Princeton University Top Questions

What are the most popular student activities/groups?

Haley

There's so much going on that it's hard to say what's most popular on campus. If they count in this then the eating clubs are most popular with a majority of upperclassmen joining them. Popular groups I can think of off the top of my head are Triangle (Comedy Musical Theater Group), The Prince (School Paper), a cappella groups, performance groups in general (so many dance groups!). Greek life is popular among certain groups once you're not a freshman.

Haley

There's so much going on that it's hard to say what's most popular on campus. If they count in this then the eating clubs are most popular with a majority of upperclassmen joining them. Popular groups I can think of off the top of my head are Triangle (Comedy Musical Theater Group), The Prince (School Paper), a cappella groups, performance groups in general (so many dance groups!).

Lucy

I'm a little biased since I'm a dancer, but I'd say that the dance groups are pretty big on campus. A capella groups, theater groups, and athletics constitute a large of campus life as well.

Stefan

People are involved in various different groups here on campus. I am an Orange Key Campus Tour Guide, the class of 2013 Vice President for student government, and a leader in the Universities outdoors program which runs a large pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen every year.

Andrea

There are too many to mention here. One of my favorites, though, are the a-capella groups that you will find performing under one of the many arches at Princeton. There is something special about walking home at night in the winter and being able to stop and listen to the wonderful singing going on around campus. If that's not your thing, however, there are dance groups, theater shows, all kinds of sports (at all levels) and the nightlife is also amongst the best I have ever experienced.

Andrea

There are too many to mention here. One of my favorites, though, are the a-capella groups that you will find performing under one of the many arches at Princeton. There is something special about walking home at night in the winter and being able to stop and listen to the wonderful singing going on around campus. If that's not your thing, however, there are dance groups, theater shows, all kinds of sports (at all levels) and the nightlife is also amongst the best I have ever experienced.

Aparajita

Eating clubs are big. So are athletics, performing arts groups, and even though they are currently in the process of being banned, fraternities and sororities continue to have some presence.

Ryan

Probably most relevant to talk about the eating clubs here, since there is really nothing else to do in Princeton. And what is there to say about eating clubs? For four years of your live everything seems to revolve around them. Probably for good reason...they ARE the social life on campus. It wasn't until I loosened up a bit, realized joining an eating club wasn't necessarily selling your soul, and started drinking heavily on weekends that I really started having fun at Princeton. Wish I hadn't waited until halfway through my time there to do that. Then once you graduate and return to the real world it all seems like a strange, distant dream...

Emily

My social life is by no means representative of the vast majority of Princeton social lives, but this is how I spent Princeton Halloween last week: After working/running errands all day, I changed into my Halloween costume (pre-coeducation Ivy League student) and went to my residential college dining hall for dinner. They were hosting a costume contest, in which I participated (though, alas, I didn't win), and I ate dinner with a couple sophomore friends then joined some of the resident grad students for dessert/conversation. At night I went to a party in honor of the Nassau Weekly, for which I write/the birthday of one of the editors. It was held in Terrace, my favorite eating club and actually the only one I'll set foot in on a voluntary basis. I have a number of friends in Terrace, and it's the only club to go to if you want a laid-back scene (though I haven't been to all of them). I saw some of my colleagues from the Nass, in addition to meeting some of the editor's friends. I subsequently got rather drunk on birthday punch, and left Terrace before it really got going for the night, so I missed out on much of the Princeton Halloween partying. I went back to my room fairly early and subsequently slept through my Friday morning class. Let it not be said that I spend every weekend getting drunk, though--that's far from normal. If I'd like to underscore anything, it's the diverse groups I'm friends with: fellow freshman who I just happened to meet through my residential college; colleagues at the publications I write for; folks I met through the LGBT Center; grad students and faculty fellows in my college; and their friends and their friends and their friends.

