On April 12, hoards of high school students and their numerous family members trekked to Ithaca from all over the country to take over the campus. Cornell Days had begun.
During this two week period, which ends on April 26, prospective students are encouraged to visit the campus, spend the night in the dorms, attend various information sessions and sit in on classes.
“We target accepted seniors but welcome those wait-listed and transfer students,” says Ekawee Kriengkraipetch ’02, 2001 Cornell Days chair.
This year, Cornell Days has been even more popular than previous years, drawing approximately 550 overnight visitors, and close to 800 day visitors.
“This has been by far the busiest we’ve been as long as I have worked here,” said Victoria Watts, administrative assistant at the Undergraduate Admissions Office.
The work that comes with handling such an influx of people is handled completely by volunteers. Kriengkraipetch, who is also Red Carpet Society Executive Chair and a resident advisor, is extremely enthusiastic about the program.
“I have never had a person come to me and say ‘That was a bad experience,’ and ninety-nine percent of evaluations we receive are positive,” he said.
Working with two vice-chairs and nine coordinators, he puts in 25 to 40 hours of unpaid work per week during Cornell Days. This year there were 412 students who volunteered to host prospective students, or “prefrosh,” as they are affectionately called on campus.
Other people who are affected by the Cornell Days rush are the tour guides. The number of daily tours increases along with the size of the groups.
“The ideal group has about 20 people, but as you are walking along campus more visitors decide to join the tour until the group has up to seventy people in it,” said David Chao ’02, Cornell tour guide.
During their visit the students receive a crash-course in Cornell life and find out what the University is really like. Their experiences can be as diverse as their hosts.
“Hosting is a good way to show prefrosh the ‘real’ Cornell life style, the things they never tell you about, such as what prelims are and how much stress there really is,” said Ned Urdiztondo ’04.
“I took my prefrosh around one the program houses [in which] she was interested in living and introduced her to a lot of my friends,” said Meghan Dubyak ’04.
Prospective students aren’t without complaints, however. In her reply to a post-visit questionnaire, high school senior Rosalie Cincotta asked for “a bed or a couch. I had to sleep on a linoleum floor,” she said.
There also are those students who choose to acquaint their visitors with Cornell’s nightlife, breaking the Red Carpet Society’s strict prohibitions on visiting fraternities and consuming alcohol. These participants, however, declined to comment.
Other students shared their opinions of their classmates’ actions.
“If these guys are going to be exposed to this stuff next year anyway, at least let them get acquainted with it under the supervision of a host,” said Mike Brody ’04.
Melanie Young ’04 added, “When I came on prefrosh weekend, I went to a party, and that was one of the many reasons I chose to come to Cornell, because I saw that it had a social life.”
When asked for his opinion on the partying and drinking, Kriengkraipetch explained that both the hosts and the prospective students are provided with the rules, but in the end the choice is theirs.
Archived article by Liz Novak