Current Student at Cornell University: ASK ME ANYTHING!

@ehales3 is a rising sophomore at Cornell University. She is majoring in Biology and Society in the College of Arts and Sciences and is also on the pre-med track. During the college application process, she applied to more than 15 schools and is grateful to have chosen Cornell. As a high school student, she always thought that she wanted to study in a more urban environment, but has grown to love Ithaca and all that it offers.

@ehales3 will be our Guest Student of the Week so make sure to answer any and all questions whether it’s academics, pre-med, differences between colleges, student life, or anything about Cornell in general!

Hi, I’m planning to ED Cornell as a pre-med student. Which college are you in? What are some differences between the A&S Biology & Society and the CALS Biology & Society? Why did you pick this major?

@zyllll52110, I’m in the College of Arts and Sciences. The main difference between Biology & Society (Bsoc) in CAS and CALS, or any major that is offered in more than one college is the college-specific requirements.
For CAS, as a college that emphasizes a well-rounded education in the humanities, the college has distribution requirements that ensures you take courses in liberal arts (like psychology, history, etc.)

For CALS, the college is more life sciences focused, and I’m unsure about their specific requirements but it is much more science focused than liberal arts.
For these reasons, CAS gives a BA and I think CALS gives a BS. However, the Bsoc major requirements are equal in both colleges.

The reason I chose BSoc was because as a pre-med, I love biology but I also came into Cornell wanting to explore other subject areas like history, sociology, medical anthro, etc., and the BSoc major incorporates pieces of all these fields while allowing room in your schedule to focus on competitive courses like gen chem and orgo which are required for med school.

Are there many Christians at Cornell?

@Muad_dib, there are various religious organizations on campus. I know that there are at least a few Christian organizations, one of them is fairly large and others are smaller more close knit groups, but you can join any of them if interested

What’s the sports scene like at Cornell?

@adevoke, I’ve only been to Cornell so I don’t know for sure, but I do think that it’s generally agreed that compared to state universities, there is less of a thriving sports scene. However, ice hockey is super big here! The ice hockey tickets are usually sold out and there’s a healthy rivalry/tradition between Cornell and schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, and I think also Colgate and some others. There are also plenty of clubs (competitive) that are popular amongst students. If you just want to enjoy a sport (non competitive) or try out a new one then Cornell has a really good selection of PE classes (from traditional sports like soccer, tennis, etc. to sailing, white water rafting, caving, etc.) that are very popular as well!

Hey! I’m an incoming freshman at Cornell and I was just wondering if you could talk about your experience with the Cornell Swim Test? I’m a little bit nervous about it because I’ve never learned how to swim. I know that, if you don’t do the swim test, you have to sign up for a swimming class and then the requirement will be fulfilled once you take the class for both semesters. Do you know anybody who has done the swimming class and how their experience was? Thank you so much. Personally, I think it’s a bit outdated that some colleges are still requiring swim tests when most of the colleges that did do it before (and a majority of colleges in general) have erased it from their system. Anyways, it is what it is. Thank you again!

[Not OP but maybe these help:

@galaxygirl, when I took it, people just doggy paddled haha
Lots of people don’t know how to swim well, and no one judges you at all. One of my friends said that she doggy paddled one lap, and then floated on her back plus kicked until she reached the other side of the pool for two laps and she passed, so the swim test isn’t strict on form or anything
I unfortunately don’t know anyone who has taken the swim class, but it would qualify as PE credit so you wouldn’t be just learning how to swim but also taking care of your credit requirements. I’m sure that the reason they have swim classes is because lots of people don’t know how to swim coming into the university, so I honestly wouldn’t stress too much about it!

Hello! I am a future freshman at HumEC with the Human biology, health, and society major. What classes did you sign up for during freshman year? Also I haven’t heard anything from Cornell regarding course sign ups. Does this happen right before the semester starts? Also how competitive is it to sign up for the classes you want? Any tips on maximizing your chances for getting the classes you want?

@sweetchoco, congrats on your acceptance!

Freshman fall, I took my FWS (freshman writing seminar), Chem 2070, Bio 1440, Psych 1500, PE, and a one credit class I took for fun! I was in between choosing psych and bsoc as a major so I wanted to try out psych first.
For entering freshmen pre-enroll is in the middle of the summer. For others I think it’s during March or April with seniors enrolling first. Right now, pre-enroll is on hold for everyone until Cornell announces plans for the upcoming semester.

