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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Manhasset, NY
Debate and Rhetoric, Session I
Debate and Rhetoric, Session II
Summer College 2014
Hi, I'm Sophia! I live in Manhasset, New York and am a rising Senior at Manhasset High School. I love to sing, play tennis, ride my bike, read, and hang out with friends. I am taking Rhetoric and Debate at CUSC. I chose this course because I took Speech and Debate at school and loved learning about and debating controversial topics. I believe that everyone should learn how to construct a strong argument. I know that I will learn a lot from this course, and will improve as a public speaker and researcher. In school I participate in several clubs, such as the Phoenix (writing club), Vocal Jazz, and peer responding, where I help middle school students with homework and studying. I am very excited to be at Cornell and to meet other kids who share my interests.

Hi friends! I completed my first week of my class here at Cornell, and it has been outstanding. It feels like I've been here for months already. I know my way around campus, people know my name, and it is great to be at Cornell. The first night in Mary Donlon Hall could not have gone any better. I have a wonderful floor with the best RCAs ever! There have been so many opportunities to meet new people, especially the ice cream social on arrival day, which is where I met some of my closest friends in my program. I am interested in participating in many of the activities offered outside of the classroom. I have signed up for intramural tennis and have gone to several workshops. There is always something to do on and off Cornell's campus. I plan to explore and venture into Ithaca to see more of this beautiful place!

I have a daily routine, which starts with breakfast in RPCC, which is right next to my dorm. It is a fun place to meet new people and eat good food. My class doesn't start until 12:30, so many of my peers are envious that I can sleep in, but I usually am up doing homework and leave around noon with my friends. My class is in Ives Hall, in the ILR building, which is about a 15-minute walk. The walk is scenic and beautiful. The gorges are especially beautiful. I love hearing the sound of the rushing water as you pass over the bridge.

My class is in a lecture hall, which at first was intimidating, but my classmates are all so friendly so that feeling quickly went away. My professor, Sam Nelson, has taught me so much in just a week, and has changed how I see the world. He also taught me that persuasion is indeed the best superpower. Professor Nelson aka Sam is not only very impressive, but also approachable and has inspired me to adopt a new way of analytical thinking. Never before have my ideals and values been questioned but because of this course I have been persuaded to change my ways of thinking. Sam has two of his best debaters helping him teach the class. Paul Gross and Jesse Klinger have worked with my professor for years and offer great advice in our discussions. Like Sam, they understand debating and are great teachers. They truly make debating enjoyable for me. Each of them have been excellent mentors throughout this experience.

We have officially begun debating, and it is incredible. We are learning two types of debate, Policy debate and World's or British Parliamentary debate; however, we are only debating in the World's format. In the World-style format, you learn the topic 15 minutes prior, and then formulate strategy with your partner. Each person must speak for seven minutes about his or her position (government or opposition). It is challenging to collect your thoughts in a short period of time, evaluate them in great detail, and prove that your arguments are more persuasive than those of the three other teams you are debating. The skills we are learning in this class are multifaceted because I can use the art of debate or persuasion in all of my endeavors. I am so excited to learn more in the next two weeks and become a woman of persuasion.

So far, I have had nothing but amazing memories of Cornell, and I have loved every second of it. Don't get me wrong—we do have work, and a lot of it. But I enjoy every aspect of the class, the campus, the food (especially at Trillium and in Collegetown), and the people here at Cornell. I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has planned for me!


It is hard to think that my three-week experience at Cornell has come to an end. I now truly understand the expression "time flies when your having fun," but I guess when you're working hard as well. I really did not want to pack up and go home, 1. because I hate packing, but more so that I did not want to go home! Right now I wish I were back on campus lying in the quad with my friends looking up at the stars, or eating at Trillium and guessing at what we would be doing in class that day. What I probably miss most about Cornell are the songs that are played in the clock tower. When I was studying, I would stop and listen to the music. Most of all I miss my professor, classmates and my program. In my class I learned so much about the world and myself in such a short amount of time. This experience has been inspiring and a true pleasure.

My last week of class was really awesome. We had a debate tournament, which was intense and exhilarating. On our last day we took a final, and then said goodbye to our TAs and professor. Sam Nelson and his TAs Jesse Klinger and Paul Gross made this class very hands on and were so approachable and encouraging, that I feel I did become a more persuasive and critical thinker. I defiantly got the most out of the program as possible. I also feel that I am better at evaluating and knowing the difference between a good and bad argument. Every day was a learning experience for me, inside and outside the classroom.

I hope that this won't be my last time at Cornell, so let me take the time to say this isn't goodbye, but an I'll see you later…


I am still reflecting on my time spent at Cornell this summer. My experience on campus has made me very excited for college. This program helped me ready myself for college life. I learned how to manage my time properly, which is extremely important. I definitely had enough time to complete my assignments, but it felt good to create my own work schedule and be independent, which is what college is all about! I found that Cornell had so many places to study and to be social, which was a great aspect of campus.

Cornell was a great place to have my first college experience because the professors and staff were supportive and always wiling to assist me with my assignments. The campus was one of my favorite aspects of Cornell. The grounds of Cornell are amazing. Before and after class my friends and I would explore campus and walk around. Cornell is buzzing with life, which makes the atmosphere fun and comfortable.

Cornell University Summer College made me very excited about going to college. I am so glad I chose CUSC for the summer. I definitely got more out of my debate class than I expected. I miss our interesting discussions. I made true bonds here this summer, with classmates and staff. I can't wait to be back on campus. GO BIG RED!