Name: Jahnvi B.
University & Graduation Year: Cornell University, College of Human Ecology, Class of 2022
High School: Jumeirah College, Dubai, UAE
Major/Program: Human Development

In my latest blog series, I will be sharing interviews with my former students, who have gone on to higher education at universities around the world. I hope that these candid, first-hand insights might get you to consider a college you might not have previously, debunk some common myths about the college experience, and give you some perspective as you embark on the college admissions process.

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about college life?

The sheer amount of opportunities and experiences that are available, with both class choices and extracurriculars. Initially, I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed because there was a lot that I could do and wanted to do. It was difficult not only to choose, but also to find a starting point without rushing in and over-committing myself. I think the biggest adjustment I had to make was learning to budget myself so that I can do everything I find interesting over the course of my four years.

2. What makes your college special?

Its location! I really enjoy being surrounded by the greenery and the views Cornell has to offer. My favorite thing about campus is its walkability. I love being able to walk to all my classes, and it’s a really great way to relax between classes!

3. Are there any misconceptions out there about your college?

The biggest misconception about Cornell is that it is very isolated and unbearably cold. I would tell anyone who is consider applying, that that’s really not the case. While Cornell is around 4 hours from New York CIty, the student body is so large and there are constantly events on campus as well as things to get involved in, so it never really feels isolated. As for the cold, it does get quite cold (and it is definitely quite a transition from Dubai), but if you are sufficiently equipped it’s nothing that you cannot deal with – and the snow can be a lot of fun!

4. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities and how have they shaped your college experience?

Of the clubs I have been involved in my first year, the ones that that impacted me most are Asha for Education and the Cornell Infancy Studies Lab. Asha for Education is a non-profit, volunteer driven student group that organizes and hosts events every semester in order to raise money for several education projects supporting underprivileged children in India. Asha has shaped my experience at Cornell, as it not only allows me to be involved with a cause I believe in, but it has also been very useful in connecting me with different people across campus, both undergraduates and masters/PhD students, who share the same interests as me, both academically as well as socially.

Being a research assistant at the Cornell Infancy Lab has allowed me to gain firsthand experience with child research, stretching my education far beyond just lectures and seminars. Through my lab I get to participate in the behind-the-scenes of planning and executing research as well as see concepts I learn about in class come to life, which is an experience like no other.

5. If you could give your high school self any advice about college admissions, what would you say?

If given the chance, I would tell my 11th grade self to relax a little bit; the college admissions process is stressful and everything seems very high-stakes, and sometimes that mindset makes it very difficult to produce good work. My biggest takeaway from the process was that starting early is key and that it is okay to not absolutely love the very first thing you write. I’m sure Diva can attest to the fact that I wrote several drafts before we finalized my Common App essay, and while that process can be very frustrating, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s absolutely normal and that you will end up with something you like!