Ithaca College is a private university that was founded by William Egbert in 1892 as a music conservatory located downtown, on what is currently the bustling Ithaca Commons. Over the next few decades, IC expanded to become a full-fledged liberal arts school, although it is still most famous for its undergraduate and graduate music programs. In the 1960’s, Ithaca moved to its current location on South Hill and maintains its reputation as a very liberal university.
About 6,000 undergraduates now matriculate at Ithaca. Besides music, the most popular concentrations are those in the internationally recognized Roy H. Park School of Communications, with a long list of notable alumni who are extremely successful in the media and broadcasting. The physical therapy and exercise science programs in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance are also among the strongest in the country. Overall, IC is regarded as one of the top ten master’s universities in the north.
Ithaca College’s 757-acre campus is pretty spread out, which can mean a frigid walk to class if a student doesn’t have a car and can’t get a ride from a friend. Located five minutes from the college town’s off-campus housing, Ithaca’s modern, 1960s-style architecture is offset by the captivating natural beauty of the surrounding Finger Lakes region.
Between classes, Ithacans unwind at Student Activities Center, or SAC, where there are big screen TVs to watch the Yankees face off the Red Sox, pool tables, ping pong tables, and even board games that you can take out for a $5 collateral. For a low-key study session, each building has student lounges with cafes and food carts for that extra energy boost. Students tend to hang out in the building specific to their major, such as OT and PT majors in the Center for Humanities and Science, communications majors in Park School and business majors in the new, sustainable business school building. Health-conscious and athletic students are known to congregate in the IC gym, which offers personalized classes like cardio kickboxing and abdominal training.
However, the most popular meeting places are undoubtedly Ithaca’s sprawling lawns in the spring and cozy cafeterias when the cold weather hits.
If it’s fall or late spring, then take advantage of the many outdoors. Lounge on the quad or on the steps by Textor Hall, where you’ll be accompanied by many other readers, artists, musicians, and students throwing Frisbees. Or sit along the fountains and take in the view. You’re only here for four years and you’ll miss the view of Cayuga Lake more than you know!
You say, 'The Pub' and anyone not familiar with IC thinks that you are hanging out at a bar midday. But in reality, it’s a favorite location to eat, do a little work, and people watch for hours. Located in the wireless-equipped Campus Center, it has a full food court along with coffees. You have to fight for a table but once you get one, you’re set to be entertained and run into at least a couple of people you know. Can’t find a table? Head upstairs and grab a seat in the little café area in the upstairs Campus Center. There’s a smoothie bar and little tables to chat and read. A little quieter than the Pub, but equally suited for people watching and productivity.
Need absolute quiet? Then head to Ithaca’s library. Five floors contain enough books and nooks to find a place to get your work done. Open into the wee hours of the morning, it offers students a place to get away and actually do work. It can be hard to find a desk, so head up to the top floors for even more solace. If that doesn’t work, there are computer labs all over campus; perfect for doing a little work, printing your papers out, or just browsing the Internet. Either way, they’re a great place to spend some time when not in classes.
Ithaca, NY has the best of both worlds – a real college town with lots of bars and restaurants, plus the surrounding rural area where you can go for a swim under a waterfall or picnic by the creek. About a quarter of Ithaca residents are upperclassmen who choose to split the rent in a house rather than live in the dorms.
Cornell University is located nearby on the East Hill, and students from both colleges congregate in the Commons, an outdoor pedestrian mall downtown with antique shops, vintage boutiques, and quaint eateries with food from around the world. College Ave by Cornell is lined with bars that can get packed on the weekends, so IC students sometimes opt for the closer ones located in the Commons. For those under 21, the Haunt or Castaways are a longer drive, but offer dancing, concerts, and a pool table. Both of these eighteen and over clubs have been known to have a no-tolerance policy for students trying to sneakily buy drinks.
For outdoors types, or anyone who wants to get some fresh air while studying, Cayuga Lake and the farmers market are only a short drive away from the college. Ithacans usually go hiking and swimming in the nearby gorges. Jumping off Six Mile Creek gorge is especially popular in the spring or, if you are staying on campus, in the summer time.
Don’t just stay on campus - there are way too many places in Ithaca to explore! The Commons are an Ithaca trademark, with a wide selection of shops , restaurants, and bars. A walk through the Commons is never boring and a great way to get a taste of the local environment. Just outside the Commons is a brand new Starbucks - a college student staple. Grab a latte and do a little work. It’s guaranteed to be a little more relaxing than your dorm room. If you’re tired of watching DVDs in your room, venture to the Cinemapolis for the Indie flicks or documentaries that aren’t shown in regular movie theaters.
