FAQs About Chemistry at Cornell College

How big will my introductory classes be?
Is help available when I need it?
Is the One Course At A Time schedule a good way to study chemistry?
How do the labs work?
Are your students well prepared for graduate or medical school?
Are there opportunities to do research in your department?
What about internships?

How big will my introductory classes be?
At Cornell, all of our courses are capped at 25 students. Many of our classes are actually much smaller than that. Close relationships that develop with their professors are repeatedly cited by our students as being the most important factor in their satisfaction with Cornell. With our small class sizes, we certainly get to know our students well. This is particularly nice when students need letters of recommendation and have developed strong working relationships with several faculty members.

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Is help available when I need it?
We teach only one course at a time, so much of that time is devoted exclusively to the students in that course. We are in contact with our students several hours each day. We typically have daily office hours and, in practice, our students come for help pretty much any time they need it. We also provide tutors for additional help, free of charge.

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Is the One Course At A Time schedule a good way to study chemistry?
We believe that it is. It allows us to present the material in a seamless fashion without interruption. The schedule allows us to tailor our class time for group activities or class discussions that don't need to be cut short for other classes. Students never have to "blow-off" one class in order to study for another. Other difficult courses such as calculus or physics never interfere with chemistry. The students never have to worry about multiple exams in one day. One of our favorite things is having the flexibility to give un-timed exams.

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How do the labs work?
Our schedule allows us the ability to customize our lab time for each course. For example, in some of the introductory chemistry courses we typically have lecture in the morning with lab two afternoons a week. Other courses may be taught with more of a workshop format where we will have a bit of lecture and then immediately go to the lab to get some practical experience with the topic, followed by a return to the lecture room to talk about our results. In the Organic Chemistry sequence, we have two terms of lecture and one term of lab as separate courses. This allows us time to spend the entire day with our lab activities. The advanced courses mix lecture and lab time as needed to best suit the course.

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Are your students well prepared for graduate or medical school?
Absolutely. Our alums have very high rates of acceptance into professional schools and do particularly well once they get there. Our graduates tell us that they are very happy with their Cornell education and they feel that they were better prepared for graduate or medical school than many of the other students there.

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Are there opportunities to do research in your department?
The department maintains a long tradition of summer research. Students and faculty have the opportunity to take part in a ten-week session of very intense laboratory research each summer. This research is supported by the college as well as by external grants.
The One Course At A Time schedule also offers unique opportunities to conduct research during the academic year. Month-long independent study projects are undertaken by students on a wide variety of topics of interest to the students and faculty. Previous projects have included extensions of summer research projects as well as projects dealing with the development of new undergraduate laboratory exercises, the exploration of new dyes, and even the chemistry of photography.

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What about internships?
The One Course At A Time schedule allows for the opportunity to do month-long internships away from campus. Our Career Engagement Office provides personalized service for students looking for assistance finding employment or internships. For help locating internship positions or with job searching, visit the Cornell College Career Engagement Office.

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