Monday, July 19, 2010


“Big Red” Tips
by the ILC Cornellians of 2010

While the seven of us were away at the East Coast, experiencing life at Cornell and exploring the educational aspects of New York, we compiled a list of tips and advices for aspiring college students/curious parents. During our three weeks on the other side of the country, we had the chance to visit: Rochester University, Colgate University, and Cornell University. This list consists of what the seven of us believe are some of the most important information to leave any college tour or fair with. Happy Reading!

a.) Isolated vs. Urban: Do you want to go to a college that is in the center of a busy city or a college in which the students make up more than half of the population in the town? A university like Columbia is located in the wonderful New York City; you will never have trouble finding things to do outside of school and you will always be inspired by the ever changing and quick lifestyle of your urban surroundings. A university like Colgate and Cornell on the other hand is more isolated. In other words, they are located far from big cities and often make up half or more than half of the population in a town. An isolated university offers: easier focus towards your education, a closer relationship with your environment and town, and more school-related events that often leads to tighter bonds with your classmates.

b.) All Planned Out vs. Undecided: Do you already know what you want to study in college, or are you completely unsure and rather go undecided? Either way, a good example of a college that is beneficial to both sides is the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Rochester University allows their students to choose whatever courses they want to study; in other words, there are no mandatory classes you have to take by a certain year. That means, if know what you want to, pick all the classes that will speed up your process for getting the major that you want. Or, if you’re going in undecided, try a variety of things until you figure out what it is that you really enjoy doing. Liberal Arts colleges are also a great idea for those who plan to go undecided.

c.) Financial Aid: What the seven of us learned from touring some universities in the East is that they have money. Don’t hesitate to ask about their funding/financial/scholarship programs. They will list so many! But ultimately, they will say the same thing: “don’t worry about the money, you do well and you’ll get there.”

d.) Transportation: College campuses can be quite big. Next time you take a tour, look around. Do you see a lot of bike racks? Chances are, bikes are the way to go in most East Coast colleges, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask your tour guide. For example, while a student at Colgate can find all that they will need in the little town of Hamilton through the convenient bus system, one of the students stated that she likes having a car around to drive to other towns and cities.

e.) Food: The seven of us all agree that this aspect of college life cannot be more important than you’d think. Don’t forget to ask about the type of food you can get at college. While dining at college is great, make sure there are always several backups. And if you’re like Jacky, also remember to ask about Starbucks.

f.) Demographics/Foreign Exchange Programs: Perhaps you’d like to go to a school that has a lot of diversity. A school like Cornell is heralded for their large diverse community; schools like Colgate has more than half of their student body participate in international programs. In addition, this information can tell you where you stand on the spectrum of cultural diversity at the school.

g.) Retention Rate: Or, as the University of Rochester likes to call it, the “Happiness Factor”.

h.) Weather: Believe it or not, weather plays a big role in East coast schools. Unlike sunny UC San Diego, schools like Cornell and Colgate experience all four seasons of the year. However, don’t let weather discourage you. In Rochester for instance, they have a “tunnel system”, in which many students have been known to never step a foot outside and have remained in a pair of shorts and t-shirt. It’s a good idea to ask about weather in the east coast because you don’t want to be deceived by the seemingly nice weather of your summer tours at that particular school.

i.) Athletics: Whether you’re a big-time athlete or someone who likes to intramurals, ask what the school has to offer! Colgate University, for instance, is proud to say that about 80% of their students participate in athletics and still maintain great grades.

j.) Safety: Of the three colleges we visited, the safety of the campus was very high. Of course, that is not to say there are not those occasional campus crimes, such as theft or vandalism. However, what you should consider asking is the safety of the city in which the college is located in.

k.) Greek: Charles Ramsey is proud to be part of the Greek system in college. If you’re interested, make sure you ask about it!

l.) Class Size and Teacher to Student Ratio: Do you want to sit in a lecture hall with hundreds of students from your class to one teacher, or about a class size of 20 or less to one teacher? Dyana will tell you that she personally prefers a small class size over a larger one, simply because you can get to know your professor better and get help easier. A school like UC Berkeley has rather large lecture hall-type classrooms while many schools in the East Coast have smaller class sizes.

*More “Big Red Tips” may follow.


  1. Thanks so much for writing this up, Wing!
    Ms. K

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