Deciding which college to attend is one of the biggest decisions a student will make. With so many great options across the country, it can be challenging to determine if a school like Cornell is the right fit.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Cornell is considered one of the top universities in the United States and the world, known for its excellent academics and research opportunities across a diverse range of fields.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at various factors that make Cornell a good school for many prospective students, including its prestigious reputation, diverse academic programs, vibrant student life, beautiful campus, and accomplished alumni network.

We’ll also discuss some potential downsides to consider. Read on for a detailed examination to help you determine if Cornell is a good fit for your educational goals and preferences.

Overview and Reputation of Cornell University

Brief history and facts about Cornell

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is a prestigious Ivy League institution known for its exceptional academic programs and world-class faculty. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell has since grown into a renowned research university with a strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Cornell offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including arts and sciences, engineering, business, agriculture, and more. The university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident in its student body, which represents over 120 countries.

One unique aspect of Cornell is its distinctive blend of private and public funding. While it is a private university, it receives support from the State of New York, allowing it to offer affordable tuition rates for in-state students.

Rankings and reputation

Cornell University consistently ranks among the top universities in the world. It is widely regarded for its academic excellence, cutting-edge research, and high-quality faculty.

According to the QS World University Rankings, Cornell is currently ranked 14th globally. It also consistently ranks highly in specific subject areas, such as engineering, business, agriculture, and computer science.

Furthermore, Cornell is known for its strong alumni network, which includes successful individuals in various fields, including science, business, politics, and the arts. This extensive network provides opportunities for current students and graduates to connect and collaborate with industry leaders.

Cornell’s reputation as a top-tier institution is further supported by its research output and contributions to society. The university has made significant advancements in fields such as biotechnology, engineering, and environmental science.

For more information about Cornell University, you can visit their official website at

Academic Programs

Cornell University offers a wide breadth of majors and programs, making it an attractive choice for students with diverse academic interests. With over 100 undergraduate majors and 80 minors, students have the opportunity to explore a variety of fields and tailor their education to their specific interests and career goals.

From engineering and computer science to business and the humanities, Cornell provides a comprehensive range of academic programs to choose from.

Breadth of majors and programs offered

The range of majors and programs available at Cornell is truly impressive. Whether you are interested in the sciences, social sciences, arts, or humanities, you are likely to find a program that aligns with your interests.

From popular majors like biology, psychology, and economics to more specialized programs such as hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and urban and regional studies, Cornell has something for everyone.

Additionally, Cornell offers interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine multiple areas of study. For example, the College of Arts and Sciences offers a major in Information Science that bridges the gap between computer science, social sciences, and the humanities.

Quality of academics and faculty

Cornell University is renowned for its high-quality academics and faculty. The university boasts a distinguished faculty comprised of leading experts in their respective fields. Many professors at Cornell are actively engaged in research and contribute to their fields, ensuring that students receive an education that is up to date and relevant.

Furthermore, small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio allow for personalized attention and meaningful interactions between students and professors. This fosters a supportive and collaborative learning environment, where students can engage in meaningful discussions, ask questions, and receive guidance from their professors.

Research opportunities

Cornell is a research-intensive university, providing students with ample opportunities to engage in hands-on research. Whether you are interested in conducting scientific experiments, exploring social issues, or delving into historical archives, Cornell offers numerous research programs and initiatives.

Students have the chance to work closely with faculty members on groundbreaking research projects, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in the process. This hands-on experience not only enhances the academic experience but also prepares students for future careers or graduate studies.

Cornell’s dedication to research is evident through the wide range of research centers and institutes it houses. For example, the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are just a few of the esteemed research institutions on campus.

Campus Life

Cornell University offers a vibrant and diverse campus life that caters to the interests and needs of its students. From a diverse student body to a wide range of housing and dining options, as well as numerous extracurricular activities and organizations, Cornell provides a well-rounded college experience.

Diversity of student body

Cornell University takes pride in its diverse student body, attracting students from all over the world. With a commitment to inclusivity and a strong emphasis on diversity, Cornell fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds.

