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Deans List Cornell Engineering Essay

Scoring the winning touchdown. Volunteering for blood drives or building houses. What you learned about poverty on your $9,000 trip to Africa.

These are a few topics on independent consultant Arun Ponnusamy’s list of what not to write about in your college application essay. (A few more: Don't write about mom and dad's divorce, and no general philosophizing—you're 17, get over yourself.) Admissions season is under way, and with early applications deadlines starting November 1, you've only got a few more days to polish your make-or-break essay. Straight As and stellar SAT scores won't be enough. In a year where 10 brilliant kids are vying for every one slot at your average Ivy League school (yes, that statistic is accurate), the personal essay has become a tipping point that can turn a deferral into an acceptance letter.

So The Daily Beast tracked down seven college admissions essays that did work—seven essays that helped get the kids who wrote them into one of the country's top schools. The essays were slipped to us by college professors, high-school guidance counselors, independent admissions consultants, and even staffers at student newspapers. For confidentiality reasons, admissions officers can't talk about these essays expressly, so we chose essays that demonstrate the most salient principles to abide by when writing them. (Scroll down to read the essays, unedited and in full.)

You'll need the help: Competition at these schools is fiercer than ever. For every kid who’s hung prayer flags on a mountain summit in Tibet, there are a dozen others who’ve studied a Bantu language in Rwanda, worked with Guatemalan orphans, cooked with a celebrity chef, or been on reality TV. "To be honest," says Ponnusamy, "if you're thinking about the most selective of schools in the country and the most interesting thing in your life is your parents' divorce, you're not going to get in anyway.”

But even if your life hasn't been filled with experiences worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, you can salvage an essay about a ho-hum subject by having a novelist's eye for detail. For Greg Roberts, the admissions dean at University of Virginia, one of the most memorable essays he read was about a single at-bat in a high-school baseball game. The applicant wasn’t the star of the team, Roberts remembers, and didn’t even like playing baseball much. “But he talked about being nervous and excited at the same time, about how the freshly cut grass reminded him of his grandfather,” Roberts says. “I just felt like I knew him.”

Roberts worries that students tend to be too conservative with essays and are afraid to take risks. “There are no wrong answers here, and the last thing you want is a dry or boring essay,” he says. “We have 22,000 applications, so it’s easy to blend into the crowd.”

• Kathleen Kingsbury: The Best College Food• Kathleen Kingsbury: How to Choose a College RoommateThis year that may mean students want to reconsider before giving their take on the recent financial meltdown or the national health-care debate. At California’s Pomona College, the admissions staff anticipates an influx of essays on the economy, similar to what they saw post-September 11, 2001, when nearly half the applications essays dealt with the terrorist attacks.

“But it’s a different story if you watched the towers collapse from science class at [New York City’s] Stuyvesant High School than if you live on a farm in Iowa,” Pomona’s admissions dean Bruce Poch says. “Families are going through hell right now, and it’s the very personal experiences that will resonate the most.” Then again, Poch adds, “Sympathy isn’t the only reason we let kids in.”

Despite what admissions guidebooks tell you, there's no surefire formula to the college essay. Poch confesses even a small error or two will not necessarily kill your chances of getting in—as long as it's not on purpose. "I once heard one [essay-writing] professional brag about slipping in mistakes to throw off admissions officers," he says. "That's just disgusting."

Rule #1: When Tackling a Global Issue, Make it Personal

Brown Freshman Nawal Traish could have chosen to write about U.S. relations with Libya or general unrest in the Muslim world. Instead, she speaks to her personal relationship with Libya, her father's homeland, and her own understanding of her Islamic faith. "It's a mistake for students to think that they have to come up with any deep or life-altering topic," says University of Virginia's Greg Roberts, who expects to read essays this year on Afghanistan, health care, and other hot political issues. Instead, Roberts advises, "It's OK to take on serious topics, but tell us how it relates directly back to you." ( Click here to read Nawal's essay.)

Rule #2: Show That You Have Some Perspective

Hallie Jordan knew not to pretend she'd had a hard-knock life with no options. If you're a white, middle-class kid, it never hurts to show that you realize how lucky you are—and that you sought out diversity. "I remember in the days after [Hurricane] Katrina, I had an otherwise thoughtful and engaged kid sitting across from me bemoaning how the kids in New Orleans were 'going to have awesome essays,'" says Ponnusamy. "This sense amongst upper-middle-class kids that 'nothing bad has ever happened to me' is always amusing. I don't care who it is, they all have 750 words of something compelling to say to an admissions officer." He adds, "They need to relax, think about what means a lot to them or gets them fired up, and then write about it." ( Click here to read Hallie's essay.)

Rule #3: Essays Succeed or Fail in the Details

The "hand-cranked" ice cream. The Richard Serra installation. The baby clothes she cut up and made into a quilt. The essay that got Isabel Polon into Yale swells with appealing and insightful details that show her meticulous nature. "If the essay mentions you going to dinner, I want to know what you were eating," says Ponnusamy. Adds UVA's Roberts: "A standout essay starts with good writing. Be as descriptive as possible about the moment you're writing—we want to see it, smell it, touch it." ( Click here to read Isabel's essay.)

Rule #4: Make Sure You're the Hero of the Story

By emphasizing her own personal challenges and then showing how she wouldn't allow them to subsume her, Hannah Edwards was able to make herself look good without bragging. "It's fine to talk about your dad being a coke fiend or your stint in rehab with your favorite WB crush," Ponnusamy says, "but unless you end up as the 'hero' in the essay, you will have done nothing to help you and it's the one place you're guaranteed to have the opportunity to speak in the first-person." ( Click here to read Hannah's essay.)

Rule #5: Make Your Intellectual Curiosity Clear

Rahul Kishore wanted Cornell to know how obsessively devoted he was to science, and his essay describes in great detail his fascination. "Talking about something meaningful can make you more likeable," says independent college consultant Stephen Friedfeld, "but it has to be executed to demonstrate your academic rigor." ( Click here to read Rahul's essay.)

Rule #6: Know Your Audience

Morgan Doff wasn't applying to a Christian school or one in an area that might take offensive to her lack of interest in religion, so she put it right out there on the page. "Students regularly conjure up who admissions officers are, what they look like and what they're interested in," says Pomona's Bruce Poch. "We purposely have a diverse staff with a variety of interests and backgrounds." That said, had Morgan been applying to, say, a school in the Deep South, she might have chosen her words more carefully. ( Click here to read Morgan's essay.)

Rule #7: Don't Be Afraid to Show You're Not Perfect

Abigail Hook was applying to Harvard—the one school you don't want to tilt your hand near. And yet she chose to write her essay about giving up on ballet, rather than persevering once she'd tired of it. "It's OK to let down your guard, not be safe and sanitized," says Poch. "It can allow us to relate to you as a real human being. ( Click here to read Abigail's essay.)

Nawal Traish Brown University Class of 2013

One glance out the window, where palm trees swayed as cars sped by, and I could have been at LAX. But when my gaze shifted to meet that of Muammar al Gadhafi behind his signature aviator sunglasses, I knew I was more than a few smoggy miles from Tinseltown. The larger-than-life portrait of the Libyan dictator sent chills down my spine, and I almost didn’t hear my older sister telling me to follow her through the customs line in her broken Arabic. Fumbling for a safety pin, I quickly converted my neck scarf into a traditional headscarf, unaware that my views on diversity would soon undergo a similar transformation as I assimilated into Libyan culture for two weeks.

It was my first time entering the country my father fled thirty years before due to political upheaval involving the man staring at me from the wall, and while I had met my paternal relatives as a child, I was apprehensive about doing so in their own country now that I had matured into a very American teenage girl. My siblings and I were raised as Muslims, but we adhere selectively to the various practices—fasting during Ramadan but not praying five times a day, attending the mosque but not covering our heads in public, and I sometimes feel guilty about wanting to handpick from both worlds—an American lifestyle but Islamic beliefs—because they are often seen as irreconcilable.

From the moment we touched down on Libyan sand, I saw that others didn’t have the same luxury of separating lifestyle from beliefs if they so wished. The call to prayer every morning at 4:30 left me sleep-deprived but more in awe at the homogeneity of the country’s devotion; the haunting Arabic wail penetrated the pre-dawn sky from minarets at every corner the same way McDonald’s jingles infiltrate American living rooms. The Mediterranean heat was oppressive under long-sleeve shirts and pants in early August, when I’m used to wearing shorts and T-shirts, but the fact that everyone else was donning the same conservative dress made me feel like I was part of something larger than myself and more important than the latest Pac-Sun fashions. However, as I constantly adjusted my head cover, I seriously questioned the rationale behind some of the cultural and religious practices I witnessed. I deeply admired the connection to their religion that my relatives showed, stopping to prostrate in prayer even at the beach, but also wondered whether the internal belief of five million Libyans could possibly be as parallel as their outward expressions of it.

Being in Libya impressed upon me that it is often such circumstantial, unchosen factors as place of birth that largely determine the paradigms by which we live our lives. As much as I enjoyed the exotic experience of being in North Africa and the not-so-exotic experience of reconnecting with my family, my time in Libya paradoxically strengthened the latter half of my Arab-American identity. I had taken for granted the fact that we are free to practice Islam the way we want here in the U.S. next to neighbors lighting menorahs and friends who are atheists, and upon my return to Boston I found myself immediately appreciating this diversity at a new level, starting with the group of strangers with whom we waited at baggage claim. We all shared frustration and eyes peeled for our suitcases, but fortunately, not much else. As I pursue my passions of philosophy and theology as an undergraduate, I will approach with a more open mind the vast array of angles from which people view the world now that I have experienced life in a country so different from the one I call home, yet one that has inevitably shaped my own perspectives as I’ve grown up.

