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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Potomac, MD
Freedom and Justice
Summer College 2011
Hi everyone! My name is Sophie and I am a rising senior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. Having dreamt of attending Cornell since the seventh grade, I could not be more excited about spending my summer up in Ithaca. I am looking forward to studying Freedom and Justice, as politics and law are passions of mine. Other than surviving my torturous junior year, I spend much of my time with friends and family. I also play on a competitive all-girls ice hockey team. I can be found at the ice rink almost every afternoon, and spend a majority of my weekends traveling across the United States and Canada to attend games and tournaments.

I cannot believe that summer is here! Junior year has finally come to a close and it feels as though a weight has been lifted off my chest. As freeing as it is to be done with SATs, APs, and various other stresses, I cannot wait to get back into the classroom at Cornell. Having practically memorized the online course description, I am so excited to dive into the lessons planned for three weeks of Freedom and Justice.

My anticipation has been growing this past week as I have been slowly but surely packing my suitcase. It seems to be a never-ending process, as the pile in my room of clothing, athletic equipment, and other necessities grows larger by the day. I am positive that I will still forget half of what I need. But, I am happy to fill the gaps in my wardrobe with some Cornell attire. I cannot wait to get up to Ithaca!

I cannot believe that I am already a third of the way through with Summer College! I feel as though I have just arrived, and I am already working on my final paper and preparing for my first exam. Despite the moderately stressful workload of reading through the many writings of intuitive philosophers —considering I am not the fastest reader to begin with—I am thoroughly enjoying the class. Professor Kramnick is an engaging speaker, making his lectures some of the best that I have ever heard. Also, I have already had Lunch with the Professor; everyday, Professor Kramick selects six students to have lunch with and get to know better. All that he has accomplished in his lifetime amazes me. One of the best parts of my typical school day is when my class of sixty breaks down into smaller groups of fifteen to discuss Professor Kramick's lecture and argue our interpretations of the works of the philosophers. Being an incredibly outspoken person myself, I seize the opportunity to share my thoughts. This class has also been a great way to make new friends. Everyone is so nice, yet so determined to succeed, pushing me to work beyond my own capabilities.

Other than dedicating myself to my work in Freedom and Justice, I have had fun exploring the campus and Collegetown. During my first day at Cornell, I went on a run and became so lost that now I feel like I know the campus backwards and forwards! So, my piece of advise for future Summer Cornellians is to get lost; when exploring Cornell’s campus, you never know what fascinating things you are going to find.

I am glad to report that this has been both a fun and fulfilling week at Cornell! Since I have last reported, the most nerve-wracking/exciting thing that has happened in Freedom and Justice was the completion of the Preliminary Exam on Wednesday. During the few days leading up to the big test (that counts for twenty percent of our grade!!) it seemed like the exam was all that anyone could talk about. Luckily, I found a gorgeous room in the Uris Library that looks exactly like the library at Hogwarts—getting to go was a great motivator to study. Not to jinx it, but I feel very confident about how I did on the Prelim. Also, today I turned in the second draft of my final essay to my Teacher’s Assistant, Simon. He gave me some great feedback about my first draft of the essay, so I hope that I was able to redirect my paper to fit his constructive criticism.

On a less academic note, this weekend I went to Buttermilk Falls. Buttermilk is a gorge about twenty minutes off campus that people can swim in because there is a lifeguard on duty. To be frank, when I first arrived at Cornell I was disappointed to find that people are not allowed to swim in the campus gorges, but getting to swim at Buttermilk definitely made up for it! I had so much fun, and I wish there were another weekend left at Cornell Summer for me to go back for a second time.

It's odd to think that my next post will be about me leaving Cornell. I have had such a great time here—both academically and socially—and I only wish my time here would last longer!

It feels great yet incredibly strange to be writing this post from the comfort of my living room rather than the desk in my residence hall room. My final week at Cornell Summer College was great, and with every day I got slightly more depressed at the prospect of leaving Ithaca.

On Monday, we got our Preliminary Exams back. I am proud to say that I did very well, which gave me confidence for my final exam and paper due at the end of the week. Outside of class, I spent my time studying in the awesome libraries (like the Hogwarts-ish one I mentioned in last week's post) and with friends. Group study sessions were definitely the most efficient way for me to study; the topics brought up when bouncing ideas off of one another and debating the ideas of the philosophers mimicked the essay questions on the exam. I find out my final grade in Freedom and Justice in a week, and I am very anxious to find out how I did!

On a heavier note, saying goodbye to Professor Kramnick, Simon, my classmates, and my friends was very sad. I hope that I stay in touch with all of them! As I look back on my experience as a whole, I know that I have changed so much as a person over just a few weeks. I am now more independent and confident in myself. I cannot wait to apply to Cornell this fall, and would be incredibly lucky to join the Cornell community in just over a year.

Although my time at Cornell ended over a month ago, it feels as though I was in Professor Kramnick’s lecture hall listening to him speak just yesterday. All of the amazing experiences from Cornell Summer remain fresh in my mind, and I will hold them as keepsakes forever.

My senior year in high school has just begun, and already I feel as though I haven’t had a moment to breathe. Every day is jam-packed with tough classes, my internship, writing college application essays, and several hours of practice. I can honestly say that if I get into bed before midnight, I have had a relatively easy day. Through all of this, I am able to keep focused and stay strong because I know that I will be rewarded for my hard work with college. Cornell Summer opened my eyes to how freeing it is to have unlimited independence. With all of the freedom and trust I was granted, I matured into the person that wanted to be. I met so many new people from so many different places—coming back to Maryland felt as though I had been sucked back into a vortex of homogeneity and monotony. I am so excited to go to college!

With the November first Early Decision/ Early Action deadline creeping closer, I am working very hard to complete my various applications. If I am lucky, maybe I’ll end up at Cornell! I hope to see you all there!