Princeton University, located in central New Jersey, is the fourth-oldest college in the United States and a member of the prestigious Ivy League. Princeton is, in the college’s own words, “distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.” Princeton’s over 5,000 undergraduates may work toward a bachelor of arts in any of 31 disciplines. Alternatively, students may pursue a bachelor of science in engineering. Princeton also offers 53 certificate programs that can be completed in addition to the student’s major field of study.
How does this commitment to teaching manifest itself to incoming undergraduates?
“Happy students! That is Princeton’s best-kept secret,” emphasizes a representative of Princeton’s admissions staff. “We make sure our students receive as much support as we can give them, socially as well as academically.”
The more than 70 freshman seminars Princeton offers serve as an example that combines both types of support. These are small classes that give students the chance to develop relationships and exchange ideas with classmates and professors. The topics of these seminars are thought-provoking and vary from “Life in a Nuclear-Armed World” to “Flirtation or Seduction?” The university’s website mentions that lecture hall courses are scaled down as well—and that “at Princeton, no one gets lost in the crowd.”
“We have many student centers,” continues the admissions representative. “We pride ourselves on our student diversity and our efforts to support every group and every individual.”
A look at Princeton’s campus organizations indeed reveals the Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, the Women’s Center, the Davis International Center, Institutional Equity and Diversity at Princeton, and other groups where students can go to feel nurtured and encouraged.
Princeton University also has the desire to help undergraduates financially, as much as possible. Princeton’s college admissions rep explains: “All of our financial aid is needs-based rather than merit-based. Students are admitted ‘needs blind.’ We cannot promise that financial aid will cover 100% of every family’s needs, but lowest level income students will find money no barrier.”
Princeton supplies a helpful Financial Aid Estimator on its website for students and their families to use. A look at Princeton University’s financial aid page reveals an encouraging statistic: 84% of recent seniors graduated debt-free.
If you're curious how to get into Princeton, a word or two of advice about applications from Princeton’s Office of Admission: “Proofread! Something as small as an incorrectly capitalized letter can catch an admissions officer’s eye.” Mistakes in punctuation, spelling, and grammar are not minor issues that are somehow canceled out by the brilliant ideas in the application. Attention to detail shows a student’s willingness to take pains to reach his or her goal—acceptance! This piece of advice is echoed by a recent NPR article, What the People Who Read Your College Application Really Think. In it, Kirk Carapezza advises students not to “phone it in” with a “sloppy, half-baked essay.” These recommendations only make sense. If you wanted to look your best, you wouldn’t just put on whatever you found on the floor of your closet. If you were in a school play, you wouldn’t refuse to go to rehearsal because you think “I’m so much more talented than everybody else.” Effort counts.
You may be aware of the pitfalls of a too-casual approach to the application process, but surprisingly, not every applicant gets it. Carapezza presents a student whose application “comes off just a bit arrogant.” Princeton admissions, more diplomatically, refers to situations like these as “students not striking an appropriate tone.” No matter how it’s described, the end result of not taking pains with the application is not good for the person who wants to be admitted.
One of the best moves a student interested in Princeton University can make is this: learn more. Go to Princeton’s website and take advantage of the abundant information there. Read some of the profiles of members of the community. Look at the public events scheduled and see if they look inviting. Learn the details of the application process. Take a campus tour.
In short, find out not only if you are right for Princeton, but if Princeton is right for you!
Remember, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring is always here to help make the testing process as easy and stress-free as possible so you can focus on things like finding the right school for you and your family. We help you determine which test—the SAT or the ACT—is better aligned with your strengths, and we match you with tutors who can teach you both content and testing strategies to help you attain your “personal best” score.
If you would like more information on anything related to testing or your college career, our Client Service Directors—Anne Stanley, and Susan Ware—are available to answer questions, provide solutions, and assist you in achieving your educational goals. You may reach any of our directors by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.
*Photo courtesy of Jon Niola