By Erinn Ravosa ’19
Freshman year. This phrase is only two words and three syllables, but it hits home in everyone’s heart. For me, it brings to mind breathing in Ithaca’s crisp autumn air, climbing all 181 steps to the top of the clocktower, studying until closing time at Mann Library, eating late-night pizza with friends, sledding down the slope, and cheering for Big Red in Lynah Ice Rink. It calls to memory every wonderful, vivid moment I have of my first year away from home.
However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the phrase “freshman year” once meant something else to me. It once meant lying awake at night for fear of making no new friends, not being able to handle the coursework, getting homesick, not liking the dining hall food, getting lost, and on and on and on. Before coming to Cornell, I was very nervous about making my way around campus and finding my spot here at the Hotel School. I think deep down every pre-freshman feels this way, and I am here today to help alleviate that worry by sharing what I wish I knew when I entered my freshman year.
1) It is okay to be nervous! Everyone is.
Thousands of people your age are going through the same thing you are—anticipation of the college years ahead. It is normal to be anxious about starting a new chapter of your life. However, it is unnecessary to put yourself through that stress. Relax and enjoy the rest of high school because I can guarantee that you will end up making friends and finding a home here in the Hotel School.
2) Meet with your academic advisor.
A few weeks before school begins, each freshman is assigned an academic advisor. This person is a great resource and is dedicated to helping you reach success at Cornell University. Do not be afraid to schedule a meeting with them to go over your schedule, desired minor, potential concentration, or even just to talk about life. Advisors are all extremely friendly and genuinely want to help students reach their goals.
3) Take advantage of office hours.
Going to an Ivy League school is challenging at times—that’s no secret. I have found success throughout my time at Cornell by going to office hours, and I suggest you take advantage of them as well. During these helpful sessions, teaching assistants (older students who did well in the course when they took it) will answer your questions and give you guidance on how to complete your assignments and prepare for exams. This is extremely helpful, as often times there are only a few students at office hours so you get personal help from the teaching assistant.
4) Get to know your professors.
One of the biggest things I love about the Hotel School is how caring and personable our professors are. They genuinely want to see their students succeed and are always available to meet after class to go over exams, help with homework, or give career advice. I strongly suggest getting to know your professors and making time to catch up with them via emails or even stopping by their office. During my freshman year, I sat front row in Business Computing and grew to really love the material and the professor. After talking to this professor after class one day, he became a very friendly face at the Hotel School and someone who I could always go to for advice. I have since gone on to be a teaching assistant for Business Computing for three semesters.
5) Try the Terrace Burrito Bowl.
This is something I did way too many times during my freshman year, but I have no regrets. The Terrace is a dining place located on the first floor of the Hotel School and offers a variety of delicious food. The lines oftentimes get very long between class periods, so the trick is to go when you have a gap in your schedule and others are in class. I am bias toward their burrito bowls (which I swear rival Chipotle), but their salads are also definitely worth waiting in line for.
6) Volunteer at Hotel Ezra Cornell.
Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) is a student-run conference held at the Hotel School each year with more than 100 industry leaders in attendance. This is the perfect time to network and further develop your skills in any area that you are interested in. There are human resources, sales, rooms, design, catering, programming, and many more positions available to students. I have volunteered for the past two years and have greatly enjoyed meeting industry leaders and making new friends within the Hotel School. Working in such a collaborative, innovative environment is something that every hotelie should experience.
7) Go the Homecoming laser light show.
This is one of my favorite memories from freshman year, and I recommend that all students go at least once during their time at Cornell. It usually takes place sometime in October, and it is truly something to mark the calendars for. The light show is breathtaking and made me so honored and proud to be a member of the Big Red family.
About Erinn Ravosa ’19
Erinn Ravosa is a junior in School of Hotel Administration and is pursuing a concentration in finance, accounting, and real estate. She is from Connecticut and comes from a large family—four siblings and one dog. She is an ambassador for the school and speaks at information sessions, gives tours, and conducts interview with prospective students. On campus, Erinn has been a teaching assistant for both Business Computing and Management Communication. She has also played a role in Hotel Ezra Cornell as a lead designer and program manager for HEC 91 and 92. Off campus, Erinn is on her sorority’s executive board.