Ryan

The party scene is mostly at the eating clubs. The clubs are basically our version of frats/sororities. Instead of living there though, they serve meals to their junior and senior year members. But they open for everyone at night. The big party nights are Thursday and Saturday, but there's usually something going on every night of the week. I usually go out and drink maybe once every two weekends, and I would say that's pretty typical. Some people don't drink at all and never go out, and some people go out ~3 times a week. The dating scene is mostly about random hookups. A substantial number of people have really serious relationships. Not that much "dating" goes on - it's usually either single people who hook up or practically married people.

Ryan

Princeton's social life is getting better, but to be honest, I found it rather one-dimensional. Even now, if you don't join an eating club or know several people in a club that you can always go out with, your options are quite limited. There aren't really bars or clubs in town that people go to, and New York is too far away to visit often. 99% of "going out" consists of walking up and down The Street and picking from one of about a dozen parties that never really change. That's not to say that it can't be fun, but it can get old. And going to The Street involves alcohol unless you consciously abstain. It's not like you can't create your own fun without drinking, but there's not a huge dry contingent on campus.

Hannah

Dodgeball tournament is one of the largest events. It starts at 5pm and goes until 2am.

Hannah

View of the gym lobby during the Dodgeball tournament, with free food and students milling about to check the brackets.

Hannah

View of the small teams currently playing in the Princeton Dodgeball tournament, some of the smaller clubs.

Hannah

The Princeton Dodgeball tournament is a big annual event on campus.

Jessie

Aquina talks about her extracurriculars, which include figure skating and volunteering.

Hannah

Bracket for dodgeball tournament.

Jesse

Princeton students lovingly refer to the isolated campus phenomenon as being in the Orange Bubble. Mostly, they use this phrase when making excuses for why they have no idea what's going in the real world after extended periods at Princeton. More than anything, this demonstrates Princeton's ability to grab and completely hold your attention while attending. On top of the classes and large (and often interesting) workloads, Princeton offers innumerable opportunities for extracurricular activities, entertaining events, and general interaction with peers (and faculty). To give you an idea of why I was never bored there, here's a sample of my extracurricular schedule: Chapel choir (Monday and Thursday evenings, Sunday mornings), Bible study (Tuesday evenings), Paideia (Wednesday evenings), Kindred Spirit a cappella (Thursday evenings), Music Outreach [a cappella at local nursing homes] (Saturday afternoons), Ultimate frisbee with friends (Friday or Saturday afternoon), general chilling with friends/on campus performances/plays/movies (Friday and Saturday evenings), Free Writing Hour (Sunday afternoons), ... And there were also more long-term events, like tutoring, writing and editing for student magazines, and organizing the Undergraduate Research Symposium. On breaks, I found myself drawn into the break-trips organized by the Student Volunteer Council. These were week-long volunteering opportunities in places like Alabama (in the wake of Katrina) and Washington D.C. For those unsatisfied with the local fare, Princeton also offers a wide variety of study abroad programs. Does Princeton have a large drinking culture? Yes. Definitely. If anything, it is underestimated. The main social scene revolves around going to the eating clubs every Thursday and Saturday night to drink, party, and perhaps dance. I don't drink, but that didn't stop me from having fun at college. The key is to find others who are interested in more varied activities, and believe me, they're out there. While I did go to the eating clubs occasionally, to dance and talk to friends, I often opted for other activities: anything from board games to late night capture the flag to watching a movie. (Small room parties were also a popular option.) The statistics show that eating clubs do tend to divide campus, particularly along socioeconomic class lines, although the recent move to provide financial aid for eating club expenses may do something to mitigate the situation. On the other hand, the University instituted a four-year residential college system in the fall of 2007 which may provide a popular alternative to belonging to an eating club. I belonged to an eating club in my junior year (Charter Club) and was "independent" in my senior year. Independent students neither belong to an eating club nor use the University meal plan. There are a number of great options for independent students: they can cook for themselves (they are given first choice of rooms with full kitchens during room draw), eat out every day :), or join a campus co-op, which consists of groups of (~20) students who take turns cooking for one another on a weekly to monthly rotation. The costs of eating and cooking drop tremendously in the co-op situation, since you can buy all of your food in bulk and only need to do the cooking occasionally. I had many friends in co-ops, and they loved it. I chose the cook for myself option in my senior year, and I found that this suited me well. My main reason for not joining an eating club in my senior year was the expense. The bill for Charter club is rather hefty, and I was paying out of pocket. In addition, a number of my friends spontaneously decided to go independent. That's an interesting point to note: your choice of eating option may be largely determined by your group of friends.

