4 out of 5 Stars
Academics are competitive as one may expect at a good liberal arts college. The core requirements - while somewhat extensive - where also very broad and gave me great freedom. Class sizes were very small - never more than 25. In my junior and senior level courses there were typically 8-15, giving them the feel of graduate-level seminars. Professors are incredibly accessible - I could share numerous instances where professors went above and beyond to help me and my classmates. The professors are there to teach and that is their top priority. Yet, many still do incredible things in the field of scholarship. For example, Craig Allin (politics) and Todd Knoop (economics) were both working on books. The college gives students the ability to pursue research and study abroad.
Cornell College operates on a very unique academic calendar where students complete a single course in 3.5 weeks. This block calendar (the year is divided into 9 blocks right now but apparently is being reduced to 8) was incredibly focused and allowed for some unique opportunities in the classroom setting, including more interactive, hands-on work, field trips, and longer discussions.
Grading is generally tough - you have to work very hard if you want to earn a high grade. In addition, the classroom experience is intense but far more collegial and cooperative than it is competitive and cutthroat. The workload - while seemingly overwhelming - was actually quite manageable since you only had one class worth of homework to worry about.Quality of Life
Cornell College is a small, residential community, so most students lived on campus or in Mount Vernon, a small town where a walk to campus was never more than 10-15 minutes away at most. With everyone living on campus, things were pretty active in terms of campus life and activities. Clubs are plentiful and - for the most part - run by students. At times it does feel a bit too small in terms of everyone knowing everything about you.
The facilities are interesting. Most buildings are actually quite old but the college has worked hard to maintain and improve them as they are able. Some of the residence halls are in desperate need of renovation and updating. They have built two new dorms but they opened after I graduated. They are suite buildings. The college has one apartment building but it is small. They are lacking in this type of housing (apartment housing).
Cost of living is very low given that it is rural Iowa. The town is very charming and the people are extremely friendly. In fact, I got involved in a couple of organizations in town and I was welcomed with open arms. I was overall very happy once I found my niche. The town is extremely safe - there were a couple of minor burglaries at a gas station but these type of events are few and far between. Everyone is trusting and friendly. I never once felt like I was in danger of anything in Mount Vernon.
The library is very nice for a college of Cornell College's size. It also has the unique feature of serving as Mt Vernon's public library. This created an interesting dynamic and had some new offerings. I never felt as though they impeded on our space, although they could add some more in terms of computer labs.
Dining was not very good while I was a student. Right before my senior year they made some changes and the food improved somewhat - they had a made-to-order option every day. However, I found myself eating a lot of pizza in my senior year (before this, they didn't have pizza on a regular basis). They have some vegetarian options but they seem somewhat limited. however, the food for the vegetarian station was tasty.Admissions
The admission process is generally very personal. The office has early decision, early action, and regular decision and Cornell is a member of the Common Application. Admission and scholarship decisions are made at the same time. Scholarships seem to have become increasingly competitive - although it seems as if they hold back at times with awards. My class (the entering class of 2003) was the last to have an actual scholarship competition for the William Fletcher King (full tuition) scholarship. Now, those are simply awarded.
The admission staff is very personal. My counselor remained in fairly consistent contact with me throughout the process and answered questions for me and my family. If we left a message, it was returned in a prompt and courteous manner. They really were exceptional during my visits (2) to Cornell as well.
Overall, the Admission office did a nice job addressing my concerns and also coming up with a financial award that made it feasible to attend Cornell.Graduation Year
The One Course At A Time program made it possible for me to double major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) and Ethnic Studies while minoring in Psychology. My advisor was wonderful and I really appreciated the small class sizes. I wanted to go to a college that recognized me as a person and not simply a number on the class roster. Accessibility of professors and research opportunities were phenomenal. I actually wanted to study off campus and was able to utilize the Dimensions and Fellowships programs in order to better my experiences and application for medical school.Quality of Life
The campus was really nice and I understand the appeal of having a residential campus; however, having other options for housing would be beneficial. It was a rough transition into paying rent and bills after being pampered with dorm living. Overall, I love the Mount Vernon area and never felt unsafe. Our library was great, but the hours are limited (especially on the weekend).Admissions
I had a great relationship with the admissions department. I was able to email, instant message, or call my admissions rep. She even was the one to call and let me know that I was accepted and had received the prestigious William Fletcher King scholarship.Graduation Year
The classes are small (all are capped at 25 students or less) and it is really easy to get to know and talk with professors. Generally the classes are pretty challenging, but that is, of course, not always the case. The professors at Cornell are absolutely amazing. Wonderful people who really care about the students. They are totally accessible and I have often built great relationships with my professors. It is really great to be able to actually talk with professors one on one and get help, have conversations, etc. There are research opportunities over the summer within some departments, but not all. One cool thing about Cornell academics is that students can totally run their own academic path. Students are able to design their own majors if they like, and have the flexibility of participating in independent studies or doing honors projects. It's really great how much flexibility there is with academics at Cornell (meaning that students can create opportunities that they wouldn't be able to necessarily at other schools).Quality of Life
All students must live on campus for at least three years. I actually like that because it creates a nice community on campus. We all eat in one cafeteria, which is fun and creates a good community, even though the tables are divided into groups (some people compare this to high school). It's also cool because nobody really cares what grade you're in so people hang out with friends of all grades. There is one library, and I think it's pretty great for a small-school library. I go there everyday to do my homework. Most of the dorms are pretty nice. There are a couple that could definitely use renovations, but they're generally pretty livable. Every dorm has a kitchen, which makes it easy to do your own thing sometimes, and the dorms are small enough that you can get to know many people who live near you, although that doesn't always happen.Admissions