Hallie Jordan Rice University Class of 2012

Standing on the second floor hall of my high school, I watch my fellow students swarm into the campus as the bell rings for the passing period. Leaning against the railing, observing, I reflect on how my life might be different had I chosen to attend a different high school. The scene below me feels like a little slice of the real world. A couple walks by and my ear quickly notices that they speak in Korean. I spot my Ethiopian friend Ike, almost dancing, as he moves through the crowd on the floor below me; his real name is so long no one can pronounce it. Later, my best friend will present me with some homemade Mexican Christmas ponche full of sugarcane to chew on. I reluctantly stop people watching and proceed to class. It always nice to stop and imagine all the different cultures and backgrounds can be found at my small school of barely 2,000 people. Everyone, I have realized, has their own distinct way of life defined by various situations from trying to succeed as a first generation immigrant to working to help their family make ends meet each month. There is nothing sheltered about Spring Woods High School.

Unlike many of my friends, I am a “privileged child.” I was born an American citizen. My parents have steady jobs. I live in a neighborhood zoned, if only barely, to a school called Memorial High School—the shiny, rich abundant school of the district. From my early childhood my parents had planned on me attending this high school, as supposedly it provides one of the best public school educations in Houston. At the end of 8th grade, a pivotal moment presented itself: I had to decide between the touted Memorial High School with all its benefits and clout or the “ghetto” Spring Woods where most of my closest friends were going. After much debate I finally settled on Spring Woods. Coming from a very small charter middle school, high school was rather shocking. I did not like it, and I blamed my unhappiness on my school—I thought I had made the “wrong decision.” At the beginning of the second semester, I choose to switch to the school I was supposed to go to—feeling that I would receive a “better” education.

On my first day I was astounded by the other kids. They all looked and acted alike. Almost all had the same clothing, hair styles, necklaces, flip-flops and backpacks with their names monographed on them. Nearly all of them also had iPods, this was almost four years ago when it was not so common to see iPods everywhere. I was amazed at how they treated their iPods so carelessly, when I have a friend who carefully saved her lunch money for months just to be able to buy one. Needless to say, she is very protective of it. Sitting in the cafeteria, I felt like I was back in fifth grade. Everyone brought nice neat little lunches, packet perfectly in expensive lunch boxes. Mothers stood at the lunch line selling cookies to raise money for various organizations, as stay at home moms they had nothing else to do with their time. Buying a school lunch, I found, was something only the “reject” kids did. I lasted only a week at this place. Suddenly I missed everything from Spring Woods, even its “ghetto” identity. I missed the teachers who taught about ideas instead of forcing us to merely memorize. I missed the general accepting feeling that comes from such a heterogeneous mixture of people. There are no “reject” kids at Spring Woods. I could now see that though.

Isabel Polon Yale Class of 2011

In kindergarten, I was the only kid who knew milk didn’t originate in the supermarket. This I attribute to my time at Emandal, a family-run farm that has opened its gates each summer since 1908 to those seeking an alternative vacation.

For the past 13 years my family has made the pilgrimage to Willits, California, to spend the second week of August at Emandal. What inspires a family to spend their hard-earned cash picking vegetables or milking cows while residing in prehistoric cabins without indoor plumbing? Well, only at Emandal can I husk corn at 5 p.m. to find it steaming on the dinner table at 6:30. Nowhere else do 13-year-old boys agree to square dance with their mothers or take the time to realize the solitude in knitting. It’s the only place where the national college debate champion enjoys the company of his oldest friend, a videogame-dependent junior college student who subsists on red meat, Coca-Cola and Red Vines. It’s where Berkeley yuppies and working class Oaklanders bake Snickerdoddles while discussing who’s gotten pregnant or divorced since last summer. At Emandal there are no social boundaries, no class distinctions. Any cabin’s the same as the one next-door.

It’s the satisfaction I came to associate with Emandal’s hands-on reality that inspired me to mark “agriculture” as my freshman PSAT preferred major. Following months of bombardment with pamphlets from Iowa State, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to “live off the land.” Without a local bookstore, Pad-Thai or a Richard Serra installation, my life would definitely be lacking some favored flourishes. But even in LA, Emandal has developed into a sort of Jiminy Cricket I interplay with daily. At Emandal, if there’s extra milk we drink hot chocolate. If fried chicken remains from dinner last night, you can count on it mysteriously resurfacing as Chicken Curry at lunch.

My boyfriend refers to me as “the doggy-bag-date.” I print rough drafts on the reverse side of harp music from last year’s winter concert. When my mother threatened to give away my baby clothes, I cut them up and made my sister a quilt for her birthday. Emandal’s compost lifestyle has caused me to realize creative forms of recycling beyond cans and cereal boxes, and embrace resourcefulness in every pursuit.

But the best part of Emandal is the food. With fresh bread at every meal, heirloom tomatoes the size of my head, hand-cranked ice cream over pie made from Emandal’s wild blackberries, no one refrains from unbuttoning their pants after dinner. But it’s the ideology behind the menu that makes it all the more appealing: the tangible connection with the food you eat. Long before the farmer’s market fad, my family went religiously each Saturday. We exchange CDs with Joel the carrot guy and the Japanese greens lady saves us the last bag of cucumbers. It’s a unique satisfaction and an exceedingly rare connection to be able to shake the hand of the person who grows your food, and in effect, “grew you”.

In my 13th year, when I had reached the stage where crucifixion was preferable to being seen with my parents, they asked whether I still wanted to go to Emandal. Thank goodness something inside of me was still smart enough to say yes. For it is there I have deduced what’s essential to harmonious living with our earth and all kinds of folks, erudition I can attribute only to Emandal.

Hannah Edwards UC-Berkeley Class of 2013

“Beautiful. B to the back, b to the back. So b first. beautiful. Next, it’s that French thing. Gosh ... Uea, no e … a … u. Eau. So beau. Beautiful. Ti. That’s easy. Beauti. Beautiful. Full. No not full: ful. They chop that l off, so b-eau-ti-ful.”

I’ve just spent 30 seconds agonizing over how to spell one of the more basic words in the English language and a good part of that time trying to remember how to write the letter b. That sequence is partially a flash back to a fourth grade spelling test, but honestly, it’s a thought process I will have to go through about a hundred times this year with equally basic words because I am, and always will be, dyslexic.

I have never been able to spell, but it wasn’t until 4th grade that I found out the, ironically hard to spell, word for my condition. When everyone did realize what was going on and why it was that I got Cs in spelling, I was packed off to resource room (i.e. Special Ed) to learn how to write pretty.

At first I liked it. Resource room gave me an excuse not to do well in spelling, and it let me spend class time doing silly spelling exercises. It let me avoid my problem and at the same time pretend I was doing something to correct it, but in all honesty it was just a waste of time. I didn’t want to recognize its futility at first, but eventually I couldn’t ignore it and had to come to terms with the fact that resource room was aspirin for a broken arm: It made things seem a bit better, but it did nothing to fix the problem. When I came to terms with this I convinced my mother to take me out of resource room and that I could take responsibility for my own problem, and that is exactly what I did, and have done ever since.

I was freed from resource room on the condition that I get A's on every other spelling test that year, which I did. Since then I have realized that I can never allow myself to live life in a metaphorical resource room. I must take accountability and responsibility for myself, and not accept special treatment where there is anyway I can avoid it. This philosophy was tested last year when I was signing up for the SAT.

My mother was handing over her credit card when she asked me if I thought extra time would be useful on the SAT.

“Well, yeah,” I said smiling as I took her credit card, “that essay is insane, 25 minutes makes for some nasty results.”

“Why don’t you apply to get some extra time? If it will help you should,” she suggested, “you’re eligible.”

“No. It’s an artificial compensation that would only last as long as schools are forced to provide it; the real world can’t make those kind of concessions so I can’t take that crutch.”

My mother offered no resistance to my stance and I typed in her AmEx number while I reflected on the implications of my denial. I have spent a lot of time agonizing over how to spell the simplest words, and I doubt anyone has quite attained my level of red underlines in a word document, but that just means checking the dictionary and an age spent poring over SpellCheck. I have never taken extra time or other benefits on standardized tests and I never will, because that is not how I want to succeed. I want to sink or swim on my own and not use water wings to get through the world. I don’t want to do well for someone with dyslexia; I want to do well period. At this point my inability to spell is more of a punchline to my friends’ jokes than a disability and I am determined to keep it that way, because I have worked too hard to let something so trivial in the grand scheme define me.

Rahul Kishore Cornell University Class of 2012

Complexity. Life is complex all the way down to the atomic level. Organ systems comprised of bits of tissue, formed by cells, made up of organelles, formed by carbon compounds. Throughout high school, I have been fascinated by the complexity of life. The relationships between micro organism and macro organism, and how nature, by trial and error, has created structures that allow us to hear, feel, and see.

My freshman biology teacher inspired me to think of the human body not simply as a single structure, but rather the mesh of different systems, working together to produce life. The human body, I realized, is beautiful in its complexity and cohesiveness. An organism was no longer just an animal, it was a complex machine comprised of millions of parts. I saw vivid pictures of organ systems neatly packed into organisms to meet their function.

