A photograph of Cornell Engineering student SydneyI’ve known about Cornell since I was little. From when I first learned about careers to about sophomore year of high school, I wanted to be a veterinarian, and attending Cornell Veterinary School was my dream. When I became interested in engineering, Cornell faded from the picture slightly as I looked at closer schools (I live in Utah, so it’s a real trek to Cornell). In the last few days of the application time period, I decided to apply to Cornell just to see what would happen, since it had been a childhood dream to attend.

A photograph of Cornell Engineering student Sydney standing on the Arts Quad with the Clock Tower in the backgroundIn February of my senior year of high school (see picture), I visited Cornell as a prospective student, and fell in love with the campus. I loved the waterfalls dotting the campus, the combination of old and modern architecture, and the famous “Harry Potter” library. Growing up surrounded by nature, I knew walking between classes in such a beautiful area would ease any stress I would have from classes. Furthermore, as a self-diagnosed coffee-addict, I appreciated the easy accessibility and laid-back ambiance of CollegeTown Bagels (now a regular stop on my way to or from class).

As I was on my tour, I also caught snippets of conversation between students, ranging from talk of classes to deep conversations, hinting at an academically driven and intellectually curious vibe. Once I was admitted, I was immediately invited to join various group chats for admitted students, and began to meet some of my future classmates. Everyone seemed just as excited about college as I was, and I even got into deeper conversation with some about books, interests, and current events. From my initial interactions with current and prospective students, I began to see how Cornell attracts so many brilliant, interesting people.

I also loved the engineering curriculum and requirements. As someone that tends to be interested in nearly everything I learn about, I liked the freedom of dappling in various engineering disciplines before settling into a major. I also liked that I’d be taking the same classes as other first-year engineering students, which would give me a good opportunity to meet more people. And I appreciated that each major’s requirements had been carefully organized in a chart, giving me the impression that the college itself was extremely organized and wanted every student to easily complete their requirements (I can still say now that this is very true).

I also didn’t want to just take engineering courses; I wanted to have a broader college education and have the chance to take some courses “for fun.” The Freshman Writing Seminar and Liberal Studies requirements allowed me to do that. So far, I’ve gotten to take courses like Marx Nietzsche and Freud, Buddhism, and History of Medicine – and from each I’ve discovered new interests I didn’t know I had. I’m even thinking about altering my career path a bit because I loved one of my liberal studies courses so much!

Finally, I was big into the outdoors in high school; in my free time, I enjoyed running, rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking. Cornell’s physical education requirement was the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills, meet people with similar interests, and relax a little between classes. So far in my time at Cornell, I’ve taken rock climbing, yoga, and even an introduction to birdwatching course – and I plan to take more next fall. I now teach one of the rock climbing classes, and love the large outdoor community that Cornell has. There’s a club for every possible type of sport or activity, and many students are involved in at least one.

Though these are some of the reasons I chose Cornell, it also just felt right; Cornell checked off the right boxes for me. Since arriving on campus freshman year, each semester makes me more excited for what’s still to come, and I’ve never had any doubt about my decision to choose Cornell. In the past three years, Cornell has become my community, the place where my best friends are and my intellectual limits are challenged. And judging from the other students I know, I am among many Cornellians that feel this way.

~Sydney ’21, electrical and computer engineering