Cornell vs Occidental Universities: A Comprehensive Overview

July 14, 2023
By AdmissionSight
College Decision Day

Cornell vs Occidental Universities: A Comprehensive Overview

When it comes to selecting a university for higher education, many factors come into play. Two well-known and reputable universities in the United States are Cornell University and Occidental College. In this comprehensive overview, we will compare and analyze the key aspects of Cornell vs Occidental to help you make an informed decision before making your final choice.

Location and Campus Size: How Cornell and Occidental Differ

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, within the Finger Lakes region. It is known for its picturesque campus, which spans over 2,300 acres.

Comparatively, Occidental College is located in Los Angeles, California, and covers an area of 120 acres. Both campuses offer scenic surroundings and a college-town atmosphere. The Cornell campus provides a more rustic and tranquil environment, with plenty of green spaces, while Occidental is situated within a bustling city that offers a diverse array of cultural experiences.

front view of Cornell University surrounded by trees

Despite the difference in size and location, both Cornell and Occidental offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities.

Cornell is a renowned research institution, with a strong focus on science and engineering, while Occidental is known for its liberal arts programs and commitment to social justice. Both campuses also offer a variety of student organizations, sports teams, and cultural events, providing students with ample opportunities to get involved and explore their interests.

Admissions Criteria: What it Takes to Get Accepted at Cornell vs Occidental

Cornell University is known to be highly selective, with an acceptance rate of around 7 percent. Successful applicants typically possess an above-average academic record, with an SAT score ranging between 1440 and 1570.

Occidental College, on the other hand, has a slightly higher acceptance rate of around 37 percent. The college places importance on a student’s extracurricular activities, essays, and demonstrated passion for learning and engagement.

Aside from academic achievements, Cornell University also values a student’s leadership skills, community involvement, and unique experiences. The university seeks to admit students who will contribute to the campus community and make a positive impact on the world. Cornell also offers early decision and regular decision options for applicants.

Occidental College, on the other hand, emphasizes the importance of a well-rounded education. The college encourages students to explore a variety of academic disciplines and engage in experiential learning opportunities. Occidental also offers a range of resources to support student’s personal and professional development, including career services, study abroad programs, and research opportunities.

Tuition and Financial Aid: A Breakdown of Costs at Cornell vs Occidental

Attending Cornell University is quite an investment, with tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year amounting to $61,600. In contrast, Occidental College’s tuition and fees amount to $58,824. Both institutions provide financial aid, with Cornell offering need-based financial aid and Occidental providing merit-based scholarships as well as need-based financial aid.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance at both Cornell and Occidental goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students should also consider additional expenses such as room and board, textbooks, and personal expenses. At Cornell, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is $78,858, while at Occidental it is $75,824. However, both institutions offer various resources and opportunities for students to offset these costs, such as work-study programs, internships, and research assistantships.

Academic Programs Offered: An In-depth Look at the Majors Available at Cornell vs Occidental

Cornell University offers a broad range of courses and programs across multiple disciplines, catering to over 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university provides over 80 majors and more than 100 minors with strong focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Occidental College, on the other hand, is a liberal arts college with a focus on undergraduate education. The college offers around 40 majors and offers programs in various fields such as humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Scholarship document, admission paper or letter on table.

At Cornell University, students have the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies through the university’s various colleges and schools. For example, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers majors in fields such as animal science, environmental science, and food science, while the College of Arts and Sciences provides majors in areas such as anthropology, economics, and psychology.

Additionally, Cornell offers a number of unique programs, such as the Cornell Tech campus in New York City, which focuses on technology and entrepreneurship.

Occidental College, on the other hand, emphasizes a well-rounded education through its liberal arts curriculum. The college offers a number of programs and resources to support students in their academic pursuits, such as the Center for Digital Liberal Arts and the Center for Community-Based Learning. Occidental also offers a number of study abroad programs, allowing students to gain a global perspective and expand their academic horizons.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Cornell vs Occidental

Cornell University employs around 3,000 faculty members, and has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1. This indicates that students have access to personalized attention and can benefit from engaging in research projects with faculty members. Occidental College has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1 as well and employs around 180 full-time faculty members.

However, it is important to note that Occidental College also has a significant number of part-time faculty members, bringing the total number of faculty members to over 300. This means that while the student-faculty ratio may be the same as at Cornell, the distribution of full-time and part-time faculty members may impact the level of personalized attention and research opportunities available to students.

Campus Life: An Overview of Student Life on Campus at Cornell vs Occidental

Both universities offer a vibrant campus life, with plenty of student-led clubs and organizations, sports teams, and cultural events. Cornell University has a strong Greek life on campus, with around 50 fraternities and sororities. Occidental College, in contrast, has no Greek life but provides a community-oriented environment with a focus on social justice initiatives.