I pursued my passion for science outside of textbooks. I shadowed the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, standing next to him as he performed a triple bypass. Most of the operating room was consumed by the heart and lung machine, a device designed to replace the body’s own heart and lungs during a surgery while both organs are temporarily shut down. The machine is infinitely larger than the actual organs, giving me a greater appreciation for how much each organ is expected to do. Since my experience in the operating room, I have volunteered at Stanford University Medical Center. During my first summer, a pathologist showed me a seemingly empty petri dish, swabbed it with a QTip and made a slide and put it under the microscope. The images I saw were amazing—thousands of microscopic organisms, moving together in large colonies. I realized that life could be as simple and small as a bacterium or as large and complex as a human being.

“Any Person, Any Study” is what I have been told by alumni from Cornell. The famous quote by Erza Cornell best describes the opportunities that Cornell provides. But for me, “Any Person, Any Study” means something very different. Cornell University has a long academic tradition of teaching the young and hopeful minds of a new generation the beauty of education. Cornell graduates question, they analyze, they comprehend.

Cornell for me is something more than just a university or an opportunity to further my understanding of Biology. Cornell is an opportunity to realize truths about the world, and about every field of learning. I see Cornell as a chance to expand the horizons of my thought, to think about the world as a bigger place, to think about its problems in a logical way, and see life as an opportunity to understand the world around us. A Cornell education provides a basis in many things, the ability to draw conclusions from Locke, Kant, or Smith, and use these ideas in conjunction with an in depth knowledge of one topic to excel in a field. Cornell will provide me the opportunity to understand Biology in an uncommon way. Cornell is a place to discover a new way of thinking, and also a place to find passion for a study. I want to learn about Biology beyond a textbook. I want to make those discoveries at Cornell.

Morgan Doff Reed College Class of 2010

“Morgan, say it slower and pronounce each word.”

I breathed deeply and began again. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, / Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch, / If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you . . .”

When I was 6 years old, I had a slight speech impediment that made me far too shy to read aloud in front of my peers. My father immediately decided the only way for me to overcome my fear would be to practice reading out loud. Every day, my father and I sat together, and I read to him. After a few days of children’s books, my father—sick of listening to fairytales—gave me a book of poems. I read Kipling’s “If” over and over to him, and it become my favorite poem. I was incredibly grateful to him for not only helping me to overcome my fear of public reading but also for instilling in me a love of reading and words.

This love was consuming and when I was 12, I saw another child wearing a bracelet that read, “WWJD.” Excited, I asked if it referred in some way to JD Salinger, and if so, did the bracelet pertain to one character in particular? Maybe Holden? Franny? The other child just looked at me baffled and said, “It means, ‘What Would Jesus Do.’” I turned away sheepishly, as apparently my knowledge of literature had surpassed my awareness of religious catchphrases.

However, occurrences like these didn’t deter me from a zealous approach to reading. The more I learned to appreciate the beauty in a beginning, middle, and end of a story, the more I felt a desire to create my own. Now, I’m a storyteller—a far departure from my days of near silence. I like to play with words. I love knowing that everyone is listening to my story. In my writing, I’m honest; I don’t hide anything; I don’t want it to be guarded. I want my stories to demonstrate imperfection, because I believe it makes my writing more realistic. When I read words with a similarly imperfect tone, I feel comforted, knowing that someone else has felt the same way I have.

In my writing, I strive to infuse another kind of comfort as well—the reassuring feeling that comes when someone overhears what you are saying and agrees with you. I was once in a hotel elevator in France, complaining to my sister about how I had gotten lost earlier that day, and recounting wandering aimlessly in Paris and not speaking the native language. I was shocked when suddenly, a beautiful woman on the elevator said, “Pas le bien-aimé d’inquiétude, je me suis perdu une fois dans Amérique, je sais la sensation.”

I began to cry, because I knew she was trying to be helpful, and at the sight of my tears, the woman quickly said in perfect English, “Don’t worry sweetheart, I once got lost in America. I know the feeling.” To this day, I still clearly remember the feeling of relief that the stranger’s words gave me. I knew that I wasn’t the only person to ever feel overwhelmed in a foreign place or situation. I strive to capture that feeling—the soothing sense of comfort that the stranger gave me—in my writing.

I still sit and read aloud to my father. We sit on the same burgundy velvet sofa, my father on the left, and I as close to him as possible. The only differences are that now, he complains that I’m “too big to sit on his lap,” and that we no longer read fairytales or Kipling, but my stories instead.

Abigail Hook Harvard University Class of 2013

This past summer I was poised to jump. I was sure. I had convinced not only myself, but everyone around me that I was done. Come end of summer, I would pack away hundreds of pointe shoes in dejected cardboard boxes and they would instantly transform into unwanted memorabilia, identified only by a careless scrawl of Sharpie. My sweat and dedication were to be laid aside. I was through with pain, through with foot surgeries and obsessions and disappointments, and saying goodbye to a lifelong pursuit of ballet would be no exception. After the usual last six weeks of intensive summer training, my adieus were to be quick and painless; I would make sure of it.

And then Serenade happened to me.

Having made up my mind, I loyally warded off anything that might jeopardize my decision. My usual passion and enthusiastic spark were gone, replaced by a deep longing to understand why exactly I had ever fallen in love with this painful profession and an intense need for stability when my world was moving out from beneath my sore feet. Serenade took the remains of me, a frustrated and tired dancer whose only instinct was to fight, and gently illuminated the silver lining in my painful disaster.

My first exposure to the piece came from the splintery wood cabinet in the corner of the studio. I never liked using the sound system. Growing up in an intensely musical family who preferred to sing the nightly prayer, recordings frustrated me. Tonight the ribbons on my pointe shoes were as frayed as my sanity, and I was trying desperately to get motivated. Ballet had taught me from an early age that pain is only in the mind, and motivation is only a matter of psychological tricks. This ideology was working well for me, until I heard it. My sense of stoicism was instantly shattered. Something was amiss. I had witnessed my fair share of beautiful music and never cried. Yet Serenade for Strings in C Major sounded nothing like the Nutcracker or Swan Lake. The music was weeping and soaring and tired and energetic and everything, everything I was feeling. And that made all the difference. Serenade reminded me that beauty existed in the “why” of my pursuit of perfection; why I had done this—this crazy-overworked dream of a thing—and why I knew I would treasure it for the rest of my life.

Then I started dancing. George Balanchine somehow has captured the ephemeral, tragic side of beauty that Serenade sang of and transformed it into living art, and for a few weeks, I was his medium. For the first time I could remember I was looking forward to rehearsal at the end of eight-hour days; to those first few measures of music in which 17 girls simply stood, each hand raised to heaven, eyes searching through divine stratosphere, their light blue tulle—angelic. As the curtain rose opening night, the audience let out a murmur—a subtle appreciation for beauty in the raw. For weeks afterward I would enthusiastically lend my iPod to friends, brightly anticipating that they too would experience a revelation. I was mildly disappointed. For the most part they would smile sympathetically and say, “Oh yes, isn’t it beautiful?” and move on.

But then I realized, amidst my confusion, that the reassurance, the hope that I hadn’t just wasted my childhood, was something I so uniquely needed. Yes the music and choreography were genius, but Serenade’s magic lay in the ability it had to nudge me from frustrated to appreciative, from grief to celebration.

Perhaps Balanchine had seen this doubt, this questioning in a student before. Or perhaps this is how art works: One will never understand the power it has for the individual but not his neighbor, for the dancer but not the audience member, for the mother but not the daughter. I do know the experience of becoming that music—what seemed my story this summer—was paramount in my understanding of the person ballet has made me, and even when it came time to hang up my pointe shoes in exchange for a college education, Serenade reminded me of the power of pursuing a dream and the gifts that come with saying goodbye.

Kathleen Kingsbury covers education for The Daily Beast. She also contributes to Time magazine, where she has covered business, health, and education since 2005.

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In the College of Human Ecology .

Academic Advising and Student Services

Faculty Advisors

Students are assigned a faculty advisor in the department of their major. Students may change advisors by working with the director of undergraduate studies in their major.

Faculty advisors are available to discuss course requirements and sequences, useful electives inside or outside the college, as well as future goals and career opportunities. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that his or her course selections meet graduation requirements for the major, the college, and the university. Directors of undergraduate studies in each department are available to answer questions about the advising system and the undergraduate major. Students who are exploring alternative majors should work closely with college counselors in the Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development.

Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development

The Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development (ASCD) (170–172 MVR) is a center for undergraduate freshman and transfer admission activities; student orientation activities; academic, personal, and career advising; study abroad; and multicultural student programs.

Personal counseling, including exploration of problems or concerns of a personal nature, is available to all students. These ASCD counselors, however, are not psychiatrists or therapists; they are available to help students understand and navigate the Cornell system, and to offer advice, support, assistance, and referral. Discussions are completely confidential. Appointments may be made through the receptionist in ASCD or by calling (607) 255-2532.

In addition, ASCD provides advising support for several student organizations, including Human Ecology Ambassadors, the Mature Students Association, the Association for Students of Color, the Pre-professional Association toward Careers in Health, the Pre-law Undergraduate Society, and the Orientation Committee. Primary responsibilities of the office are listed below:

Academic advisement. This service is provided to all students as an adjunct to faculty advising. Counselors assist in course scheduling, academic planning, selection of a major, graduation requirements, and related issues.

Undeclared majors. Students who have not yet declared a major work closely with counselors in the Office of Student and Career Development, 172 MVR. We encourage students to explore interests by taking courses in several Human Ecology departments.

