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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Ijamsville, MD
Cornell Engineering Experience
Summer College 2012
Hello! My name is Christian and I am a rising senior at Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Maryland. I truly could not be more excited for this summer and Cornell has been my dream school ever since my family accidentally drove into its campus three years ago! Since then, I have visited twice and aspired to become a Cornellian myself.

In school, I participate in a variety of activities including mock trial, the swim team, and theatre among others. However, I have always had a strong interest in engineering. For this, I decided to take part in the six-week Cornell Engineering Experience. Under this program, I will be taking Exploration in Engineering, Fundamental Programming Concepts, and The Personal Essay. Yes, I plan on taking three classes! With Cornell's beautiful campus and a full schedule to keep me occupied, there will certainly never be a dull moment in Ithaca. This summer is already looking to be one of the most fun, albeit challenging, I'll ever experience!

After months of counting the days until my departure for Ithaca (thanks to a nifty countdown app I downloaded), I'm so relieved to say that Summer College is just days away. As I'm packing my things, it's getting really difficult to contain my growing excitement!

Thankfully, my nerves have settled after I contacted some of the student ambassadors who attended Summer College last year. They provided me with a lot of insight on Cornell's campus and the Commons, where I'll surely be spending my weekends. I feel like I know what to expect now, and I'd like to thank the ambassadors so much for their words of wisdom!

Nevertheless, I still have a long checklist of things to do before leave: send resumes, say goodbyes, shop for summer clothes, and more. And to top everything off, I’ll be taking my driving exam the day before I head up to Ithaca! Cross your fingers for me on that one (not to toot my own horn, but I'd call myself a pretty excellent driver... although I'm sure my parents would beg to differ).

Well, just a few more days until I begin learning at my dream school! I’m so ready to meet new people and experience everything Cornell has to offer. Ah, why must time pass so slowly? I can't wait for summer college to begin!

Has it already been a week? Cornell has thus far been more than what I expected: a beautiful, picturesque, and "gorges" landscape; an institution where I feel like I can learn anything; a place where I know I can have one of the best summers of my life.

My classes are intriguing and enjoyable. I'm especially impressed with my writing seminar because the class structure is so casual. We—a group of sixteen or so students—sit around a single table, making it easy to offer insight and respond to each other. It feels less like a high school lecture and more like an intellectual discussion with everyone in the room. Initially, I was slightly intimidated at how many undergraduates were studying alongside me, but I was treated no differently by them and genuinely felt like I belonged.

My engineering class has also been very informative. On Monday, we learned about careers in chemical engineering and on Wednesday, we reviewed a physics topic I absolutely despise: electricity. Even though I don't exactly enjoy that particular subject, the lecture was still very comprehensive and I found that it actually helped me better understand several concepts that had previously been foreign to me.

When I'm not in class or studying at Uris Library (which looks like a room pulled straight out of Hogwarts), I'm usually hanging out with friends at the North Balch lounge. The lounge has got a pretty view of Balch's courtyard and there's always someone playing the piano. The people here come from such diverse backgrounds—I've already met some from Turkey, Italy, Brazil, India, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom! It's an enlightening and cultural experience to walk through North Campus alone, and it's an even greater one to actually interact with the international students.

It's only been a week, but I already feel like I've been here for a month. I'm sad that a sixth of my time at Cornell has already passed, but am nevertheless excited to see what lies ahead!

Whew! After spending another week in Ithaca's summer heat, I finally woke up to a cool, breezy day. It was the perfect weather for reading in the shade under a tree on the Arts Quad.

I decided that I absolutely love my writing seminar. Despite being more of a mathematics and sciences guy, I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to my professor's lectures. Thanks to Professor Fortunato, I recently picked up the habit of journaling every day. It's a nice way to document my thoughts and jot down ideas for future essays.

Overall, my workload's been getting pretty heavy, but I'm still finding time to do other things. I'll usually catch a movie at the Ithaca Mall with friends or spend the afternoon exploring the Commons whenever I've got free time. Also, my bus trips to Target are becoming more frequent as I’m realizing that I need a lot of supplies to survive without the aid of my parents. Living here is certainly making me into a more independent person—thank you, Summer College, for preparing me for my actual college experience!