Mackenzie

There are many extracurricular opportunities at Princeton. The club sport scene is great for making friends and is much less stressful than high school sports. Everyone realizes that your priority in college is schoolwork and is very understanding. Having been a member of the Princeton University Band, I can say that the sporting events are not particularly well-attended. This is not Notre Dame for football or Duke for basketball. You can still go to the games and enjoy yourself (especially as part of the very friendly and off-the-wall band), but you might be one of the few Princeton students in the audience.

Jim

People party a lot, but that's college. The eating clubs are where it all goes down and they are possibly the most fun organizations in the world. Frats and sororities exist but they're extremely low key. Sports teams have as much social importance as your average frat. Most socially aware girls do a sorority, but compared to your average southern sorority, Princeton sororities are like the girl scouts. They're just a way for fun girls to hang out with other fun girls. If you want to get hammered every night of the week you'll be in good company, but if you never want to alcohol to touch your lips then you'll be fine too. No one goes off campus for much except to New York and Philly which is pretty common. Those trips could include anything from club hopping to visiting the Met to seeing a Yankees game. There are too many traditions to go into, but in short, it's a fun time here.

Pete

sports teams are highly respected - but then again so is the orchestra and all of the a capella groups.

Jody

People who go out to the Street to visit the eating clubs tend to do it regularly. a typical schedule would include 3 nights out a week with heavy drinking. However, there is also a large portion of the student population that never goes out. People love to go to sporting events, especially if their friends are playing. Tailgates are also popular and in fact people sometimes miss the game entirely. There isn't too much to do around the town but no one is ever at a loss for something to fill their time.

Laura

Frats and sororities are underground, banned by the university, and do not have any houses of their own. They're mainly feeders for certain eating clubs. Party nights are Thursday and Saturday nights, because Princeton is like 35% athletes and they all have practice Saturday morning. Traditions are: huge bonfire if we beat Harvard and Yale in football, Reunions, Pre-Rade and P-rade.

Andy

if you like to have fun you will have fun and find others who like to have the same type of fun. there's tons of different kinds of kids here and you will find your niche. be especially outgoing your first few weeks here if you decide to come, so the transition from highschool will be quick easy and comfortable.

Devin

My activities and social life mainly center around basketball and the eating clubs at "the street," but I know plenty of people who really take thorough advantage of all the opportunities here on campus. Frats and sororities are not terribly big here, but they definitely have a presence (even though not sponsored by the school). Partying is surprisingly big here, but there are still a ton of alcohol free things that the school does sponsor that really try to and in some ways effectively keeps kids from drinking.

Andy

Social life can be very fun and involved (with the eating clubs and their activities) but can be a little limited and insular

Toby

Alot to do on campus. The school does a good job of planning alcohol free events that everyone can enjoy. I think the social life is a good one with something to offer for everyone. If not, NYC and Philadelphia are nearby.

Janice

There are some great groups on campus. Drawing, acting, eating, sports, and so on and so forth. If you know where to look, you can also find some great concerts on the weekends- student bands and small bands that have been brought in.

Andy

The eating clubs tend to be the center of social life at Princeton. Fraternities and Sororities don't have houses nor are they recognized by the university, but they exist and have a noticeable impact on the social scene. Some partying takes place in dorms, but for the most part kids have their fun on the street. Most of the restaurants in town are BYOB and are popular spots to start off a night on the weekend.

