Cornell University: A Home Away From Home

We’ve made it to April! While it’s currently snowing here in Ithaca, we’re sure spring is just around the corner, as is National College Decision Day (on May 1st). For those students who are struggling to decide between Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences and other institutions (or those high school students wishing that they will be in this position a year or two from now), we here at the Ambassadors blog have decided to showcase the reasons why our Ambassadors decided to join the Big Red. Sophomore Dylan Van Duyne starts us off with a post about how he was excited by Cornell’s location and its stellar academics. Check out other relevant blog posts and outside sources by clicking on the blue hyperlinks!

By: Dylan Van Duyne ’18

April: a month defined by April Fool’s Day, Tax Day, Earth Day, lots of rain showers, and, of course, the college decision process. For some of you, this will be the month that you choose Cornell University as your home for your next four years. As May 1st nears and you approach decision day, know that choosing Cornell was the greatest decision of my life. Personally, I chose Cornell because of the location, the academics, and the welcoming community.

Clocktower view

The view of Cayuga Lake and the Arts Quad from the top of McGraw Clocktower.

One of the largest appeals of Cornell is undoubtedly the location: Ithaca has been ranked the #2 college town in the United States by the American Institute of Economic Research, and there’s a rumor that we’ve got more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the United States. I grew up outside Philadelphia, so I wanted to go to a school that wasn’t too close to home but wasn’t too far away either. Cornell is just a three-and-a-half-hour drive away from home (and a four-hour bus ride from New York City!), which was perfect for me.

Watkins Glen

One of the many waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park

In addition to being a Cornell student, though, I’m also lucky to be a resident of Ithaca, one of most exciting places to live with an unlimited amount of things to do. There are so many amazing places to eat, and there are numerous events held throughout the year, such as Apple Fest and Chili Fest, that bring huge crowds to the downtown Ithaca Commons. Ithaca is also home to countless gorges and several state parks, providing endless possibilities for outdoor adventures (check out my blog post from October about how “Ithaca is Gorges!”). Buttermilk Falls State Park, Robert Treman State Park, and Taughannock Falls State Park are just a few of the local favorites. I recently traveled to Watkins Glen, a park with a 2.4-mile gorge trail that winds over and under the spray of waterfalls


A Cornell sunset over Libe Slope

Climbing 161 steps up the iconic 173 foot McGraw Clocktower will give any student a breathtaking view overlooking all of Ithaca, spanning out across the 37.9 mile Cayuga Lake. Right off of Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s many Finger lakes, is the Ithaca Farmers’ Market, a quaint little getaway on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, just one of the may outdoor wonders that Ithaca has to offer. Ithaca also has some of the most astounding sunsets you will ever see, and a walk back from the library at night will leave you awestruck at cotton candy skies

Farmers Market

Nicholas Karavolias ’18, Rana Suleiman ’17, and I enjoy the Ithaca Farmers Market.

In addition to the amazing location, Cornell University is truly an institution for “any person, any study.” I came into Cornell as a prospective Biology and Spanish double major, but my only true certainty from an academic standpoint was that I wanted to be a doctor. However, halfway through my freshman year I decided I didn’t want to be a Biology major anymore, and in the beginning of my sophomore year I declared my Spanish major. In addition to my Spanish major, I am now pursuing minors in Global Health and Psychology. One of the greatest assets of the College of Arts and Sciences is that you don’t have to declare your major right away – you have two years to decide what you would like to major in. My message to prospective students is this: don’t panic if you don’t know exactly what you want to do or who you want to be. Within the College of Arts and Sciences, you will enjoy a holistic undergraduate education, enjoying distribution requirements that allow you to become a more well-rounded intellectual. With this comes the opportunity to explore and find your academic passion. I’m certain that within the College of Arts and Sciences you will take a class, whether it be through your Freshman Writing Seminar or through a language requirement or through a historical breadth requirement, that will end up teaching you a lot about yourself as a student and a growing intellectual.

Fencing tournament support

Toti Lee-Shapiro ’18, Jack Jones ’18, and I support Julia Telischi ’18 and her teammates at her fencing tournament.

Thinking back on my senior year of high school, I know I made the right decision in picking Cornell; here, the motto “any person, any study” is in fact a reality, and within the College of Arts and Sciences in specific, I found a welcoming home.

And as a final side note – if you’re worried about “fitting in” at Cornell, please use my freshman experience as an example. The friends I made when I first arrived at Cornell’s campus are still some of my closest friends today (and are pictured in the final picture). Choose Big Red, and I’m sure it will be one of the best decisions of your life!