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Your First Week

Moving to a new country is exciting—and also confusing! In the first few weeks, there are many new things to learn about and accomplish. We hope this information will help you as you settle in at Cornell.

What to Do in Your First Week in the U.S.

Cornell insignia on glass of office doorway

Status Activation

Don’t forget to complete the required status activation online with the Office of Global Learning! This process is required for all new F-1 and J-1 students.

Students during their first day on campus

Review New Student Information

For new Cornell students at all levels. Find out about enrollment, move-in day, NetID and email, student ID cards, and more.

Students on the Arts Quad at Cornell

Register for a Full Course Load

Be sure you’re registered full-time to maintain your F-1 or J-1 student status! Your college will help you create your schedule.

Students in line at one of the campus dining facilities

Eat on Campus

Explore the opportunities! Find campus eateries, get a meal plan, and more.

Cornell motto carved in a stone university seal

Get to Know Cornell

Learn all about the university. Take campus tours, find maps, and more.

Statue of Ezra Cornell, university founder, with a red scarf

Find Helpful Tips

Check out our Life at Cornell resources for students. From transportation to health to English programs—we want to help you find everything you need.




I don't have a SSN. Where can I get a bank account?

The Office of Global Learning doesn't recommend any particular bank. Here's a preview of local banks' rules: 

  • CFCU: Permits customers without SSNs or ITINs to get debit cards and access e-banking.
  • Alternatives Credit Union: Requires only a lease document with a local address to open an account.
  • Bank of America: New accounts require a driver’s license and passport. The catch is that the customer must open the account in person, and the nearest location is Syracuse, New York.
  • Ithaca Community Bank: Permits customers without SSNs to open accounts, get debit cards, and access e-banking.
  • M&T: Permits customers without SSNs to get debit cards and access e-banking.
  • Tompkins Trust: Offers a student account option that doesn't require an SSN, but it is only available for students up to age 25. Permits customers without SSNs or ITINs to get debit cards and access e-banking.

More information about local banks can be found on the Local Banking Services page on the Office of the Bursar website. 

Should I apply for a SSN?

A Social Security number (SSN) is not a work permit. You don’t need an SSN to open a bank account, rent an apartment, or get a credit card. SSNs are only required for tax reporting. Find out who is eligible and how to apply for an SSN.

Phones and Wireless

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