I recently had an opportunity to interview Cornell Alumnus, Cassidy, who graduated in 2012 from the School of Hotel Administration with a Bachelors of Science. Cass is currently working as the Area People and Culture Manager for Kimpton Hotels in Philadelphia. Here is what she had to say about her Cornell experience!
51UStudy: First of all, What made you choose Cornell and where else did you apply?
Cass: The vibe. I just connected to it when I got on campus; I felt my brain start thinking about all of the potential opportunities that I could see. I was a transfer student, so my application as not a typical one. However, I also applied to, and got into UNC – Chapel Hill and Boston College. Out of high school, I don’t think I ever would have gotten into Cornell. Like, it wasn’t even on my radar. But after attending a smaller, lower ranked school (Dennison University) for a year; I realized I wanted more out of my college experience. I definitely think exceling at Dennison broadened my vision, and increased my chances of getting into an Ivy League school.
51UStudy: What did you think of the Hotel school at Cornell?
Cass: The hotel school was unbelievable, it was like a mini business school and it was the smallest of all of the schools so it felt like a family. It was also just one building, so you literally always saw familiar faces whether it be classmates or professors.
51UStudy: What did you like most and least about your professors?
Cass: I loved that all of my professors had tons of actual industry experience, so they brought a plethora of real life experiences in that field. My Human Resources professor was a regional Human Resources guru who started as an hourly hotel employee, my Economics professor worked at Hertz Car Rentals and developed their revenue supply & demand system, our culinary professors were professionals in their field before coming to be professors. So, as a student, I was really able to experience their passion for their field in addition to coursework and lectures. What I liked least was that some of my professors were clearly there for research purposes but had to also teach.
51UStudy:What did you like most and least about campus (physically)?
Cass: Ithaca, NY is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is in a little pocket of heaven. “Ithaca is GORGES” is a slogan that you see everywhere, but it is true! There is so much natural beauty. Campus is also broken up really well, with freshman campus and sophomore campus on the west side of campus and then juniors and seniors typically live in collegetown. Each school within Cornell had its own area, with its own library and mini-quad. So, amongst this larger school, you had a little mini community. It was a great way of making a very large campus seem smaller and more approachable.
However, something that I found a bit annoying was the weather. When it is snowing and cold, depending on where you live, it can be a bit of a hike to trudge through the snow to get to class. There is a free bus that takes you around campus, but it is still cold!
51UStudy: What was it like to be on such a big Campus for you?
Cass: I really enjoyed it. I came from a small school in Ohio (Denison Univeristy) so I was a transfer student as a sophomore. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted a small school to play Division 3 lacrosse but once I got there, I realized it was almost too small for me. I was a little nervous transferring to a larger university, but it really felt like a great size. I still recognized people all the time, had your hub of school friends and also friends through different activities so it still fell small in the best way possible.
Also, its location in upstate New York, means it’s not a commuter school where people leave on the weekends. People are there and they stay there, it is a true campus feel in that way.
51UStudy: How was your dormitory life at Cornell?
Cass: I loved it!! Made so many friends. There were all sorts of different dorm options – however, for freshman year, I believe it was a lottery system. Each dorm had it’s own flavor and as freshman they also have townhouses which are super popular because they have their own little communities. I also liked that each year had a different dorm location. It made it easier to bond with people who graduated the same year as you, and made the big campus seem smaller.
51UStudy: What was Cornell like politically or religiously?
Cass: Super diverse! I didn’t do much on either of these fronts, but they have a church on campus that holds services for all different types of religious practices, which was really cool.
51UStudy: What is the stereotype for Cornell students and is it accurate?
Cass: There is a saying about Cornell, that its the easiest Ivy to get into, but the hardest one to graduate from. I find this rather depressing. There are a number of suicides from the bridges over the gorges, so that’s why they say that I guess. As for the students at Cornell, often they are rich kids from NYC or liberal hippies, however there is so much diversity on campus, you can literally find a little bit of anything. Anyone can find his or her home there, which I find absolutely riveting and amazing. So, yes, there are a handful of NYC rich kids, and yes there have been suicides, and yes there are some liberal hippies, but there is also a TON of everything else.
51UStudy: Is Cornell more introverted or extraverted?
Cass: Combination – I feel it is an underrated, humble university
51UStudy: Was there much of a dating culture at Cornell?
Cass: It definitely existed, but I was single my whole time at Cornell and built up the best friendships with both guys and girls. There was a good balance.
51UStudy: What’s the most important thing that Cornell has given to you?
Cass: The ability to make connections with professors and students from all walks of life and the opportunity to have the freedom from the professors and from the extra-curricular activities. Cornell allows creative freedom and has amazing programming for their students – concerts, festivals, markets, shows, events, etc.
51UStudy: What surprised you about the campus/the students/the location/academics etc.?
Cass: That it was super friendly & academic but also so much fun. The students love to let lose, there is always something going on every night if you are looking to go out, drink, house parties, frat parties, bars, etc.
51UStudy: What is the most important factor in the Cornell admission process?
Cass: The diversity piece- what can you bring to this campus and what will you bring to this campus that is different than the person next to you?
51UStudy: Do you remember how you wrote yours? Any advice you can offer for our students writing this piece right now?
Cass: Having a really interesting topic is crucial. I wrote my essay on my laugh and my relationship with my laugh, which is a ridiculous foghorn: just something ordinary, but a zinger to read. I would start by asking yourself what sets you apart? What gets you going in life?
51UStudy: Do you have any recommendations for future Cornell applicants and students who see C as their dream school?
Cass: Crush the application! It is a huge benefit coming from a different country, as Cornell loves diversity. Really think about what you have to offer that is different than most and make sure to highlight that on the application. If you can, request to do a Skype interview as well.
51UStudy: What 3 words sum up Cornell to you?
Cass: That’s a tough one. But I would have to say diverse, stimulating and stunning.
51UStudy: Do you feel like Cornell prepared you for adulthood /the real world?
Cass: Yes & no – I feel like I gained so much life experience in my time there from my relationships with others and have landed in an amazing alumni network post-graduation. I don’t feel like you are prepared for the real world until you’re in it and understand what it is all about!
51UStudy: I will probably visit Cornell this summer. What’s your recommendation for my visit?
Cass: GORGES!! Summer is an absolutely amazing time to visit, majority of students spend a summer in Ithaca and it just comes alive. Also visit the plantations.
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