Cornell: The Flipside Perspective

Last week’s Colgate Maroon-News featured a commentary piece about the horrors of Cornell University. The author spoke of her depressing experience at Summer College 2007, and elaborated to educate us on the coldness of its prospective students. I, too, attended Cornell last summer, with a completely different take on the college, with its year-round garlands of ivy and altophobia-inducing gorges.

To tell you the truth, Cornell was a very self-fulfilling experience for me. Every year of high school previous to two summers ago felt monotonous and scripted. Like many of you, I felt like a slave to the college application process. The sad truth about the modern high school student is that he or she is highly likely to act not upon their preferences, but upon their extrinsically proclaimed “best interests”. I was a model for making decisions based on my “best interests” and even the decision to attend Cornell was not fully my own. Fortunately, as I sat on my sagging mattress, in the single room that was to be my home-away-from-home for three weeks, I told myself that, because I was there, I had better make the best of it, even though I’d much rather sit at home by the beach sipping virgin lava flows with my best friends and family.

Surprisingly, it was not very difficult to integrate myself into the college way of life. I developed and stuck to a routine – something I had never done before – and I got through the three weeks with minimal ego-bruising, earning an “A” in “ST&S 145: Body, Mind, and Health: Perspectives for Future Medical Professionals”.

Receiving an “A” in my first college-level course was encouraging, but the most rewarding aspect was learning about myself, and my capacity for excellence and self-reliance. In those three short weeks, I acclaimated myself to a place I never realized I could tolerate, and I smashed through all of the psychological barriers that kept me from developing a passion for school and life in general.

Coming home to the cruise life as a senior at my high school was an uncomfortable transition for me, as I had molded my mindset around fast-paced curriculum and rigorous efforts. What surprised me the most was the inner satisfaction I felt as I went through my daily schedule, whether I was untangling calculus, tweaking my college application essays or chatting with my parents. Only when it was time to depart my beloved Hawaii for the lush flora of upstate Colgate country, did I fully realize what Cornell had done to me. Cornell left an indelible mark on my soul, making it possible for me to go from consistent weather to four seasons, city life to small town charm and high school to the rest of my life.

Cornell was essentially an introduction to my years at Colgate. I admit, there are vast differences between the fun-loving people we see sun bathing at Colgate, and our suicide-prone, gorge-jumping fiends over the hill, but, for a while, I was one of them, and my life will never be the same because of it. There may be a point in saying that none of the friends I made two years ago chose to go back, but the enlightenment that washed over me made everything I have in store for me here possible, and for that I cannot blame Cornell.