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Princeton University

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Princeton students are fascinating...no one seems to be totally one-sided. From foreign languages, to sports, to musical instruments, to the ability to dance salsa or program a computer, it seems like everyone you meet here has some sort of hidden passion or talent beyond simply what they are studying in their classes. In some ways, one of the downfalls of a place like Princeton is that there is often so much academic pressure, and such a competitive atmosphere, that it feels like there's never enough time to keep up with all of your interests or take advantage of all of the incredible opportunities Princeton has to offer. The school feels large at first during freshman year, but quickly seems to shrink sophomore year as you get into a "niche." It soon seems like you see the same small community of people everywhere, centered around the types of classes you take or the types of places you hang out or party. When this atmosphere feels too stifling its easy to forget that there are thousands more students on campus, but when you realize this its easy to reach out and meet completely new groups of people. The size is nice in this way, but it's still a relatively small school, which makes it much easier to have an identity, especially in classes and departments, than at larger schools. Another huge plus about the size is that the grad school at Princeton is tiny compared to the undergrad program, which means that the focus is truly on the undergrad students and the amazing professors here actually interact with you as early as freshman year (this isn't true at all the Ivy Leagues even and really makes Princeton stand out). The town of Princeton is smaller than a lot of college towns. As far as the part in walking distance from campus, there's not much. Some awesome ice cream stores (Bent Spoon and Thomas Sweet's are student favorites), some pricey restaurants (great for dates or when parents visit but not as much for day to day eating), and a few clothing stores (J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, and the like). That said, it is a gorgeous town, peaceful (always feels safe), and there are still fun places to discover. Since its so small, you always see other students, even off campus. To find the usual main stream chain stores, you have to take a car (you can have one in the student lot starting sophomore year) or a bus (runs every few hours from campus) to Route 1, about a 10 minute drive. There, you can find almost anything, and Target and such are good for dorm supplies (way cheaper than what you'll find in Princeton proper). Students spend the vast majority of their time on campus, however. Frist Campus Center is a popular hang out, with study space, a cafe, dining area, mail room, classrooms, and more. Students are very opinionated about the administration and have many criticisms, especially about certain recurring issues. Starting just a few years ago, the administration installed a policy of "grade deflation" which limits the number of A's that professors can give to their students. For obvious reasons, this is hugely controversial, and I don't think I've ever met a student who thinks it is reasonable. Students begrudge this policy and how getting A's at Harvard is "a breeze" in comparison, with no similar policy. This fall, the administration also revised the school's alcohol policy, making it much stricter than previously. Now RCAs (upperclassmen who live in freshman and sophomore dorms in mainly advisory roles) are required to break up parties in their dormitories, which many fear will drastically change the previously friendly relationship between students their advisers. Discussions about the future this policy are currently taking place. Students seem to love Princeton, and are very proud of their school and its traditions, but that said, school spirit surrounding sporting events is not particularly high. One awesome thing about the school in general is its tradition. The school is very proud of its many illustrious alumni over the years, and a sense of history is definitely present. Along with the seriousness, this is accompanied by some seriously fun traditions. For example, if Princeton beats both Harvard and Yale in its football season there is a massive bonfire in the middle of Cannon Green on campus. This happened for the first time in almost 13 years when I was a freshman and the celebration and excitement around the final Yale game and the victorious bonfire were unforgettable. The most common complaint students have is stress. Everyone always has a million things going at once, from academics, to applications for summer internships, to extracurriculars, and the stress levels seem to be at a constant high. That said, students still find time to have fun. There's a definite "work hard, play hard" mentality on campus.

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The best thing about Princeton academically is that it is strong in a variety of disciplines. Therefore, often many elective that you take happen to be taught by world renowned faculty. This is great because it can spark your interest in a subject that you never thought you would be passionate about. Another great thing about Princeton academically is that professors and TAs are very responsive to meeting with students for help or to discuss papers and homework assignments. Usually you have to put in the effort to get help, but once you put the effort in you can find what you need. I thought the size of the school was just right (but I graduated in 2007 before admission numbers were increased even more). It was big enough that you could always meet different people (even through senior year) but small enough that you saw a familiar face wherever you went. The town itself is kind of boring, but Princeton is close and well connected to New York city. Due to heavy workloads, I didn't go into the city as much as I would have liked. However, if you make the effort it is easy enough to go to the city at least once a month. The food in Princeton though is amazing (though it is kind of pricey)- now that I am an alum, I find myself craving random dishes from Princeton! This year I am working in India and I realized how far the Princeton name can really take you. Often times, I can get meetings with government officials and NGO leaders because they take me more seriously than I think they would have if I went to a less well known school. In terms of school pride, I think it exists but not really on the athletic fields. I grew up in South Bend, IN where basically everyone in town did nothing else but watch Notre Dame football every Saturday. Excited to attend football games in college, I went to one of the first home games my freshman year. I was sadly disappointed because the stadium was more than half empty (I swear more people went to the football games for my high school team) and people were not cheering very loudly. I have to admit though that after that first game, I rarely attended football games so things may have changed since then.

