November 19, 2015

GUEST BLOG | Let’s Get Coffee, Cornell

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On this small stub of a hill in the middle of nowhere, the life of the mind teems with activity. Pause and consider that at this moment, 14,000 of ours peers are navigating a hive of courses, clubs, research, jobs and opportunities that are as fascinating as they are diverse. For the freshmen who’ve just survived killed their first round of prelims, Cornell is still a very new place, a domain that is perhaps still yet to be explored and settled into. A lot of the first year experience is about coming to terms with the newfound freedom of… well, everything. And the biggest freedom — or arguably the most constraining fear — may be figuring out what to study and what to do in all of these four years.  

To be sure, there are a lot of places to seek advice: parents, academic advisors, friends, siblings, mentors, to name a few. But there is one group in particular that may provide a unique and often undervalued perspective: upperclassmen. These are the students who were once freshmen, and not so long ago they were the ones just learning the ropes. Because of their experiences, upperclassmen have plenty of advice and stories to share.

Let’s Get Coffee has a simple mission: to provide freshmen the network and advice to help them explore majors and interests. Its model employs a quick online questionnaire to pair an upperclassman with a freshman; it is up to the pair to decide where to meet and what to talk about. Formerly known as Campus Connection, this year Let’s Get Coffee adopted sweeping changes to clearly project the simplicity of the initiative. With over a thousand pairings made, the organization seeks to grow its influence to make Cornell a more responsive, integrated community.

To new students: Wouldn’t it be cool to get coffee with an upperclassman with the same major and interests as you? Come to the meeting with whatever questions you have about anything. Ask about that one class or professor you’ve heard things about. Hear about ways to find opportunities and internships for the summer.

To the upperclassmen: You may have heard the adage that you never really know if you’ve mastered anything until you can teach it. Along those lines, you may discover — or more closely question — what you love about your major and your commitments and your college experience. If you’ve felt indebted by the great support network you’ve had these past few years, this is a way to give some support in return, even if it’s just a half-hour coffee meeting. If you felt like you didn’t get the support you needed when you were a freshman, this is a way to provide new students an invaluable experience you know you would’ve enjoyed.  

The next round of pairing begins at the start of spring semester. Make sure you sign up!