What is Cornell Known For? Is Cornell a Good School?

Located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell University is a highly-regarded private college with a vast, 745-acre campus in a rural setting. The school has a total undergraduate enrollment of 14,743, which is equal to approximately half of Ithaca’s moderate population of 30,715.

All first-year students at Cornell are assigned to live on the north campus. For the remaining years of undergraduate study, on the other hand, students are permitted to live off-campus.

For the remaining years of undergraduate study, on the other hand, students are permitted to live off-campus. 

Consistently ranking in the top 20 in national university rankings, admission to Cornell is highly sought after. 

With an acceptance rate of only 11%, admission to the school is highly selective. As a result, securing a spot at this prestigious university requires top-notch academic credentials. 

Although Cornell does not release specific data regarding the average high school GPA of students who are accepted to the school, it is estimated to be around 4.07. Thus, students who aspire to attend this college should strive to maintain nearly perfect grades in all of their classes, including AP or IB courses.

According to the most recent data, tuition and fees for Cornell come to $61,015 for out-of-state students. 

With such a prestigious reputation, it is more likely than not that you have heard of Cornell University. For those interested in learning more about what this elite institution for undergraduate education has to offer its students, read on to understand what the school is best known for, its traditions, strongest athletic teams, and more.

What Majors & Academics Are Cornell Known For?

Cornell University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Founders Hall, Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Of its many options for degree programs, Cornell is perhaps most well-known for its programs in the STEM field. 

For example, the school’s biology and agriculture programs have been ranked fifth best in the country by the US News and World Report.

Cornell’s engineering program has also consistently been ranked within the top 10 in the country, securing the #9 spot in recent years.

According to Times Higher Education, Cornell’s programs relating to life sciences are the 14th best among all universities in the world.

In addition, Cornell is known for its stellar research programs. According to Good Food Institutes, the school’s research relating to plant-based meat has been rated as the best in the world in terms of its innovation in the area of faux meat development.

Beyond its world-class STEM program offerings, Cornell is also known for having fantastic architecture and hotel management programs. The School of Hotel Management is widely-revered as the most preeminent school for hotel management in the United States. 

Is Cornell a Good School?

There is no question about it: Cornell University is a good school. In fact, it is one of the best colleges in the United States, being one of the eight elite private research universities that make up the world-famous Ivy League.

As is the case with all of the Ivy League schools, Cornell is known to produce highly-successful graduates who go on to lead successful lives in whatever careers they choose. 

Notable Cornell alumni include mechanical engineer and television personality Bill Nye, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and American novelists Toni Morrison and Kurt Vonnegut. 

In 2019, Cornell was named the 11th best university in the country and the 19th best in the entire world, according to the World University Ranking by the Times Higher Education

The Cornell student body is known for being chock full of exceptionally passionate, high-achieving students who go on to join the school’s vast, tight-knit alumni network, which currently consists of over 250,000 living members. 

Cornell’s robust network of alumni, who are referred to as Cornellians, include 35 billionaires, 10 current Fortune 500 CEOs, 61 Nobel Prize winners, and 63 Olympic medalists, many of whom offer mentoring and professional opportunities to current students. 

Cornell Traditions

Throughout its more than 150-year history, Cornell University has established many different traditions, some of which are remarkably strange. 

One of the most widely-known Cornell traditions is Dragon Day, an event taking place each year sometime around St. Patrick’s Day. During this event, a huge dragon designed and constructed by first-year architecture students parades across the school’s campus. 

As the dragon makes its way across campus, it is accompanied by architecture students donning silly costumes. Engineering students — who are known as rivals to architecture students — taunt at the dragon.

Slope Day is another one of Cornell’s most highly-anticipated, highly-cherished traditions. The celebration takes place at the breathtaking Libe Slope on the last day of classes, featuring live music and many other forms of entertainment.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Cornell

Cornell University offers more than 1,000 different extracurricular activities, clubs, and student organizations, so students at this school are sure to find a way to get involved on campus in a manner that suits their interests.

Of these thousand extracurriculars, over 60 are Greek life organizations. Cornell’s various fraternity and sorority chapters constitute a significant element of student life, with over 30% of students being involved in Greek life throughout the course of their four years at the school. 

In terms of the number of students who are a part of a fraternity or sorority, Cornell’s Greek community is among the largest in the country. About 40% of members, equal to about 1,500 students, live in one of the more than 50 fraternity and sorority houses on campus.

Other prominent extracurricular activities at Cornell include the outdoor education program, which is known to be one of the best programs of its kind in the United States.

What Sports Are Cornell Known For?

Cornell University Carpenter Hall
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Carpenter Hall, Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Cornell University is home to 35 NCAA Division I sports teams competing in the Ivy League conference. 

The Cornell Big Red are perhaps best known for their strong men’s lacrosse team. The lacrosse Big Red has won a total of 30 conference championships — more than any other college in the Ivy League — 18 of which were outright wins and the remaining 12 being shared. 

During all but one of the Cornell lacrosse team’s championship-winning seasons, they were undefeated, putting them well beyond any other school in terms of the longest winning streak in their league. 

Other well-revered Cornell athletic teams include the men’s wrestling team

With a total of 40 Ivy League championship wins under their belt, the team also holds the record for the longest winning streak. Between the years of 2003 and 2019, the Big Red wrestling team claimed 17 consecutive championship victories. 

During the same period of time, the team won an impressive 92 consecutive Ivy League dual meets. On top of that, the school has won 26 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships, 11 of which were consecutive from 2007 to 2017.

Between these two winning runs, the Cornell wrestling team holds the record for the longest winning streak in the history of their division.

Why Cornell?

There is no shortage of reasons why a student may choose Cornell. For one, the school is tied for #17 among all colleges and universities in the country, according to the 2022 edition of US News and World Report’s annual ranked list of the best universities in the United States.

With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 9:1 and over 60% of classes having no more than 20 students, Cornell offers an intimate classroom and environment and many opportunities for students to get to know their professors and classmates. 

The school’s first-year retention rate, a widely-accepted measurement of how satisfied students at a given college are, is an impressive 97%. This means that nearly all students at Cornell are sufficiently content to return for the second year of study.

On top of that, Cornell also boasts a four-year graduation rate of 89% — nearly 30% higher than the national average of just 60.4%. Thus, students at this college can expect to earn a degree within the desired period of time. 

Beyond the promising statistics relating to Cornell’s academics, the school also boasts an advantageous location. The town of Ithaca is known for being one of the best college towns in the country, offering lively nightlife, a small-town community atmosphere, and gorgeous scenery complete with awe-inspiring waterfalls. 

In short, Cornell has all the makings of an ideal college to choose for your undergraduate experience.