A Student’s Guide to Life at Cornell Tech

A Student’s Guide to Life at Cornell Tech (2018 - 2019)

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Product Studio And Subclasses [FALL]

  • The Studio curriculum changes significantly from year to year. The summary below reflects experience during the 2019-2020 academic year but also incorporates known changes for the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • Read the syllabus before you start product Studio. My experience was that my team had very different expectations of when we were going to start building our product.
  • The two presentations you regularly give are at the end of Sprints and during Crit. 
  • Entrepreneurship 0 is the one additional course one year students will take in addition to Product Studio during the fall. 

Startup Studio, BigCo [SPRING]

  • Start-up Studio focuses on building a very early stage start-up from the ground up. The semester is mostly focused on crafting your pitch in order to get seed and Series A funding. In Spring 2020 it was taught by Thatcher Bell.

BigCo Studio 

  • BigCo is focused on innovating within a Big Company and is taught by Chad Dickerson and Bradley Horowitz. BigCo companies come and pitch to students, and then each BigCo teams rank their choices and are matched with a company. 


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  • One of the best things you can do is to read the syllabus before you go to the first class for every class. This can help clarify and align expectations prior to attending the first class.
  • In many courses, reading the textbook may be optional but I strongly recommend doing the reading to get more out of classes. 
  • If you need to work with Student Disability Services for something like testing accommodations, start early. The SDS Office in Ithaca is easy to work with but it takes a fair amount of time to gather needed documentation and get it processed.
  • You will need to either need to get, or show proof of, certain immunizations to attend Cornell Tech. This process can take some time, so I recommend starting early.
  • Registration for fall and spring classes is a first-come first-served basis after registration opens. While there will be movement on the waitlists in many courses, some classes fill up extremely quickly (within a few minutes) so you will want to be ready to register exactly when it opens.  
    • While some syllabi are posted at classes.cornell.edu, many are not. I suggest emailing professors to get a copy of their syllabus to help you with course selection prior to the start of the semester. 
  • Fall semester includes full-semester, half-semester and weekend courses while spring semester includes full-semester and module course where each module is roughly 5 weeks. As a result (particularly for MBAs) you may end up taking a large number of 1 credit classes in the spring which can be overwhelming when all deliverables for three to four 1 credit classes are due the same week 

Living on Roosevelt Island

  • There is only one grocery store on the Island (Gristedes) and they set their prices accordingly. Fresh Direct delivers to the Island and offers a two-month free delivery trial. You may need to email Fresh Direct when you activate the trial so they know the House is a residential address rather than commercial to activate free delivery. There are other delivery services as well (e.g. PeaPod, Instacart, Amazon Now/Whole Foods) but I have not used them regularly. 
  • All mail in the House must be picked up from the concierge. You will get an email notification for packages, but not for mail.
  • When the credit card reader in the laundry room is broken, you need to add money online and then at the machine. However, in order for the money to actually get added to your card, you need to punch in the six-digit pin code (the add value code) from your online order in the machine in the laundry room. See screen shot below
  • As an NYC resident, you can sign up for the NYCID card which gets you a free one-year membership to certain museums (e.g. MoMA, Natural History Museum). The appointments for this tend to book up quickly so I recommend scheduling early. 
  • If you sign up for a library card, you can also get access to Culture Pass which provides free access to certain museums. The sign-ups open the first of each month and fill up quickly particularly for places like the Whitney. 
  • As a student, you can sign up for an annual membership to the Theater Development Fund (TDF) which provides discounted tickets to certain shows. There are also lotteries through apps like TodayTix which provide discounts to shows. 
  • Farmer’s Market every Sat 9am-3pm, great fresh produce.

Living Off Campus

  • There are many early morning classes as well as evening events, so it is strongly recommended to live within easy commuting distance to campus. Either:
    • near the Tram in the East 60s (Upper East Side)
    • near the Q to transfer to the F (Upper East Side)
    • or somewhere along the F line (Various)
  • Note: in the past, there have been many students who’ve lived on the west side of Manhattan, in Brooklyn, and certain parts of Queens. While it’s doable, the commute will be long.


