Typical academic years begin on the third week of August and end in mid-December — but by contrast, the Fall 2024 semester will begin the last Monday of August, with the last day of finals falling four days before Christmas.
Though the 2024-2025 calendar has been published on the Cornell Registrar website, the University has yet to announce any changes made to next year’s academic schedule.
“There was concern to start as early as Aug. 19 and the subsequent impacts to faculty and fall sports… the early start would have resulted in students returning from Thanksgiving break directly into finals,” wrote Rhonda Kitch, University Registrar, in a written statement to the Sun.
Zoe Cantor ’26 recounted feeling shocked to see the differences in the new academic calendar.
“I was surprised to see the changes. I wish the University would’ve involved students in the decision or at least informed us about it,” Cantor said.
Thanksgiving 2024 falls on Nov. 28, five days later than this year’s Thanksgiving. In previous years, a later Thanksgiving has also coincided with a later start date — such as in 2019, when Thanksgiving last fell on Nov. 28. The University made similar adjustments then, with the Fall 2019 semester ending on Dec. 21.
Lily Relleke ’26, who is from Illinois, felt the later end date would interfere with out-of-state students traveling home for winter break.
“It’s the most expensive time of the year to fly. If you’re out of state, and you’re trying to fly the day before Christmas Eve, it’s impossible,” Relleke said. “I understand they don’t want students studying over [Thanksgiving] break, but I’d rather return directly into finals season than try to fly a couple of days before Christmas.”
Relleke also expressed concern that weather in Ithaca would interfere with traveling plans, noting that the frequent snowfall Ithaca receives could prevent students from returning home before the holidays.
However, Relleke did express content that the new schedule aligns with neighboring universities’ start dates.
“I have friends at the University of Rochester and other schools that start a week later than us, and this change makes us more similar to those universities,” Relleke said.
Kristanna Petrillo ’26 expressed satisfaction that the later start gives students more time to rest after wrapping up internships and summer jobs. She also said she hoped the later start would minimize her exposure to Ithaca summer heat.
“[This year,] I only had a week after my internship ended to collect myself and move back in. Additional time before school starts would help make [the start of the semester] less overwhelming, especially considering we have students from all over the world,” Petrillo said. “I also personally don’t enjoy trekking across campus in the 80-something degree weather, so the less time we have to spend doing that, the better.”
The calendar also originally stated fall and February breaks would only be three days, with instruction resuming Tuesday. The University has corrected this typographical error and these two breaks will continue to be four-day weekends, with instruction resuming on Wednesdays as in years past, according to Kitch.
Next year, February break is set to move up by a week to overlap with President’s Day, coinciding with Ithaca Public Schools’ break from classes.
“Local school districts often have that day off, and aligning [with President’s Day] best supports our entire campus community,” Kitch wrote.
The University does not anticipate these changes to be permanent and plans to reconsider each year.
“It all depends on the flow of the calendar and how things sync up,” Kitch wrote.
Angela Miller is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].