If you have general ideas about what you would like to study, or what you would like to do after college, then you have probably already narrowed your choice of majors. If you have, then choosing one of those majors as a tentative first home in the college is appropriate.

  • You will be assigned a faculty advisor by your department.

  • You will receive departmental invitations and communications.

  • You may change your major at any time.

Career counseling. Career counseling is designed to help students clarify the relationship between personal skills, abilities, and career goals. Services are offered on an individual or group basis. Counselors assist in identifying career outcomes of the majors, developing networking skills, suggesting course work appropriate to various career goals, and assisting students in their general internship and job searches.

Post-graduate advisement. Material and advice pertaining to graduate and professional schools, graduate entrance examinations, courses of study, and career outcomes is readily available.

Students with disabilities. The College of Human Ecology is committed to assisting students with disabilities; accommodations are available to students who have registered with the Office of Student Disability Services (420 CCC). You are encouraged to contact SDS before your arrival on campus in order to arrange services in time for your first semester. Support within the college is available through the Office of Student and Career Development, 172 MVR.

Financial aid. Students who encounter financial difficulty or anticipate running short of funds may discuss their needs with a counselor. Complete information is available from the Office of Financial Aid, 203 Day Hall.

The Human Ecology Alumni Association Student Grants. Students in the college can apply for these competitive grants to further their academic interests through independent research, community outreach, conference travel, and limited summer study related to career preparation/professional development. Applications are available on the college website.

Office of the Registrar

The Office of the University Registrar (B07 Day Hall) maintains the official academic records for the university and provides students with their official university transcripts. Additional information is available on the university registrar’s website: registrar.sas.cornell.edu. The college registrar (146 MVR) maintains students’ official academic records, including the audit of progress toward the degree. The college registrar also provides services such as adding and dropping courses, correcting student records, and approving the transfer of credit from other institutions. Additional information is available on the HE registrar’s website: www.human.cornell.edu/registrar/index.cfm.

Multicultural Programs

The College of Human Ecology believes that a diverse community enriches the educational process for all members of the college community. Consequently, the college focuses particular efforts on a broad range of services for students of color. This includes not only recruitment but also services for students already on campus. Additionally, the college collaborates with university and New York State programs to assure that Human Ecology students have access to the vast array of services available here.

The professional staff of Human Ecology’s Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development includes a director of multicultural programs who assists in the recruitment, admission, and enrollment of the most qualified and appropriate EOP (a program for New York State residents), African American, Native American, Hispanic American, and Asian American students to the college. All accepted EOP students are invited to a special university-wide pre-freshman summer program that introduces accepted students to the Cornell campus and its classrooms. Services for current students include EOP/OADI; academic, career, and personal counseling; recommendation letters for employment or graduate schools; and advising and support for student activities and programs.

Human Ecology Peer Partnership Program helps incoming students of color transition to the college and university. Small groups of freshmen, usually about six to eight students, are paired with faculty and upper-class students. They meet weekly for discussions, guidance, and explorations of the Cornell campus and the Ithaca community. For more information, contact Verdene Lee in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532) or Gary Evans (E306 MVR, (607) 255-4775) or Lorraine Maxwell (E310 MVR, (607) 255-1958) in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis.

ASC (Association for Students of Color). With the motto “Yesterday’s vision, today’s reality, and tomorrow’s hope,” the ASC was created to bring together Human Ecology students to provide a supportive foundation for enrollment, retention, graduation, and career placement for students of color. The goals of the ASC are to increase communication between students of color, administration, and faculty; assist in increasing enrollment of students of color in Human Ecology; and assist in increasing the retention of students of color in Human Ecology and in their selected majors. ASC’s two committees are recruitment/retention and career development. For more information, contact Verdene Lee (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532).

CSTEP. The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program is the New York State program that provides enrichment activities for pre-med and pre-law New York State residents. Services are targeted at populations that are historically underrepresented in scientific, technical, health-related, or licensed professions and/or that are economically disadvantaged and that demonstrate interest in, and potential for, a CSTEP–targeted profession. For more information, contact Verdene Lee in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532).

Multicultural Education

Multicultural education broadens understanding of the world’s many different societies as well as the various cultures of this country. Students take courses in the Cornell programs listed below that may be used to meet degree requirements. The college encourages students to incorporate courses from these cultural programs and from study abroad experiences in their degree programs. See information on study abroad opportunities .

Africana Studies and Research Center

American Indian Program

Asian American Studies Program

East Asia Program

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Gender and Global Change

Institute for European Studies

Languages and Linguistics

Latin American Studies Program

Latino Studies Program

Peace Studies Program

Program for Contemporary Near Eastern Studies

Program in Jewish Studies

Religious Studies

South Asia Program

Southeast Asia Program

International Students

The International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO, B50 Caldwell Hall, (607) 255-5243) provides a broad range of services to international students. All international students should maintain contact with the ISSO. Counselors in ASCD are also available for assistance.

International students in the College of Human Ecology are encouraged to meet with the college registrar to discuss any questions or concerns that they have about their academic record.

Career Planning, Graduate and Professional School, and Job Search Services

Counseling. The Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532) provides career counseling and resources to help students explore career options through employment and internship opportunities and professional and graduate school advising. Individual assistance is available as well as group programming, workshops, and panels. Career development is strongly encouraged and supported, including skill development in résumé writing, networking, and interviewing. Students also are instructed in the use and protocol of online résumé submissions and on-campus recruiting. The office works in conjunction with Cornell Career Services (103 Barnes Hall, (607) 255-5221) to facilitate access to university-wide programs.

The Career Exploration Center (CEC, 162 MVR) is a starting point for students looking for career information. Selected resources about careers, career development planning, as well as job and internship search techniques, general directories to begin job or graduate school searches, and information for alumni networking are housed there. Also available are Cornell Career Services handouts, internship search guidelines, graduate and professional school testing booklets and registration packets, study abroad, and Urban and Capital Semester program materials. Computers provide access to web-based information regarding internship and employment opportunities, as well as graduate/professional schools.

The CEC is open weekdays during the academic semester. Student career assistants are available to provide résumé and cover letter critiques, conduct videotaped mock interviews, and help navigate the library resources. Final critiques can be provided by a career counselor once the student review has been completed.

To provide assistance to interested students, career assistants work closely with Urban Semester director Sam Beck and an on-campus student liasison for the program and are available daily to answer questions about the program and its application process.

Selected services are listed below. Exploring such services will help students investigate their interests, skills, and values as they relate to career options, provide useful information and tips for a successful summer or full-time job search, and provide access to employment opportunities. In addition, please refer to the college’s career development website: www.human.cornell.edu/career-services/index.cfm.

Pre-law or Pre-med. Students who consider themselves pre-law or pre-med are encouraged to join a student group affiliated with ASCD. Those interested in pursuing a legal education can join PLUS (PreLaw Undergraduate Society), which provides information on applying to law school, preparing for the LSAT, and examining career opportunities in law. Students interested in pursuing a health-related career are welcome to join PATCH (Pre-professional Association Toward Careers in Health), which provides opportunities for students to explore various careers in medicine and health care. PATCH provides guidance as students prepare for the graduate or medical school application process, and it offers a mentor program for incoming students.

Extern Program. Students can spend one day to one week over winter break shadowing an alum in a career field of their choice. They observe day-to-day activities, discuss specific jobs and careers, and sometimes obtain limited hands-on experience. This service is available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors and is a valuable networking tool.

FRESH Program. This service is similar to the Extern Program but is available to freshmen only. Students can spend one day to one week over spring break shadowing an alum in a career field of their choice. In addition to career explorations, the Fresh Program provides excellent networking opportunities.

Internship Search and Career Guides. The CEC has handouts, organized by major, that provide a starting point for students to begin their internship search. Also available in the CEC are career guides targeting career exploration, public health, nursing, physician’s assistants programs, business, psychology, and social work.

Alumni Career Presentations. Alumni from the college come back to campus throughout the year to discuss their postgraduate or professional experiences. These meetings are ideal for exploring career outcomes of specific majors.

AlumNet. Students have access to Human Ecology alumni who can provide information on their careers and offer suggestions on a job search in their particular field or location. Students can query alumni on a host of variables and review selected alumni résumés to learn more about specific careers. AlumNet is also an excellent networking tool.

Career Development Workshops. The college hosts several workshops every semester. These workshops develop a strong understanding of the value of a Human Ecology education and are designed to help students market themselves for either summer or full-time job opportunities. Students learn how to know themselves through reflection of skills, interests, abilities, and to conduct effective job searches, write résumés and cover letters, and interview successfully.

CornellCareerNet (CCNet). Exclusively for Cornell students, CCNet provides access to many important services offered by Cornell Career Services. These services include a listing of job opportunities, summer opportunities, alumni networking databases, access to on-campus recruiting, employer showcases, and more.

CornellCareerNet On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) This service provides access to on-campus interviews with employers interested specifically in Cornell students. Interviews occur primarily in banking and financial services, retail sales and management, facilities planning and management, and consulting. Please note that on-campus recruiting is only one component of a successful job search. Approximately 70 percent of Cornellians get their jobs through other resources.

New York Recruiting Consortium. Available exclusively to Human Ecology and Arts and Sciences students, the New York Recruiting Consortium is held in New York City over winter break. It offers interviews for full-time employment with employers involved in banking and financial services, retail sales/management, advertising, law, health care, and consulting.

NFP in New York City and NFP in Washington, D.C. Speak with representatives from dozens of New York City or Washington, D.C., not-for-profit/public service agencies about work or internship opportunities in health, education, advocacy, government, and more (held only during the spring semester).

