April 15, 2014

BYRNE | The Five People You Meet at Cornell Days

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Although I am far from Cornell, I have seen many statuses describing the absolutely balmy weather in Ithaca this weekend. At first, I was confused. How could it possibly be 80 degrees in April at Cornell?? But then I realized: It was Cornell Days, that magical time when soon-to-be freshmen come to campus and see Cornell in an idealized, manufactured, warm light, in order to  entrap them into attending. I remember my own Cornell Days experience well; it was the reason I chose to come to Cornell, so I harbor no resentment towards the event in and of itself. However, as I’ve watched it from the inside for the past two years, I’ve noticed the same patterns. There are certain types of people who are always in full force during Cornell Days, and here they are:

1. Moms who want to go to Cornell more than their children: At my own Cornell Days, I actually had lunch with one of these families. The mom was so incredibly into Cornell that there was no way her son could have been as excited as her, even if he too loved the school. She asked the Cornell students at least 100 questions over the course of an hour-long lunch, and they were not always questions about Cornell, but more often questions like, “What was your SAT score?” or “What sports did you play in high school? My son plays five varsity sports.” Stuff like that. At the time, I was annoyed and felt sorry for the son. Now, I am happy knowing that the children of those parents are soon escaping their all-powerful clutches to embark on a new era of independence at college.

2. Accepted students who already know every detail of Cornell’s history: As I’m sure all of my readers know, there are certain Cornell students who were probably born underneath the statue of Ezra Cornell, they know so much about Cornell’s past and current operations. I truly admire these people, because not only do I know virtually nothing about Cornell, I don’t think I know as much about anything as they do about Cornell. That takes commitment. However, it takes even more commitment to know all of that before you even know for sure if you’ve been admitted to Cornell! Kudos to those kids who are correcting the tour guide in their mind on their first day as a Cornell student. That is true commitment.

3. Unenthused tour guides: Cornell’s tour guides are excellent, knowledgeable and peppy at a level beyond anything most humans could ever summon. However, at eight a.m. on the Saturday for Cornell Days, I’ve seen many a tour guide schlepping across campus for their eight a.m. meetings, still hungover from the night before. I’m not saying this necessarily diminishes the quality or pep of their tour; perhaps they have some superhero ability to give a wonderful tour at that ungodly hour of the morning. But still, there have to be some members of the tour guide army who just aren’t quite making it to their proper level of enthusiasm and passion for the wonderful world we live in at Cornell.

4. Younger (or older) siblings dragged along for the day: My sister was definitely one of these, and I would like to publicly apologize for that here. Each year, thousands of younger siblings are forced to endure not only endless college tours throughout the fall, but then the admitted students days. And while sometimes they are older siblings, who are more able to put up with the situation because of their wise collegiate statuses, most of the time they are younger brothers and sisters. The worst part about it is that they will have to attend all of these events, maybe even at the same schools, in a few years when they’re applying to school. As an eldest child, I am eternally grateful for having to only do everything once. I salute the patience of those younger siblings, brought along for the ride and probably forced to miss school just to see Cornell. The sun is out, though, so it could be worse.

5. Cornell students who have five prelims this week and are confused as to why there are thousands of high schoolers on campus: You’re just sitting in Libe, eating a delicious chocolate chip muffin, when all of a sudden what seems like 20,000 children storm the lobby of Olin. This can be very confusing, but don’t worry. Just because you have an ungodly number of tests and papers to write for next week does not mean for a second that Cornell won’t pretend that we’re all mentally healthy, calm, perfect specimens of college life during Cornell Days. A tour guide probably pointed to you and said something like, “Look, Cornell students sometimes just relax and have snacks.” If only they knew the truth.

Cornell Days, even for a current student, is one of my favorite times of year, all stress and prelims and jokes aside. It reminds me why I came to Cornell, and I hope it convinces other people to make the same decision. Because despite all the craziness and weird Cornell history buffs, I am abroad right now and I can’t wait to be back in Ithaca. And if this so-called Cornell Weather Machine is only a tool to show prospective students how good Cornell really can be, I can get behind that.