- Class: Junior
- Major: Government
- Gender: M
- High School: public high school
- Transfer Student: N
The "big picture" at Princeton inevitably includes the Princeton name. This isn't meant in a snobby way at all because I truly believe that the vast majority of people apply to Princeton for reasons other than simply being able to say they went to Princeton, but there's a certain connotation when the name rolls off your tongue. It can be good in the way that the university has fostered academic excellence for years and continually ranks among the top research universities in the world, or it might not be so great when people think of the typical stereotypes about Princeton. Yet, the Princeton name is something you begin to take ownership of once you arrive on campus. All of a sudden, you're part of over 200 years of tradition and you begin to understand a subtle language of "precepts," "the Street," and "zee groups," among other things. You feel and are an integral part of a community and so you become part of that name, which carries so much weight. And I think you have a little more pride when you say the name, the more you feel like you own part of it.
If you're considering coming to Princeton, you have to face a couple facts: (1) the admissions committee has the incredibly difficult task of creating a freshman class from an enormous pool of some of the most academically-gifted and otherwise-talented students in the world (caveat: you can't get in if you don't apply!); and (2) the university doesn't maintain its prestigious academic reputation by allowing its students to hang out in the Woody Woo fountain or on Alexander Beach all day (both excellent ways to de-stress though). Typically, students will take four classes per semester with about 11-15 hours of class per week. Engineers take five classes some semesters and may have up to 18 hours of class per week. While it might be easy to sleep through a 9am economics lecture, good luck catching up on the material since most of the time lectures are different and in addition to the readings that are assigned. Moreover, a lot of classes won't be with 200 or 50 or even 20 other students. The vast majority of classes at Princeton are smaller seminars and classes that require engagement with the material and active participation. Even if participation doesn't really affect your grade, you don't want to be the only person in the room who hasn't done the reading... especially when there are only 10 other people in the room. As a result, you'll find that people put a lot of time into their studies outside of class. While very few people make this their only activity, it is priority #1 for most students, which is the only way it can be when you have 200 pages of history reading, an oral presentation in French, a politics paper, and a creative writing assignment all due in one week. The plus side? Classes are hardly ever boring. Professors rarely gloss over broad topics to try and pack everything into one semester. Instead, your transcript is littered with amazing titles of diverse fields of inquiry like a French course in Jewish identities in post-WWII France and an electrical engineering course on the applications of lasers and other high-technology innovations in everyday life.
I think that there is very little that is "typical" of the typical Princeton student. I like to think of my entryway freshman year as a microcosm of life at Princeton. There was my room: a gay engineer who was involved in the Hispanic engineering student group on campus, a conservative white fraternity boy, a Jewish physics major from the South who joined a campus dance group, and me. We might've seemed a pretty diverse bunch as it was but then you just went up or down the stairs and you could run into: a girl who grew up not far from Princeton who was engaged to her high school sweetheart, a girl on the varsity soccer team, a Southern good ol' boy who went to prep school in Europe and ended up being one of my best friends, a bio major who volunteered with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and regularly bombed tour groups walking under our entry with army men on parachutes, a guy from LA who partied almost every night but excelled in reading the classics every day, and there were many others. Despite being so different, we all started on our journey through college together. There's something that bonds people in that way. As a result, even as the year go under way and we branch out to other groups, we would always have a safety net if we needed it or just a group of friends to grab dinner in the dining hall with. It's easy to stereotype and make generalizations about types of students, but when it comes down to it, being open is the only thing required to fit in at Princeton. There are people who have had the same experience as you and people who have wildly different ones, but if you're open to making those connections, you'll absolutely find your niche... maybe not where you expect it but it's there.
The Best Things
The Worst Things
that I only have 2 more years