Why I Chose Cornell ― A Real Student’s Story
This article is a first-person account from Moriah Adeghe, a Cornell student and CollegeVine livestreamer, mentor, and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Prestige and Financial Aid
I have many favorite things about Cornell University, but I’ll be honest about why I picked it. I’m not trying to claim any sort of moral high ground. I chose Cornell because out of the schools that I got into, it was the most well-known and prestigious. I also liked it more than the other schools.
It’s important to note that only the most prestigious schools offer a full financial aid package to low-income students — they will cover 100% of your costs if you’re within a certain income bracket. This was a huge factor in my choosing Cornell. My family couldn’t afford to send me to any of the other schools that I got into. Cornell was the only one that offered me a full ride with 100% of the costs covered. Finances can be a huge decision point if you’re low-income, a first-generation college student, or both.
Other than the financial considerations, I also thought that Cornell had the most unique programs out of any school that I applied to. Out of the entire Ivy League, policy analysis and management is only offered as a major at Cornell. Fashion design, which I was interested in, is also only here. It offered so many unique opportunities, and I wanted to go to a school where I would be surrounded by a diverse student body.
I also liked that it is a large research university, unlike many other Ivy institutions that are more focused on liberal arts. I wanted access to the biggest and the best. Cornell’s unique major offerings and access to all types of academic resources and classes were what drew me to this college.
I think that I applied as a biology major, but now I’m doing human biology, health, and society, which is one of the majors only offered by Cornell in the Ivy League. I’m grateful to have the opportunities I’ve found here.
The Right Fit
A huge part of the college admissions process is luck. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, but even if you have great test scores, a perfect GPA, and an excellent essay, your chances are still slim. It’s worth remembering this and reminding yourself that your worth doesn’t lie in the school that you attend. Put a great deal of research into what you’re seeking in a school. Think about what you want, and then look at what different schools offer to find a place that’s right for you.
Many people get caught up in prestige and name recognition, but just because a school is prestigious doesn’t mean it will be the right fit. A school’s great reputation might set you up well for job prospects after college, however. In any case, it’s something to think about, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that you think about.
I wish that I’d considered all this a bit more. I applied to other Ivies, but looking back, there are several that I never would have attended. I liked Cornell’s size and that it’s a large research university. I wouldn’t have wanted to go to a smaller college that mostly focused on the liberal arts. That wasn’t what I was looking for, and if I had done more research, I would have known that.
Hindsight is 20/20. I applied to schools that weren’t the right fit for me, but I didn’t know it at the time. Luckily, I’m happy at Cornell, so it all worked out, but you should try to figure out what college experience will be right for you before you make any final decisions.