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5 College Senior

Academics: The Block plan is great! It prepares me to absorb a great amount of information in a short amount of time to create reports, essays, and presentations of high quality.

4 College Senior

Academics: There's a lot of opportunities to immerse myself in the Ethnic Studies type of thinking. The professors in the department are supportive. My major is flexible enough to get support from professors from other departments so I am always with help.

5 College Senior

Academics: If the One Course At A Time system works for you, it works like a dream come true.

4 College Senior

Academics: The block system works great for some people and not for others, but for me it's a lifesaver. Whatever you're doing, you literally only have to do it for a month. If the course is bad, it ends soon. If the course is good, taking more like it is easy. You get to know all your professors very well, because you spend a month straight with them every block, so if you find professors you like, which you probably will, class feels a lot like hanging out with friends discussing interesting academic topics. The classes are very small, I've never had one over 25 people. Study abroad is the easiest thing in the world at Cornell and I cannot recommend taking off-campus blocks highly enough.

3 College Freshman

Academics: Its hard but you should expect that coming to a private liberal arts school. Just come prepared to work. You'll have fun when time permits but it wont be a cakewalk.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 465th
    Professors Most Interested in Classes
  • 584th
    Best Course Variety
  • 673rd
    Most Flexible Curriculums
  • 703rd
    Most Caring Professors
  • 727th
    Smartest Professors

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Erin McNeill
Foristell, MO
Sociology/Anthropology, English
View all previous student authors

Academics at Cornell can be summed up in one word—OCAAT. OCAAT, or One Course At A Time, stands for the unique block plan Cornell’s academic calendar follows, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Students take one course for 18 days, and then have a four-day break before beginning their next course. Most courses average two to four hours of class time per day and all classes finish by 3 p.m., so the rest of the day is free for extracurricular activities and studying. This means no juggling an English paper, a math test, and a science presentation all in the same week. And instead of end-of-the-semester finals mania, you have just one final a month. Students still learn about the same amount of material as they would on a standard semester plan, just in a more condensed and intensive setting.

OCAAT provides a number of exceptional opportunities for students aside from the ability to focus on a single subject. With classes capped at 25 or fewer and professors who are only focusing on one course as well, many students develop mentoring relationships with professors in their major fields. Additionally, opportunities to study off campus are easy to come by and very affordable. There are between 20 and 30 courses offered in both domestic and international locations in a wide variety of departments. These block-long experiences include studying the genetics of fire coral in The Bahamas, learning about education in South Africa, and absorbing literature and theater on a tour of Great Britain. Cornell students can also take advantage of semester-long programs offered by the ACM—Associated Colleges of the Midwest—with locations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Facts & Statistics

Student-Faculty Ratio
Full-Time Instructional Faculty
Part-Time Instructional Faculty
Total FT Faculty
Faculty with Terminal Degree
Average Faculty Salary
Full-Time Retention Rate
Graduation Rate
Programs/Majors Offered
Academic/Career Counseling?
Remedial Services?
Class Sizes
  • Fewer than 20 students: 60%
  • 20 to 49 students: 40%
  • 50 or more students: 0%
Instructional Programs
Occupational: No
Academic: Yes
Continuing Professional: No
Recreational/Avocational: No
Adult Basic Remedial: No
Secondary (High School): No
Special Credit Opportunities
Advanced Placement (AP) Credits: Yes
Dual Credit: Yes
Life Experience Credits: No
Degrees Awarded
Bachelor's degree
Most Popular Majors
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 4%
  • Economics and Econometrics: 3%
  • English Language Studies: 3%
  • Psychology: 5%
Graduation Requirements
  • Arts/fine arts
  • English (including composition)
  • Foreign languages
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences (biological or physical)
  • Social science
Special Study Options
  • Study abroad
  • Teacher certification (below the postsecondary level)
Other Academic Offerings
  • Accelerated program
  • Double major
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Exchange student program (domestic)
  • Independent study
  • Internships
  • Liberal arts/career combination
  • Student-designed major
Best Places to Study
  • Cole Library-second floor
  • Comfy chairs in The Commons
  • Ink Pond
Tips to Succeed
  • Always go to class. With only 18 days in a block, missing one day of class at Cornell is like missing a week of class on the semester plan.
  • Get involved. Find a campus organization or two that you are interested in-you never know what opportunities may present themselves.
  • Get your general education requirements out of the way your freshman year. You don't want to be that lame senior in an intro-level course.
  • Keep partying for the weekends. Missing just one night's homework can put you way behind.
  • Learn good time management skills and find a balance between class work and a social life. It's easy to focus on one and let the other go, but both are necessary to have a fulfilling college experience.
  • Take classes that sound interesting, even if you have no experience in that department or subject area. You may stumble across something you're truly passionate about.

Student Polls

How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?    Based on 21 responses

Strongly disagree
Strongly agree
  • The academic advisers are helpful.
  • It is easy to get the classes you want.
  • Grading is generally consistent and fair.
  • There are a variety of interesting courses to take.
  • Students are encouraged to explore a wide range of courses and topics.
  • My Gen-Ed requirements are worthwhile and meaningful.
  • The workload is easy to manage.
  • There are plenty of good online course options.
  • Teaching assistants (TAs) are used effectively.
  • The course scheduling/registration process is efficient and student-friendly.
  • Classrooms/labs are up-to-date and incorporate new technologies effectively.

How strongly do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements regarding the professors at this school?    Based on 22 responses

Strongly disagree
Strongly agree
  • Professors are approachable and helpful when needed
  • Professors are engaging and easy to understand.
  • Professors are experts in their field.
  • Professors are passionate about the topics they teach.
  • Professors care about their students' success.
  • Professors put a lot of effort into teaching their classes.
  • Professors use teaching assistants (TAs) effectively.


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