If you’ve never experienced Wegmans before, then get ready. This mega-grocery store has everything you could think of, including a large food court area, with Chinese, deli, sushi, pasta, and vegetarian fare to take out or eat right there in their restaurant area. And you can’t miss their bulk candy section. You won’t be able to leave without one bag of tasty treats. Just a little ways down the road is Barnes & Noble, another great place to get some work done when the library or your room just isn’t working. There’s a Starbucks right inside and with tons of magazines and books to browse.
Want to see how the other side lives? Then head over to the other hill and check out Collegetown, Cornell’s little village. There are various restaurants, especially Japanese, another Starbucks, and small shops. But the main do-not-miss locale in Collegetown? Jason’s Deli, complete with a make-your-own frozen yogurt bar. Pick and choose your flavors, then add in toppings like M&Ms, real cookie dough, cookies, sprinkles, and more. It’s the one reason you’ll wish you went to Cornell.
Walking around the Commons is a great weekend activity, but, as with many other outings, this one is limited to the days when the weather is nice. There are a few festivals throughout the year like the Chili Cook-Off in the winter and Applefest in the fall, which are always full of good food, fun and entertainment. Students also make their way over to the Pyramid Mall when a craving for mainstream shopping kicks in. The mall is only a ten minute ride and, while it is small and modest, it houses a newly renovated stadium seating movie theater. You are bound to see one person you know at the mall, especially if you go on the weekends. College kids love to shop, even though we never seem to have money.
Another hot spot is Collegetown over on Cornell University’s campus. It is similar to the commons and is always buzzing with students from both Cornell and Ithaca.In the fall and spring, the city has a farmers market that offers a variety of community-made food like homemade ice cream and spicy noodles. It is a perfect place to get organic fruits and vegetables while supporting the community, as well as homemade jewelry and home accessories, such as wooden bowls and plates, and flowers.
At night, students who go off campus usually end up at bars downtown or in Collegetown. Popular ones include Second Floor, Mooneys, and Micawbers. There are also two different clubs that are pretty small, but offer decent concerts on some weekends. The Haunt and Castaways are located a little off the beaten path, but feature big names such as Reel Big Fish and G Love & Special Sauce. The Haunt is more frequented by the Ithaca community, while Castaways has a bit of a younger, college crowd, especially on the nights when college bands are playing there, or for the popular Bob Marley tribute night. There is another club called Common Ground where the dance scene is always a good time. Students are never at a loss for things to do around Ithaca and if they have a car they can travel to Syracuse for a larger mall or to Seneca Lake for a relaxing wine tour.
IC isn’t a huge sports or Greek school, but it certainly isn’t lacking school spirit and there are a slew of unofficial events that students and their visiting friends look forward to every year.
Prospect Day is an unofficial block party on the last day of classes in May that is held on Prospect Street, hence the name. Most people start drinking when they would normally still be sleeping—usually 9 or 10 in the morning—and don’t stop partying until the evening. In the past couple of years, Ithaca College and the Ithaca Police have been trying to discourage students from going down to the party since it can get a little rowdy. Now the police patrol the street during the party and try to keep people in line, but that hasn’t stopped the partying so far. IC has also tried to provide an alternative party on that day by having a (usually lame) band play and giving out free food, but students usually just go down to Prospect in the morning and then come up to campus when they’re already wasted for free cheeseburgers.
Going to the Cortaca Jug is definitely an unofficial campus tradition, so much so that lots of alumni come back to campus year after year for the game. It’s almost like our unofficial homecoming weekend. The Cortaca Jug is the annual football game in November, pitting IC against our biggest rivals, SUNY Cortland. Each year the location of the game alternates campuses, so one year it will be at IC and the next at Cortland. The game is all about showing your school spirit, everyone wears their IC gear, paints their faces with school colors and makes up IC chants. The festivities begin way before 9 a.m., with beer pong and tailgating. We aren’t a big sports school so this is the most excited that anyone gets for a game but it’s a crazy day and one of the few days that we rally around our school.
