Princeton University Top Questions

What is your overall opinion of this school?

Reese

Best thing about Princeton is the diversity. It's not just for show, it makes it a much more interesting, satisfying environment. Not just racial diversity, either, but diversity of wealth, nationality, etc. The town of Princeton: cute. Not a college town exactly, but I can't complain. It's got some great restaurants, a nice movie theater, and pretty scenery all within easy walking distance. It's secluded enough to get academic stuff done, but also an easy hour-long train to Philly or NYC. Best kept secret? Not exactly a secret, maybe, but the tow path. Just south of campus, in between Lake Carnegie and West-Windsor practice fields, a path runs alongside the lake and for miles in either direction. The varsity athletes all run here, but everyone should know about it. I've had some great runs and walks out there, and seen some beautiful sunsets. It almost feels like you aren't in South Jersey.

Zoe

Princeton definitely has a brand-name value. When I tell folks where I go to school, their eyes light up with recognition, and my intelligence is given the benefit of the doubt. I like the size of Princeton: it's big enough that I could find a whole new group of friends and start afresh socially if I so choose, but small enough that I run into people I know while walking to class. I spend a lot of my spare time hanging out at Terrace F. Club, one of Princeton's eating clubs. It's a super chill social center that serves as the university's main venue for rock concerts. The town of Princeton is boring. It is clearly designed for the few rich students and the wealthy suburban citizens. The main stores in town are J.Crew, Ann Taylor, Kate Spade, Nine West, and other fancy-pants establishments of that nature. The saving graces of Princeton is the Record Exchange, an awesome little record shop where you can buy cheap music, and Small World, a cool free-trade coffee shop that also serves delicious soup!

KC

There's a few things i loved about Princeton. It's just the right size so that every person can find their niche without getting lost. That's what was most valuable to me, i was able to find where my interests were and become a leader in them. It also offers really amazing opportunities- shows, famous speakers and professors. As far as academics go, I couldn't have asked for a better place. I liked the social scene for a couple of years and then got tired of it. Princeton is in a small town and there's nothing to do off-campus. On-campus the eating clubs take over- it would have been nice to have more options and more opportunities to meet new people.

Nico

The best thing about Princeton is the culture. Everyone there wants to learn, but everyone is different too. You are always being challenged, but you can always find something to do that you enjoy. I think the school size is just right. It's not so small that everyone knows everyone, but its not so big that you dont really know anyone. You can often become friends with so many people who do so many different activities. I think people all react differently when I tell them I went to Princeton. Usually people think its really cool haha. I spent most of my freshmen and sophomore year around my residential college, and then junior and senior year I spent a lot of time at the street. I think an issue of big controversy on campus has been the four year college system vs the eating clubs. There is a large amount of school pride, but its not always necessarily evident at sports events. There are two experiences about Princeton I'll always remember - 1. The bonfire in 2006 when we beat Yale and Harvard and won the Ivy League Championship. 2. Graduation and walking through the gates!

Casey

The best thing about Princeton is the money. Princeton's enormous endowment allows the school to offer unbeatable financial aid and resources to its undergraduates. Funding for summers abroad, thesis research, extracurricular groups, social events, you name it, are all readily available for those with a little initiative. I think the school is a nice size with around 5000 undergrads and 1000 graduate students (a fact that perhaps shows how undergrad-oriented Princeton is). Everywhere on campus is walkable, and you're likely to run into someone you know every time you venture out to class.

Royce

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.

Brandon

Princeton is probably just the right size for the consummate college experience. It is a medium-sized school, but smaller than most of the other Ivies. Princeton has 4800 undergraduates and only 2000 graduate students, which means that we have all of the University's attention and resources. This smaller community allows Princeton to have almost a liberal arts college feel but with the resources and advantages of a full fledged, world renown research institution. The fact that every faculty member, no matter how big his ego or how famous, is required to teach undergraduates is something that sets Princeton apart from other schools. There is something to be said about a school that has the most loyal alumni in the United States. More than 15,000 alumni return to campus every year for Reunions, and more than 60% of all living alumni donate annually, which is the highest among any other school in the country. On a per capita basis, Princeton has the highest endowment dollar to student ratio, higher than that of Harvard or Yale.

Rachel

The most common misconception about Princeton that I hear when I tell people I go there, is that you have to be really rich to go there. In reality, it has THE best financial aid in the country, and there are kids from ALL kinds of financial backgrounds here. Students complain mostly about piddly quality-of-life stuff that shows you how spoiled we truly are: the one-ply toilet paper in all campus bathrooms, the early closing time of the library (midnight), clothes disappearing in laundry rooms (but you never hear gratitude expressed about our free laundry), etc.