It's hard to believe that a third of my time in Ithaca has already passed. To be honest, I don't want these next four weeks to fly by like the past two have. This place is truly amazing, and I'd definitely stay longer if given the opportunity. Anyway, I've got to go back and study—my first prelim is in a few days. Wish me luck!

There must have been hundreds—no, thousands—of hugs that were hugged and goodbyes that were given on Saturday. With the first session coming to a close, a significant portion of the Summer College class bade their farewells and headed home. The very next day, a brand new batch of three-weekers arrived to fill in the void the previous one left behind.

With the first session ending and the second session beginning, new classes have begun—I'm currently looking into sitting in on a few, particularly the business classes. Along with engineering, business is a career field I've been very interested in. I'm also curious about the other programs here and I'll certainly be checking those out, too.

My schedule this week's been very hectic—prelims, prelims, prelims! Prelims are more or less the same thing as midterms, so a lot of my time this week has been spent studying in the cafe at Olin Library. And to top everything off, I've started working on my final project for engineering: a model greenhouse. I, along with a group of five students, are to create one and apply concepts from different types of engineering in the process. It'll be quite a challenge, and I'll let you all know how it goes!

What a week! I'm more than happy to report that my prelims went smoothly and successfully—looks like those afternoons spent in Olin Library paid off. As a little celebratory treat, some friends and I went to see "The Dark Knight Rises" on its opening day. It was a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful series, and the perfect way to begin my weekend.

Despite prelims being out of the way, there's still lots to be done. Recently, all of the engineers have been inundated with work—there’s a joke going around that we're just like the architecture kids now. The "archies" never seem to stop working, and spend nearly all of their time in the studio. Most of the engineering groups are finding themselves in the air-conditioned lounge at North Balch, and they all work endlessly writing lab reports and perfecting their greenhouse models. Every single student here's got tons of work, but they all still laugh and have fun completing them.

Anyways, I should get back to finishing my own work now. I'm hoping that I'll be able to complete everything before I go out for a friend's birthday dinner later. We're having Japanese food—I'm not particularly fond of sushi, but it should still be another great night.

So little time left, but still so much waiting to be done. Before next Wednesday, I need to:

  • Explore West Campus
  • Get a pizza from Bear Necessities
  • Take another campus tour
  • Stock up on Cornell hoodies
  • Attend a CALS information session
  • Attend an ILR information session
  • Go up the McGraw Tower
  • Write a final paper in Uris Library
  • Fall asleep in Uris Library
  • Watch the Olympics in RPCC
  • Study for my engineering final
  • Rock my engineering final
  • Watch the sunset from the hill
  • Reminisce with new friends
  • Plan reunions with new friends
  • Make even more memories

There's only a week left, and I'm going to make every day better than the last. Cornell's such an amazing place. I don't ever want to leave.

It's almost been a week since Summer College ended. The transition back to my suburban reality in Maryland has been a bumpy one; even though it feels nice to be home, part of me is still longing to be in Ithaca.

Not only do I miss Cornell itself, but I greatly miss the friends I made. It's amazing how quickly bonds can be built and how strong they can become in just six short weeks. A professor I spoke with told me that Cornell is a magical place not only for learning, but also for friendships. On the last night, after laughing, reminiscing, and watching the sunset from the hill with my two friends, Jack and Aikta, I knew this had to be true.

As I sit in my quiet and familiar bedroom, I realize two things: one, I've missed my big, comfy bed so much; and two, being at Cornell has helped me learn a tremendous amount about myself. Prior to the program, I thought I wanted to be an engineer. Despite having thoroughly enjoyed my engineering course, I came to realize that it wasn't something I was passionate about. This was the same with my computer science course. I was captivated by my professor's lectures and the class's content, but I just couldn't see myself working as a programmer. However, this summer, my fascination for economics and business resurfaced after sitting in on classes and speaking with certain faculty members. And I also gained a newfound affinity for writing. I've got an idea or two up my sleeve about how I can merge these interests together, and time will tell if everything works out.

This summer, this whole experience, was absolutely amazing. The memories made and the knowledge I gained will be invaluable to me forever. I now know that Cornell is where I want to be. I think I knew this the moment I set my foot on its campus three years ago after that family road trip gone awry! There's just so much to learn and even more waiting to be discovered up there. I guess Ezra was right: Cornell truly is a place where any person can immerse himself in any study. I aim to be living proof of that.