I write this letter in support of my petition for re-admission into the School of OR&IE for the fall 2002 semester. Since being placed on leave at the end of last year, I have remained in Ithaca. I have been particularly active with WVBR (the student-run radio station), and became Sports Director at the beginning of April. I am also currently searching for employment for the summer.
In the last few months, I have had plenty of time to consider the actions that led to my being required to take this leave. I didn't need much time at all. I quickly realized that an overall withdrawal and a failure to remain engaged in most aspects of my life were what led to the grades I received in Fall 2001. I believe the record from the prior four semesters shows that I am capable of doing the work required of this degree program. The failure to progress last fall stemmed from both a loss of motivation and a failure to deal with the problem once it had overwhelmed me. I tried to transfer to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to sidestep the problems I was facing, instead of dealing with them. The problems I had last semester did not simply appear near the end; there was a "snowball" effect. What started as small things - a single skipped class or homework assignment - grew over the course of several weeks, and they could have been much more easily managed sooner. Had I gone to professors and teaching assistants in the middle of the semester and explained what was happening, I could have had a much easier time. However, I operated on the presumption that I would have reprimanded for my actions. Fearing this, I continued to avoid classes and assignments, and was unprepared for both preliminary and final examinations. I will not allow these mistakes to happen again.
The simplest way to avoid a repeat of last fall is to use the resources available to me. Possibly paramount among these is my faculty advisor. In the past, I have generally only visited with my advisor once per semester - to receive CoursEnroll approval for the following semester's courses. Meeting with Professor Samorodnitsky more often (or even simply maintaining e-mail contact) could serve as a valuable check on my progress. In addition to this, going to professor and TA office hours is essential. This demonstrates that I am committed to my studies. It also forces me to make progress on assignments well before their due dates, since it serves no point in attending office hours if you don't have anything to ask the instructors.
I am fully aware of the price of failure. Short of a required withdrawal, a forced leave is the most serious action available to the faculty. I know that any further deficiency in my record could easily lead to a required withdrawal from Cornell. Having already amassed thousands of dollars in loans, I literally cannot afford that occurrence.
I do not believe that my acting as Sports Director of WVBR will work against my ability to succeed academically. To the contrary, I see it as a great benefit. Having a leadership position at the station has taught me a lot about myself, and I'm confident that it will continue to do so in the future. It is stressed by everyone at WVBR that being a student comes first, and I will always ensure that is the case next fall.
I will be honest, by saying that a career as an industrial engineer is not something that I'm shooting for at this time. My goal is still to pursue a career in the sports media. However, I think the important question here is not "is OR what I want to do with my life?" but "is OR what I want to study right now?" And to that second question, the answer is a definite "yes." I am still interested in operations research. In fact, this leave has helped me to focus that interest. Since I first affiliated with this field, I was unsure which aspect of the OR curriculum interested me most. I've discovered that the statistical aspect of OR (as opposed to optimization or systems design) is where my interest lies.
If re-admitted for Fall 2002, I plan to complete the B.S. degree requirements in three additional semesters (that is, graduate in January of 2004). This is now necessary, because of the constraints of financial aid eligibility (previously, graduating a semester early was an option). Due to Advanced Placement credit and my previous progress toward the degree, I see no problem with this plan. Specifically for next fall, I intend to re-take the same courses that I took in Fall 2001.
Thank you for your consideration of my petition.
Matthew F. Carberry