  • The F train is prone to delays, and often does not run at nights in different directions. ALWAYS check the MTA's websites and updates before planning things. The MYmta app for iOS and Android have the most authoritative information. The best all-in-one transit app for navigating around NYC is Citymapper, which also incorporates live tram and ferry information.
  • The tram runs every 7 minutes during rush hours, and every 10-15 minutes during other times. Check the RIOC website for specific times. Note that the tram does not run from 2 AM - 6 AM Sunday through Thursday, and 3:30 AM - 6 AM Friday and Saturday.
    • When the tram is only running one car, it runs more slowly (every 15 minutes). The car fills up much more quickly - get there early to ensure a spot. It is generally more efficient to take the train or the ferry in these situations.
    • On days with nice weather, lots of tourists and visitors come to the island by tram, causing it to be full of people and run slower.
  • Driving to the island is doable, however, traffic around the city gets really bad during rush hours: 7-10 AM, 3-7 PM. 
    • The only access to the island is from the Queens side, so if coming from Manhattan, drivers must go over the Queensboro bridge, and get to the Roosevelt Island bridge.
    • If coming from Brooklyn, it is likely that drivers must go over the Pulaski bridge, which raises for boats. This process can take 15-20 minutes.
  • Parking on the island is ample, and is priced about the same across the island. There is a paid parking lot under the Tata Center, and there are parking meters on the road around the campus. 
    • Meters limit parking to 6 hours, and have no app to pay from. Pricing is currently at $2 an hour.
    • The  parking lot is run by SP Plus parking, and prices can be found on their site.
  • Ridesharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.) will pick up and drop off to the island. Plan in advance - it is very common to wait up to 15 minutes for drivers to accept the ride and arrive at the island, and some even cancel after accepting.
    • Note that very few food delivery services (Uber Eats, Seamless, Doordash, etc.) deliver to the island; some restaurants do, but it is per restaurant. 
  • The Ferry is a great way to get off the island and explore Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. Costs the same as the subway but much faster and comfortable. Runs hourly during the weekend but during the week its every half an hour. 


  • There are grab-&-go sandwiches near the coffee station in Bloomberg Cafe, when you need to grab lunch quickly between classes
  • If you buy coffee in the cafe, get a punch card. The 10th coffee will be free
  • There is a refrigerator, microwave, and vending machine in the Masters Studio in Bloomberg, hidden in a nook off to the right
  • The cafeteria in Bloomberg is run by a third party catering service, and they work hard to be accommodating to different dietary needs. For specific requests (vegan, gluten free, kosher, halal, etc.) reach out to christopher.lewis@constellationculinary.com


  • There are lockers in Masters Studio (Bloomberg) and the basement of Bloomberg where you can bring a lock and store your items from home
  • There is a shower in the basement bathroom of Bloomberg, but no towels or amenities. 

Transport: Beyond NYC

  • There are several reliable bus options to Ithaca, should you wish to visit or take classes at Cornell’s primary campus. OurBus is a reasonably-priced favorite that offers $15 off each segment if you buy a membership. Cornell’s official bus option is the Campus to Campus shuttle, but it tends to be the most expensive option at ~$90 one way. Use Wanderu to search for buses by date and time.

News and Career Resources

  • If you want a quick daily digest of business and/or tech news, there’s a ton of options. Some favorites:
    • 1440: a mix of serious and lighter news, plenty of links if you want to deep dive
    • Morning Brew: latest news from Wall St. to Silicon Valley
    • GarysGuide: jam-packed newsletter full of NYC tech events, jobs, and news
    • Elpha: AMAs, advice, networking, and chat for women in tech
    • ProductHunt: curated list of IPOs, launches, job openings, and startup news
    • TechLadies: Advice, tips, jobs, and fun gifs for women in tech