Communications Consortium. Interview with organizations in advertising, public relations, film and radio, and print media. National organizations come to Syracuse, N.Y., to meet with students for individual appointments. During the spring semester, a job fair is held the evening before.


Registration and Course Enrollment

Registration Requirements

University registration is the official recognition of a student’s relationship with the university and is the basic authorization for a student’s access to services and education. Completion of registration is essential to enable the university to plan for and provide services and education, guided by the highest standards for efficiency and safety. Unauthorized, unregistered persons who use university services and attend classes have the potential to use university resources inappropriately and to displace properly registered students. In addition, the university assumes certain legal responsibilities for persons who participate as students in the university environment. For example, policy states that New York State health requirements must be satisfied. Because these requirements are intended to safeguard the public health of students, the university has a responsibility to enforce the state regulations through registration procedures.

The policy on university registration is intended to describe clearly the meaning of and the procedures for registration so that students can complete the process efficiently and be assured of official recognition as registered students. With the clear communication of the steps for registration, it is hoped that compliance will occur with a minimum of difficulty.

To become a registered student at Cornell University, a person must complete course enrollment according to individual college requirements, settle all financial accounts including current semester tuition, satisfy New York State health requirements, and have no holds from the college, the Office of the Judicial Administrator, Gannett Health Center, or the Bursar’s office.

Individuals must become registered students by the end of the third week of the semester. Cornell University does not allow persons who are not registered with the university in a timely manner to attend classes. The university reserves the right to require unauthorized, unregistered persons who attend classes or in other ways seek to exercise student privileges to leave the university premises.

Verification of Registration

Many insurance companies or scholarship funds require verification of full-time registration at Cornell. Should students need such verification, they should use the official university verification service at certification.cornell.edu or request an official letter from the Office of the University Registrar (B07 Day Hall). Students who need letters of good standing should contact the Human Ecology registrar’s office (146 MVR).

Bursar Bill

A bursar bill is sent to each student over the summer and winter breaks; it summarizes what is owed to the university. The bursar bill can also be viewed through Student Center. Any questions regarding the bursar bill should be directed to the bursar’s office (260 Day Hall, (607) 255-2336). Initial New York State residency eligibility is determined during the admissions process, but the bursar’s office will handle any request for a status change after matriculation.

Late University Registration

A student clearing his or her financial obligations after the deadline date on the bursar’s bill is considered late. Late registrants are assessed a finance charge on the bursar’s bill starting from the date the bill is due. According to university policy, all students must be registered before the end of the third week of classes. If for any reason a student registers after that time, the Bursar’s office will charge a late registration fee. Students who fail to register by the third week of the semester may be withdrawn from the university. Human Ecology students who do not arrange payment agreements satisfactory to the university bursar by the end of the third week of classes for a semester will be withdrawn from the university. Furthermore, credit for any classes attended during the semester will not be awarded regardless of the grade assigned for a class. Should withdrawn students wish to return, they must reapply through the college admissions office.

Proration of Tuition

To be eligible for proration of tuition a student must have completed a minimum of 8 semesters of study at Cornell and have fewer than 9 credits remaining to complete degree requirements. The student must be in good standing and meet all other proration requirements. See the college registrar (146 MVR) for more information.

Students of mature status may carry 6 to 11 credits but must request that their tuition be prorated. Prorated tuition will be considered only for requests of between 3 and 10 credits. All requests should be made to the college registrar (146 MVR) by the end of the pre-enrollment period in the semester before the term in which proration is requested.

Course Enrollment

Initiating the Process

CoursEnroll selections are only “requests” for seats in classes. Between the end of the course enrollment period and the beginning of the next semester, course requests are evaluated by the offering college department. Students can determine if their requests have been successful when final schedules are published before the add/drop period. Students are expected to make course requests for the subsequent semester during a specified time in the current semester. Those dates are advertised publicly and are available on the university registrar’s website. CoursEnroll takes place electronically, using software available through Student Center. During this time, each student must meet with his or her faculty advisor to discuss academic plans.

Information on courses is readily available in this catalog and in the Class Roster for each semester.

Incoming students will receive tentative schedules upon their arrival to campus, and will meet with faculty advisors during the orientation period.

Course Loads

Full-time matriculated students must carry at least 12 credits (exclusive of physical education and supplemental courses) to maintain full-time status. Refer to the section, “Minimum Semester Requirements ,” for details. The normal course load in the college ranges from 12 to 18 credits. Students who wish to enroll in more than 18 credits per semester must petition. They must have completed at least two semesters at Cornell with a cumulative GPA of 3.30. A maximum of 22 credits are allowed by petition. Students may not withdraw from courses after the seventh week of classes without petitioning and by substantiating extenuating circumstances. Students should avoid the need to drop courses by taking on a reasonable workload and using the drop period to make changes in their program.

Petitions to enroll for more than 18 credits are not  accepted during the pre-enrollment period.

Late Course Enrollment

Students who do not complete course enrollment during the CoursEnroll period must wait until the beginning of the next semester’s add/drop period to enroll. Extensions are rarely granted and usually only for documented illness.

Students who do not meet the deadline for any reason should see the college registrar in 146 MVR as soon as possible. The college registrar can explain available options and course enrollment procedures under such circumstances.

Note: Students can review their course schedule using Student Center. Students are responsible for checking their course schedule for accuracy of course numbers, credit hours, grade options, and other data. Errors must be corrected immediately. Procedures for correcting enrollment errors as well as for making any other changes are described in the following section.

Course Enrollment Changes

It is to the student’s advantage to make any necessary course enrollment changes as early in the semester as possible. Adding new courses early makes it easier for the student to keep up with course work. Dropping a course early makes room for other students who may need it for their academic programs.

Ideally, students evaluate their course load carefully at the beginning of the semester. If, in the first week or two, the instructors do not discuss the amount of material to be covered and the extent of student assignments, students need to ask about course requirements.

Deadlines for Add/Drop and Grade Option Changes

Note: Brief add/drop periods exist for first-year writing seminars and half-semester courses.
  1. During the first 15 calendar days of the semester, courses may be added, dropped, or the grade option changed. Special status courses (4000, 4010, 4020) and Teaching Apprentice courses ( 4030) may be added through the 15th calendar day of the semester (Add Deadline) .
  2. From the add deadline through the seventh week of the semester, courses may be dropped. Grade option changes and credit hour changes may be made during this time.
  3. After the seventh week of the semester, any requests for course changes must be made through the petition process. Students should request an appointment with an Admission, Career, and Student Development counselor in 172 MVR to initiate the process.
  4. After the seventh week of the semester, any student granted permission to drop a course after petitioning will automatically receive a grade of W (Withdrawn), and the course and grade will remain on the official transcript even if repeated in a later semester. The deadline to petition to drop a course with a “W” is the end of the 12th week.

Deadlines for Half-Semester Courses

Students may drop half-semester courses within the first three-and-one-half weeks of the course. Students may add a course after the first week of classes only with the permission of the instructor. After the first three-and-one-half weeks, students must petition to drop the course.

Permission of Instructor/Department

Certain courses may be taken only with the permission of the instructor or department as indicated in this catalog or through Student Center. Undergraduates must obtain permission of the instructor to take any graduate course. Students must request the instructor’s permission during the course enrollment period by placing their name on a list maintained by the departmental advising assistant.

Students interested in taking a course in the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning are required to register with the departmental secretary (100 Olive Tjaden Hall) before enrolling in the course. Seniors who want to take an elective course in the Johnson Graduate School of Management are required to obtain permission of the instructor on a course authorization form that the student then files with that school’s registrar in Sage Hall.

Course Enrollment while Studying Abroad

Students who plan to study abroad should consult with their faculty advisor before departure to consider the schedule of classes that they will take upon their return to campus. Once abroad, the student can use the web to access Courses of Study and the Class Roster for the coming semester. The roster is available on the web approximately two weeks prior to pre-enrollment. Using these resources, the student can e-mail the course requests to the student’s faculty advisor for approval; the faculty advisor can then e-mail them to the college registrar. Requests must be submitted within the published deadlines.

Oversubscribed Courses

Enrollment in many human ecology courses is limited. When a course is overenrolled, students are generally assigned on the basis of seniority or by criteria defined for each course as listed in this book. Students’ professional goals may be considered. Those students not admitted to a course may be placed on a waiting list maintained by the professor or the department offering the course. Course instructors are responsible for determining the criteria to fill their classes from waiting lists. Waiting lists are maintained only for the first three weeks of each semester.

Limited-Enrollment Classes

Students who do not attend the first two class sessions of courses with limited enrollment may be dropped from the course list. Students can avoid being dropped from a class by notifying the instructor that unavoidable circumstances have prevented their attendance.

Cross-Listed Courses

To apply a cross-listed course to graduation requirements, students must enroll in the department for which they need the credits. If changes in department designations need to be made, this must be done during the official course add period for the semester. To do so, students must complete a special form, which can be obtained in the registrar’s office in 146 MVR.

Courses with Duplicate Content

Students should scrutinize course descriptions for details about other Cornell courses with duplicate content that would preclude a student from receiving full credit for duplicate courses. For example, students may not receive 6 credits toward graduation requirements if they take DSOC 1101  and SOC 1101 . Because both are introduction to sociology courses, only 3 credits would be allowed. To aid students in this evaluation, the college maintains a partial list (those that are commonly required in Human Ecology curricula) of Cornell courses that have duplicate content.