One unofficial campus tradition that administrators have been trying to curb in the past few years is the 'fountain jump.' There is a large fountain on campus that is also a landmark, and seniors have made a tradition of jumping in on the last day of classes (and once when the Red Sox won the world series), clothing and all. Recently, administrators decided that the fountain jump was too dangerous—even though the water in the fountain is only two feet deep—and started cracking down. Now, the fountain jump is an organized event that is part of senior week (the week before graduation, full of activities for seniors) that you have to pay $15 for. Even though some of the fun has been taken out of the fountain jump, a lot of seniors still participate in it.
If you’re wondering if there are any popular events that don’t result in a hangover the next morning, there’s always IC After Dark. It’s a popular group where students organize nighttime events like casino nights, Superbowl parties and a western-themed party with a mechanical bull, as an alternative to drinking.
David Boreanaz (1991) is an actor who appeared in Bones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel.
Kerry Butler(1992)was a Broadway Actress in Hairspray.
David Muir(1995) is the current co-anchor of Primetime.
Karl Ravech (1987) is an ESPN sportscaster.
Jessica Savitch(1968) was a pioneering female journalist tragically killed in a car accident.
Amanda Setton (2007) is a cast member on the TV show Gossip Girl.
Sports aren’t a driving force at Ithaca, but students who are involved in athletics, or just follow them, will take every opportunity to show their Ithaca Bombers pride. One of IC's most notable teams is women’s soccer, victorious in two national championships and ranked in the top 20 nationally in their division. Men’s crew and basketball are also well regarded and attendance is high during basketball season.
Referred to as the “biggest little game in the nation” by Sports Illustrated, the Cortaca Jug is when football arch rivals IC and Cortland State face off, with festivities starting in the wee hours of the morning. Ithaca College bands together with chants of “Cortland…Cortland…Cortland…Sucks!” and “State School!” In general, football games are fairly popular in the fall, especially when it's a nice day and parents are tailgating outside of the game.
On the weekends, the gym and athletics fields are always packed, reflecting the popularity of intramural sports.
Ricki Lake attended Ithaca College for a year, and rumor has it that Gavin DeGraw attended Ithaca for a few semesters.
A popular myth is if a virgin graduates from IC, the Textor Ball will roll off its pedestal and down the hill.
The movie Road Trip takes place at Ithaca…and everyone here has been asked at some point by a friend or relative if it was filmed here (it wasn’t).
The male a cappella group Ithacappella performed with Incubus.
There are several programs, education and physical therapy for example, where students can earn their bachelors and masters degrees together in five years.
Freshmen who are part of the exploratory program get to register early for classes so they have the first pick of what they want to take.
IC also has a program where you can design your own major if you have a unique interest - the most recently created was the sexual therapy major.
IC offers a B.S. in Outdoor Adventure Leadership.
Ithaca is a college where most of the parties and socializing happens in the dorms or off-campus housing. While 70% of students live in the moderately priced dorms (about $6,000 a school year), upperclassmen often opt to rent a house a short drive away.
There are several areas of dorm groupings on campus, the East and West Towers, the Upper and Lower Quads, the Terraces, and Emerson. There are also two groups of on-campus apartment complexes that students can live in, the Garden Apartments and the Circle Apartments. Generally, freshmen and sophomores live in the dorms and juniors and seniors either live in the Circle or Garden Apartments or move off-campus. The East and West Towers are the tallest buildings on campus and serve as Ithaca College landmarks. The Towers have a great social scene since there are so many people living in each building - each is 14 floors high and and single-sex by floor.
The upper and lower Quads are groups of six separate buildings, each with three floors. Some of the Quads are designated specifically for freshmen and others are for all other students. The Quads are nice because they are the closest to other campus buildings, which means less walking back and forth. The Terraces are a group of 13 buildings with single, double, and triple rooms. The Terraces are the farthest dorms from the other campus buildings but they are popular because each building has a number of suites, so students can live in groups of five or six and share a common room, making it feel more like an apartment than a dorm. There are also a number of themed Terrace dorms including one for international students, a women-only building and a 'green' dorm where students try to make more sustainable choices.
Though the Circle and Garden Apartments aren't open to freshmen, they are a good choice for upperclassmen. The Garden Apartments are either two, four, or six bedrooms, and on the small side, but they are located right on campus so you don't have to drive to get to your classes. The Circle Apartments on the other hand are about a 20-minute walk from the rest of campus but are much newer and larger. They come in two, three, four, five, or six bedrooms and look like brand-new condo buildings.