Sometimes First Impressions of a College Are Not Dealbreakers
I was the kid that loved the college process. I loved visiting campuses and imagining what it would be like to attend each school. I loved coming up with essay topics and trying to be creative so that I would stand out. I put a great deal of time, thought, and effort into my college applications, but at the beginning, I never would have imagined that would end up at Cornell.
I often tell the story of my first visit to Cornell. Living less than an hour away, my mom and I used a snow day to be productive and check another college visit off the list. It was the middle of January of my junior year of high school, and we barely made it there in one piece because of the condition of the roads (I do not advise doing a college tour on a day like this!) I looked around, and at the end of the trip, I told my mom I was “neutral.”
This response was only partly because of the snow and my determination to get out of Upstate New York, where I had lived my whole life. Still, the day I found out that I got in, I was so excited. I went back for Accepted Students Day, and I could see myself there more than anywhere else I was still considering. Even if it didn’t feel quite like home, as most visiting students expect, I could see the opportunities that I could take advantage of and the places I might fit in. I loved the people I met, who would be in my classes for the next four years, and, most importantly, I loved the program I would be majoring in.
It wasn’t until after my freshman year at Cornell that I realized I initially didn’t feel that I would fit in, or would not fit in, at Cornell because there’s not one particular kind of Cornell student. The students are from all walks of life and the university offers something to every single one. I’ve met people exactly like me and people who are nothing like me, but everyone is bonded by their love of the school. We trek through the snow, we scream at midnight on the night before finals start every semester, we attend Applefest in Ithaca Commons, we throw fish on the ice at the Harvard vs. Cornell hockey games, we check items off the “161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do” list, and we celebrate Slope Day – marking the end of another successful year. These experiences make a community out of a huge student body, and everyone finds their place among the crowd.
Needless to say, I am no longer “neutral” to Cornell. It was the perfect fit for me!