It's all in the details.

Liberal Arts

As a liberal arts college, Cornell prepares students holistically, training them to think critically and to always be lifelong learners. Cornellians are prepared to take on the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow, even the careers and industries we can’t even begin to imagine right now. A liberal arts education fosters adaptability, creativity, and innovation while building up essential skills that transcend across careers: strong communication and ethics as well as an appreciation for diversity and personal well-being.

One Course At A Time

1 Course X 18 Days X 8 Blocks = 1 Academic Year X 4 = Graduation

It seems simple really and in many ways it is. But there is so much flexibility and experiential learning opportunities on a block plan like One Course At A Time. A lot is packed into a 4-year academic journey that can’t be replicated on a traditional semester plan.


Equal parts creative, clever, inventive, resourceful, and adaptable. Ingenuity is Cornell's core curriculum, the power behind the problem-solving abilities of Cornellians. Every first-year student starts their educational journey in Ingenuity’s First-Year Seminar, where they learn the ropes of studying on the block plan while diving into an eclectic mix of materials and fields of study.

Mentorship and advising

How our students feel about their education and environment is important to us, so Cornell regularly surveys students with a nationally normed survey called the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI). This allows us to benchmark ourselves against the national average as well as tracking our progress over time. The last SSI was administered in 2018 and has been compared to surveys in 2015 and 2012.

We've learned from these surveys that Cornell students place a high priority on the quality of our faculty and student-faculty relationships. They rate Cornell as significantly high in satisfaction than the national average of four-year privates for:

  • Faculty care about me as an individual.

  • Nearly all faculty are knowledgeable in their field.

  • The quality of instruction I receive in most of my classes is excellent.

  • Faculty are usually available after class and during office hours.


99.5% of students receive financial assistance (2019-20). Of those, 22.8% were Pell-eligible.

$38,076 is the average financial aid package for the Class of 2023; this includes all federal grants and loans, state grants, institutional gifts and loans, and outside scholarships.

Cornell graduates are getting jobs and not burdened by debt, as shown by our low average loan default rate.

  • 3.9%: Cornell College student loan default rate (3-year average).
  • 10.2%: State of Iowa average (for all types of colleges).
  • 10.1%: National college student loan default rate (3-year average); 6.3% for four-year private colleges; 6.8% for four-year public.