Telling the story of Cornell
Cornell College alumni are among the college’s most passionate and effective advocates. Their success and their personal experience provide powerful stories to communicate the value of a Cornell education.
As the college seeks to achieve greater visibility, how we tell our story is increasingly important. In 2013 we conducted extensive research among every major audience from alumni to faculty and students to prospective students and their influencers, helping us better understand how they perceive the college. The results were distilled into five key distinctions of a Cornell College education.
Those five messages, shared here, are shaping how we as a community tell the Cornell story.
Paired with the messages are the stories of four alumni who recruit students, mentor students, and hire graduates. Collectively, the stories and actions of alumni around the globe are the foundation upon which the college builds its success.
What is your Cornell story?
1. Life-changing academic immersion
Cornell College’s One Course At A Time curriculum takes a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education. It offers students life-changing immersion in a single academic subject each three-and-a-half-week block. This intensive focus lays the foundation for a student’s entire Cornell education: transformative intellectual partnerships that bring out the best in our ambitious students. Students dive in, focus intensely, and learn authentically in every course they take. They give their full attention to each class because it is their only class.
Cornell is education at the speed of life, with no slow intros, far-off exams or papers, or gaps between class sessions. Alumni report that the One Course calendar readies them for the fast pace and intensity of the real world. Many tell us that they immediately stand out from their peers in their ability to focus, complete tasks efficiently and effectively, and balance competing priorities in the same way they’ve done for four years at Cornell.
2. Dynamic learning community
At the heart of a Cornell College education is a residential campus with a curriculum that offers frequent opportunities for in-depth, hands-on learning. The One Course At A Time curriculum frees students to explore new ways to learn—faculty can take entire classes on field trips for a day or an entire block—in whatever venues best suit the subject of the class. Our distinctive academic calendar immerses students in full-time internships, research, or other substantial participatory opportunities. And our pre-professional centers provide experiences, resources, and professional development for career or graduate school entry. They focus on the areas of pre-health sciences, business, law, and the literary arts, as well as career preparation, high-level fellowships, and preparation for graduate or professional schools.
3. Global and engaged campus culture
Cornell’s student body arrives from across the nation and around the world, ready to dive in to studies and campus life. The students live in a common rhythm within their focused academic calendar that brings them closer together as a community on a socially, culturally, and politically engaged campus. As they pursue their passions, they bring vitality to campus. The result is a campus that is diverse on many levels, a place where students build relationships, explore new learning experiences and create their own distinct brand of fun. Through our One Course At A Time curriculum, our students enjoy a vast array of opportunities that take them into the world to fulfill their academic and personal goals. Meanwhile, renowned speakers and entertainment options bring the world to students right here on our hilltop campus. Who knew you could find the world from a hilltop in Iowa?
4. Classic campus setting
Just as alumni experience a sweep of nostalgia as they approach the campus and catch a glimpse of King Chapel above the Hilltop, students often tell us they experience an emotional tug when visiting campus the first time. Our National Register campus has been called an ideal campus setting and a national treasure. But it’s more than a beautiful, safe, place. It’s a launching pad for student growth and success. Cornell’s location in Mount Vernon, Iowa, provides students an idyllic small college town atmosphere, connects them to Iowa’s Creative Corridor, and locates them a few short hours from Chicago and other major Midwestern cities.
5. Lifelong Success
A Cornell College education is a smart investment. Cornell is consistently described as a “Best Buy,” and our One Course At A Time curriculum within the liberal arts provides a distinctive path to achievement. Cornell’s extensive academic opportunities and engaged campus community provide graduates the tools to enter the workforce or advanced study with confidence, thrive in fast-paced and rapidly changing environments, and lead significant and productive lives. The Cornell experience has been called “an education for life and friends for a lifetime,” and graduates are part of a supportive alumni network.
Recruiting New Cornellians
Some alumni love their Cornell College education so much that they feel compelled to share it, not just by telling people about it, but by convincing high school students that Cornell might be the right choice for their college experience, as well.
Given the number of Cornell College students he’s mentored, John Mark Dean ’58 could be forgiven for sometimes feeling like he’s running a bed and breakfast. That’s a risk you run when you mentor students—that the relationships you develop will go beyond the classroom and into the rest of your life.
A list of staffers at Global Zero, where Derek Johnson ’05 is executive director, can look like a Cornell College alumni directory—there are four Cornellians working there full-time and a fifth who is taking part in an internship at the non-profit that’s dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons around the world.