Jake

The best thing about Princeton is that there are so many things to get involved with. Something is always going on, and you are never bored. I think it is just the right size. You feel like you know most people, but then you are meeting new people on a daily basis. People don't really go "into town" very often. Town is basically just Nassau Street. The shops and restaurants are kind of pricey. People go on Rte. 1 (a few minutes away but must go by car) for anything and everything they need.

Carla

Best thing: academic. I loved the fact that I was learning from the best minds in the world and that I was sitting next to future presidents, scientists, etc. Change: the snobby, elist people at Princeton. I liked the size of Princeton, just big enough where I would meet new people in my senior year, but small enough that I knew, at least by name or face, a lot of my classmates. I get one of three reactions when they find out I went to Princeton: 1) OMG, you went to Princeton. You must be so special and so smart. 2) YOU went to Princeton. Yeah right. That's impossible. 3) You went to Princeton. Well what do you think of the theory that Marx presents in his treatise blah blah blah. I spent most of my time in Frist or at Firestone. I have no opinion or P-ton's admin. I have a huge respect for VP Dickerson, but I didn't know any other admin well enough to say more.

John

The students at Princeton are some of the brightest and most interesting people I have ever encountered. I know more ISEF Finalists and Presidential Scholars than I can count on my fingers. There is no such thing as the Average Joe at Princeton, but this is what separates us from a lot of other universities -- this is the Princeton Difference. Princeton's social scene is anything but one's dream. Once you enroll at Princeton, you're either part of the Good Ole' Boy's club, or you're not. White, beautiful, or rich. Want to fit in? Be two, or pretend to be two.

Jesse

Princeton is tough, but you are inspired just by being here. Social life is a bit strange at first, but once you get used to it I think everyone can enjoy some aspect of the street or a campus group. I hate how our student body is so caught up with their own studies and numerous extracurriculars that no one has the time to relax. Look at the attendance to sporting events. I think the Jadwin Jungle members that actually go to basketball games numbers in the 20-30 range at a normal game. Football games also have extremely low attendance, but you still can't get a good seat in PHI 202 if you arive one minute late.

Kai

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.

Liz

Princeton is large enough of a school for you always to be meeting new people but small enough that you're guaranteed to constantly be running into people you do know. The upside: keeping in touch with acquaintances. The downside: never being able to hide from the ex or the random hookup. When you tell people you go to Princeton, there will always be an 'Oh' of acknowledgment in response. Sometimes it'll be in awe and a 'Wow!' will follow along with gushes of your genius, but sometimes it'll be an 'Oh' of contempt. The latter usually comes from people who applied and couldn't get in themselves. Aside from the one main street that borders campus, Princeton is completely a self-contained campus school. Don't expect much of a change of scenery over your four years here.

Ash

The best thing about Princeton is the knowledge capital. I'd change the eating club system so that students don't get their feelings stepped all over during bicker. The size of the student body is perfect. People react with admiration (and sometimes either a joking or a serious "we're not worthy") when I tell them I went to Princeton. Princeton University = Princeton, NJ. The university is the town... does that make it a college town? The administration tries really hard. They do a good job overall. Biggest recent controversy- not sure. There is a decent amount of school pride, lots of orange and black. The eating club system is very unusual. I'll always remember that stormy morning in April when I turned in my thesis. Students used to complain about the food--not sure how it is now.

Gene

The best thing about Princeton is everyone's, including staff, faculty, older peers, alumni, and fellow students', commitment to truly make your stay there as memorable and fruitful as it can be. The one thing I'd change, however, is to implement a better system to assign academic advisers. The size of Princeton is, in my opinion, just right, but that would depend on individual taste. People are generally impressed, sometimes in a good way but also sometimes in a bad way, when they discover I graduated from Princeton. I spent most of my time on campus either in my room. There is definitely a small "college town" feel to Princeton, but one of its more interesting aspects is its very limited extent; because if you wander more than 2 blocks away from Princeton you will discover the actual, underprivileged nature of the surrounding area. I have a very high opinion of the administration. One of the biggest controversies on campus was the fracas over illegal music downloads. There is quite a bit of school pride, though definitely not in customary arenas like football or basketball. The most unusual part about Princeton is probably one of its best strenghts - its wonderfully beautiful, accessible and safe campus. One experience I will always remember is the camaraderie of my flag football team. The most frequent student complaints are probably the lack of car parking on campus, sometimes the work load, and definitely thesis-work.

