There are three things every freshman must know before starting Princeton. 1. Dormitory rooms are incredibly small; closets are tiny; bring less of everything. 2. Make appointments to have coffee with your professors; you will miss the best feature of Princeton if you are too shy. There will be no other time in your life when you can have one on one meetings with Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, famous authors and political consultants you see on CNN and Fox News. 3 Study hard from Sunday to Thursday, party on the weekend: meet your peers, they are incredible!
I wish I had known that my school only offers minors in a few departments; most departments that offer majors do not offer minors (or certificates, as we call them). I had assumed that all departments offered certificates . I also wish I had anticipated how difficult it would be to move across the country a couple times each year. I live a couple thousand miles away from my school, so storing my stuff over the summer can be a big problem, especially since my school only provides storage to international students.
Mostly, I wish I had known how much I would enjoy it there, so that I wouldn't have stressed out quite so much before coming to campus. But I also wish I had known some more practical things, like that the weather is more rainy than I was used to, or that the most convenient way to get my things from home to campus and back again is not necessarily driving the 1,000 mile trip twice freshman year--finding a place to store things over the summer can be a pain, but is very helpful!
I wish I had known about the grading scale. At Princeton, they set it up so that only 30 percent or so of the students in any given course or major can receive an A. It's pretty stupid to do this, considering that at a school like Princeton, almost all of the students are able to earn an A. It causes grades to be given based on policy rather than on what the individual student deserves.
I wish I had known how to balance my time! Sometimes it's hard adjusting to a schedule that has so much "free time" and learning how to use it to study more effectively. I also wish that I could have learned how to organize my homwork. Unlike high school, where time and work are very regimented, Princeton has a lot of work that it expects you to know how to manage on your own.
I wish I would've known that the workload was so demanding and that the stress level is so consistently high. I would have also liked to know that there is no place on earth that you can learn more. I wish I would have known that this would be the most rewarding decision of my life.
I wish I had known more of what I wanted to do, so I could have taken advantage of all the opportunities available. There were so many extracurriculars and classes outside of my major that I would have loved to participate in, if only I had had it more together.
That there are more conservatives than I'd expect, that there actually ARE frats and sororities, that people can be shockingly apathetic, and that you HAVE to be outgoing and join activities to make friends. Also, that you're not allowed to leave your door open.
How absolutely wonderful and brilliant the faculty, staff, and students are. They are a true source of inspiration to be the best you can be. You never feel alone; rather, there is always someone to help you get through the rigorous academic work.
I wish I had known more about the research that various faculty on campus are engaged in so that I could become more involved with professors earlier on.