Early action was available. Common application was available. The school offers incredible financial aid. Every student I know has a scholarship.Level
Class sizes are small (25 students maximum). Professors are very accessbile and are devoted to their students success. Workload is daunting at times given the "one course at a time" class schedule. You cannot fall behind because once you do you can never catch up. It's very fast paced.Quality of Life
It is a historic campus so things are somewhat lacking. Additionally, the town that the school is in is rather small so social life is lacking as well. But the town is extremely safe and I never felt unsafe walking home late at night.Admissions
Great scholarship opportunities that make it more than affordable.Graduation Year
Common application, lots of merit scholarshipsLevel
Great classes and student to faculty ratioAdmissions
Application, no interviews.Graduation Year
You were help to a high standard during academic classes. You have small class sizes and professors are personable. They usually give you their personal information where they can be reached, some professors you could reach at almost any time. Academic Advisors, especially the education department, were extremely helpful. Studying abroad is ideal at Cornell because of our block plan we offer (3 and 1/2 weeks of one course, then you switched to another class). The workload is intense because you only have one class to worry about and only one final at a time, too. The school is competitive within the academic subjects. The requirements (many have changed) you need 2 blocks of foreign language,a block of lab and non-lab science, block of Mathematics, and then requirements for each degree.Quality of Life
Cornell is a very diverse, small campus. Everyone lives in the dorms all 4 years unless they get permission to live off campus. This creates a close-knit community at our school. The facilities are expanding and becoming much nicer, espesically the common area, dining, and sports center. The library is 4 floors, open to the public, and has a positive atmosphere. The community and the school are very close because it is such a small town. The crime is not high and you feel safe if you were to walk around the campus late at night if you were coming from the computer lab or library. I think the general happiness of the school is high and easy going.Admissions
It's been a while, I do not remember much. It asked about extra curricular activities you were involved in, you received scholarships if you achieved a certain GPA in high school and it continued if you kept your college GPA above a certain number. Financial aid was available to make the cost of the school cheaper.Graduation Year
Academic advising is fantastic. Each student is assigned a faculty adviser upon entering school. Additional advising comes from new academy type institutions (the Berry Center, Dimensions, etc) that specialize in certain disciplines. I was particularly involved in the Berry Center for Economics and Public Policy.
Class size is small. It is capped at 25, I believe. In upper level courses it is not uncommon to have less than 15 in a course.
Professors are very available for advising. I sat down with my economics professors numerous times for additional help and to discuss future plans and options.
Professors grade difficultly, but seem fair. A's are definitely earned at Cornell
Even though students are taking one class at a time, students are still forced to multitask. Instead of balancing multiple classes, students must balance multiple large assignments within a class and synthesize them into a coherent application of the material.
Extraordinary study opportunities are available, but can be hard to land. While at Cornell, I participated in small book groups with the college president, attended conferences in Washington DC and Chicago, had valuable and applicable internships and fellowships during summers and open blocks, and traveled to Uruguay with one other student and the president of the college for a month. Faculty and upper staff are very available and constantly adding to the value of education at Cornell.Quality of Life
Housing was decent. Almost everybody lived on campus, but it is my understanding that more people are living off-campus now.
The library was more than satisfactory.
Athletic buildings were good and being improved all of the time. While I was there they built a new weight room, a new wrestling room, an indoor and outdoor track. No swimming pool though.
The food isn't very good.
Almost non-existent crime.
Overall, it's a good experience as long as you go into it not expecting to be in a big city. Cornell runs the town and as long as you are okay with being in a place that has a school of 1,200 students run it, then you will be okay.Admissions
This was a long time ago. Cornell is very good with financial aid though. They even matched an offer from another school as incentive.Graduation Year
All class sizes are under 25 students. All classes are in the OCAAT (One Course At A Time) format. Students take one course every 3 1/2 weeks. In that timespan you attend that one course every day anywhere between 4 and 7 hours. There is a mid term and a final. After the 3 1/2 weeks the course is over and you attend a new course. There are 8 classes in an academic year. General requirements are fairly standard. The OCAAT system does allow a lot of opportunities for study abroad, research periods, and time off. Grading is moderate to easy for those who 100% of the time attend class. Faculty are more approachable than most universities due to the small class size. Workload can be intense for more difficult courses due to the short timespan of OCAAT, but very light for general courses.Quality of Life
Tuition, room and board is fairly expensive for a liberal arts college. Housing is typical for most colleges and there are ample campus facilities, though due to the small size of the college and the small town in which it presides, most places clase relatively early. The surrounding community is typical of small town Iowa. Major commercial chains are a 20 minute drive to Cedar Rapids, and there is no large city nearby. Crime and safety are better than most colleges.Admissions
The admission was a simple two page paper, common application. I was given the opportunity for early decision as well. There are scholarship opportunities however, some of the restrictions for maintaining scholarships year to year are extremely difficult to achieve unless one takes all generals in their freshman year.Graduation Year
The academics at Cornell is the schools strongest asset. The degree programs do need to be revised but are workable.Quality of Life
The dorms are in poor condition and many are in need of major repair. The cost of living is acceptable. The campus is not accessible to those with disabilities in my opinion. many dorms are in areas that are hard to get to in wheelchairs. The conditions of the walk ways in winter is dangerous for normal students let alone those with disabilities.Admissions
The process was average and followed the same pattern as any other school.Level