An affiliate of the United Methodist Church, Cornell College is a private, liberal arts school first founded in 1853. It bears no real relation to the much larger and better known Cornell University, although the founders of each school were distantly related. The college is located in the pretty and pastoral town of Mount Vernon, Iowa.
Cornell is known for it’s one-course-at-a-time block plan. Students study one subject intensively for 3 1/2 weeks, take a four-day break, then switch to another subject. Most blocks include about 30 hours of lectures. There are 8 blocks in a school year. The block programs allows students to construct sequential learning opportunities that build upon each other in a unique way, as well as allow students to take advantage of extended field trips or travel abroad outside of the semester system.
In addition to a wide range of majors and minors in such standard subjects such as anthropology, art history, philosophy, psychology, and women’s studies, the college offers focused pre-professional programs in medicine, theology, veterinary medicine, forestry and environmental management, law, and several other topic areas.
Most classes have less than 20 students in them and some are much smaller, particularly the more advanced classes.The most popular majors are psychology, economics, and history.
Most Popular Fields of Study
The Centers for Extraordinary Opportunities help to transition students from the undergraduate world to a career or graduate school entry. Each center supports internships, lecture series, student participation in conferences, and other opportunities that build a student’s resume and academic record. The Centers include:
- Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy
- Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare
- Center for Law and Society (formerly Pre-Law Program)
- Center for the Literary Arts
Admissions are competitive. Less than half of applicants are admitted.
A wide variety of financial assistance is available. New students should submit their FAFSA by March 1. Forms of aid include grants, loans, and need- and merit-based scholarships.
Student Financial Aid Details
Nearly all students live on campus in the residence halls. First year students live on floors with themes to unite them. Older students have the option to live in a single, suite, or apartment.
Most social events center around the Thomas Commons, home to the dining hall, student services office, concerts, and a wide variety of other events.
The 157 acre campus is attractive and pastoral, with hills, trees, and ponds.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletics department fields 19 intercollegiate teams, known as the Rams. The Rams compete in NCAA Division III and are members of the Midwest Conference. The wrestling team has a particularly strong reputation. The football team has a historic rivalry with nearby Coe College that both dates back to 1891 and continues today.
School colors are purple and white.
Notable alumni include:
- Don Fehrenbacher, Pulitzer Prize winner for history
- David Hilmers, astronaut
- Rob Ash, football coach at Montana State University
- Chris Carney, Pennsylvania Congressman
- Deb Mell, member of Illinois House of Representatives
*Michael Graham, President of Xavier University
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.