Princeton University Top Questions

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Ryan

You're actually going to need a number of different stereotypes to accurately cover the Princeton student body. 1) Politicians / resume-builders (these are the kids that admission processes are designed for, they are resume building and extracurricular collecting from the day they step on campus, so get the hell out of the way because they need to go feed some homeless people and be back for acapella practice by 9) 2) Athletes (seemed like a healthy 10-15% of student body, often shockingly dumb and academically under-accomplished, they did spice up the social life a bit) 3) Nerds (socially inept and consumed by their studies, occasionally you will run across them in the library, many you will see only on move-in day, in the paper when they make a nobel-prize winning discovery, and on graduation day) 4) Aristocrats (rich, white, overprivileged, snobby...highest concentration in Ivy and Cottage eating clubs) 5) Minority cliques (Jewish and black being the most notable) 6) Fallen stars (valedictorians of mediocre public schools who proceed to get a good academic @ss-kicking, also the sheltered and overprotected types who taste social freedom for the first time and go way, way overboard, either entering into some kind of weird, abusive relationship or going out 7-nights a week and forgetting to go to class)

Emily

There are definitely some people at Princeton who are like this. However, their influence is not monolithic. It all depends on who you hang out with; *which* eating club you go to. I've made several good friends who are the absolute antithesis of the preppy stereotype, as worried as I was about it when I came here. Princeton has changed so much since the pre-coeducation days--now I'm the biggest champion of its prevailing atmosphere of forward-thinking tolerance.

Ryan

Like all stereotypes, the one about Princeton students being wealthy is rooted in truth, but taken too far. I have friends who are very well off, and I have friends who wouldn't be able to be here if it weren't for 100% financial aid. So yeah, the median income among Princeton students is a good deal higher the median for the population at large, but there's a wide distribution as well.

Ryan

The stereotypes are not totally accurate, but they're also not way off-base. A lot of Princeton students *are* preppy and well-off. When I was a freshman, subscriptions to the J. Crew and Abercrombie catalogs were so ubiquitous that the companies delivered cases of them to the university, and the mail staff simply left stacks of them out instead of stuffing them in individual mailboxes. Once, at dinner, several people at my table left the meal early because they heard the new season's catalogs had just arrived. I wish I was kidding. Of the four people in my freshman dorm room, one was a legacy. She was a self-professed "English major all the way" who once confessed to me, near tears, that she was just SO upset because she hadn't been shopping in weeks and had worn everything in her closet at least three times already. So, those people DO exist and if my (and some of my friends') experiences are representative, they comprise a pretty sizable part of the student body -- though not a majority. However, my other two roommates were interesting, well-rounded people. Three of the four of us were on financial aid (you can guess who wasn't), and one of us was a local New Jersey resident. Over my four years at Princeton, I really did find the preppy part of the culture to be pervasive. Other types are to be found, if you keep an eye out. It is definitely true that some of the people at Princeton are so smart that you fully expect to one day be able to say, "I went to school with So-and-So" as a way to impress strangers. In some ways, students like that are who Princeton is for. It has to be good enough, and flexible enough, to keep those students challenged while not destroying the confidence of the rest of us. I'm lucky to have taken classes with a 15 year-old budding mathematician (who thought it was strange that we found quantum mechanics challenging). And, for the most part, my classmates and friends were brilliant and engaging.

Hannah

A student at Princeton describes what they imagine the school’s reputation to be, and how much truth there is behind the myth.

Jesse

I never really encountered the hyper-exclusive/competitive atmosphere that may be attributed to Princeton. I'm sure such uber-competitive people were out there, but they were probably locked away in their rooms plotting new ways to gain an advantage. In my experience, Princeton students generally cared a lot about their classes, grades, and activities, but that oddly didn't breed a competitive atmosphere, at least not one of student versus student. Students were driven to do the best for themselves, not to beat one another. Two possible exceptions: bicker club admission and pre-meds (I can't speak from experience in either case).