Andy

Greek life involves a small fraction of students at Princeton - perhaps 15 percent - and is relevant principally as a feeder mechanism for the bicker (selective) eating clubs. Overall, social life is open and dynamic, with the Street (eating clubs) functioning as a unifying force which brings students together to one location on Thursday and Saturday nights. New York and Philadelphia are always great and available options, especially if you have a fake ID or are 21. Not partying is definitely an option, although you'd be missing out on a lot of fun; Princeton is a surprisingly good time for an Ivy League school. The University constantly brings in guest speakers ranging from the King of Jordan to business executives, and there are frequent events within the residential colleges.

Alex

students in dorms leave their doors open depending where they live. however, sometimes things get stolen.if you are awake at 2am on a tuesday you could be out or working or hanging out watching a movie. fraternities and sororities are only important to a select number of people and only influence certain scenes.

Virginia

Eating clubs are amazing. There needs to be more of them so that more people can be part of the system. Social life is very fun and safe. I have never once felt uncomfortable and usually have a lot of fun.

Ron

The eating clubs and dorm parties are the scene. The occasional trip to New York.

Sean

Social life is really fun here. The mentality is very work hard play hard. If you get your work done you can certainly count on having a good time.

danny

eating clubs are very popular. dance groups are popular. im sports are popular. i play on the soccer team. students do keep their doors open. athletic events vary in popularity. big games are definitely popular. for instance, the squash courst were packed when they made it to the national championship. theater is popular. guest speakers are popular. quite a few people have girlfriends/boyfriends but most people are single and hook up at the street. i was really lucky in that the kids living around me were great. i met some of my other closest friends through them. on a tuesday at 2 i might be out at the street, studying, but most likely chilling with friends, or getting ready to sleep. there is a party scene here. i know that my friends and i go out 3-5 times a week usually. frats and sororities arent that important. last weekend i played a game on saturday and went out to eating clubs at night. on sunday i studied. on a sat night i could easily go into the city, chill with friends, participate in numerous activities on campus such as films being shown, performances, etc. o

Brendan

No discussion of Princeton social life is complete without touching on the eating clubs. Brief overview: the eating clubs are based out of 10 mansions on Prospect Avenue and Washington Road, directly adjacent to campus. Not technically part of the University, they maintain close ties and work to promote a sense of community and responsibility. Juniors and seniors that are members take their meals at the clubs and at night, they're often open to members and other Princeton students when they're "on tap" (ie, serving beer). There are a lot of myths about the clubs and the traditions that surround them. Suffice it to say that most of the social events on campus are connected to the clubs with theme nights, bands, non-alcoholic events, and annual festivities all taking place at them on a regular basis. While a typical Princeton student will spend most weekends at "the Street" (as the eating clubs are collectively known), there are almost always other events happening on campus: a cappella concerts under Gothic arches, dance performances, groups of friends heading to dinner on Nassau Street, trips to New York and Philadelphia (both short train rides away, easily accessible from campus), and lecture series and symposia. There's never a shortage of things to do. Princeton students drink anywhere from 0 to 7 nights a week. Some students who don't drink still come out to the Street but most of the people that are out are drinking. Thursday and Saturday nights are the main nights when most students go out. Wednesday and Friday nights have a strong following depending on which clubs you like to frequent. Sunday nights are usually the only day that it might be trickier to find a place to get a drink, but it certainly isn't impossible. In the end, it's about finding a balance between having fun and meeting your obligations. Very few people are capable of going out 6 nights a week and still doing well in their classes -- I know a few people can do it but they're the rare exceptions. Most people are content to go out 1 to 3 nights per week, and at that, most students prefer moderation to blacking out.

Blake

They say there are no frats or sororities on campus. Not true. Correction: there are no frats or soroity sanctioned houses. SAE, KAO, DKE, PKE, Zetes, Chi Phi, Kappa,....the list goes on. The social structure that the University chooses to adknowledge is the Street, or eating clubs. But frats and sororities feed into eating clubs. Curious.