Special Studies Courses

Each department in the College of Human Ecology (DEA, FSAD, HD, HE, NS, and PAM) offers special studies courses that provide opportunities for students to do independent work not available in regular courses. One of those courses, designated 3000 Special Studies for Undergraduates, is intended primarily for students who have transferred from another institution and need to make up certain course work.

The other special studies courses are 4000 Directed Readings; 4010 Empirical Research; and 4020 Supervised Fieldwork. Juniors and seniors normally take those courses, and a faculty member in the department in which the course is offered supervises work on an individual basis. It is important for students to use the appropriate course number (3000, 4000, 4010, or 4020) for a special project.

To register for a special studies course, a student obtains a special studies form from the departmental office where he or she plans to take the course. The student discusses the proposed course with the faculty member under whose supervision the study would be done and then prepares a plan of work. If the faculty member agrees to supervise the study, the student completes a special studies form and obtains signatures from the instructor, faculty advisor, and department chair before submitting the form to the college registrar’s office (146 MVR). Special studies forms are available in 146 MVR or in departmental offices. The deadline to enroll in Special Studies is the 15th calendar day of the semester.

Semester credits for special studies courses are determined by the number of contact hours the student has with the supervising faculty member (or a person designated by the faculty member). To earn 1 credit, a student must have the equivalent of three to four hours of contact time per week for 15 weeks (a total of 45 contact hours). For additional credit, multiply the number of credits to be earned by 45 to determine the number of contact hours needed for the course. Strict limitations exist on the number of special studies credits that can apply toward graduation and how these credits may be applied toward Category II requirements in the major. Refer to “Human Ecology Credit Requirements ” for details. To register in a special studies course taught in a department outside the college, follow the procedures established by that department.

Changes in Status

General Petition Process

The petition process permits students to request exceptions to existing regulations. Petitions are considered individually, weighing the unique situation of the petitioning student with the intent of college and university regulations. In most cases, extenuating circumstances are needed for a petition to be approved if it involves waiving a deadline. These are situations beyond a student’s control, such as a documented medical emergency.

Students can avoid the necessity to petition by carefully observing the deadlines that affect their academic program. See “Course Enrollment Changes” above for some of the important deadlines. If unsure of a deadline, check with a counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR) or with the staff in the college registrar’s office (146 MVR).

A general petition may be needed to carry fewer than 12 credits, withdraw from a class after the seventh-week deadline, add a course after the first 15 calendar days of the semester (Add Deadline), change a grade option after the seventh-week deadline, be exempt from one or more of the college’s graduation requirements, substitute a required course in one’s major with another course, or stay an additional semester to complete the graduation requirements.

Although many kinds of requests can be petitioned in the college, options other than petitioning may be preferable in some cases. To explore whether a petition is appropriate, the student may discuss the situation with a college counselor or the college registrar.

If a student decides to submit a general petition, the form is available in the registrar’s office (146 MVR) and in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR) or on the web at www.human.cornell.edu/registrar/forms-and-petitions.cfm. After completing the form, meeting with a counselor in 172 MVR, and obtaining the required signatures, the student must turn the form in to the registrar. Once a decision is made, the student will be notified at their Cornell e-mail address indicating approval or denial of the petition.

Students may appeal the college registrar’s decision to the Committee on Academic Status. A member of the counseling staff can guide a student through this process.

In Absentia Study

Under certain conditions, credit toward a Cornell degree may be given for in absentia study, that is, study done at an accredited institution away from Cornell after the student matriculates in the College of Human Ecology. In absentia study can be done during any semester: fall, winter, spring, or summer. First-year writing seminars may not be taken in absentia.

To be eligible for in absentia study, a student must be in good academic standing and must receive permission in advance from the college registrar. A student not in good standing may study in absentia but will not receive transcript credit until the Committee on Academic Status has returned the student to good standing. Students not in good academic standing who wish to finish their degree in absentia must seek pre-approval from the college’s Committee on Academic Status via the general petition process. In some cases, students may petition for in absentia credit after the work has been completed, but there is no guarantee that such credit will be awarded without advance approval.

In absentia petition forms are available in the Human Ecology registrar’s office (146 MVR) or on the web at www.human.cornell.edu/registrar/forms-and-petitions.cfm. The student submits the form to the Human Ecology registrar’s office (146 MVR). In absentia study during the fall or spring semester carries a nominal administrative fee. (Contact the Bursar’s office, 260 Day Hall, for the current amount.) Students will receive an e-mail from the college registrar notifying them of the petition decision.

Note: Students seeking pre-approval for in absentia course work should do so well in advance as turnaround time for the approval process can be variable.

A student may take up to 15 credits in absentia as long as the courses do not duplicate courses already taken and the in absentia courses are applicable to the requirements of the college. The combined number of AP credits, pre-matriculation credits, and in absentia credits applied to graduation requirements may not exceed 15 credits. Students who study abroad during the summer or winter term are limited to a maximum of 9 in absentia credits. Study abroad during the fall or spring semester must be done through the Study Abroad office or through formal Human Ecology Exchange Programs and is not considered in absentia study. Students studying while on a leave of absence during the spring or fall semesters may not receive credit for nondomestic campus programs.

On the following rare occasions a student’s petition for more than 15 credits in absentia may be allowed: (1) the work taken represents a special educational opportunity not available at Cornell, (2) it relates to the student’s particular professional goals, and (3) those goals are consistent with the focus of the college. The in absentia petition form is used to request more than 15 credits in absentia. Wells and Ithaca College credit are not considered in absentia credit and are not included in the 15-credit limit.

The college registrar requests approval from the appropriate department if a student wants to apply in absentia credit to requirements in his or her major. Students seeking in absentia credit for a modern foreign language in which they have done work must obtain the approval of the appropriate language department (College of Arts and Sciences). The department will recommend the number of credits the student should receive and may require the student to take a placement test after returning to Cornell.

The student is responsible for having the registrar of the institution where in absentia study is done send transcripts of grades directly to the Human Ecology registrar’s office (146 MVR). Only then will credit be officially assessed and applied to the Cornell degree. Credit for in absentia study will be granted only for those courses with grades of C– or better. Courses may not be taken for S–U grades unless it is the only grade option offered. In absentia courses appear on the Cornell University transcript, but the grades are not calculated in the student’s GPA.

A student who holds a Regents’ or Children of Deceased or Disabled Veterans Scholarship may claim that scholarship for study in absentia if the study is done in a college in New York State and if it is for a maximum of 15 credits acceptable to the College of Human Ecology.

The rules regarding study in absentia apply to transfer students with the additional stipulation that at least 60 credits must be taken at Cornell. At least 43 of the 60 credits must be in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell unless the student has transferred equivalent human ecology credit. (No more than 2 courses of equivalent credit may be applied to the 43 credits required in human ecology course work.)

Leaves of Absence

A student may request a leave of absence before the beginning of the semester or during the first twelve weeks of the semester for which a leave is sought. A leave may be extended for a second semester by making a written request to the Office of Human Ecology Registrar (146 MVR). Note: In absentia study status and leave of absence status are not the same; however, students may petition to earn credits with either status. Students on leave must notify the college registrar (146 MVR), in writing, of their intention to return to campus at least one month before the beginning of the semester by returing the Return from Leave of Absence form. Those whose leave period has expired will be withdrawn from the college after the third week of the semester they were due back.

Students considering a leave of absence should discuss their plans with a counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development. The counselor can supply the necessary forms for the student to complete and file with the Human Ecology Registrar’s Office (146 MVR). Leaves initiated after instruction begins will be charged a percentage of the semester tuition.

Requests for a leave of absence received after the first twelve weeks of the semester, or requests for a leave of absence from students who have already had two semesters’ leave of absence, will be referred for action to the Committee on Academic Status. The committee may grant or deny such requests, attaching conditions to the leave as it deems necessary. Leaves of absence after the first seven weeks are generally granted only when there are compelling reasons why a student is unable to complete the semester, such as extended illness.

A student who requests a leave of absence after the first twelve weeks is advised to attend classes until action is taken on the petition. A student whose petition for a leave of absence is denied may choose to withdraw or to complete the semester. If the petition for leave is approved, the student’s courses will remain on the transcript with W grades.

The academic records of all students who are granted a leave of absence are subject to review, and the Committee on Academic Status may request grades and other information from faculty members to determine whether the student should return under warning or severe warning or in good academic standing.

Under certain documented medical circumstances a student may be granted a health leave of absence. Health leaves are initiated by the student with Gannett Health Center. If Gannett Health Center recommends a health leave for the student, the college registrar may grant the leave. A health leave is for an indeterminate period of time not to exceed five years. Students who are granted a health leave of absence should maintain contact with a counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532) to arrange their return to campus. The counselor will advise the student on procedures to obtain a recommendation from Gannett Health Center to the college registrar for the student’s return. Students should plan sufficiently in advance to assure time for Gannett Health Center and the college registrar to consider their request.


A withdrawal is a termination of student status at the university. Students may withdraw voluntarily at any time by notifying the college registrar and by filing a written notice of withdrawal with the Human Ecology Registrar’s Office. A student considering such an action is urged to first discuss plans with a counselor in the Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development (172 MVR, (607) 255-2532).

In some instances, a student may be given a withdrawal by the college registrar. Students who leave the college without an approved leave of absence, or do not return after the leave has expired, will be given a withdrawal after the seventh week of the semester in which they fail to register.

