Day 1: Greeting from Dean/Breakfast
I got there around 8:30ish and was handed a large Cornell Law School portofolio w/the schedule, etc., 2 Ithaca/Cornell newspapers and, best of all, a Cornell Law School stainless steel coffee mug!! (mmmmmm . . . coffee.) There's not much I like better in terms of free stuff than ANYTHING to do with coffee. So, naturally, the day started off right.
I briefly met the student who had e-mailed me about the school but didn't get to talk to her too much. Everyone, from the administration down to the students, was so nice. I had some breakfast and met some of the other admitted students. We all expressed our awe of the beautiful classroom we were in (the law school is BEAUTIFUL as is Cornell) and our frustration with Duke.
The Dean of the law school welcomed us and he was very friendly and funny. The whole feel was very relaxed.
Tour of the law school
I have a TERRIBLE sense of direction so I had no idea where I was most of the time (but that's generally true.) The law school building is one of the most beautiful I've seen. Most of the classrooms are very small because Cornell's class size is generally quite small. The library reading room was beautiful. Even the oldest rooms in the law school often have rather unobtrusive big screen TVs which I thought was kind of funny. The student lounge was really nice with a few TVs and lots of comfy chairs.
This was one of the best parts I thought. One things I really loved at Cornell was that I never once felt like they were selling the school to me. They just let all of their numbers speak for themselves. A sheet handed out detailed the career placements for the last five years. Basically, out of a class of 180, about 130 went to firms (and over 100 of those were to big firms) and another 25 go to clerkships. That was a pretty substantial statistic. the loan forgiveness program is very generous and they calculate it how much you can pay by looking at the alum's full situation, including COL in his/her city, whether or not he/she has a family to support. It was pretty impressive. About 95% of students are employed at graduation and the others who aren't are usually going for jobs that requires passing the bar exam. Cornell also led the NY schools in bar passage this year.
I work in financial aid so not much new here for me. The presenter was very clear though and talked a lot about budgeting and borrowing responsibly. cornell pretty much meets full need of all of it's students (after the $18500 in stafford/year) but, of course because of that, rely heavily on parental information. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to qualify but we're supposed to start receiving award letters mid- to late march.
Lunch (always my favorite part!
We had lunch at the student union (I think) or at the closest dining room. It was a casual lunch with really good sandwiches (who doesn't like mozzarella, pesto and tomato?), soup, chips and cookies. Not as sit-down fancy as Notre Dame was by any stretch but, as I said before, I never felt like they were selling me the school. And, trust me, I was impressed anyways. We ate with current 1Ls. I lucked out and ended up sitting with a 1L from Boston who chose Cornell w/no aid over BU with scholarship. This is the exact issue I'm facing. He also worked for a few years. He is interested in public interest law and liked Cornell's LRAP the best. He also thinks Cornell will give him more mobility in where he ends up working (and I think that he's right.) But he said it was a very difficult choice. At least I know I won't be alone if I make the same one (although I'm sure most students choose the "higher ranked" school over schools w/scholarship anyways.) A professor in the international law program spoke about international programs and the J.D./L.L.M. in int'l law. He was a little stiff but very interesting. It felt a little random because we were eating and I really wanted to talk more with the current students but still was pretty brief.
Student career/student life panel
This was also really great. Five students from all over spoke about Cornell. They all really enjoyed and would make the same choice. They never sold it though, just spoke honestly. All had great jobs lined up and were involved with lots of different activities on campus. They spoke about housing, life in Ithaca, etc. Sorry my brain is a little foggy but the experience was very foggy. I had heard negative things about Cornell ( i.e., everyone was miserable, couldn't wait to leave) and I didn't experience any of it and I think I met well over 25 students.
Crim. Law class
We sat in on a crim law 1l class. the professor was young and very well-spoken. He didn't stop the whole time but it was very interesting. One student was called on but it felt very relaxed. There was some class discussion as well. I can't remember the professor's name (I'm terrible with stuff like that!) but I was very impressed.
Tour of Hughes Hall (the law dorm)
I'm a few years out of dorm life so I"m not sure if I can live without my own kitchen at this point BUT I wanted to see what it looked like. The bedrooms were very large and its arranged in suites w/everyone in the suite sharing a bathroom. It houses about 45 1Ls and is first-come, first-served. There is a laundry room and a communal kitchen on one of the lower floors. There was a large TV room. it seemed very dorm-like, with community programs and stuff. There is a ton of housing within a five minute walk to the law school that isn't the dorm so that's more likely what I would choose. Still, for those fresh out of undergrad, it might be a better choice.
We had some free time before dinner at a Collegetown restaurant so I wandered over w/another admitted student (who did cornell for undergrad) to the bookstore to get a t shirt (yes, I'm a dork) and to the libary to check my e-mail. Then I wandered w/a few other students around Collegetown which is practically across the street from the law school.
Dinner at the Nines
Free and delicious pizza and free beer! Woo hoo! Very relaxed. All of the current students were so nice and all were happy to be there. What I found interesting was that all of the students said they chose cornell for the same reasons the ND students spoke of. They just felt that they were treated better at Cornell and that the small size created a more cohesive community. Definitely that + great career prospects makes a big difference.
This was an informal brunch and full campus tour for those of us that were still around. the campus is so beautiful and everyone at Cornell really seems to love it.
Overall impressions: I LOVED it. There's about a 75% chance I'll go there now and, if they give me anything, it'll be almost 100% (assuming i'm rejected at Penn.) I was so impressed and everyone at the day seemed to have the same impression. The law students were all social but serious in a good way. They said that the atmosphere wasn't competitive in terms of students vs. students but most students were very competivie with themselves. Some of the professors use socratic more than others but all of them survived it. It seemed like a great place to learn. And, if I choose to take on the extra debt, it's pretty much guaranteed I'll have a big firm job and make enough to pay them back (as long as I'm frugal for a few years after law school.)
I hope that helps everyone!!