Michael

We all leave our dorms open. So many guest speakers, you could never see everyone you wanted to. We're just so busy, that sometimes you really need some down time.

Josh

Singing groups are huge... there are over 15 different groups or something like that. Because of the eating clubs, frats are not as important here. Plus the University refuses to recognize them so they are "underground" and have no houses. But many do exist. The important thing to note about both frats and sororities at Princeton is that it's not like other schools where you need to join one of you want to have a social outlet/nightlife. You can still party and never join a frat. I would say most people have a love "interest", but most people don't actually date. People usually party 2-3 nights per week. We get a lot of guest speakers... leaders in politics, art, industry and research from all over the world.

Andy

The social life is pretty cool--the eating clubs are a great way to hang out with friends, but they can be a bit exclusive. Also, the way the underclassmen housing is set up is important in determining the friends students make. I, for example, made most of my friends in my undergraduate housing and then moved to an eating club with them my sophomore year. People party a lot on campus, definitely in tune with the common adage: "work hard party hard." One really nice thing is that if you don't want to go to "the street" one weekend, New York is only an hour or so away. So that definitely gives students alternatives for a fun weekend.

josh

there is lots to do, too much in fact. its a great in that sense.

Jimi

Princeton social life is fun but the Street can get boring. The fraternity and sorority scene are important in a certain scene of Princeton (Tiger Inn and Ivy) but otherwise play a small role in the social life. Bicker can make for a very unpleasant environment with social climbing and pettiness frequenting themselves. There are many University events that are organized but are not heavily attended

Alex

The eating clubs are the center for social life for most people.

Shelby

I was in a dance group called Naacho all four years of college. It seems like most people have one main activity/group that they are part of, and this was mine. Student groups at Princeton are completely student run, which may make you think that they are not that organized. However, the student groups at Princeton are actually taken very seriously and professionally. People become very attached and committed to their main activity/group and put a lot of work into it. So when they perform, all their friends come to watch and support them, which is great. And then out of respect, you often go to all your friends' performances as well. So you get to see a lot of unique activities and interests that you weren't exposed to prior to coming to Princeton. Also, eating clubs were a large part of Princeton life when I was an undergrad. That is where everyone went on weekends to party. However, I actually had a lot of friends who were not part of an eating club, but still went out to the clubs on the weekends. So you don't have to be in a club to enjoy the Princeton social life.

Paige

There are so many groups and organizations, it's hard to say what's most popular. Almost everyone is immersed in something, whether it be a singing group, dance group, theater group publication, or any level of athletic activity. I was very involved with the club field hockey team, and really enjoyed my experiences. At Princeton, club teams are run almost entirely by the students, so the success of each team depends on the involvement and enthusiasm of the members. It's great to be able to compete against other schools while not being involved with varsity athletics. I met my closet friends through various things ranging from neighbors and groups that I was involved with to friends met through other friends. Socially, there are many options. Frats/sororities are a very small portion of the social life, but they do exist. People go out anywhere from multiple times a week to once or never. Thursdays and Saturdays are the big going out nights on campus. There's a lot to do that doesn't involve drinking including any type of art/theatrical event (dance show, play, etc) and movies that often play. Special events are held fairly regularly that range from events like "Asian Night Market" to class formals for freshmen and sophomores, etc. The eating clubs are a huge part of the social scene at Princeton. Off campus, the main attraction is NYC because it is conveniently a train ride away. Philadelphia is also a great option. Immediately off campus, there are many restaurants/shops which are accessible by car.

