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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Westport, CT
Foundations in American Law
Summer College 2016

Hello! My name is Ian, and I am a rising junior at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. I was raised in Westport, a coastal town located 52 miles away from NYC and have spent the past several summers at camp in upstate New York. I love to write and currently hold a position on the editing staff of my school’s newspaper, Inklings. Aside from my academic interests, I thoroughly enjoy traveling, as I love to immerse myself in diverse cultures and gain exposure to the world. This summer, I am enrolled in the Foundations in American Law course. Throughout my life, I have practiced the arts of projection, persuasion, and strategic argumentation, and I look forward to broadening my skillset in my legal studies at Cornell. I am so excited to attend Cornell Summer College and I am eager to academically and socially benefit from the experience.


Hi everyone! It has been over a week since I arrived at Cornell, yet it feels like I have been here for weeks. I live in Mary Donlon Hall, which is really close to the cafeteria, yet extremely far from my class. Although my class is located on the opposite end of the Cornell campus, my classmates and I have been enjoying long walks every morning and afternoon.

The Cornell campus is absolutely beautiful; the campus features the perfect balance between early 20th century and modern architecture, with intricate archways contrasting with angular buildings. I have also loved gazing at the gorges throughout Ithaca. My friends and I have taken several hikes along the gorges during our evenings, and tend to submit to the gorges' alluring beauty through taking dozens of photos.

Last weekend, my friends and I went to the Ithaca Commons, the main strip of downtown Ithaca. It was really fun to explore on our own and see what Ithaca was like outside of Cornell. This past weekend, we went to the Ithaca Mall and played laser tag, which served as a really nice escape from my academic life at Cornell. We also went to the Ithaca Farmers' Market, which was probably my favorite excursion thus far. I was able to interact with locals and taste some of their organically grown food while experiencing the warm hospitality of the Ithaca people.

Although I have spent numerous hours completing assignments, I thoroughly enjoy my class. In the first week of class, I learned about different types of law through traveling with my class to a courthouse in Syracuse, listening to speakers discuss the realities of law school, participating in lively class discussions, and researching in large databases used by lawyers across the nation. While in Syracuse, we experienced an actual criminal court proceeding, which illuminated the realities of being a criminal attorney.

I really appreciate the freedom Cornell's Summer College gives its students; we can go anywhere we want to via taxi or bus, as long as we're attending our classes and meeting curfew. If you're craving something special to eat, you are not limited to the cafeteria included in the meal plan. I personally like to have breakfast at Collegetown Bagels, which is in close proximity to my classroom. My friends and I have also taken the bus to downtown Ithaca for dinner.

Since I am only spending three weeks at Cornell this summer, I have been savoring every moment here. I am trying to take advantage of my surroundings and do things I would not normally have the opportunity to do at home. In the coming weeks, I hope to explore more of Ithaca and obtain more knowledge of American law.


Hello again! This past week has been quite stressful, but very educational. The days feel endless, yet the weeks have flown by, leaving me in disbelief over the fact that my time at Summer College is almost over.

In order to lighten the weight of my immense workload, I have been immersing myself in the natural beauty of Ithaca through taking daily evening hikes with my friends. I really recommend exploring the Cornell campus, as much of its beauty can be found in sinuous trails and aesthetically pleasing gorges.

On Thursday, my class attended family court in downtown Ithaca. Prior to visiting family court, I expected it to be similar to what is seen on television: screaming and crying. I was ready to witness drama and climactic testimonies, yet I found family court to be rather uneventful. To be blunt, I was bored; I did not like sitting for three hours while watching repetitive hearings. As a result of my boredom, I walked out of the courtroom physically and mentally drained.

Aside from my disinterest in family court, I do remember hearing certain things that I learned about in class. For example, the judge repeatedly said to parties representing themselves, "You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you." In addition to the reading of this Miranda right, the judge granted default judgement when a defendant failed to appear in one of the hearings. As soon as I heard the judge read parties their Miranda rights and grant default judgement, I immediately recalled the criminal procedure lecture from class.

Something that I was surprised to see at family court was the concerning amount of hearings. Prior to arriving at the courthouse, I did not expect there to be that many hearings, considering that we are in a relatively rural town, yet I never imagined that there would be fifteen plus hearings during our visit. Once the hearings began, I was perplexed to see that there was a line forming outside of the courtroom comprised of other people awaiting their hearings. It took me some time to realize that regardless of location and population size, there are a lot of people who are unhappy with their domestic situations.

The amount of knowledge I have acquired through this experience is incalculable. I know I will retain the information I learned from Foundations in American Law for the rest of my life.


It has been eleven days since I left Cornell, and living at home has made me realize how much I enjoyed the experience. Although I have been communicating with my Cornell friends via text and social media, I miss being physically around them. I am very fortunate to have met people who I envision I will continuously contact for years to come, and also to have had the opportunity to learn from five seasoned professors who managed to teach me about various parts of the American legal system in a three-week session.

The last week at Cornell was intimidating, as my final assignment consisted of appealing an argument for a Supreme Court case in a moot court setting: simulated court proceeding. Each member of the class either represented the petitioner or the respondent of their given case, and formulated their arguments through analyzing the actual documents of their case. It was difficult to prepare for this assignment, as we had to familiarize ourselves with foreign information, construct an argument, and prepare to present the argument in a matter of a couple of days. In addition to this daunting set of tasks, we were simultaneously given unrelated assignments regarding other subjects of law; however, regardless of the mental anguish suffered prior to moot court, in the end, everyone delivered their arguments professionally and passionately. Two days after moot court, we were all given our Cornell Summer College diplomas and proudly marched out of the law school as equipped young legal scholars.

Through residing at Cornell for an extended period of time, I now view college as an opportunity to explore my interests and immerse myself in student diversity for the purpose of entering adulthood as academically and socially competent. Prior to arriving at Cornell in late June, I was worried that I would not make friends at Cornell while attempting to keep up with the rigorous academic pace, yet I achieved the exact opposite of what I was anticipating. As a result of completing this program, I have reached a simple realization: college is very different than high school. To elaborate, in college you're given more time to do things and it is the student's responsibility to balance their academic and social lives within the large window of time given.

Cornell Summer College changed me. Before Summer College, I was very introverted in social settings and was not willing to approach people. Today, I am still very introverted, yet Summer College allowed me to attain a sense of social comfortability. On my future adventures, I will apply the knowledge I have acquired through this experience and remain eternally thankful for what Summer College did to enliven my academic and social savvy.