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February 12, 2016

First-Year Spring Admits Reflect on First Month at Cornell

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For the first time in over 10 years, 125 new freshmen arrived at Cornell for spring semester as part of the First-Year Spring Admissions program.

As a part of this program, four of the University’s undergraduate colleges — the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Science, Arts and Sciences, Human Ecology and Hotel Administration — accepted first-year students into the Class of 2019, who began school at Cornell this semester.

The FYSA program is a reworking of a similar program called “J Fresh,” which was discontinued after 2003. FYSA was re-launched as a solution to accommodating the growing number of first-year applicants to the University, according to Jason Locke, associate vice provost for enrollment.

‘Playing Catch-Up’

Saki Wang ’19, a FYSA student, said she initially felt excited and nervous about entering the program.

“I felt a little bit worried at first since we are a very small group of students in this school,” Wang ’19 said. “[But] I also felt excited … since [being a] spring admit is a rare experience, and I don’t know what’s ahead of us.”

Joshua Goldstein ’19, called being a FYSA a mixed experience.

“Some perks are that I still get to meet new people and try out for different clubs and organizations,” Goldstein said. “There are still chances for you, as a new student, to get involved.

“Some drawbacks are trying to fit in with a group of friends, simply because a lot of fall students already have their frien groups.”

Wang added that she felt like she was “playing catch-up” to the regularly admitted freshmen.

“Psychologically, it somewhat feels like I have been left behind for one semester of schoolwork,” said Wang. “I feel like there are still so many things I don’t know about Cornell, so many places I haven’t been to and so many foods I haven’t eaten. But [in the long run], I don’t think being a FYSA student makes a great difference, since we are all doing same things in [class].”

Productive Fall Semesters

In the semester before their arrival at Cornell, spring admits can take classes at another institution or take the semester off, according to Wang.

Goldstein said he chose to take classes at a local college so that he can graduate in the spring with the rest of the Class of 2019.

Wang said she used her semester for travel.

“Starting in spring has provided me with an extra semester to try out lots of different things,” Wang said. “I travelled to various places in China, [and] I also worked as a bartender and bar singer at a bar in Shanghai.”

Adjusting During Spring Orientation

Both Wang and Goldstein said spring orientation was very helpful for transitioning into life at Cornell, because they were able to meet mentors and other spring admits.

“I felt more comfortable being with students that I could easily relate to,” Goldstein said.

Wang said the small number of FYSA students allowed her to build strong bonds during spring orientation.

“A majority of FYSA students got to know each other after the orientation period, and we still sometimes dine together after the school start[ed],” she said.

Miranda Kasher ’19, a social media liaison for FYSA students, said that although the spring orientation events were well planned, she felt that more could have been done to incorporate the spring admits into the community.

“I can say that spring orientation is much more ‘low-key’ than fall orientation,” Kasher said. “There are significantly fewer students to orient and most of the orientation programs are made just for those spring admission students. I know [the Orientation Steering Committee] tried to incorporate current students into some orientation events, but spring orientation still seemed to lack current student involvement.”

Kasher added that there were some miscommunications between the University and the FYSA students about the details of spring admission.

“For example, the FYSA students were unaware that they would not be able to participate in formal membership recruitment for fraternities and sororities until after they accepted the FYSA offer,” Kasher said.

However, Wang and Goldstein both expressed optimism about their first semester at Cornell, saying they are beginning to adjust.

“Everything seems to be falling into place, and I am certainly looking forward to the amazing opportunities here on campus,” Goldstein said.

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