Mary

Lots of different groups are popular: athletic teams- esp. women's lacrosse, football, womens soccer, men's lacrosse..., Daily Princetonian involved people, Nassau Literary Review, international student group. There are always a lot of guest speakers, and plenty of dance and theater shows to go to. Not much dating goes on except among certain crowds, but this is normal for secular campuses. there are lots of great traditions on campus, including reunions, pre-rade, P-rade, Deans Date. Frats and sororities exist but arent huge. people party twice a week on average, thurs and sat. there is tons of stuff to do that doesnt involve drinking. off campus you can visit NYC, go out to eat, go shopping, get ice cream, go for a jog.

Alexis

-The social life is centered around Princeton's "eating clubs"- between the 10 of them, you can find something going on any night of the week. Thursdays and Saturdays are typically the most popular nights people go out to "the street," as Prospect Ave (the street containing all the eating clubs) is called. The eating clubs host various formals and other social events, the biggest one being Houseparties- a weekend in the spring (usually the first weekend in May) where Friday and Saturday night are formals (dinner, cocktails, bands, etc.) and all day Sunday is Lawnparties... an entire day spent outside listening to music and hanging out at the different clubs. -Frats and sororities do exist, but aren't as big as the eating clubs. A number of people choose to rush their freshman year as a way to meet people. -Tailgates are bigger than the football games themselves. However, if Princeton beats Yale and Harvard in the same year, they plan a huge bonfire in the middle of campus in celebration. -Depending on the year, basketball games can attract a big following. -Hockey and lacrosse also pretty big. -Princeton has several acapella groups on campus (all-male, all-female and co-ed) who usually hold weekly acapella performances called "arch sings." -Alcohol Initiative plans events (probably about once a month) on a Thursday or Sunday night- with TONS of food, non-alcoholic beverages and some sort of fun activity as an alternative to drinking. -Really cute little town right next to campus with great restaurants and high-end shops. -Overall the social life is great... I think having 99% of the student body living on campus for all 4 years contributes to this. Everyone is always around (creating a great sense of unity) and everything takes place on campus (so very social/communal). Also, I would say that mealtime is a popular time to socialize... whether it's in the dining halls as underclassmen or eating clubs as upperclassmen. With everyone's busy schedules during the week, it's sometimes the one time you have to relax and hang out.

Lindsay

Not enough students attend lectures by phenomenal guest speakers. They rotate through campus so frequently that it's easy to become desensitized and say, "Oh, I'll just go to the next one..." That mentality can be a slippery slope... I definitely had to adjust to the party culture at Princeton; it was puzzling (combination of amazing and alarming) to me how some students could drink as much as they did and still function in the library the next day. The "work hard-play hard" approach holds true, and one of my biggest pet peeves was that students felt they had to make excuses if they didn't want to go out. I think social alternatives to the Street became more prominent throughout my time at Princeton, though, which is great. Choice abounds in all dimensions of life at Princeton; having this variety in social scenes is natural. Daily life at Princeton is awesome: dorms are generally clean, the campus idyllic, the gym close by, laundry free.

Daver

Something for everyone, blah blah blah, diverse student interests, bah bah, other platitude to sell Princeton, *vomit in mouth*. But really, GO SEE QUIPFIRE! IMPROV COMEDY SHOWS! It's the most fun thing you can do at Princeton. And try out, if you can muster up the courage... you won't regret it.

Jordan

The eating clubs tend to be quite popular. I was involved with The Daily Princetonian, which includes a rather eclectic group of people who are the editors. Students leave their dorm rooms open more in the beginning, but after fire safety fines them, they tend not to bother anymore. Athletic events vary in popularity. Guest speakers vary in popularity depending on how well known they are. Theater is quite popular amongst the theater crowd. I met my closest friends through rooming with them and becoming friends with their friends. Tuesday 2am I would be working or at the newspaper. Fall houseparties, spring houseparties happen each year. The perception is that people party every Thursday and Saturday. Fraternities and sororities aren't that important but there is a push for them at times since they can act like feeders into eating clubs. Saturday nights can just be fun hang out nights in friend's rooms or watching a play in McCarter Theater. I rarely left campus, mostly to go to NYC.