Amidst the harsh Ithaca winter, 50 new Cornellians faced the cold and joined the Class of 2023 in January, admitted as part of the First-Year Spring Admissions program.
In the fourth year of the program — originally designed to accommodate the growing number of students seeking admission to Cornell — 30 students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and 20 joined the School of Hotel Administration.
Cornell is one of many universities that offer spring admissions programs, including U.C. Berkeley, the University of Southern California and Boston University.
For the Class of 2023, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions reviewed over 49,000 applications and enrolled 3,175 students in the fall — allowing the University to give an additional 50 admits the opportunity to come to Cornell.
Previously, the University had a similar program, known as “J Fresh,” which was discontinued in 2003. Cornell decided to reinstate the First-Year Spring Admit program in 2016 to fill in spring semester room vacancies — admissions assumes that more rooms are typically vacated in the spring, according to Jonathan Burdick, vice provost for enrollment.
In the program’s first iteration, the University aimed to enroll approximately 125 students in the spring, Burdick said. More recently, this number was adjusted to 50. This — in addition to the North Campus Expansion Project, which will add 2,000 more beds to campus — signals the University’s attempt to make housing available to all first-years and sophomores. Currently, Cornell guarantees housing to all sophomores.
Nikki Jagid ’23, a spring-admit, felt nervous at first but later realized it was more beneficial for her to start in the spring.
“When I first got the spring option, I wished I got in for the fall,” Jagid said. “[But] I don’t feel behind at all. Maybe it was luck, but coming later helped me find such a good group of friends.”
Olivia Smith ’23 was also not thrilled to be starting college later than all her friends.
“I wasn’t crazy about the idea of all my friends going off to college and me being stuck at home,” Smith said. “I wanted to leave with everyone else and I was actually very close to going to a completely different school.”
Despite her initial trepidation, Smith took advantage of her time off and studied abroad in Madrid at the University of Nebrija. Now, she is on track to graduate with the rest of the Class of 2023.
Jagid similarly took the semester to complete some classes and get work experience — she enrolled at Florida International University and interned at art exhibit Art Basel in Miami.
The University and each respective college advise incoming students on enrollment procedures, carefully coaching them throughout the summer and fall to prepare them for the transition and to graduate on time. FYSA students also receive the same financial-aid considerations, housing placements and other benefits as students who arrive in the fall.
Once on campus, these students attend a mandatory January orientation before the spring semester, designed to ease their transitions. Jagid said the orientation week helped her acclimate to her new campus.
“Orientation was really helpful,” Jagid said. “I loved that we got to meet other people in the program because now so many of my friends are spring admits. It’s a great resource to go back to.”
However, the transition hasn’t been entirely smooth. With the West Campus housing deadline approaching on Feb. 28, sending Smith and the rest of the FYSA students scrambling to find apartments or on-campus housing and decide who they want to live with.
“Picking who I want to live with when I’ve only known my friends for less than a month is a tough decision,” Smith said.
But arriving late to campus has not stopped Smith from getting involved. Although Smith noted that integrating with people that arrived in the fall has been challenging, it pushed her closer to her FYSA friends and teammates on the club water polo team.
FYSA is likely to continue, with the goal of having a balanced enrollment between the fall and spring in order to accommodate students relative to housing availability, Burdick said.
As the semester ramps up with prelim season underway, these students remain excited to spend their first semester at Cornell.
“My whole perspective of weather has changed,” Jagid said about her transition. “I look at the weather app and see high 30s, and I think to myself: Wow, it’s going to be such a nice day.”