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Considered to be the most conservative of the Ivy Leagues but still seems extremely liberal to republican kid from the south. Sports definately take a back seat compaired to most other schools. Most unique aspect of student life is the eating clubs, which aren't found at any other school (I don't think). They are kind of like coed fraternities where upperclassmen eat all there meals, if they choose become a member that is. Most of the nightlife/social scene revolves around "the Street" where all the eating clubs are located. Multiple clubs are open to all students, regardless of membership, on most Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Academics are very challenging, although engineering seems to be even more so than humanities. I typically spend anywhere from 10-30 hours per week doing homework. Some people complain about the town being too small and there not being anything to do off campus, but I like it. It's quieter than a city, and everything you need is within walking distance. Plus there are always things to do on the weekends with all the student group productions (music, dance, plays, etc). We always complain about the administration. Especially their "war on fun," or the constant attempts to crack-down on underage drinking, and on-campus drinking in general. Grade deflation (placing a cap on the number of A's a department can give out every semester, and hence drag down your GPA) is also a huge point of contention.

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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.

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Princeton is sweet. The students here are extremely intellectually curious, and yet very normal at the same time. It's easy to think that everyone at Princeton must be a total loser who spends every waking moment buried in a textbook, but everybody's actually real chill. Like any internationally renowned university there are definitely some freakishly smart, socially apocalyptic kids at Princeton, but your average Princetonian is normal. The town is wonderful too and is filled to the brim with quaint mom-and-pop boutiques and preppy shopping. School pride is pretty high: it's hard to believe there's many people that aren't proud to go to Princeton. The basketball and football teams draw a solid crowd if they're playing well but the stands tend to be empty when the teams suck. Lacrosse is big too and their games are pretty sick. Students complain about college administrators regardless of where you are and Princeton is no exception, but they do a good job in general. All in all it's a great school.

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The best thing about Princeton is the campus--it's beautiful. Also, the size of the student body is pretty nice because it's not too large or too small. I would definitely change the grade deflation-it's a sad excuse for elitism in an overly pretentious institution for higher education. Ultimately, it unfairly biased against 70% of the student population simply for the reason of maintaining an unnecessary exclusivity. The administration is great, but the professors in the sciences are not nearly as available as college guides and tours let on. Most of the time, they're too busy with research to care about student questions. You often have to hound them to get help, although when you finally do receive it, they are very knowledgeable.

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Best things: heavily focused on undergraduate studies, looking to expand the arts, prestigious Change: add a few degrees, e.g. journalism; less elitism within eating clubs Good size People are usually taken aback when they hear I went to Princeton, usually impressed too Most time on campus is spent in my room doing work, sleeping, watching tv, etc. Not a huge college town really The admin is decent I suppose, perhaps a little slow and stubborn to react to student suggestions/complaints Grade deflation controversy Lots of school pride Unusual: eating clubs Always remember: community action Student complaints: the gym/fitness center, grade deflation, eating club selectivity

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There are a million things to say about how amazing Princeton is: the picture perfect campus, the top-notch teachers, the wonderful friends I've made, but I think the most impressive part of Princeton is the sense we get that the faculty and administration really are trying their hardest to make everything at Princeton the best it can be for us undergraduates. Of course, Princeton already has a reputation as the best in many areas, but even the small things have been perfected: the printing is free, the laundry is free, I have more advisers than I can shake a stick at. If there is any problem, no matter how small, I firmly believe that Princeton will help me fix it.

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could describe how highly i think of this school. There is literally nothing I would change. The rather small size of Princeton, though not ideal for everybody, is perfect if you want the opportunity to meet almost all the people in your class, yet you will never have the feeling that you are limited to spending your time with 10 people... whether you like them or not. School pride here is incredible. People here love the school, and it generally seems that the school loves the people back too. Classes are tough, yes, but will be well worth the effort. Overall, if I could have restarted and picked any school in the world, it would have been Princeton.

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The best thing about Princeton is definitely the students! Each student is more incredible than the last. You're surrounded by people with incredible accomplishments the moment you step on this campus. And, the best part is that these students are incredibly down to earth and more than happy to share their passions with you. The school's size is just right - although there is an entire portion of the population that I never see. The sociable population however is quite nice. Small enough that you are always surrounded by people you know but big enough that you still meet new people every day.

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