A student who has withdrawn from the college or who has been given a withdrawal by the college registrar and who wishes to return at a later date must reapply through the Office of Admission for consideration along with all other applicants for admission. If the student was in academic difficulty at the time of the withdrawal, the request for readmission will be referred to the Committee on Academic Status (CAS) for consideration, and that committee may stipulate criteria under which the student may be readmitted to the college.

Grades and Examinations

Grade Definitions and Equivalents

The official university grading system uses a system of letter grades ranging from A+ to D–, with F denoting failure. An INC grade is given for incomplete work, R is given at the end of the first semester of a two-semester course, with S(X) denoting satisfactory/pass, and U(X) denoting unsatisfortory/fail for pass/fail courses . If a student is given permission to withdraw from a course after the seventh week of the semester a “W” is automatically assigned. Students can view their grades on Student Center after the semester has ended.

To compute a semester grade point average (GPA), first add up the products (credit hours X grade quality points) and divide by the total credit hours taken. Grades of INC, R, S, SX, U, UX, and W should not be included in any GPA calculations. A grade of F has no quality points, but the credits are counted, thereby lowering the average. A cumulative GPA is simply the sum of all semester products divided by all credits taken. Refer to Repeating Courses below for details on how GPA is affected if a student repeats a course. For further help on calculating a GPA ask at the college registrar’s office (146 MVR).

These are the quality point equivalents:

 A+ = 4.3C+ = 2.3 
 A  = 4.0C  = 2.0 
 A– = 3.7C– = 1.7 
 B+ = 3.3D+ = 1.3 
 B  = 3.0D  = 1.0 
 B– = 2.7D– = 0.7 
  F   = 0.0 


Repeating Courses

Students are allowed to register a second time for a course they have already passed or in which they received an F. If a student has previously passed a course he or she is taking a second time, the second registration will not count toward the degree requirements, and the grade received will not be included in the cumulative GPA.

If a student enrolls in a course in which he or she previously received an F, the credits from the second registration will count toward the graduation requirements and the grade will be included in the cumulative GPA. The F will also remain on the record and will be included in the GPA.

S–U Grades

Some courses in the college and in other academic units at Cornell are offered on an S–U basis. Courses listed as SX–UX are available only on an S–U basis and may not be taken for a letter grade. University regulations concerning the S–U system require that a grade of S be given for work equivalent to a C– or better; for work below that level, a U must be given. No grade point assignment is given to a grade of S, and S or U grades are not included in the computation of semester or cumulative averages. A course in which a student receives a grade of S is, however, counted for credit. No credit is received for a U. Both the S and U grades appear on a student’s record. A student who is attempting to qualify for the semester’s Dean’s List must take at least 12 credits of course work graded non–S–U. See Awards and Honors for more details about the Dean’s List.

No more than 12 S–U credits will count toward a student’s 120-credit graduation requirement. However, a student may take more than one S–U course in any one semester. S–U courses may be taken only as electives or in the 9 credits required in the college outside the major unless the requirements for a specific major indicate otherwise. Freshmen enrolled in WRIT 1370 and 1380 (offered for S–U grades only) are permitted to apply those courses to the first-year writing seminar requirement. If a required course is offered only S–U, it will not count toward the 12-credit limit.

To take a course for an S–U grade, a student must check the course description to make sure that the course is offered on the S–U basis; then either sign up for S–U credit during course enrollment, or obtain and file an add/drop form in the Human Ecology registrar’s office before the end of the third week of the semester. After the third week of the semester, students cannot change grade options.

Grades of Incomplete

A grade of incomplete (INC) is given when a student has completed a substantial portion of the class but has not completed all the work for a course on time but when, in the instructor’s judgment, there was a valid reason. A student with such a reason should discuss the matter with the instructor and request a grade of incomplete. Students are at risk of going under the minimum semester requirement if an INC grade in a course puts the total number of credit hours under 12 for the semester. For more information, refer to Minimum Semester Requirements .

A grade of incomplete may remain on a student’s official transcript for a maximum of two semesters and one summer after the grade is given, or until the awarding of a degree, whichever is the shorter period of time. The instructor has the option of setting a shorter time limit for completing the course work.

If the work is completed within the designated time period, the grade of incomplete will be changed to a regular grade on the student’s official transcript. If the work is not completed within the designated time period, the grade of incomplete automatically will be converted to an F by the college registrar.

When a student wants to receive a grade of incomplete, the student must arrange a conference with the instructor (before classes end and the study period begins) to work out the agreement. A form, called Explanation for Reporting a Final Grade of F or Incomplete, should be signed by both the instructor and the student, and needs to be submitted by the instructor to the Human Ecology Registrar’s Office. This form is submitted with the final grade sheets whenever a grade of incomplete is given. This form is for the student’s protection, particularly in the event that a faculty member with whom a course is being completed leaves campus without leaving a record of the work completed in the course. If circumstances prevent a student from being present to consult the instructor, the instructor may, if requested by the student, initiate the process by filling out and signing the form without the student’s signature and turning the form in to the Human Ecology registrar’s office with the grade sheet.

If the work is completed satisfactorily within the required time, the course appears on the student’s official transcript with an asterisk adjacent to the final grade received for the semester in which the student was registered for the course. A student who completes the work in the required time and expects to receive a grade must take the responsibility for checking with the Human Ecology Registrar’s Office (about two weeks after the work has been handed in) to make sure that the grade has been received. Any questions should be discussed with the course instructor.

Grade Disputes

Students who find themselves in disagreement with an instructor over grades have several options:

  1. Meet with the instructor and try to resolve the dispute.
  2. Meet with the chair of the department in which the instructor has his or her appointment.
  3. Meet with the associate dean for undergraduate studies of the college in which the course was taught.
  4. Meet with the university ombudsman (118 Stimson Hall, 255-4321).

A student may also seek advice from his or her faculty advisor, the college registrar, or with a counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR).


Both the preliminary and final examination schedules are available on the university registrar’s website.

Final Examinations

The following is quoted from the Cornell University Faculty Handbook, 1990, pages 66–67:

“The University Faculty long ago established, and has never reversed, the policy that each course should require a final examination or some equivalent exercise (e.g., a term paper, project report, final critique, oral presentation, or conference) to be conducted or due during the period set aside for final examinations.

“Although not specifically prohibited, it is University policy to discourage more than two examinations for a student in one 24-hour time period and especially on any one day. It is urged that members of the faculty consider student requests for a make-up examination, particularly if their course is the largest of the three involved and thus has the strongest likelihood of offering a makeup for other valid reasons, e.g., illness, death in the family, etc.

Legislation of the University Faculty governing study period and examinations is as follows:

  1. No final examinations can be given at a time other than the time appearing on the official examination schedule promulgated by the Registrar’s Office without prior written permission of the Dean of the Faculty.
  2. No permission will be given, for any reason, to schedule final examinations during the last week of classes or the designated study period preceding final examinations.
  3. Permission will be given by the Dean of the Faculty to reschedule examinations during the examination period itself if requested in writing by the faculty member, but only on condition that a comparable examination also be given for those students who wish to take it at the time that the examination was originally scheduled. The faculty member requesting such a change will be responsible for making appropriate arrangements for rooms or other facilities in which to give the examination. This should be done through the Registrar’s Office.
  4. No tests are allowed during the last week of scheduled classes unless such tests are part of the regular week-by-week course program and are followed by an examination (or the equivalent) in the final examination period.
  5. Papers may be required of students during the study period if announced sufficiently far in advance that students do not have to spend a significant segment of the study period completing them.
  6. Faculty members can require students to submit papers during the week preceding the study period.
  7. Take-home examinations should be given to classes well before the end of the regular semester and should not be required to be submitted during study period but rather well into the examination period.

Students have a right to examine their corrected exams, papers, and the like, in order to be able to question their grading. They do not, however, have an absolute right to the return thereof. Exams, papers, etc., as well as grading records, should be retained for a reasonable time after the end of the semester preferably until the end of the following semester, to afford students such right of review.”

Preliminary Examinations

The following is quoted from the Cornell University Faculty Handbook (1990), pages 65–66:

“Preliminary examinations are those given at intermediate times during a course. It is common to have three of these in a semester to encourage review and integration of major segments of the course, to provide students with feedback on how well or poorly they are progressing, and to contribute to the overall basis for a subsequent final grade.

The most convenient times and places for “prelims” are the normal class times and classrooms. But many courses, particularly large ones with multiple sections, choose to examine all the sections together at one time and to design an examination that takes more than one class period to complete. In such cases the only alternative is to hold the prelim in the evening. This practice creates conflicts with other student activities, with evening classes and laboratories, and among the various courses that might choose the same nights.

To eliminate direct conflicts, departments offering large multisection courses with evening prelims send representatives annually to meet with the dean of the University Faculty to lay out the evening prelim schedule a year in advance. Instructors of smaller courses work out their own evening prelim schedules, consulting their students to find a time when all can attend. Room assignments are obtained by the faculty member through the contact person in his or her college or the Central Reservations Coordinator.

