I am troubled to see that a parent recently wrote a review in favor of the college after interfacing with the admissions staff. I would strongly caution against this as it is what happens to nearly every student who comes to this college: they are cleverly conned by the admissions officers.
1.) Elmira is a master of marketing itself. The campus is stunningly gorgeous and gives a sort of "Ivy League" feel when you are taking your tour. The Gold Key Society (tour guides) memorize a very lengthy script to ensure that the tours are positive experiences for prospective students. Even the smallest details of the tour are planned out by expert marketers within admissions. The theatrics are fantastic, they bring out roman candles, literally bring you food on a silver platter in the admissions office and hand out massive scholarships like they are candy.
2.) The faculty are accessible as there are so few students.
3.) Meier Hall is awesome.
Unfortunately, the entire admissions process is all smoke and mirrors. Once the parents leave, once the admissions process is over, once you step on the other side of that purple curtain they put up for the honor scholar celebration, everything changes. About half of the 40 or so professors that the college employs are not suited for teaching. The administration is corrupt. I do not use that word lightly. Everything, everything, at this college is focused around the admission of new students. Any sort of honor you achieve on this campus is oriented around admissions. The Gold Key Society is the most esteemed group on campus and their job is to give tours and clean the campus and preparation for visiting students. The orientation executive committee is the most important group of any kind on campus. They are given awards and recognition far above and beyond the college's top academic stars. Once the next class is on campus, they are forgotten. The day after orientation is completed the administration begins to focus entirely on the next class.
A few facts:
1.) The academics here are mediocre at best. Professors other than a very select few (Sharma, Imai) are not suited for instruction. There are no centers or institutes here except for Mark Twain Studies. There are no opportunities for advancement academically other than to do well in your classes. Even then, the companies who recruit here are jokes, (I worked for one of them when I was 18 in a higher position than they one they were advertising), Elmira has the highest tuition rates of all of the schools that I looked at ( I was conned by the scholarships) and you are guaranteed at least 100,000 in debt with very few ways to pay it off.
2.) Encore is a breeding ground for the mockery and contempt of classical music. Its only accomplishment is ensuring that students never willingly go to a concert. It is also a way for tools/jocks to bond over how much they can ridicule the performance. Student performers are embarrassed to go on stage because of the lack of appreciation for the arts brought on by encore.
3.) Freshmen writing does improve your writing. Slowly. The professors take ages to get your papers back to you. Since papers are due every other day you will have written 10 papers before you get your first one back. This lack of feedback is detrimental to many students GPAs and demonstrates certain professors' care.
4.) Social life revolves entirely around alcohol. This is a party school. This is fact a plain and simple fact. Last weekend someone ripped out one of the closet doors in towers, tore it to bits and threw it in the elevator among the 20-30 beer bottles that were already littering the floor (of the elevator). Shower curtains are ripped down, students frequent the hospital for alcohol poisoning and the entire dorm is charged for the damages. To avoid this, live in Alumni Dormitory. However, this is only for freshmen. After you leave alumni, you are screwed.
5.) There is no academic discussion outside the classroom. Students come here because they have to go to college and they are conned by admissions. There is no interest in the expansion of knowledge, no interest in research and certain no interest in going above and beyond.
6.) Every single student who comes to Elmira gets a scholarship. You are not special for getting a scholarship. You have been conned.
If you come to Elmira, enjoy your first week, enjoy summer registration, enjoy fall orientation because after admissions goes back into their isolated office, after the parents leave, once class starts, you are doomed to mediocrity. Do not come here, if you want small size there are plenty of other schools. Try Williams College, try an Ivy, try a community college. Go anywhere but here. In conclusion, DO NOT be conned by admissions. They are masters of theatrics, masters of half truths and experts of unethical marketing.