By John W. Harp, Vice President for Student Affairs

It’s almost time for your son or daughter to take the big step of leaving home and entering college. This will be both an exciting and anxiety-filled experience for new college students (and for parents).  When new students across the country arrive on their college campuses soon, it will start the clock on a critical six- to 10-week period in which they will engage in new experiences related to their immediate and eventual success in college.

Adapting to new surroundings, new friends, new academic expectations, new routines, and a roommate are just a few of the transitional challenges that new students encounter. But rest easy, the faculty and staff at Cornell College are well-trained to assist your son or daughter with these and other transitions.

As you will soon learn, Cornell College is a special place; a place that makes differences in the lives of students, differences that last a lifetime. Students are expected to learn in a unique format, and live harmoniously in a close-knit and responsive campus community.  

Learning to learn

First and foremost, your Cornell student will be challenged to learn in a fast-paced, yet in-depth manner closely resembling the ways of the world of work and life. Most importantly, new Cornell students will enhance their abilities to learn, a skill that will benefit them for a lifetime. The first few months may be trying, but with the right dedication and support, your son or daughter will get the hang of it and will meet this challenge.

Finding their place

Secondly, your son or daughter will experience membership in the Cornell community. Almost immediately, he or she will realize that, along with learning our community values, involvement, leadership, service, diversity, and caring about others, new Cornellians will experience meeting people similar to and very different from themselves. Your son or daughter will reap the rewards of participating in student organizations and service outings, attending campus cultural events, and engaging in thoughtful conversations. He or she will reflect critically after listening to new ideas, being part of a team, and finding activities of interest. Experiences in this community will produce times of joy and celebration and times of pride and belonging.

But along the way there may also be times of anxiety and self-doubt. Your son or daughter will learn from these experiences and will develop a deep connection that will cause them to consider the Cornell community as a second home. 

Developing as an adult

From the beginning, your son or daughter will be treated like an adult in progress.  As you well know, this means having both significant responsibility and freedom.  With this freedom and responsibility, your student can expect support and challenges from staff, faculty, and peers.  As your student joins organizations, participates in service or excels in class, he or she will receive positive feedback, support and advice.  However, if your student skips class or meetings with an advisor, there may be consequences.  If a student makes inappropriate, unhealthy, or dangerous choices, he or she will likely have more serious interactions with staff members.  Responses will be firm, fair, and supportive of the development of personal responsibility leading to adulthood.  

This is just a capsule description of the unique challenges and experiences that lie ahead for your Cornellian this fall. We are proud that nearly 8.5 out of 10 first-year students return for their sophomore year at Cornell; a strong sign of the satisfaction, success and direction our students feel. We continually strive to provide an outstanding educational experience for Cornellians in and out of the classroom and to engage students in extraordinary opportunities with meaningful outcomes. We are very excited that you and your student will be a part of our community and hope you cherish the experience.