Mackenzie

Not really. Many of the students are here on financial aid, and those students who are wealthy usually do not talk about it. You would never know they were a Rockefeller or that their father was the CEO of an international company. The pretentiousness is very overrated as well--most students are smart and down to earth--they do not care where you were born as long as you are interesting and intelligent. As for the preppy-ness, there are some days when students attempt to fit the stereotypes (like for Lawn Parties when they dress in pink polos, lobster shorts, and sundresses), but the majority of the time they dress perfectly normal. There are just as many jeans and t-shirt wearers as polo-donners.

Jim

Not really, I mean, there are kids that outwardly could be considered either of those stereotypes but it's so diverse here that it would be stupid to think there's a "classic" or "quintessential" Princeton student.

Pete

Not really

Jody

some people fit that mold, but very many do not.

Laura

Only to a very limited extent. Over 50% of kids are on financial aid, and for every preppy kid you find here, you'll find an equally punk/artsy/goth/jock kid. The sciences are just as strong here as the humanities, with very strong biology, chemistry, math, physics and engineering programs. Princeton is trying to emphasize more non-traditional career path routes, outside of finance, consulting, med school and law school.

Emma

Princeton does a great job of attracting students of all economic backgrounds, so it is certainly not true that we are all wealthy and snooty. There are a fair share of polos-sporting students, but I would say that it really isn't the majority. There are so many different types of students here, and it is acceptable to be whatever you want to be. One couple that I commonly see on campus consists of a pearl-and-polo-wearing girl and a mohawk-sporting, anti-establishment guy.

Gene

Somewhat--There's a divide on campus between those that ARE rich and entitled versus those who aren't. I would say the campus is more diverse than stereotypes play into.

Andy

of course not. sure, theres an occasional douchebag, and a good portion of the campus stays in most of the time and doesnt like to party, but overall most people are very friendly and outgoing. some kids are crazy smart and the average kid is very intelligent compared to national standards but theres a lot of chill homies you just gotta find em.

Devin

in reality there are really cool students everywhere, and despite there are plenty of "nerds" who do nothing but work, there are also a lot of kids who enjoy the balance between work and play, but this is not to say that those kids who do nothing but work aren't sometimes really cool kids either. as for the stuck up rich kids, there are no doubt some of those year, but for the most part if someone happens to have come from a rich family, they are not so overtly stuck up that it's a problem. As for academically, yes the school is very difficult and absurdly competitive, but it's very possible to survive and even thrive for the average student

Andy

They are to some extent since a lot of the students are affluent, but most people are friendly and pretty down to earth so the stereotype really doesn't hold

Toby

Somewhat

Janice

Some of these stereotypes may describe a part of the student body but not the whole student body. At any school you may find people who fit those categories.

Andy

Although a lot of kids do fit this mold, most are just normal kids who happen to be really smart. They want to get away with doing as little work as possible while still being able to get a high-paying job upon graduation.

Andy

Extremely partially if at all. The reality is, Princeton in the past several decades has completely transformed from a "old boy's club" into an egalitarian institution which reaches out into the community and prides itself on its diversity. The eating club admissions process can get testy at times, but half the clubs have open admissions and most of the rest try to make bicker fun. The student body contains every imaginable kind of student, and it's almost impossible not to find your niche.

Alex

they're all true to a certain degree. However, it's also possible not to abide by the stereotypes.

Virginia

Most definitely well-rounded and interesting, intellectual people. The preppy crowd exists, but I don't find that a negative. Some are elitist.

Ron

Sort of, but there's a lot more to this place than just that.

Sean

These stereotypes are somewhat accurate, but of course these observations are not the rule, but certainly can be seen on campus.

danny

all of these are true but for every princeton student fulfilling these stereotypes i can find one that does not.

Brendan

Like most stereotypes, these ones are based in history. Yes, Princeton very much used to be an old boys' club that favored the rich, white, and male, but then again, so did most of the other top universities in the country. Today, Princeton is much more diverse and offers incredible academic opportunities to a much wider segment of the population.

Blake

100%

Gene

Of course they're exaggerated, but there is a measure of truth in all of them. People here really do seem to be richer, preppier, more Type A, and more hard-working yet hard-partying than friends of friends I've met from other schools.

Michael

for a select few, yes.

Josh

No. There are of course those on campus that are clearly so privelaged they have never had a real job, or know the value of a dollar. But these people are a small minority. A majority of students are on financial aid, and admission is "need blind" so your trypical student has really earned his/her place here. Also, Princeton seems to value a well-rounded student who has demonstrated a sincere dedication to a pet project or interest than a student with perfect grades.