Additionally, both Cornell and Occidental offer a variety of resources and support services for students. Cornell has a comprehensive health center, counseling services, and academic support programs. Occidental has a similar range of services, including a wellness center, career development center, and academic advising. Both universities also have active student government associations that advocate for student needs and interests.

Athletics: A Comparison of Sports Programs Offered by

Cornell vs Occidental

Cornell University is a member of the Ivy League and competes at the NCAA Division I level, offering a range of athletic programs. Occidental College, meanwhile, is a Division III member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Both universities offer a mix of varsity and club sports, catering to a diverse range of interests.

One notable difference between the two universities athletic programs is the level of competition. Cornell’s Division I status means that its athletes compete at the highest level of collegiate sports, often against other top-ranked universities. Occidental’s Division III status means that their athletes compete at a lower level, but still have the opportunity to excel in their respective sports.

Another difference is the size of the athletic programs. Cornell has a larger number of varsity sports teams, with over 30 programs offered. Occidental has a smaller number of varsity teams, but makes up for it with a robust club sports program, offering over 20 different sports for students to participate in.

Research Opportunities: Opportunities for Undergraduate Research at Cornell vs Occidental

Cornell University is known for its research-intensive programs and provides numerous undergraduate research opportunities through its Research Apprenticeship Program and independent research projects with faculty.

Similarly, Occidental College provides students with opportunities to engage in research through its Undergraduate Research Center, which offers funding and support for independent and collaborative research projects.

Furthermore, both Cornell University and Occidental College have partnerships with local research institutions and organizations, providing students with even more opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research projects. These partnerships allow students to work alongside professionals in their field of study and gain valuable experience in their chosen career path.

Diversity on Campus: A Comparison of the Ethnic, Cultural, and Socioeconomic Diversity Present at Both Universities

Cornell University and Occidental College both prioritize diversity and inclusion on their campuses, with efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for students from diverse backgrounds.

Cornell has a diverse student body, with nearly half of its undergraduates coming from diverse backgrounds. Occidental also values diversity and provides scholarships and support for underrepresented students.

However, the two universities differ in the specific ways they approach diversity. Cornell has a larger international student population, with students from over 100 countries, while Occidental has a higher percentage of first-generation college students.

Additionally, Cornell has a wider range of cultural and ethnic student organizations, while Occidental has a strong focus on social justice and activism, with many student-led initiatives and events centered around issues of diversity and inclusion.

Community Engagement: How Cornell and Occidental Contribute to Their Surrounding Communities

Cornell University is dedicated to community engagement, with programs such as the Cornell Public Service Center, which partners with local organizations to address social issues.

Occidental College also has a strong commitment to community engagement, with a focus on service-learning programs that connect students with local organizations that focus on social justice, sustainability, and community development.

Both Cornell and Occidental also offer opportunities for their students to engage in community service and volunteer work. Cornell’s Alternative Breaks program allows students to participate in service trips during school breaks, while Occidental’s Urban and Environmental Policy Institute offers internships and research opportunities for students to work on community-based projects.

Rankings and Reputation: Analyzing How Cornell vs Occidental Stack up Against Each Other in National Rankings

Cornell University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the United States, with a 2022 ranking of #17 according to U.S. News & World Report. Occidental College, on the other hand, ranks in the top 37 liberal arts colleges in the country, according to the same report. Both institutions boast a strong reputation, with a commitment to academic excellence and student success.

One area where Cornell and Occidental differ is in their size and location. Cornell is a large research university located in Ithaca, New York, with over 23,000 students enrolled across its undergraduate and graduate programs. Occidental, on the other hand, is a small liberal arts college located in Los Angeles, California, with just over 2,000 students enrolled.

Group of students walking in the campus.

This difference in size and location can impact the student experience, with Cornell offering a wider range of academic programs and research opportunities, while Occidental provides a more intimate and personalized learning environment.

Another factor to consider when comparing Cornell and Occidental is their respective endowments. As of 2021, Cornell’s endowment was valued at over $7 billion, while Occidental’s was just over $400 million. This difference in financial resources can impact the institution’s ability to fund research, provide financial aid to students, and invest in campus infrastructure.

However, both Cornell and Occidental have a strong commitment to providing access to education for students from diverse backgrounds, with robust financial aid programs and initiatives to support underrepresented groups.


As we have seen, there are significant differences between Cornell vs Occidental College, from their locations and campus sizes to their academic programs and research opportunities. However, both universities are committed to providing students with a quality education and have strong reputations in their respective fields. Before making your final decision, make sure to carefully consider the factors that matter to you most and choose the university that best meets your academic and personal goals.

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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