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Apr 23
2012

New Kid on the Hill

Posted by CAM Blogger in Untagged 

2012No one said that attending an Ivy League school would be easy. The Cornell student body includes some of the best and brightest eighteen- to twenty-two-year-olds in the country. The University doesn’t accept just anyone, nor does it take us by the hand and give us a degree. We have to earn it.

But as demanding as Cornell’s academics are to the average undergrad, they’re even more challenging to a transfer student. For one thing, we often start out in upper-level courses, since we’ve already taken the prerequisites. Another difference is that good grades earned during our first years of college don’t count; even though we had respectable GPAs at our previous schools—high enough to win admission to Cornell—they don’t factor into our cumulative averages. And transfers have to hit the ground running; when you’re here for only half as long, each semester counts twice as much, so one bad grade can derail your GPA.

Then there are the social obstacles: it’s hard to feel as if you belong when your peers have had two years to develop friendships. They found their “besties” long before I arrived, the new kid on the block as a junior. Coming to Cornell was like butting in on people mid-conversation.

When I matriculated at Cornell—2,800 miles away from home—I had an associate’s degree. And as hard as it would have been to transfer from another four-year university, there’s even more culture shock when you come from a community college. Earning an associate’s degree was similar to a job; after class, you drove home. There was little incentive to be socially active at a commuter school. Community college just seemed like a bigger version of high school.

Inevitably, your college experience is not the same when you are only on the Hill for two years. I’m sure I missed out on many experiences by not being an underclassman at Cornell—and that I can vouch for many transfers when I say that I wish I’d been here for four years. But sometimes the journey is less important than the destination. After all, we transfers made it here—right?

— Tim Weisberg ’12