Timothy Peck 5 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, School Spotlight

What is Cornell University Known For?

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Fauci are two of the most prominent figures of our national consciousness. They share something else in common: they are (or were) both graduates of Cornell University.

 

The only land-grant university in the Ivy League, Cornell has several unique features, including the fact that it is made up of colleges and schools specializing in different niches and fields. 

 

Overview of Cornell Admissions

 

Location: Ithaca, New York

Undergrad Enrollment: 15,100

Acceptance Rate: 10%

Middle 50% SAT: 1410-1530

Middle 50% ACT: 32-35

 

While Cornell is known for more “relaxed” academic standards compared with the other members of the Ivy League, it’s important to know that each school and college within the university has its own admission procedures and requirements. The more specialized schools often seek out students with focused, relevant extracurricular activities. Meanwhile, the College of Engineering has the most rigorous academic standards, on par with the other Ivies.

 

Unique Aspects of Cornell

 

Academics

 

Learning under Nobel laureates, MacArthur awardees, and Pulitzer Prize winners, students at Cornell choose among 80 majors and more than 120 minors.

 

Students apply directly to one of Cornell’s schools or colleges, rather than the university as a whole. Undergraduates may apply to the following schools:

 

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art and Planning
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (School of Hotel Administration and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management)
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Ecology
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR)

 

While it is possible to transfer internally, this requires an involved application process and separate requirements. Students can still take courses at the other schools within the university.

 

Cornell is known for many programs, particularly hotel management, engineering, and architecture. (The School of Hotel Administration is actually the only four-year hospitality management school at an elite US college).

 

Some students pursue dual degrees, called concurrent degrees, across multiple schools and colleges. Not all colleges have this option, and students must meet requirements for both programs, as well as already be enrolled in a college or school at the time of application to the second. For example, a student may earn a BA from College of Arts & Sciences alongside a BS from the College of Engineering. Concurrent degrees usually take five years to complete.

 

There are additional dual-degree options, such as the Five-Year MBA Program, offered in conjunction with the Johnson Graduate School of Management, in which uniquely qualified students earn both a bachelor’s and an MBA. 

 

Many Cornell students end up attending law, medical, or veterinary school (Cornell is one of the few universities in the country with a veterinary school), and the university offers advising resources and tracks for these students.

 

More than a third of Cornell students participate in international programs. Options include Cornell Global Programs, College Exchanges (with top schools in the chosen region), Faculty-Led Programs in the winter and summer, and approved programs with outside institutions.

 

Cornell boasts a one in four acceptance rate for Fulbright applicants, higher than the national average of one in six. 

 

Extracurriculars

 

Cornell has 37 varsity athletic teams, but by far the most famous and popular is men’s ice hockey. The Big Red compete in NCAA Division I, the Ivy League, and the 12-team ECAC. They have won two NCAA national titles and completed one season undefeated, the only team to have done so. Cornell has also won the ECAC Championship 12 times and the Ivy League title 24 times, second only to Harvard (25 times).

 

Incoming freshmen must take two PE courses, although some participate in team sports instead. The university also has many club sports. Incoming students are also required to pass a swim test.

 

Greek life plays a huge role in the extracurricular scene at Cornell, with roughly a third of students participating.

 

Sororities and fraternities not your cup of tea? Don’t worry — there are more than 1,000 student organizations. Try interesting clubs like:

 

  • Archery Club
  • Glee Club
  • The Food Micro Minutes Podcast
  • Rock & Roll Club
  • Kung Fu

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

Traditions

 

One of the time-honored traditions at Cornell is Slope Day. This annual celebration takes place right after the last day of classes and features food, musical performances, and a healthy dose of school spirit.

 

Attending Big Red ice hockey games is another popular tradition, with students flocking to the Lynah Rink for home games.

 

On Dragon Day, which takes place around St. Patrick’s Day, first-year architecture students don costumes and carry a dragon of their own creation around campus. Meanwhile, during homecoming week, Cornell students celebrate with the Fireworks and Last Light Show.

 

Resources

 

The university has a number of discount and entertainment programs, along with resources like the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Students can also attend concerts presented by the Department of Music, which showcase performances by faculty, students, departmental ensembles, and visiting artists. Midday Music, a lunchtime concert series, is especially popular.

 

Students can attend all athletic games for free, aside from men’s ice hockey. They can get discounted tickets to hockey games.

 

Cornell Cinema, the on-campus movie theater, is a popular attraction for students, as is Lynah Skating Rink, which has public skating hours when the Big Red aren’t playing.

 

Cornell is consistently ranked as one of the colleges with the best food in the country. Its College of Agriculture and Life Science is connected with the local farming industry, and the college runs several food and dairy facilities on campus, including the popular Dairy Bar, offering delicious ice cream. 

 

Cognizant of the prevalence of food insecurity among college students, Cornell has programs to fight hunger. For example, Cornell Dining partners with Swipe Out Hunger, giving students the opportunity to donate bonus meal swipes to classmates in need. The university also runs a food pantry that distributes meals to families in the community.

 

Location

 

Situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Ithaca is a rural town known for natural beauty, with sprawling parks, waterfalls, and gorges. Cornell is the largest employer in Tompkins County and Ithaca, which is also home to Ithaca College.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Cornell?

 

Despite having more relaxed academic standards than other Ivy League universities, Cornell is still extremely selective. Most competitive colleges will filter out applicants based on their GPA and test scores. If you don’t meet their academic requirements, the rest of your application may not be read. 

 

Luckily, we’ve made a free chancing engine that can help you learn your real odds of admission to Cornell and more than 500 other colleges in the US. The engine takes into account factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to let you know how you stack up against other applicants. You’ll also receive free tips to improve your profile.

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.