What Students Can Expect
High school students making the transition to college face exhilarating and stressful challenges. They move into residence halls and meet new roommates, receive a ton of information, meet faculty advisers, learn their way around the campus, take placement exams, do laundry for the first time, and on and on. It’s a lot of change and information to absorb in a very short period of time. Fortunately, the College of Engineering has a network of faculty, student services staff, and student peer advisers available to answer questions and lend their support.
Making new friends and becoming accepted by a peer group are high priorities among new college students. Cornell Engineering enjoys a rich diversity of students, faculty members, and staff, providing a great opportunity to develop friendships with people of many cultural and personal backgrounds.
Study practices, which may have served students well in high school, may no longer be effective, as Cornell’s (and specifically the College of Engineering’s) workload and assignment deadlines are very challenging. New students may feel inadequate when they receive a less-than-perfect grade for the first time in their lives—we certainly encourage you to be as understanding as possible about this, especially at first. Working on time management, gaining study and exam preparation skills, seeking clarification from professors and teaching assistants, and studying collaboratively with other students and tutors are helpful adaptive strategies. The next section describes resources available to students to help with these areas.
Freedom and independence are both a privilege and a burden for first-year students. In high school they adhered to an academic and social schedule set primarily by parents and teachers. In college, they are responsible for their course load, study schedule, and social lives. In addition, many are taking on routine responsibilities for the first time, such as handling a checking account, doing laundry, and making appointments. Learning to be self-disciplined, lead a balanced life, and be responsible are part of a typical maturation process.
Exploring self-identity occurs as the year progresses. As students enter college and their independence increases, they often bump up against their value systems and attitudes toward such things as alcohol, drugs, religion, sexuality, and morality. Families might also notice changes such as mode of dress, a new hair color, tattoos, and so on. This is rarely a rebellion against you and your values; usually, it simply means the students are exploring self-identity in a new environment with newfound independence.