This diverse student body contributes to a rich and dynamic campus culture, providing students with the opportunity to learn from and engage with individuals from different cultures, perspectives, and experiences.

Housing and dining options

Cornell offers a variety of housing options to meet the diverse needs and preferences of its students. From traditional residence halls to apartment-style living, students have the opportunity to choose the housing option that best suits their lifestyle.

Additionally, Cornell’s dining services provide a wide range of options to accommodate different dietary preferences and restrictions. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite on the go or a sit-down meal with friends, there are plenty of dining choices available on campus.

Extracurricular activities and organizations

Cornell University is home to a vast array of extracurricular activities and organizations, catering to a wide range of interests. From academic clubs and honor societies to sports teams and performing arts groups, there is something for everyone at Cornell.

These extracurricular activities not only provide students with opportunities to pursue their passions and interests outside of the classroom but also foster a sense of community and belonging. Students can engage in leadership roles, develop new skills, and form lifelong friendships through their involvement in these activities and organizations.

Costs and Financial Aid

When considering whether Cornell is a good school, one important factor to take into account is the costs associated with attending. College tuition and fees can be a significant investment, and it’s crucial to understand the financial implications before making a decision.

Tuition and fees

Cornell University is a private Ivy League institution, known for its prestigious reputation and excellent academic programs. As such, it’s no surprise that tuition and fees at Cornell can be quite high.

In the 2021-2022 academic year, the tuition for undergraduate students at Cornell is approximately $59,282. This figure does not include additional expenses such as room and board, textbooks, and personal expenses.

It’s important to note that the cost of tuition and fees can vary depending on the specific program and school within Cornell. For example, the tuition for graduate programs may differ from undergraduate programs, and different schools within Cornell, such as the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Engineering, may have different tuition rates.

Despite the high cost, many students and their families find that the exceptional education and opportunities offered at Cornell are worth the investment. It’s also worth exploring financial aid options to help offset the costs.

Availability of scholarships and financial aid

Cornell University is committed to making education accessible to all qualified students, regardless of their financial background. The university offers a robust financial aid program to help students with demonstrated financial need afford the cost of attendance.

Financial aid at Cornell comes in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. Cornell’s financial aid packages are designed to meet the full demonstrated need of admitted students, meaning that the university aims to bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and what a family can afford to pay.

It’s worth noting that the financial aid process at Cornell is need-based, and the university requires students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile to determine eligibility for aid.

These applications provide detailed information about a student’s financial situation, allowing Cornell to assess their need accurately.

Cornell also offers merit-based scholarships for exceptional students who demonstrate outstanding academic or extracurricular achievements. These scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded based on a range of criteria, including academic performance, leadership, and community involvement.

For more information about Cornell’s financial aid programs and scholarships, visit the Cornell Financial Aid website.

Campus and Surrounding Area

Description of campus

Cornell University boasts a stunningly beautiful campus that spans over 2,300 acres in Ithaca, New York. The campus is known for its picturesque views, with rolling hills, gorges, and waterfalls that create a serene and peaceful environment for students.

The architecture on campus is diverse, ranging from historical buildings to modern structures, creating a unique blend of old and new. Students at Cornell have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including libraries, research centers, and athletic facilities, providing them with a well-rounded college experience.

Weather and location in Ithaca, NY

Ithaca, New York, where Cornell University is located, experiences all four seasons. The area is known for its stunning fall foliage, with vibrant colors painting the landscape. Winters in Ithaca can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and occasional snowfall.

Spring brings blooming flowers and warmer temperatures, while summers are mild and pleasant, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The diverse weather patterns in Ithaca provide students with a unique experience, allowing them to appreciate the beauty of each season.

Opportunities in surrounding community

The surrounding community of Ithaca offers a wealth of opportunities for Cornell students. With a vibrant arts scene, students can explore various galleries, theaters, and music venues. The city also hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, providing students with a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture.

