Visited on: October 13, 2017
Visited by: Burcak Deniz Cakir
After driving through the beautiful town of Princeton filled with local merchants and cute little cafes, I parked my car at the Admission Visitor Parking and took the shuttle, which was a 5-minute ride to get to the Clio Hall. We were greeted by an Admissions Officer on the second floor of the Admissions Office, from where we were escorted to Nassau Hall, where the admission information session took place. The reason why they were conducting the information session at Nassau Hall was because of its rich history. Princeton University, the fourth oldest college in the nation, was originally called “The College of New Jersey” when it was chartered in 1746 and consisted of only one building, the Nassau Hall, which housed all the students, their classes, offices, and even the Dining Hall under the same roof. With its 5,200 undergraduate students who look fit, preppy, smart, and ready to take on the world, Princeton offers a fairy-tale-like college campus known for its rural and architectural beauty.
The one-hour information session consisted of information about the following topics:
Academics: Princeton offers two degrees: Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) and Bachelor of Arts (A.B.). Engineering students, who are 30% of the student body, have until the end of freshman year to declare their majors, whereas students who are working towards an A.B., 70% of the student body, have until the end of sophomore year to do so. All classes are taught by professors with a 5:1 student to faculty ratio. All freshmen are required to take Freshman Writing Seminar, and all students are required to submit a senior thesis to be able to graduate regardless of their majors.
Study Abroad: Students can choose from over 100 programs in 44 countries and spend a semester or a year abroad taking advantage of study abroad, internship, or job opportunities in those countries. Students are allowed to suggest another program that might not be on the list and propose it for approval. Depending on the nature of the program, some study abroad programs can be partially or fully reimbursed by Princeton.
Bridge Year Program: This is a very unique Princeton opportunity that allows students to take 9-month trips to different countries. Although it is open to all students, there are only 35 spots available out of the 100 applications because the trip is fully funded by Princeton. Selected students must defer their enrollment for one year and must complete the full four years upon returning to the campus. It does not count for Princeton credit, but it surely is a great experience!
Extracurriculars: There are not only traditional activities such as debate club, student council, etc., but also a huge selection of fun clubs like “Cheese and Bad Movies Club”, which is literally what they do: eat cheese and watch bad movies! There are also many outdoor activities and trips as well as one-week community action trips and other volunteer work opportunities organized by the Student Volunteer Council.
Religious Life: There is an Office of Religious Life on campus to help students with their religious needs. The Chapel, which is the third largest religious building on a college campus in the world, is the common area for all religions.
Athletics: Princeton participates in the Ivy League with its 37 varsity teams for men and women and has one of the largest and most successful athletic programs in the NCAA Division I. There are 38 club level sports, ranging from ballroom dancing to Ultimate Frisbee. The intramural sports program is also very rich with over 500 teams and over 30 group fitness and instructional classes.
Arts: Princeton has an arts-infused campus with 10 theater groups, 14 acapella groups, and 10 dance groups. Many opportunities for dance also turn into a minor for those involved students. The Lewis Center for the Arts houses programs such as creative writing, dance, music theater, and more.
Residential Life: All students live on campus for 4 years. All freshmen and sophomores are required to live in a residential college, where they live, study, eat, and socialize. At the end of the sophomore year, students have a chance to decide whether they want to continue living in a residential college or live in other campus housing for juniors and seniors. There are different housing types ranging from a room accommodating 8 students to a single room. When students apply for housing, they do have a chance to indicate their preference about the room type. Freshmen and sophomores usually eat their meals in the residential college dining halls. Eating clubs which serve as dining facilities and social centers, as well as food co-ops where students take turns cooking for everyone are the most common dining options preferred by juniors and seniors although they may still eat two free meals in the residential colleges using their meal plans if they choose to do so.
The Firestone Library, which was founded more than 260 years ago, offers excellent resources for research lovers and houses government documents, historic maps, as well as original scripts including The Great Gatsby.
Advising: For the first two years, students usually get general advising unless they have chosen a specific major. After they have declared their major, they get advised by their specific college advisor.
Financial Aid: Princeton takes pride in being one of the most (if not the most) generous colleges in the nation to make education affordable for everyone. Its distinction among other schools is that they offer only grants; no loans! Princeton is also one of the five colleges in the country who offer the same amount of aid to both national and international students. Princeton’s “Affordable for All” motto makes it possible for most students to graduate debt-free. The admission process is need-blind and need-based, which means students are guaranteed financial aid based according to need, but their need will not affect their admission decision at all. To qualify for financial aid, the FAFSA is required, but the CSS profile is not needed.
Admission: Princeton accepts applications through the Common App, Coalition App, and its university webpage. For those who want to apply early, Princeton offers a single choice, non-binding Early Action (EA) admission process, which means that an EA applicant cannot apply to an early program at another private college or university although they can apply to public universities, international institutions, and to any college or university with a non-binding rolling admission process. Early Action (EA) deadline is November 1st with the notification date December 15th . If admitted early, the student does not have to commit to Princeton and will still have time to decide until May 1st. Princeton’s Regular Decision (RD) deadline is January 1st, with the notifications (such as accept, deny, or waitlist) sent at the end of March. As for the admission criteria, the most important part of the application is the school transcript since it is the best predictor of a successful academic life. The writing section scores of the ACT or the SAT must be submitted along with the general test scores. School profile, personal statement, supplemental essays, 3 letters of recommendation, and portfolio submissions (if applicable), as well as alumni interviews, are crucial components of the application requirements.
My impression: The general information session was carefully planned, very informative, and flowed smoothly. However, it was interesting to see that probably not to lose the historical vibe of the Nassau Hall, where the session took place, no technology was used during the presentation, which made it a little more challenging to take notes. It was a simple, plain, and to-the-point presentation; not like all the other fancy colleges which use videos, Power Point Presentations, handouts, etc. to attract the audience’s attention. Well, maybe that is what happens when it is Princeton – the name already sells!
At the end of the general information session, our tour guide, who was a senior at the Woodrow Wilson School, majoring in Environmental Policy and actively involved in theater as an actor, gave us a one-hour tour of the campus. From the Firestone Library to the Prospect Garden, seeing the architectural wealth of Princeton combined with its historical charm fit right into the feel of an Ivy. Although the tour would have been more interesting if we had been allowed to see a dorm room or an interior of any other building, the charm of Princeton was enough to keep everyone happy and satisfied. My favorite part was when our tour guide explained his personal reasons as to why he chose Princeton:
- Research university with lots of money, but the main focus is always on the undergraduate studies
- Reunion for the alumni every spring when hundreds of them come back home and march on the streets all over the town
- Princeton pride
An Ivy league school is certainly not for everyone, but for a student who is headed that way, Princeton might just come to the top of the list with its very attractive financial aid package plus everything an Ivy has to offer!
Princeton, NJ 08544