As a freshman, you will likely take intro classes required for your potential major, pre-health reqs if you plan on going that track, and other college-specific requirements you want to get out of the way. For college specific reqs and intro level classes for your major, you will get a spot. Although pre-enroll is a pretty big deal and students wake up at 7am sharp to click the register button, you will likely get a spot (however it may not be in the time slot you want). Even if you miss out, you can almost always get everything you want during add/drop period so don’t panic if this happens! Personally, I’ve never experienced any trouble with getting into classes I want as long as I plan ahead. The best tool to plan is using Scheduler (you can find this through class roster).

Hi! I’m an incoming graduate student from Hong Kong. I was planning to join you guys in Ithaca in fall, but the U.S. Visa service is suspended at the moment, and will probably stay suspended for a few months. I am trying to figure out Cornell’s arrangement for the logistic, but online info has been limited, and the staff’s responses are slow.

I’m wondering if you could share a bit about how do they run courses in the last semester. Were online exams available for all courses (I’m mostly concerned about maths courses)? How did they administer the exams? Were there cases in which physical exams were arranged, and students couldn’t attend them? What happened to those students?

I am really concerned about the exam arrangement because there is a real chance that I couldn’t make it to Ithaca for the whole semester. Lastly, thanks for being so helpful and taking the initiative to answer our questions :slight_smile: Have a nice day.

Hey! Thanks so much for opening up this forum! I was wondering, how is the pre-med culture and nature of preliminary science classes at Cornell? I have heard many people discuss that Cornell is notorious for grade deflation and seriously weeding out worthy students in lower level pre-med classes. Is that true?

@SomeHongKongGuy, last semester (spring 2020), after Cornell suspended classes mid March, all classes (all components including lectures, exams, etc.) were moved online. I’m not sure if graduate students involved in research stayed on campus for longer, but soon after I’m pretty sure in-person research was suspended as well. Cornell hasn’t announced any plans for the upcoming semester yet, but even if all classes are online this fall, the structure will likely be more effective than spring 2020.

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that Cornell tries hard to be fair in terms of experience. I don’t mean that all their decisions will impact students equally (this is probably impossible), but that their decisions show that international students, low income students, etc. have all been thought for. Hopefully Cornell will follow up with students in difficult circumstances soon, but unfortunately my knowledge is mostly limited to undergrads. I hope this helps at least a little though!

@avmlgeek36, to be completely honest with you, the intro bio classes and gen chem, organic chem, are challenging. Of course, this will depend on your level of experience with the material (did you take AP, etc.). Nonetheless, Cornell does a very good job of making sure you have the resources you need to succeed. For example, I was super surprised with how accessible research opportunities were, and how easily I could talk to the professor or a TA about a problem I was confused about.
In terms of pre-med culture, everyone is very willing to study together, pull all-nighters doing lab reports, and collaborate on hard practice problems. One of my favorite memories freshman yr is studying for the gen chem final with a group of friends and eating calzones together at 2am. Something about collective suffering in gen chem just makes you that much closer with your study buddies. Pre-med in itself is “competitive” because everyone wants to survive the curve, but the pre-med students I’ve met are all super willing to go through it together.
In terms of grades, the lower level classes are hard to get an A, but as you move up, the upper level science classes tend to be much more generous, and many many pre-meds raise their gpa through extra upper level science classes.
In terms of grade deflation, this is really exaggerated. Cornell doesn’t have grade deflation, but it also doesn’t have grade inflation so it may just feel like classes are harder to get good grades in.
All in all, although at times I wish I was at a school where it is “easier” to get As in science courses, I have grown exponentially with time management skills and feel very prepared to tackle med school when the time comes, and this is really 100% because of the work ethic I’ve picked up on campus.
Hope this helps!

How and when does one typically join student organizations? I’m worried that I’ll miss my opportunity to do so because I’m unaware of the procedure.

Username8519, there is a “ClubFest” every semester where I think all the student organizations have a booth and students are able to learn more about clubs they are interested in. Most organizations usually have a signup sheet.

The date of this ClubFest is sent out to the general student body through email each semester when the time approaches so you will be notified of when it’s happening. It’s a big event so lots of people will be talking about it so don’t worry too much about missing out!

My parents want me to apply to one Ivy League. Why should I choose Cornell over the others? (and does tuition cost factor at all into it?)
Thanks for your time!

what schools did you get in and what was your stats and EC?