Additionally, Ithaca is known for its thriving food scene, with a wide range of dining options catering to different tastes and preferences. The community also offers internships, job opportunities, and networking events, allowing students to gain real-world experience and connections outside of the campus.

Career Outcomes and Alumni Network

Job placement rates and starting salaries

One of the key factors to consider when evaluating the quality of a school is its ability to prepare students for successful careers. Cornell University has an impressive track record in this regard, with high job placement rates and competitive starting salaries for its graduates.

According to the latest data, around 90% of Cornell graduates secure employment within six months of graduation. This statistic demonstrates the effectiveness of the university’s curriculum and the market demand for Cornell graduates.

Furthermore, the starting salaries of Cornell alumni are consistently above the national average. Graduates from Cornell’s College of Engineering, for example, have reported median starting salaries of over $80,000 per year.

Similarly, graduates from the School of Hotel Administration have secured positions in prestigious hospitality establishments with starting salaries well above industry standards. These statistics highlight the value that employers place on a Cornell education and the strong foundation it provides for career success.

Notable alumni

Cornell University boasts an impressive roster of accomplished alumni who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. These alumni serve as inspiring role models for current students and highlight the university’s commitment to fostering excellence.

Some notable Cornell alumni include:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The late Supreme Court Justice and champion of women’s rights.
  • Bill Nye: The renowned science communicator and television personality.
  • Indra Nooyi: The former CEO of PepsiCo, known for her leadership and business acumen.
  • Christopher Reeve: The iconic actor and activist, best known for his portrayal of Superman.

This is just a small sample of the many accomplished individuals who have walked the halls of Cornell. Their success stories are a testament to the quality of education and the strong network that Cornell provides.

These notable alumni also serve as valuable resources for current students, offering mentorship opportunities and potential connections in various industries.

To learn more about the achievements of Cornell alumni, you can visit the official Cornell University alumni website:

Potential Downsides

Competitiveness and Stress Culture

One potential downside of attending Cornell University is the highly competitive and stressful environment that some students may experience. The university is known for its rigorous academic programs and demanding workload, which can sometimes lead to high levels of stress and pressure.

Students often feel the need to constantly excel and outperform their peers, which can create a competitive atmosphere that may not be suitable for everyone.

However, it is important to note that while Cornell may have a reputation for competitiveness, the university also offers various resources and support systems to help students manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The university has counseling services, wellness programs, and student organizations dedicated to promoting mental health and well-being.

Rural Location in Ithaca

Another potential downside of attending Cornell is its location in Ithaca, a small town in upstate New York. While Ithaca offers a picturesque setting with its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, some students may find the rural environment lacking in terms of urban amenities and entertainment options.

Those who are accustomed to the hustle and bustle of city life may need to adjust to the slower pace and limited options available in a smaller town.

Despite this, Ithaca does have a vibrant community and a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. The town also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year. Additionally, Cornell provides a range of on-campus activities and clubs that cater to diverse interests, ensuring that students have opportunities for social engagement and involvement.

Cold Winters

Cornell’s location in upstate New York means that it experiences cold winters with heavy snowfall. This can be a downside for those who are not accustomed to or do not enjoy cold weather. The winter months can be long and chilly, requiring students to bundle up and navigate snowy pathways on campus.

Month Average Temperature (°F) Average Snowfall (inches)
December 32 15
January 28 20
February 30 18

However, many students embrace the winter weather and take advantage of the various winter activities available, such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. The university also provides resources to ensure that students stay safe and warm during the winter months, including snow removal services and well-heated buildings.

While these potential downsides should be taken into consideration, it is important to remember that Cornell University offers numerous benefits and opportunities that outweigh these challenges. Ultimately, the decision of whether Cornell is a good fit for an individual depends on their personal preferences, goals, and ability to adapt to the unique aspects of the university and its surroundings.


In conclusion, Cornell offers world-class academics, extensive research opportunities, a vibrant campus life and a prestigious alumni network. However, aspects like its stressful culture, remote location and high costs may deter some students.

Weighing all these factors can help you determine if applying to Cornell is the right move for your undergraduate education.

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