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Fall Course Information

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First-year students will pre-enroll online for fall courses in mid-July via Student Center. You will need to have internet access for a few hours, one day, during this time.

Beginning in early May, Engineering Advising will send weekly emails throughout the summer with helpful information and considerations to guide you through a planning process for your fall course selection.  Additionally, detailed information and step-by-step instructions about how to select your courses and pre-enroll in them will be provided to you prior to July, before the start of pre-enroll.

In the meantime, it is understandable that you may be curious and have some questions about what to expect regarding your fall courses. Below are some commonly asked questions (and answers) such as which courses you will take during your first semester, how you will register for them, how to use advanced placement, and whether or not you can change your schedule once you arrive in August.

Frequently Asked Questions About First Semester Courses

What courses will I take my first semester?

Detailed information, guidelines and step-by-step instructions for selecting and pre-enrolling in fall courses will be available on this website in early July.

Many first-year engineering students will pre-enroll in the following courses during the fall semester:

  • Engineering Math (4 credits)
  • Science (Chemistry or Physics, based on academic interest and advanced placement credit, 4 credits)
  • Intro to Computing (4 credits) OR Introduction to Engineering (ENGRI) (3 credits)*
  • First-Year Engineering Seminar (ENGRG 1050) (1 credit)
  • Academic Excellence Workshops (optional) (1 credit each)

    *Some students may not take a science in the fall, but rather an Intro to Computing course and an Intro to Engineering course.  Furthermore, a few students, who have a significant amount of advance placement in math and science, may decide to take a liberal studies course in the fall semester.  Remember, detailed and step by step instructions for selecting and enrolling in your courses will be provided to you prior to July.

When and how will I enroll in my courses?

Based on the information you provide on your Student Advising Profile, which you will complete in May via your "Cornell To Do List," Engineering Advising will enroll you in your First-Year Engineering Seminar and, if deemed required, Chemistry 2090: Engineering General Chemistry. You will pre-enroll in most of your remaining first semester courses online in July. Detailed instructions for selecting and enrolling in your courses will be provided to you prior to July.

Additionally, in consultation with your faculty advisor, with whom you will meet during August Orientation, you will have the opportunity to finalize and/or change your course schedule during the first week or so of classes. Such revisions occur during the Add/Drop period once you arrive in August. You will learn more about making changes to your schedule during Orientation. Please note: Student Center does not permit students to make changes to their course schedule after the pre-enrollment periods ends in late July and before Add/Drop begins in late August.

Is it possible to enroll in additional courses?

Yes. Most first-year students find that the courses listed above make for a comfortable first-semester schedule; however, in consultation with your faculty advisor, you may add other courses to your schedule during Add/Drop in August. Further details about the curriculum and course offerings can be found in the Courses of Study and the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook. The current editions of both of these publications will be posted as soon as they are available and you will receive a copy of the the most up to date Engineering Undergraduate Handbook during Orientation in August.

Which Math course should I take?

You should select your first Math course based on your high school math background and any standardized advanced placement credit or coursework completed during high school or at another accredited college. More detailed information will be provided prior to July. 

What are my options for the Intro to Computer Programming Course?

There are several options for beginning computer programming. The two most common are:

  • Intro to Computing Using Python (CS 1110)
  • Intro to Computing Using Matlab (CS 1112)

Which course you choose is entirely up to you.  Additional details will be outlined again in early July, prior to fall course pre-enroll (as a specific step in the detailed course selection and pre-enrollment step-by-step instructions we will provide).

What are my options for an Intro to Engineering Course?

The Intro to Engineering (ENGRI) course introduces students to the engineering process and provides a substantive experience in open-ended problem-solving. The final list of ENGRI offerings for the next academic year will be available in early July in the Cornell Courses of Study.

What is the First-Year Engineering Seminar (ENGRG 1050)?

The First-Year Engineering Seminar (ENGRG 1050) is a one-credit course (meets once a week) that provides an opportunity for first-year students to get to know their faculty advisors and a small group of peer Engineering students on a more personal and significant level. Additionally, it provides an orientation to engineering activities, the college, and the university. The seminar seeks to help students make the transition from high school to college-level expectations and competencies by conveying information about the curriculum, student services, careers, and research. The seminar also functions as an ice-breaker, affording time for some socializing and sight-seeing on campus and in the surrounding area.

What is a First-Year Writing Seminar?

First-Year Writing Seminars (FWS) are courses that focus on developing English composition skills. About thirty academic departments from across the university offer more than 100 seminars covering a variety of topics and interests each semester. All engineering students are required to take two First-Year Writing Seminars, one in each semester of their first year. You will ballot for your FWS over the summer through a process that is distinct from pre-enrollment for your other courses. Visit the Knight Institute for more information.

What about Physical Education?

All Cornell students are required to take two semesters of Physical Education (PE) during their first year. Additionally, all students must pass a basic swimming skills test prior to graduation. You may wish to visit the PE website for more information.

What are Academic Excellence Workshops (AEWs)?

The Academic Excellence Workshop (AEW) is an optional, one-credit weekly collaborative learning session taken in conjunction with select engineering core courses.

These weekly workshops provide collaborative learning environments facilitated by trained upper-level engineering students. Participants work together on concepts and problems designed to enhance understanding of core course material. The workshops foster peer collaboration and teamwork, and provide a forum for personalized feedback and support. Participation results in increased understanding and confidence as well as higher core course grades. AEWs are listed as ENGRG courses. Grades are S/U (satisfactory/unsatisfactory), based on attendance. You will be able to enroll in the corresponding AEW for your first-semester Math, Computer Science, or Chemistry course during the enrollment process in mid-July. 

What if I have advanced placement or transfer credit?

Advanced placement and transfer credit can be used to earn credit towards graduation requirements. Please read about (and review advanced placement tables) in both the Engineering Handbook and in the Courses of Study. Both of these publications will be updated prior to your arrival in August.

Additional information and guidance will be available during the course selection and enrollment process in July.

Are there other ways to earn credit or does Cornell offer placement exams?

Yes. During Orientation in August, optional Cornell Advanced Standing Exams (CASE) are offered in areas such as math, physics, chemistry, and computer science. Your performance on these exams may result in advanced placement credit if you demonstrate proficiency in the subject area. These exams occur before you meet with your faculty advisor and before the start of the add/drop period and the first day of classes. 

What happens if my classes turn out to be the wrong level for me?

If, within the first three weeks of the semester, you find that your schedule is not appropriate to your academic background, you may add/drop classes after a discussion with your faculty advisor.

What if I am interested in pre-health (pre-med, pre-dental, or pre-vet)?

Engineering students interested in health related careers may pursue any of the 14 majors offered by the College of Engineering.  While some majors have more "natural" overlap with coursework for pre-health, it is important that students select and Engineering major that is best suited for their Engineering interests first. Students interested in pre-health can find more information here and are strongly encouraged to prioritize the requirements of the Engineering Common Curriculum and courses required for acceptance to their major of interest.  First-year students interested in pre-health should plan to attend the Pre-Health Information session for Engineering students scheduled during August Orientation.