Skip to main content

5 Ways for Students to Start the Year Strong

With a new year upon us, now is a great time to set yourself up for success. There are a multitude of opportunities for Cornell students to try something new, connect with others, develop new skills, and find community throughout the division of Student & Campus Life. Below, take a look at our top five ways (and then some) to help you start the year strong  while hearing from current Cornellians along the way! 

1.    Get Involved

Whether you are engaging in the surrounding community volunteering time or taking part in activities, programs, and organizations on campus, being involved results in significant and varied positive impacts. Gain valuable leadership skills while making strong relationships and connections that will benefit you well into the future. 

In the community:

  • Meet other students committed to making a difference: Each year, thousands of students connect with the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement—through student-run social justice programs, alternative spring break trips, jobs and internships with community organizations, and much more. 
  • Earn academic credit while engaging with local, national and global communities: There are 120+ community-engaged learning (CU-CEL) courses on the spring class roster!
  • Get out of the Cornell bubble: Find opportunities to volunteer in Tompkins County like mentoring or tutoring preK-12 students in local schools, or participate in the annual Cornell Cares Day with students and alumni near your hometown.
  • Build leadership skills: Through community-engaged leadership programs, learn how to lead with a public purpose, model collective leadership and practice empathy and cultural awareness when working with others.
  • Have a real-world impact on an issue close to your heart: No matter how you get involved, there are resources to support you! Engaged Ambassadors are student-to-student mentors, here to help you find the best path for you. And there are funding opportunities and awards to support your work.
Shayla Combs stands outside in front of green bush
Shayla Combs '22

"Engaging with the community has been an integral part of my Cornell experience. I have made connections with unlikely friends, built empathy and compassion, and have been able to better situate myself as a global citizen. Through community engagement, I have critically examined my intent and impact as a servant leader and feel better equipped to handle personal and professional crises and roadblocks. Giving to my community has in turn given back to me insight, resiliency, and a lifelong network of amazing friends."

Shayla Combs 2022, Cornell Upward Bound, Alpha Phi Omega, Community-Engaged Leadership Certificate Program, Cornell Tradition, Cornell High Road Fellowship Program, Be (A)Part

On campus:

  • Try something new in 2022: There are over 1000 registered student organizations at Cornell which means there’s something for everyone to try! A new year is a great time to challenge yourself by learning a new skill or getting to know some new friends.
  • Explore joining a fraternity or sorority: Cornell's sorority & fraternity community is among the oldest in the nation. The leadership, self-governance, integrity, and interpersonal skills that are developed, combined with the outside of the classroom educational experiences are what makes belonging to an organization so special.
  • First-year student? Attend a program at the Tatkon Center: Programs throughout the year foster academic and career exploration, personal growth, health and well-being, student connectedness and interaction with faculty and older student mentors.
Sawyer Huang stands outside on a city street
Sawyer Huang '22

“Aside from helping the community, I also learned so much from being a part of Campus Activities organizations such as the Class of 2022 Council and the CUTonight Commission. I have been able to develop my skills in leadership, management, and communication by working with others to support our community. Being a part of these organizations has given me the opportunity to explore my passion while providing a great foundation for success in the future.” 

Sawyer Huang 2022, 2022 Class Councils, CUTonight Commision, Zeta Psi member

2.    Build a Foundation for Success

There are many resources available throughout campus to support a strong foundation for personal and academic success. A focus on self-care along with finding and leaning on support systems can have a tremendous impact on your overall well-being all year long. The Cornell Health resources below aim to support students all year!

  • Refresh: Cornell’s Sleep Program: Enroll in Refresh, Cornell Health’s free online program for evidence-based strategies to help you improve your sleep, boost your mental health, and improve your academic performance. 
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Discover the many benefits of meditation with daily online guided meditation sessions offered through Let’s Meditate.  
  • Nutrition & Healthy Eating Services: Meet with a Cornell Health nutritionist to develop healthy nutritional strategies or address concerns related to eating.
  • NatureRX: Spending time in nature is effective in reducing stress and improving mood and cognitive functioning. Engaging with Nature Rx is a great way to make the most of Cornell’s beautiful campus.
  • Free Programs & Workshops to Help You Thrive: Check out Cornell Health’s online programs on building resilience and helping others, and daily therapist-led workshops to help support your well-being. 
  • Health-Related Student Organizations: Cornell Health partners with several student organizations that promote health and well-being 

3.    Stay Active

Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp and is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better. No matter the season, there are dozens of creative ways to stay physically active on campus.

  • Stay academically and physically strong this semester using any of our fitness facility options including the Morrison Fitness Center, the largest fitness center on campus. For quick workouts in between classes, visit the Teagle Hall Olympic lifting platforms to supercharge your energy.
  • Grab a group of friends and challenge them to a mini bowling tournament at the Helen Newman Bowling Center
  • Relieve some stress while scaling 8,000 square feet of bouldering, topline and sport lead climbing at the Lindseth Climbing Center, for climbers of all skill levels and experience.
  • Workout in community with dozens of in-person and virtual group fitness classes like spinning, Zumba and yoga available throughout the week to take with friends or to meet new ones
  • Use your campus surroundings: take a self-guided tour through the Botanic Gardens or a nice walk around Beebe Lake, climb the 161 steps to the top of McGraw Tower, or take a brisk jog up Libe Slope, and get some fresh air before your next class or shift.
  • Rent outdoor gear seasonally from Cornell Outdoor Education for your next camping, kayaking, skiing, or backpacking adventure
Annie Zomback stands outside in front of green bush
Annie Zomback '23

“The time I take out of my day to be active - whether it is something serious like training for a race, or simply going on a walk with friends - has been so important for me mentally. There are plenty of opportunities for students to stay active, such as going to the fitness centers, taking group fitness classes, participating in clubs, or taking advantage of the many beautiful hikes we have access to around campus. Though it can feel challenging to take time out of an already very busy day to workout, the benefits to both mental and physical health are worth it.”

Annie Zomback 2023, Group Fitness Student Coordinator 

4.    Find Your Community

Through the resource centers, advising units, and affinity groups supported by the Office of the Dean of Students, you can engage with individuals of similar background or connect with identities other than your own on topics ranging from academics and activism to arts and service. Located at 626 Thurston Ave. you will find:

And on central campus take a moment to connect with the Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making in Anabel Taylor Hall and with the Women’s Resource Center inside of Willard Straight Hall. The staff and students who comprise these offices look forward to connecting with you to help you strengthen your Cornell community. 

Atif Akhter headshot
Atif Akhter '22

“Community is essential at a place like Cornell. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals helps me with maintaining my motivation and preventing burnout. By cultivating a strong support network of friends across many majors and lifestyles I've diversified the perspectives of those in my life. Academic success is important to me but my support network is what I rely on to help me get through difficult points in the semester.”

Atif Akhter 2022, Interfaith Council and South Asian Council

5.    Looking to the Future

Whether you have a clear plan for the future or are feeling unsure about next steps, Cornell Career Services can share resources and support you while navigating your path – and they’re available all year long to help students (and alumni) find or adjust their professional path. 

Tim Williams stands outside of Barnes Hall
Tim Williams '24

“Cornell career services tools provide valuable insight for career exploration, readiness, and goal setting. With these tools I have greater confidence seeking opportunities in the future.”

Tim Williams 2024, Career Services Student Peer Advisor