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10 Survival Tips for Cornell University

Collette Roberto is a sophomore Physics and Economics Major at Cornell University who loves to write, especially about her school!


Cornell is a fantastic university, and studying and living here can be quite the challenge! Here are just  a few tips to get off to a good start as a student:

1) Don’t over-fill your plate.

And we’re not just talking at the All You Care to Eat dining halls. Cornell has hundreds upon hundreds of clubs and student organizations to choose from, but take it slow because you will most likely have a pretty full course-load!

*INSIDE SCOOP! A lot of clubs at Cornell let you sign up for listservs, so its easier for members to stay involved / informed but not have to commit a huge amount of time!

2) Especially if you are a first-year student – TCAT is your BEST FRIEND!

The TCAT bus system is free for first-year Cornellians, and they run all over campus and all over Ithaca! Older kids get free rides on weekends and nights, so get on the bus and see what’s where in the area!

3) Friends are the most informative campus resource.

There’s always something going on on campus, and how do you hear about them most often? Listservs? Maybe. Chalkings / posters? Eh…? Friends? Heck yes! They’ll always be reminding you about Pre-enroll or nagging you to come to this-and-such awesome concert. So listen up! And make sure to nag them about your cool events, too.

4) Become master of the TA Office Hours.

TA’s, or Teaching Assistants, are almost always really awesome and super helpful at Cornell. They don’t mind your questions and really want you to understand what’s happening. Just don’t let them do your homework for you! (they probably won’t anyway…).

5) When in doubt, plan for inclement weather. Seriously.

On the sunniest of sunny days in Ithaca, that 0 percent chance of rain will always be in truth at least 15 percent. Seriously, never go to outdoor games, events, etc. without a sweater, umbrella, or something!

6) Plan your housing AGES ahead of time.

The Housing Lottery is a beast to understand and undergo (ish). But West Campus is definitely a great Cornell experience, so we recommend taking time to try, say, blocking with friends into your own suite!

7) Plan your semesters….”ahead of time.”

At first its OK to try new classes and see what you like, but as you progress and have to soon declare a major, planning out your academic schedules for a couple semesters can make credit juggling a little less stressful later.

8) Find a study system that works.

(Even if studying isn’t your thing at all) Cornell has everything from quiet, beautiful outdoor places to be alone and comfy, food-inclusive group study areas to facilitate your preferred study setting. Find a great place, hit the books like only you know how to, and excel!

9) Yeah, it sucks but….take tests seriously (duh).

Especially if there’s, what? Two prelims and a Final only?  They can be challenging, so prepare with a balance of sleep, studying, and procrastination (because we know you will no matter what…) Good luck!

10) And remember one more thing: you belong here!

Whether you feel super puffed up at attending a world-class university or you feel like everyone here is a brilliant prodigy compared to you, don’t forget that Cornell wanted you for a reason and you’re a stellar individual to be here, so keep up the good work!

Feel like you can survive Cornell University?


Photo credit: matt.hintsa via photopin cc

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