There are student groups to accommodate almost anyone, including very active LGBT groups, ethnic clubs, and religious organizations. There is also a very large community of international students, and even American students all seem to be very well traveled and internationally-minded, so there is an acceptance and interest in different cultures. The Jewish community in particular seems very prominent and active with the CJL (Center for Jewish Life) adjacent to campus and frequently hosting events. There is a significant gay community, but many do not choose to participate in LGBT groups on campus and complain about the gay dating scene, which is very limited at Princeton. Like on most college campuses, the political lean is to the left, but there is still definitely a significant and active conservative portion of the student body. There are numerous political or politically related groups, like the College Democrats, College Republicans, Pro-Choice Vox, and Anscombe Society. While a majority of students aren't in one of these political organizations on campus, the student body is still generally informed and opinionated and current events make common conversation topics both in academics and among friends. One great way that Princeton encourages students from all backgrounds to apply is through their amazing financial aid packages, which guarantee to meet all calculated family need, eliminating the need to take out loans to cover the otherwise pricey tuition. A little over half of the student body receives aid from the school which greatly enhances the campus diversity, however wealthier financial backgrounds are also prevalent, and the other half of campus can afford to pay the over 40,000 a year for school. Sometimes this portion of campus seems like more than half because of the higher visibility of students with expensive clothing who are able to take pricier vacations over break, but they are actually not the majority. This can lead to some stress to students from different backgrounds, who may feel like they cannot necessarily afford to keep up with their peers. Regardless of their financial background, however, all students seem to be equally ambitious, with the knowledge that a Princeton education can take them far in life if they make the most of the opportunities it offers. While there are students from almost every state and hundreds of countries, the largest groups are probably from California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, with one of the larger international contingencies from London. In addition, many students come from private, boarding, prep, or magnet schools. As a graduate of a public high school in Virginia, I entered Princeton knowing only one other person in the school, with no peers from my graduating class, unlike many of my classmates who had up to 20 people from their year alone coming to school with them. Though at first it seemed daunting at times when so many other people all seemed to already know each other, I found it refreshing to be able to start college with a completely clean slate and meet new people without basing my social life around people I knew previously. Princeton students usually tend to look well put together. While some, especially a lot of athletes, will go to class in sweats, most tend to dress a little nicer, but not over the top fancy. Jeans with sandals, heels or boots is pretty typical for girls, though sneakers like Converse are also common. On the weekends, if going out to a party, dress becomes a little fancier and more club-like. Short but casual dresses or nice tops with jeans or leggings is common for girls and guys will often wear a polo or more fitted T-shirt. While classes and extracurricular activities bring many diverse students together, there is still a definite divide, especially among those who are involved in life on the Street (eating club members or those who frequently attend parties there) and those who are not. While there is no particular animosity among these two groups, there is more of a lack of mixing, and it is not based on racial, ethnic, religious, or LGBT status, but more on a combination of personal choice and at times socioeconomic factors (eating club membership often is more expensive, though the university is slowly working on using financial aid to reduce this cost). Though there are always exceptions to this divide in friend groups and in teams and clubs that bring people together, it still remains a recognized issue on campus.
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.
I believe that different financial situations were not a hindrance to friendships throughout the school year though financial situations sometimes did play a role in the types of activities that were planned for spring vacations and senior year dead week. I'd say that the most prevalent financial background at Princeton is upper middle class, though I may also think this because these students stood out more with the types of activities they do and the types of clothes that they wear. I knew a lot of students that were from the east coast, mainly New York and New Jersey, as well as many students from California. I'm not sure of the exact make up of each class but I would say that these 3 states must make up a decent amount of each class. I felt like there were very few students from the midwest, especially from Indiana. My cohort had only six students total from Indiana. Overall, students are politically aware, however, I would not say that the majority of the campus is politically active. Before coming to college, I believed that Princeton would be made up of a majority of right wing Republicans, however, I learned throughout my years that the Princeton student body was actually made up of more Democrats than Republicans.
I love nerds. This may explain why I like the Princeton student body. In general, there are some really nice people at Princeton, and no matter who you are you'll have no trouble making life-long friends. There are also some jerks. Avoiding them is not difficult. My favorite thing about the Princeton student body is that everyone seems to have some kind of excitement factor to them, something really interesting that they've done that made them stand out to the admissions department. Sometimes this thing provides excellent teasing material. After six months at Princeton I discovered that one of my best friends was a national bagpiping champion. Bonus points if you can track down this person and tease him via Facebook.
LGBT is kind of big. Or at least they make their presence known with a lot of events and posters, etc. I can't really think of anyone who would feel out of place at Princeton. There's something for everyone. Students wear whatever to class -- jeans and tops. There are a lot of athletes so they wear sweats. People aren't dressed up for class. If you are wearing heels during the day, people are going to look at you in a weird way. Students are from all over the world. Students are very politically active. I've never heard anyone talk about how much money they will earn one day. People talk about career paths. But money is not a big topic of discussion at least around me.
Princeton provided me opportunities to interact with a much more diverse group of people than I ever had before. Students who grew up in urban, poverty-afflicted areas would probably feel most out of place. Most students would wear jeans and a shirt or button down to class, a few got more dressed up Four tables: asians, jocks, nerds, miscellaneous A lot of students seem to be from the East Coast, namely New England Upper middle-upper class predominate The majority are politically aware but fewer are active, predominantly left Some students do talk about money
White. If not white, upperclass minorities. There is no socioeconomic diversity, save the two or three full aid cases. Although aid is generous, most minorities are made somewhat uneasy about Princeton's veritable reputaiton for churning out conservative investment bankers and adulterous Govs. (Elliot Spitzer). Yes it is a meritocracy...for a reserved 100 undergraduate spots. All you really have to do is donate $120 million to create a new residental college (Meg Whitman CEO of EBay) to get your alcoholic, beligerantly drunk son into Princeton. Future leaders.
Students are very politically aware, but not as active as I expected... probably because of the intense academics demands. Students wear everything from pajamas to button up shirts, blazers, and casual dresses to class. I can't really imagine a student who would feel out of place at Princeton. There is a life for everyone: partiers, studiers, sports, music, art, the religious, rich, poor, international. There are all types of people here.
Princeton undergraduates are funny, ironic, smart, clever, gregarious, brilliant, loyal, straight, gay, preppy, hip, new money, old money, no money, Caucasian, Hispanic, Indian, African American, Asian, European students who are scientists, artists, actors, writers, economists, athletes and politicians that share one commonality: they are fierce, focused, and addicted to acapello singing groups.
There are definitely many different faces of Princeton. Diversity is one of our main goals. However, there is unfortunately, a degree of segregation among the students. There are the preppy kids who will go out and party on any given night. Racially, students seem to self-sort. Also, it is fairly obvious that those with more money tend to have more vibrant social lives.