Cornell vs Colgate: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

College Decision Day

Cornell vs Colgate: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to choosing a university, there are numerous factors to consider. From the academic programs offered to the campus facilities and extracurricular activities available, each university is unique and offers its own set of advantages. In this article, we will compare and contrast two prestigious universities – Cornell vs Colgate – to help you make an informed decision when it comes to your higher education goals.

A Brief Overview of Cornell and Colgate

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, and was founded in 1865. It is one of the Ivy League universities in the United States and has a reputation for excellence in research and academics. Colgate University, on the other hand, is located in Hamilton, New York, and was founded in 1819. It is a liberal arts college that offers a broad range of undergraduate programs in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics.

Despite their differences, both Cornell and Colgate have a strong commitment to community service and engagement. Cornell has a number of programs that encourage students to get involved in community service, such as the Public Service Center and the Cornell Commitment program.

Similarly, Colgate has a Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) that provides students with opportunities to engage in service projects both locally and globally. Both universities recognize the importance of giving back to their communities and strive to instill this value in their students.

Academic Programs Offered by Cornell and Colgate

Cornell and Colgate offer a diverse range of academic programs for their students. Cornell offers over 100 graduate and undergraduate programs in a wide range of fields, including engineering, business, architecture, agriculture, and more.

Colgate offers over 50 undergraduate programs in fields including anthropology, biology, political science, and more. Both universities offer opportunities to engage in research and experiential learning opportunities to help students build practical skills and gain real-world experience.

an epidemiologist working inside a lab

In addition to their academic programs, both Cornell and Colgate offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations, including clubs focused on community service, sports, arts, and culture.

Colgate also has a wide range of student organizations, including clubs focused on sustainability, social justice, and entrepreneurship. These extracurricular activities provide students with opportunities to explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and make connections with other students who share their passions.

Admission Requirements: Cornell vs Colgate

Cornell is one of the most selective universities in the United States, with an acceptance rate of just 7.4%. In comparison, Colgate has a slightly higher acceptance rate of 17%.

However, both universities have rigorous admission requirements and require applicants to submit standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Additionally, both universities consider extracurricular activities, community service, and leadership potential in their admissions decisions.

It is important to note that Cornell and Colgate have different approaches to standardized testing. While Cornell requires applicants to submit scores for either the SAT or ACT, Colgate is test-optional, meaning that applicants can choose whether or not to submit their scores. This can be an advantage for students who may not perform well on standardized tests but excel in other areas such as extracurricular activities or community service.

Student Body Demographics: A Comparative Study

The student body at Cornell is diverse, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries represented on campus. In contrast, Colgate has a smaller student body, with students from approximately 47 states and 46 countries represented. Additionally, Cornell’s student body is larger and more diverse than Colgate’s, with a total enrollment of over 23,000 students compared to Colgate’s enrollment of approximately 3,000 students.

a male and female college students standing at a doorway

Furthermore, the demographics of the student body at Cornell and Colgate also differ in terms of gender and race. At Cornell, the student body is almost evenly split between male and female students, with a slightly higher percentage of female students.

In terms of race, Cornell has a higher percentage of students who identify as Asian or Asian-American, while Colgate has a higher percentage of students who identify as white. These differences in demographics can have an impact on campus culture and the experiences of students from different backgrounds.

Faculty-to-Student Ratio: Cornell vs Colgate

Cornell has a larger faculty-to-student ratio than Colgate, with approximately 1 faculty member to every 9 students compared to Colgate’s 1 faculty member to every 11 students. This means that Cornell students may have more access to one-on-one interactions with faculty and may benefit from smaller class sizes. Colgate, on the other hand, has a reputation for providing personalized attention and mentorship to its students, despite the slightly higher faculty-to-student ratio.

It is important to note that while faculty to student ratio is a significant factor in determining the quality of education, it is not the only factor. Other factors such as the curriculum, resources, and extracurricular activities also play a crucial role in shaping the overall college experience. Therefore, it is essential to consider all aspects of a college before making a decision.

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid Comparison

Attending either Cornell or Colgate requires a significant financial investment. Cornell’s tuition and fees are higher than Colgate’s, with an estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year around $78,315. Colgate’s cost of attendance for the same academic year is approximately $75,200.

However, both universities offer financial aid packages to eligible students. In fact, approximately 50% of Cornell students receive financial aid, with an average award of $52,852. Colgate also has a robust financial aid program, with approximately 50% of its students receiving need-based aid.

It is important to note that the financial aid packages offered by Cornell and Colgate differ in their composition. While Cornell’s financial aid is primarily need-based, Colgate offers a combination of need-based and merit-based aid. This means that students with exceptional academic achievements may be eligible for additional financial assistance at Colgate. Additionally, both universities offer work-study programs to help students offset the cost of attendance through part-time employment opportunities on campus.

Campus Life: A Comparative Analysis

Both Cornell and Colgate offer a vibrant campus life experience for their students. Cornell’s campus offers over 1000 student organizations ranging from academic, athletic, and cultural organizations. Colgate has over 200 student organizations on campus, including a robust Greek life scene. Additionally, both universities offer opportunities to engage with their surrounding communities through civic engagement programs, internships, and community service initiatives.

However, there are some differences in the campus life experiences offered by Cornell and Colgate. Cornell’s campus is much larger than Colgate’s, which means that there are more facilities and resources available to students. For example, Cornell has multiple gyms, libraries, and dining halls spread across its campus, while Colgate has fewer of these facilities. On the other hand, Colgate’s smaller campus size means that it is easier for students to get around and navigate the campus.

