Cornell College was initially established in 1853 as the Iowa Conference Seminary by Rev. Samuel M. Fellows. Just four years later, the religious school was renamed to honor wealthy industrialist William Wesley Cornell, the cousin of Cornell University’s founder. Cornell College awarded Iowa’s first bachelor’s degree to a female in 1858. After one century, Cornell began its revolutionary “One Course At A Time” plan with immersive education over three and a half week-long blocks. Endowed for $74 million, the private, nonprofit liberal arts institution maintains its United Methodist tradition to educate around 1,100 students. Cornell occupies an idyllic, 129-acre campus in Mount Vernon just 18 miles east of Cedar Rapids.
According to the U.S. News, Cornell College is the 90th best national liberal arts school and 80th pick of high school counselors. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance recognized Cornell for offering America’s 71st best liberal arts value. Author Loren Pope selected Cornell within the 40 Colleges That Change Lives nationwide. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity chose Cornell College for the “25 Colleges with the Best Professors.” Mount Vernon was distinguished as one of America’s coolest small towns in Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine. The Princeton Review ranked Cornell #7 for U.S. schools where “Nobody Plays Intramural Sports” though.
Cornell College Accreditation Details
Reaffirmed in 2012, Cornell College holds institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). This regional accrediting agency reviews post-secondary schools across 19 states for the U.S. Department of Education. Other important accreditations and affiliations are:
• Iowa State Department of Education
• American Chemical Society (ACS)
• University Senate of the United Methodist Church
• National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE)
Cornell College Application Requirements
Classified as “more selective,” Cornell College reported a 71 percent acceptance rate for Fall 2015. Admission counselors seek to form a dynamic, diverse community where academic achievement and meaningful extra-curricular involvement are supreme. First-year applicants must be graduating from an approved secondary school or earning the GED equivalent. A college-prep curriculum packed with AP, Honors, or IB courses is preferred. Most Cornell freshmen rank in the top 25 percentile of their class. On average, admitted students achieve a high school GPA of 3.54. Although admission is test-optional, the mean SAT score is 1740 and ACT score is 27.
Cornell cultivates diversity among its population by accepting international students studying with F-1 visas or I-20 status. Non-native English speakers must score at least 600 on the paper TOEFL, achieve a 7.0 on the IELTS, or take an ESL 112 course. Transfers holding 24+ collegiate credits from other regionally accredited schools are also welcome. Academic credit must be deemed relevant and graded with “C” or higher. Incoming transfers could satisfy up to 16 Cornell course units with 64 semester hours. Fulfilling the English composition, math, humanities, and foreign language 103 courses is suggested for transfers.
Interested students should submit the Cornell Application or Common Application before the Early Action deadline on November 1st or Regular Decision deadline on February 1st. There’s a “No Test” option for developing a portfolio of art, videos, and stories using ZeeMee. Other mandatory materials are:
• $30 paper application fee (waived online)
• Official high school and college transcripts
• Two short answer responses
• One to three letters of recommendation
• Personal essay or writing sample
• Evidence of English proficiency (non-U.S. citizens)
Tuition and Financial Aid
A Cornell education costs full-time undergraduate students $39,675 for annual tuition. Student activity, health services, and technology fees add $225 each year. Residential learners must afford $4,100 and $4,800 for room and board respectively. Single-room dorms up costs to $4,900 yearly. Cornell College’s comprehensive academic fee is currently $48,800. Students should also budget at least $1,164 for textbooks, $650 for private music lessons per semester, and $1,800 for personal expenses. In comparison, Cornell is cheaper than Sarah Lawrence College, Earlham College, and Rhodes College.
The NCES shows that 98 percent of full-time undergraduates receive assistance too. The average financial aid package pays $25,489. Institutional awards are numerous, including the King Scholarship, Community Enrichment Award, Dean’s Scholarship, Fine Arts Scholarship, and Transfer Achievement Scholarship. The Promise Scholarship for Iowans gifts $22,000 to qualifying “Hawkeye State” high school seniors. In-state residents may also receive the Iowa Tuition Grant or Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant (NGEAP). At the federal level, financial aid includes the Pell Grant, FSEOG Grant, TEACH Grant, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Signing Master Promissory Notes for Federal Direct PLUS, Perkins, and Stafford loans should be done cautiously. Approximately 500 students also earn Federal Work-Study (FWS) annually.
Cornell College isn’t an Ivy Leaguer like its New York twin, but it still provides an exceptional, experiential liberal arts education. Undergraduates select from 36 majors or create their own individualized bachelor’s program. Some unique options include the B.A. in Classical Studies, B.A. in Ethnic Studies, B.S. in Geology, B.S. in Kinesiology, and B.A. in Russian. Students could follow pre-professional tracks for dentistry, architecture, medicine, pharmacy, and more. There’s also a Cooperative 3+1 Medical Laboratory Science Program with Unity Point Health-St. Luke’s. Undergraduates take one course per block for ultimate immersion with 10 to 19 peers and tenure-track faculty.
Academics isn’t all this Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) member offers though. Its rural “Hilltop Campus” houses over 92 percent of learners. Therefore, students are within short drives from Linn County Conservation, Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Granger House Museum, McGrath Amphitheatre, and more. Cozy on-campus housing in nine residence halls and the 10th Avenue Apartments. Decadent treats is available at Bon Appétit, which ranked #2 nationally for campus dining on BestColleges.com. Students can further diversify their learning with off-campus studies at the McLennan Center in Chicago. Cornell professors also lead programs abroad from England to India.
Being actively involved in Cornell’s campus life is encouraged with 40+ student-led organizations. Depending on individual interests, students could enjoy analyzing rocks with Geology Club, broadcasting live on KRNL Radio, slamming poetry with Lyrically Inclined, or finding checkmate with Chess Club. The Mock Trial team is highly regarded for finishing sixth at the AMTA Nationals. For Greek life, Cornell offers 15 non-national fraternities and sororities to pledge. Sports fans can cheer on 19 NCAA Division III teams competing in the Midwest Conference. The Cornell College Rams famously maintains one of the oldest, most heated football rivalries with Coe College.