Adam

Sadly yes.

Andy

YES.

josh

not really. well there are lots of people here only a few are truly elitist. and not everyone here is smart, there are some real idiots

Jimi

Yes these sterotypes exist

Alex

They are somewhat accurate.

Shelby

I think there are many people people at Princeton that do fit that stereotype, but there are many others that do not. So I wouldn't say that that stereotype accurately portrays the general population at Princeton.

Paige

Though people who fit these stereotypes do exist, I would not say the majority of students represent this image.

Mary

yes, they are smart, but that is only a good thing. and some people are very preppy but by no means everyone!

Alexis

Not 100% accurate. Much better social scene than the stereotypes probably give Princeton credit for. There are obviously students who all they do is study, but on the whole Princeton students are extremely well-rounded (involved in many different activities) and "down to earth."

Lindsay

The stereotypes are definitely not accurate in terms of numbers (44% of admits into the class of 2012 are students of color), but there are still cultural divides and self-segregation that do not reflect the diversity of Princeton's student body. And, despite ostensible gender equity at Princeton since President Tilghman and Deans Deignan, Rapelye, and Malkiel are all women, student leadership has a long way to go. Eating clubs, student organizations, and residential colleges are disproportionately governed by men.

olivia

No. I KNOW that you can find people of these stereotypes at any and every school. These people exist at Princeton, but they are by no means in the majority. I have been thrilled by the number of interesting, mature, artistic, and extremely friendly people at Princeton.

Daver

There are some of these people at Princeton, and they fit the stereotype hilariously. But as you could probably guess, not everyone fits into these categories.

Jordan

Like all stereotypes, yes and no.

Vick

There is a kernal of truth to this. And it seems that students start conforming more to the stereotype as they get older and enter the eating clubs, where the preppy attitude/look is usually encouraged.

Gene

Princeton is, I hear, the wealthiest per capita (per family) in the Ivy League, and that segment of students (and their mystique) lend the social atmosphere a strange exclusivity. Most of that exclusivity, though, is artificial. Differences in intelligence, beauty, social status, popularity between the various "classes" of Princeton students seem quite trivial to me, despite the stereotypes. Some find it hard to find normal friends here. I think it's relatively simple, as long as you can find a good student group, and peers with similar interests and goals. If you can't find a group like that, you may be out of luck socially.

Devin

To some degree; they apply to a good number of students but not nearly all

Reese

There's definitely a select circle of Princeton that is very interested in social climbing and networking, and will probably go from being privileged college kids to rich stock brokers. That said, there's also a huge group of incredibly thoughtful and interesting people that want to learn about the world and make it a better place. Princeton can provide a lot of opportunity, it just depends what you do with it, and people do some very different things. For every pretentious prepster, there are two intense academics and three interesting, normal people.

Zoe

While I definitely have met a fair share of wealthy prepsters and rocket scientists, there's definitely more to Princeton than just that. The University's generous financial aid policy allows kids from all socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy an ivy league education. We do tend to generally be a studious group, but we also know how to have a good time.

KC

In some ways, yes, but in other ways, no. There are many parts of Princeton that encourage an elitist culture- primarily the eating clubs. I was on the whole disappointed with the amount of elitism that i saw, primarily through the eating clubs, but i've also found many people who were more accepting and open-minded than i have encountered anywhere else. I've encountered more very wealthy students at Princeton than anywhere else, but I've also encountered many students who were not at all rich, since Princeton gives such good financial aid. I would say that while Princeton has more wealthy students than most other schools, it's definitely not just rich kids. On the whole, Princeton was less diverse than i would have hoped. However, as long as i tried to hang out with different people and attend a variety of events (rather than just going to the eating clubs for example), i was able to find a lot of different types of people. So while the stereotypes are true to an extent, they aren't really if you take a deeper look.

Nico

No, there is definitely a wide range of people throughout campus. You can always find the type of people you're looking for. While there may be some people who exhibit these qualities, let's be honest... they exist on almost every campus. One advantage Princeton has is that there are so many students from all over the world.