Another difference between the two universities is the social scene. While both Cornell and Colgate have active student organizations and events, the nature of the social scene is different. Cornell’s campus is more diverse and attracts students from all over the world, which means that there is a wider range of cultural events and activities. Colgate’s campus, on the other hand, has a more close-knit community feel, with many students participating in Greek life and other social organizations.

Sports and Extracurricular Activities Offered by Both Universities

Both Cornell and Colgate offer a wide range of sports and extracurricular activities to their students. Cornell has a strong athletics program and competes at the NCAA Division I level in a range of sports. Colgate’s athletic program also competes at the Division I level and offers a range of sports programs. Both universities offer numerous clubs and activities for students to get involved in, from performing arts groups to outdoor recreation clubs.

famle student inside a locker room and carrying a basketball

In addition to the traditional sports and clubs offered by both universities, Cornell and Colgate also provide unique opportunities for students to explore their interests. Cornell has a renowned equestrian team and offers courses in equine science, while Colgate has a popular outing club that organizes outdoor adventures such as hiking and camping trips.

Both universities also have strong entrepreneurship programs, with Cornell’s eLab and Colgate’s Thought Into Action program providing resources and support for students interested in starting their own businesses.

Research Opportunities at Cornell vs Colgate

Cornell has a reputation for being a leader in research, with numerous research centers and institutes on campus. Additionally, Cornell is known for its partnerships with industry leaders, which offer students opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research projects and gain practical skills. Colgate also has a strong research program and offers students opportunities to engage in research projects in fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

However, one advantage of Colgate’s research program is its emphasis on undergraduate research. Colgate’s faculty members actively involve undergraduate students in their research projects, providing them with hands-on experience and mentorship. This allows students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as gain a deeper understanding of their field of study.

On the other hand, Cornell’s research program is more focused on graduate-level research. While undergraduate students can still participate in research projects, the emphasis is on graduate students and faculty members. This can be an advantage for students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree, as they will have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from experienced researchers.

Campus Location and Surrounding Areas: A Comparative Study

Cornell and Colgate are located in different regions of upstate New York and have distinct surrounding areas. Cornell’s campus is located in Ithaca, a small city known for its natural beauty, local businesses, and vibrant arts scene. Colgate’s campus is situated in the idyllic village of Hamilton, surrounded by picturesque countryside. Both locations offer access to outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking, as well as cultural attractions, such as museums and theaters.

Despite their similarities in terms of outdoor recreation and cultural attractions, there are some notable differences between the surrounding areas of Cornell and Colgate. For example, Ithaca is home to several renowned wineries and breweries, making it a popular destination for food and drink enthusiasts. On the other hand, Hamilton is known for its quaint shops and cafes, which offer a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Another key difference between the two locations is their proximity to major cities. While Ithaca is a four-hour drive from New York City, Hamilton is only a two-hour drive from Syracuse. This means that students at Colgate have easier access to urban amenities, such as shopping centers and airports, while students at Cornell have a more secluded and peaceful campus environment.

Campus Facilities: Cornell vs Colgate

When it comes to campus facilities, both Cornell and Colgate offer impressive resources to students. Cornell’s campus boasts state-of-the-art research facilities, extensive libraries, and cutting-edge technology. Colgate’s campus is spread across 575 acres and features numerous academic buildings, laboratories, and research facilities. Additionally, both universities offer top-notch sports facilities, including gyms, fitness centers, swimming pools, and sports fields.

However, there are some differences between the two universities when it comes to campus facilities. Cornell has a larger campus with more buildings and resources, while Colgate has a more intimate campus feel with smaller class sizes and a close-knit community. Cornell also has a wider range of dining options, including multiple dining halls and cafes, while Colgate has fewer options but focuses on locally sourced and sustainable food.

Another notable difference is in the art facilities. Cornell has a world-renowned performing arts center, the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts a variety of shows and performances throughout the year. Colgate, on the other hand, has a smaller but still impressive arts center, the Colgate Memorial Chapel, which hosts concerts, lectures, and other events. Both universities also have art galleries and exhibition spaces for students and faculty to showcase their work.

Graduation Rates and Retention Rates at Both Universities

Both Cornell and Colgate have high retention and graduation rates. Cornell’s retention rate is 97%, and its graduation rate is 94%. Colgate’s retention rate is 92%, and its graduation rate is 87%. These high rates indicate that students at both universities are satisfied with their educational experiences and are likely to complete their degrees on time.

Furthermore, both universities offer a variety of resources to support student success. Cornell has a robust academic advising program, with advisors available to help students navigate their course schedules and select majors. Colgate offers a comprehensive career services center, which provides students with guidance on internships, job searches, and networking opportunities.

In addition, both universities have strong alumni networks, which can be valuable resources for students as they transition into their post-graduation careers. Cornell’s alumni network includes over 250,000 individuals, while Colgate’s network includes over 30,000. These networks offer opportunities for mentorship, networking, and professional development.


In conclusion, choosing between Cornell vs Colgate can be a difficult decision. Both universities offer top-quality academic programs, impressive campus resources, and numerous extracurricular activities. Factors such as campus location, student body demographics, and housing options may influence your decision.

Ultimately, the choice will depend on your personal preferences and goals. We hope that this article has provided you with a detailed analysis of both universities to help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right school for you.

Want to learn more about getting into College? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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