November 24, 2003

Weill Grads Recruit Students

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Free tuition, a $26,420 stipend, subsidized housing on Manhattan’s upper east side, unlimited lab capabilities and seven courses of study is how graduate students from the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences sold their school last Thursday in the Morrison Room of Corson-Mudd Halls.

Present were about 15 prospective applicants, ranging from seniors who have already applied to freshmen thinking ahead for graduate school options. The three students presenting the graduate school were involved in the student government on their campus and were chosen by the dean of the college to travel to Ithaca and make the presentation.

This recruitment program began last spring with the same students coming to the Ithaca campus and discussing the graduate school with interested Cornell undergraduates. According to Michael Bruno, a Ph.D. candidate at the Weill Graduate School, this recruitment program is unique in that the graduate school usually sends members of the administration to attend graduate school fairs and other similar events. In this case, students are talking to undergraduates at their institution.

“I think it’s good they send students to find out about social life and other issues,” said Esther Chong ’05, who plans on applying to the graduate school next year.

The three students talked about a wide range of programs the Weill offered. The college is divided into seven divisions including biochemistry and structural biology, cell biology and genetics, immunology, molecular biology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology and biophysics and systems biology. Students choose one of these areas while applying but are not obligated to remain in the division upon arrival.

“I didn’t have a broad perspective of the opportunities that the grad school provided,” said Danielle Binler ’07.

According to the students presenting, the opportunities at the grad school are vast. Since it is right next to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Sloan-Kettering Institute, opportunities for research are great. They added that students in the college did not have to worry about the impracticality of their research because medical labs throughout the Manhattan area are open to Weill’s students. This enables research into any area imaginable with any needed equipment provided.

Since research is a large portion of the work done at Weill, most applicants have been involved in research to some degree while an undergraduate.

Admissions into the program is selective: last year 455 students applied, 110 were accepted and 53 enrolled. The average grade point average of the accepted class was 3.6 with an 85 verbal GRE and an 82 quantitative score. The application process involves a written application with an essay portion and recommendations from instructors.

After the applications are read, a portion of the students are selected to attend the recruitment weekend in February where they are interviewed and shown around the city. Following the interviews, students are usually informed very soon afterwards as to the decision.

According to Laurel Southard, director of undergraduate research in biology, Cornell sends down about one or two students a year to the college.

One of the main problems in recruiting students according to Bruno is that the school is under-hyped. “Going to classes would be great,” Bruno said.

He added that he wanted to have the group visit other colleges in the Northeast, but Cornell is the only school which has a permanent liaison to the graduate school, which makes it easy to coordinate the program.

In addition, with much of the school’s recruitment done by administration, it is hard for prospective students to ask questions about social life and other important components of student lifestyle. With this program, students can ask these questions and get frank responses. “The students sell the school the best,” Bruno said.

Archived article by Ted Van Loan