Class of 2021, you’re probably feeling a lot of emotions right now: excitement, nervousness, apprehension, and/or curiosity. You’re probably wondering what college is actually like and how you will make your transition here. As an ambassador for the College of Human Ecology, I’ve talked to dozens of accepted students over the past few weeks of Cornell Days. If you couldn’t make it to the program and don’t know who to ask for the student perspective, here are some commonly asked pre-frosh questions:
How does Cornell prepare you for the transition to college? Honestly, really well. Cornell’s Orientation Week before the first week of classes is structured so freshmen take part in getting-to-know-you events and question/answer sessions for a few days before classes begin. When you move away from your family for the first time, there are many things to learn about dorm life—like navigating having a new roommate—so it’s nice not to have the added pressure of school work when you first on campus. If you’re worried about the adjustment period, you can sign up for one of several pre-orientation programs that take place before O-Week officially starts. . Some programs are outdoorsy and some are rooted in a specific religion or faith, but all have the aim of introducing you to other members of your class as soon as possible. These programs are a great option if you are concerned about making friends but you’ll meet so many people during O-Week that, no matter what, you’ll have a huge network by the end of your first week.
Is Cornell’s large size overwhelming? At first, yes. It can be overwhelming to see thousands of people on campus, especially if you’re used to knowing everyone’s names in high school or around your town. But once you join smaller communities within Cornell and start running into people you know all over campus, the university will feel much smaller. Don’t be afraid to join a bunch of clubs and activities when you get to campus, even if you don’t stick with all of them. As cliché as it sounds, the important thing is to put yourself out there to try new things. Be sure to check your email for cool opportunities to attend as many events for the Class of 2021 as you can during your first few weeks—you never know who you’ll meet and connect with. They may even become your best friends.
How do you find your roommate? There are many ways to find a roommate before submitting your housing forms, but many people also just go with random selection. I found my roommate on my class Facebook group during the spring of my senior year, and it’s worked out great for us. There are people who find their roommates that way that are unhappy, though, so if you’d rather just leave it to chance, go for it! The most important thing is to go into your roommate relationship with an open mind.
How do you figure out which classes to take? Look online at the curriculum sheets for your college and your major, then start with the basics. Often, 1000-level classes are prerequisites for courses you’ll want to take later on, plus the introductory courses are where you’ll probably meet other freshmen in your major. When you arrive at school in August, you can make an appointment to meet with your academic advisor and make adjustments to your schedule as needed. Additionally, there are a couple weeks at the beginning of each semester when you are allowed to change your classes as many times as your heart desires. There’s no need to worry too much about your schedule before you get here because Cornell has tons of resources to ensure you stay on track with enough credits to graduate on time.
How do you deal with the cold? It’s no secret that winters in Ithaca can be brutal. If you’re accustomed to warmer weather, have no fear. As long as you buy a warm winter coat and sturdy, waterproof boots, you’ll get through the winter. Ithaca is a ~gorges~ place to take classes and live during your college years, and the weather is just one of its unique elements. Plus, campus is beautiful covered in snow.
Whether you are predominantly ecstatic or scared or somewhere in between, enjoy the summer and feel confident that you are about to have the best four years of your life. While you will definitely need an adjustment period to fully acclimate to Cornell, there are so many resources and people to make the transition a smooth and wonderful one.