The policy governing evening examinations is as follows:

  1. Evening examinations may be scheduled only on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and only after 7:30 p.m. without prior permission from the Office of the University Faculty.
    1. Such prior permission is not, however, required for examinations or makeup examinations involving small numbers of students (generally 30 or fewer) provided that the scheduled time is acceptable to the students involved and that an alternate examination time is provided for those students who have academic, athletic, or employment conflicts at the time scheduled.
  2. Permission from the Office of the University Faculty to schedule on evenings other than Tuesdays and Thursdays or at a time before 7:30 p.m. will be granted only on the following conditions:
    1. Conditions such as the nature of the examination, room availability, large number of conflicts, etc., justify such scheduling.
    2. An alternate time to take the exam must be provided for those students who have academic, athletic, or employment conflicts at the time scheduled.
  3. If there is a conflict between an examination listed on the schedule developed at the annual evening prelim scheduling meeting and an examination not on the schedule, the examination on the schedule shall have a priority, and the course not on the schedule must provide an alternate time to take the examination for those students faced with the conflict.
  4. If there is a conflict between examinations, both of which are on the schedule developed at the annual evening prelim scheduling meeting or both of which are not on the schedule, the instructors of the courses involved must consult and agree on how to resolve the conflict. Both instructors must approach this resolution process with a willingness to provide an alternative or earlier examination.
  5. Courses using evening examinations are strongly urged to indicate this in the course description listed in Courses and must notify students of the dates of such examinations as early as possible in the semester, preferably when the course outline is distributed.”

Academic Standing

Criteria for Good Standing

The College of Human Ecology has established a set of minimum academic standards that all students must meet or exceed each semester. These standards are as follows:

  1. A student must maintain a semester and cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher.
  2. A student must successfully complete at least 12 credits per semester, excluding physical education and supplemental (10XX) courses. Mature students must carry at least 6 credits each semester, also excluding physical education.
  3. Students enrolling in the college as freshmen must complete at least 12 credits of Human Ecology courses by the end of the fourth semester such that at least 5 credits must be taken by the end of the second semester (ECON 1110  may be used to fulfill this requirement). Transfer students must complete 12 Human Ecology credits by the end of their second semester at Cornell.
  4. A student must be making “satisfactory progress” toward a Human Ecology bachelor’s degree.
  5. All students must complete their requirements for first-year writing seminars (FWS) during their first two semesters at Cornell. Students who do not take a required first-year writing seminar in the first semester that they matriculate at the College of Human Ecology will be placed on a warning status.

Students who have completed the second or subsequent semesters of matriculation at the college who have not taken both of the required writing seminars will be placed on a severe warning with danger of being withdrawn status. In these cases, if the student has not pre-enrolled for an FWS for the upcoming semester, a hold will be placed on the student’s semester registration status until he or she is actually enrolled in an FWS. If this requirement is not completed by the end of that semester, the student will be withdrawn from the college.

At the end of each semester, the Committee on Academic Status (CAS) reviews each student’s academic record to ensure that the minimum academic standards listed above are met. The committee takes appropriate action for students whose academic achievement is considered unsatisfactory as defined by these criteria. CAS considers each case individually before deciding on a course of action. In an effort to support every student’s success, the committee may take any of the following actions:

  1. Place a hold on a student’s university registration status or course enrollment for the current or upcoming semester.
  2. Withdraw the student permanently from the college and Cornell University.
  3. Require the student to take a leave of absence for one or more semesters.
  4. Issue a warning to the student at one of the following levels:
    1. Severe warning with danger of being withdrawn
    2. Severe warning
    3. Warning

These imply that if the student does not show considerable improvement during the semester, the committee may withdraw the student.

  1. Add the student’s name to a review list; students with this status are monitored by the committee throughout the semester.
  2. Return the student to good standing.

Students placed on a required leave must appeal to CAS to return. This appeal occurs at the end of the required leave period. Students who have been withdrawn may appeal the decision before the committee during the pre-semester appeals meeting. Students who have been placed on a status owing to incomplete or missing grades may request that their status be reviewed for possible updating to good standing once the grade records reflect the updates or corrections. These requests should be made using the general petition process and submitted to the college registrar.

All students with an academic warning status automatically will be reviewed for specific criteria at the end of the subsequent semester. In most cases, students put on warning, severe warning, or severe warning with danger of being withdrawn status will be informed of conditions that they are expected to fulfill to return to good standing. In general, these conditions are that a student must earn a minimum semester GPA of 2.0, complete 12 credits (exclusive of physical education), and not have any incomplete, missing, F, or U grades on his or her most recent semester record.

If a student who has been previously placed on a required leave wishes to return to the college, he or she must submit a plan of study to the committee before being rejoined.

Students who have been withdrawn from the college by CAS may request that they be readmitted. Such students have three years from the date they were withdrawn to make this appeal with assistance from a counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development (172 MVR). After three years, a former student must apply for readmission through the college’s Office of Admission. A student applying for readmission should discuss his or her situation with a counselor in the Office of Admission, Student, and Career Development. The student also should talk with others who may be able to help—faculty advisors, instructors, or a member of the university medical staff. Any information given to the committee is held in the strictest confidence.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a critical issue for all students and professors in the academic community. The University Code of Academic Integrity states that (1) a student assumes responsibility for the content and integrity of the academic work he or she submits, such as papers, examinations, or reports, and (2) a student shall be guilty of violating the code and subject to proceedings under it if he or she:

  1. Knowingly represents the work of others as his or her own.
  2. Uses or obtains unauthorized assistance in any academic work.
  3. Gives fraudulent assistance to another student.
  4. Fabricates data in support of laboratory or field work.
  5. Forges a signature to certify completion or approval of a course assignment.
  6. Uses an assignment for more than one course without the permission of the instructor involved.
  7. Uses computer hardware and/or software to abuse privacy, ownership, or user rights of others.
  8. In any manner violates the principle of absolute integrity.

The college’s Academic Integrity Hearing Board, which consists of a chairperson, three faculty members, and three students, hears appeals from students who have breached the code. It also deals with cases brought directly to it by members of the faculty.

Academic Records

Students may obtain their Cornell academic record in several ways. The Cornell transcript, which is the official record of the courses, credits, and grades that a student has earned can be ordered with no charge at the Office of the University Registrar (B07 Day Hall) or online at transcript.cornell.edu. For more information, call (607) 255-4232. Students may also access their grades and course schedules electronically using Student Center. Students should be in the habit of checking Student Center by the second week of every semester to confirm that their schedule and grade options are correct. Adjustments must be made before published enrollment deadlines.

The college also maintains a graduation progress worksheet for each student showing progress toward the degree. At the beginning of fall semester continuing students should check their updated worksheet on the registrar tab at http://www.human.cornell.edu/registrar/degree-progress/graduation-summary.cfm. It is important to check this document and bring any errors to the attention of the staff in the college registrar’s office (146 MVR). Disclaimer: These worksheets are unofficial tally tools used by the college registrar and in no way substitute for a student’s responsibility for tracking the progress toward completing degree requirements as outlined in the curriculum sheet for each major.

Access to Records

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 assures students of privacy of their records. The law also assures students’ access to their records. Information concerning a student’s relationship with the university is considered restricted and may be released only at the student’s specific written request. Restricted information includes the courses elected; grades earned; class rank; academic and disciplinary actions by appropriate faculty, student, or administrative committees; and financial arrangements between the student and the university. Letters of recommendation are restricted information unless the student has specifically waived right of access.

Students who want additional information on access to their records may contact the Office of the College Registrar (146 MVR) or the Office of the University Registrar (B7 Day Hall). An inventory of those student records maintained by Cornell University offices in Ithaca, their location, and cognizant officers are available in the Office of the Dean of Students (401 Willard Straight Hall).

For specific information, refer to the university’s policy Access to Student Information or talk with the college registrar.

Academic Honors and Awards

The college encourages high academic achievement and recognizes outstanding students in several ways.


Dean’s List. Excellence in academic achievement is recognized each semester by placing on the Dean’s List the names of students who have completed satisfactorily at least 12 credits of letter grades and who have a semester GPA of 3.7 or above. No student who has received an F or U in an academic course will be eligible.

Kappa Omicron Nu seeks to promote graduate study and research and to stimulate scholarship and leadership toward the well-being of individuals and families. As a chapter of a national honor society in the New York State College of Human Ecology, it stimulates and encourages scholarly inquiry and action on significant problems of living—at home, in the community, and throughout the world.

Students are eligible for membership if they have attained junior status and have a cumulative average of B or higher. Transfer students are eligible after completing one year in this institution with a B average.

Current members of Kappa Omicron Nu elect new members. No more than 10 percent of the junior class may be elected to membership and no more than 20 percent of the senior class may be elected. Graduate students nominated by faculty members may be elected. The president of Kappa Omicron Nu has the honor of serving as First Degree Marshall for the college during May commencement.

Bachelor of science with honors recognizes outstanding scholastic achievement in an academic field. Programs leading to a degree with honors are offered to selected students. Information about admission to the programs and their requirements may be obtained from the appropriate department or division. To graduate with honors a student must take approved courses in research methodology and evaluation, attend honors seminars, complete a written thesis, and successfully defend it in front of a committee.

Bachelor of science with high distinction/distinction (beginning with January 2014 graduates) recognizes outstanding scholastic achievement. High Distinction is awarded to graduates who earn a cumulative GPA of 4.000 or higher, Distinction is awarded to graduates who earn a cumulative GPA of 3.750 to 3.999.

The primary objectives of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi, are to promote the pursuit of excellence in higher education and to recognize outstanding achievement by students, faculty, and others through election to membership. Phi Kappa Phi is unique in that it recognizes scholarship in all academic disciplines. To be eligible for membership students must rank in the top 10 percent of the senior class, or in the top 5 percent of the junior class. Provisions also exist for the election of faculty members and graduate students whose work merits recognition.


The Elsie Van Buren Rice Public Speaking Contest awards prizes totaling $2,500 for speeches related to published research by Human Ecology faculty members. The contest is held each year in March.

The Flora Rose Prize

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