a college choice and you are right in that group. Unless Cornell will give you the money, and I see no reason why they should–if your parents are deemed willing and able, they enter that category of those parents who make enough to pay a certain amount, why should there be an exception for you? You are in good company with a lot of kids, mine included, whose parents are deemed able to pay, but the parents just don’t find it a smart way to spend that money or borrow it. </p>

<p>Do well at your college and take whatever opportuniites you find there, and look for grad school studies if you feel you want to go further in your field. Most academic departments do have funding for graduate studies. Many of my friends have kids going to grad school, and the basics are covered. For some professional and highly sought programs, that is not the case, but at that time, for those programs, loans would be available to you without parental involvement and cosigning. </p>

<p>^ Nothing to add to what @Torveaux said. </p>

<p>" I want to be surrounded by people who are active in the community, in research fields, and in academics in general. Simply put, at Cornell I was becoming a better individual - socially, mentally, academically, etc."</p>

<p>I’ve toured three big state universities and we’ve talked to kids who have graduated from all three. The opportunities you are seeking are available at all of the universities we looked at…but you may have to look harder for them. </p>

<p>“Active in the community”–there are few universities in this country that don’t have service clubs or other means to helping the local schools, YMCAs etc. Go find those. The other college students volunteering would be a good place to look for new friends.</p>

<p>“research and academics”–these are out there too but you need to find the professors who would like to add you to their team.</p>

<p>“I can barely understand my foreign professors” I had a class like this (but not at a state u.) It is frustrating, but the chip on your shoulder will not help. Remember that these professors were hired because they are great at their field (rather than their teaching prowess). In fact, they may be your best shot at research. Try visiting their office hours. They will be astonished that anyone came to see them. Also, to understand the course material better, visit their TAs on their office hours or schedule an appointment. Obviously read your textbook, but go look for other sources on your own to supplement it. Most big state U’s have big libraries. </p>

<p>“surrounded by” is a phrase you mention and I wonder about the dorm you are in. Are a lot of parties going on and you’re sick of it? Is there an honors dorm or other theme dorm you could apply for? Even if you don’t absolutely love the theme, people who sign up for those tend to have a passion for learning. </p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Whoa, whoa @torveaux no need to disparage the OP like that. Just because he sees active duty for 5 years to be a waste of time does not mean he is some kind of bad person. After all, what would he be doing while in active duty? Risking death for five years in a frivolous war that has no end? Just for kicks, some employers actually find military service to be somewhat of a red flag because of things like PTSD.</p>

<p>Answer the OP’s questions politely and don’t attack his character. If “serving your country” involves contributing to the oppression of countries far away from home, the OP has every right to decide that ROTC is not for him based on personal gain-loss analysis.</p>

<p>Dropping out might not have been such a bad idea. Sounds like ROTC was not for you, and that Cornell was only possible with ROTC. Yet, you got used to the Cornell atmosphere and only a few colleges in America can match that.</p>

<p>What to do next?

  • First, make no hasty decisions. Obviously, you need to approach Cornell about what it takes to get back in. However, financially you are still in the same position, perhaps worse because merit scholarships tend to go to entering freshmen.
  • Second, understand that the people at the state school are much more like the people you will deal with once you are finished with your education. Learning to dealing with such people might be just as valuable as what you would learn at Cornell. Being around wonderful people all the time can spoil a person as much as anything else in life. It is simply not possible to spend even a majority of your time with classy people. At the state school, you can learn about many different kinds of people. After all, people skills are about the best skills that anybody can have.
  • Third, see if there are any other state schools, or affordable private schools, where you might be more comfortable. Some state schools are horrible, but others are pretty good. Also, as somebody else mentioned, you could make it your goal to attend postgraduate school or professional school at Cornell or some equally excellent university.</p>

<p>Good Luck.</p>

<p>Cornell is an Ivy league school, and the Ivies do not give out ANY merit awards. Only financial. The OP does not qualify for financial aid. </p>

<p>Not sure if realized this but the Navy could have paid for a masters right after your graduation and delayed your entry onto active duty or sent you to grad school after your first tour. I had a friend go to medical school right after college which the military paid the tuition and she received her salary as an officer… This way you aren’t a poor grad student. Depends on your degree and needs of the military. </p>