Carter Brown is attending Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is majoring in physics and is considering minors in math and computer science. For his major, he is still deciding on his concentration.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I’m taking a Python computer programming class, Theory of Differential Equations, Early Modern French Literature, and Physics I-Mechanics and Special Relativity Honors. And for PE, I’m doing audio kickboxing.
Q: Which class do you like the best?
A: I guess I like the French class because I have already done a lot of mechanics with Physics C. Also, I realized in this math class that I definitely don’t want to do theoretical math, and the class is really, really difficult. I guess I like French the most because it’s different. We learn a lot of culture and history in that class and read a lot of novels in French. And the teacher is really great too—I would describe him as a cross between Mr. Neukom and Dr. Bell.
Q: How’s your dorm?
A: Great! A lot of people in the halls have singles, so we are all in the situation of having to leave our room to make friends. There’s a lot of camaraderie on our floor. But the dorm is huge! There are 460 kids in my dorm.
Q: How’s the weather?
A: Well, right now it’s 30 degrees. We had our first snow two nights ago. At the beginning it was extremely hot and humid, but it quickly got cold.
Q: How’s the food?
A: The food is fantastic. I love it. There are over 30 places to eat here on campus, and there are a lot of cafes. The dining halls are great, but the cafes are even better.
Q: Are you participating in any extracurricular activities?
A: I’m a writer for the Cornell Progressive, the school’s liberal newspaper, in the Society for Physics Students, the Cornell Astronomy Society, and member of the Cornell Democrats. And there’s this Cornell outdoor club. You pay $10 for the entire year, and it provides you with a whole bunch of equipment for kayaking trips and hiking trips—ice-climbing trips for the winter. I haven’t done anything yet with it, though.
Q: What’s is the area surrounding you like?
A: Well there is definitely a Cornell-bubble type of aspect because it’s so far removed from an urban center, but I don’t feel isolated. I still feel connected with society because it’s just so vibrant here; there’s so much to do. You can never really feel bored, I mean, unless you want to.
Q: How are you adjusting to the campus? Have you gotten lost or have had other problems?
A: Not really. At the beginning of the year, I had a map for a week. There are seven different colleges, and they’re all pretty much divided up so most people stay within college for classes. The campus is pretty big, but you only have to navigate a small fraction of it.
Q: What college are you in?
A: I’m in the College of Arts and Sciences, which is the largest college here. I really like it because it’s made to provide a liberal arts curriculum and supposed to give a feel like a small liberal arts college, and I definitely get that feeling. I have small classes, and I get to call the professors by their first names. I really love it because you have a liberal arts feel and a liberal arts environment within a research center.
Q: How are the sports at Cornell?
A: I got season tickets for hockey! Hockey is the big thing here. Football definitely isn’t. The football game I went to was half full, and then it started raining and most of the people left. The hockey games are amazing, though.
Q: What’s your most embarrassing freshman mistake?
A: The first snow, three other Californians on my floor and I all went running outside and we left our keys in our rooms. We had to have a friend let us in.
Q: What has surprised you most?
A: The downside is the enrolling in classes. That was really surprising to me: just how competitive it was because lots of kids don’t get classes that they want. Enrolling over the summer, I had to change my schedule because two or three classes were completely filled up. You learn how to work the system, so the problem can be minimized. But it was still a problem that I didn’t expect to find here.
Q: Any advice for the class of ’14?
A: Well, I got rejections from a lot of schools, but I also got a lot of acceptances too. I guess with the rejection letters don’t be so disheartened—count your wins more than your losses.