Connie

The endowment - the availability of funding -, the programming (high-profile speakers), and its proximity to New York. One thing I'd change - Having more communal spaces (preferably a kitchen) on each floor of the dorms. Almost everyone lives in the dorms for all 4 years, but the l lack of easy access to a kitchen gives more reason to support the eating club system. Plus, I wish there had been more of a hallway culture, more building camaraderie, which I think could've happened if there was an actual room for that to take place. The size was just right. You recognize all these faces when you're walking around, and then you graduate and realize there are all these other people. People are impressed and intimidated when I tell them I went to Princeton. It's an unfair advantage, that kind of automatic respect. I would've expected more people to immediately raise the bar and ridicule once they realize I'm not "on" all the time ("and you went to Princeton?"), but I've only gotten that from my parents. Most people assume I know what I'm talking about, but what the hell, none of us do. I spent most of my time in the music building/library, since I was a music major. Princeton is a really precious town...as stuffy and affluent as it is. So no, it's not a college town, but there are certainly affordable eating options (my favorite being Sakura express...go for the sushi, stay for the personality) in addition to the numerous haute cuisine the town offers. I cannot BELIEVE MacCawber's, the 100+ year old independent book store, has been bought out by the university. That'll certainly hurt the charm and character of the town...but I do remember a cozy used bookstore springing up that I enjoyed. Princeton's administration runs like a warm knife through butter. pretty smooth, for the most part. I don't think there's that much school pride on the athletics front, but I'm biased, since I'm not into athletics. I am incredibly nostalgic and devour the Princeton alumini weekly when I get it in the mail. But a lot of people have a love-hate relationship towards the school...it brings out the best and worst in people. People always find something to complain about. There are plenty whose conversation topic of choice is work. work, work, work. The rest usually complain about other people.

Dale

The school is a great size--big enough that you are able to meet new people pretty much every day if you want, and small enough that you see people you know at random times and places throughout the day. Usually when I tell people I go to Princeton they are impressed/respectful; sometimes they act as though I am too good for them, which I try to dispel (usually successfully). There is a fair amount of school pride, but certainly not as much as at some other schools (probably there is more at state schools?). One of the most frequent student complaints is about grade deflation--something which can potentially hurt Princeton graduates, especially those going on to graduate school, and which most other colleges have yet to institute. It's not much of a college town, though it's a nice area to walk around in. Quite small--not that much to do around here, just some stores/restaurants. If you have a car or don't mind taking public transportation, there's a bit more further out. New York (and Philadelphia, sort of) are quite easily accessibly by New Jersey Transit (train).

Danielle

I think the best thing about Princeton is the sense of community students and faculty have. I think very few school make such an effort to treat a college as a community, but Princeton offers so many activities like concerts, study breaks and lectures that bring people together. I also think that although eating clubs have a bad reputation sometime, they are actually a great way to make a cohesive social scene. I also think that challenging academic requirements, like senior theses, allow students to bond with each other and with the faculty members that advise them. Writing a thesis was one of the most exciting and memorable experiences at Princeton.

Elizabeth

Holistically, Princeton an unmatched college experiences. Academics are strong, and most of the students are pretty intellectually engaged but not so nerdy that they don't know how to have fun. The school is fairly small -- 5,000 undergrads and 2,000 grad students, which is perfect in that it's not stifling, but every time you walk to class you see multiple people you know. The town is quiet and picturesque, but close to New York and Philadelphia for your fix of urban excitement. Because Princeton does not have professional programs in medicine, law, or business, undergraduates really are the focus. Both professors' time and the endowment's resources go mainly to us. Students take advantage of these resources, undertaking fascinating research (sometimes abroad) for their senior theses, staging great productions, etc. People tend to be overextended, participating in a wide range of extracurriculars, sports, and taking 4-5 classes per semester. This can make them a little harried, but it can also make them more interesting. And most people still leave plenty of time to socialize.

Haley

Princeton is the perfect college town. The campus is beautiful and full of amazing architecture and the education is unbeatable. The town surrounding is full of great restaurants, shops, and many opportunities for town/gown interactions. I like to run, and I feel so safe running alone at all hours of the day through town or down by the lake. It's such a beautiful place and it really is idyllic for a college experience. The student body is also the perfect size, with around 1200 per class, you really get to know a lot of the people on campus and no matter where you are you see someone you know. Also, the proximity to NYC is amazing. I am from a fairly rural town in Oregon and to be an hour and a half away from one of the most incredible cities in the country is great. The train comes right onto campus and in just a few stops you're in Penn Station! There is also a ton of school pride here, especially when it comes to rivals Harvard and Yale. To be part of such a long-standing rivalry is really fun and It's great to cheer on the Tigers when the other teams come to town.

Tom

Princeton is just right. It is large enough to have the resources and facilities for whatever you want, but not large enough to really get lost (though you could if you tried hard enough and communicated solely by email long enough). It is far enough from large towns to have an isolated and wonderfully insular air about it (condusive to pipes, wine, truth, good friends, conversation, green space, and a generally contemplative outlook on life - if you know where to look) but near enough that a night in NYC is only an hour and 20$ by train. It is important to attach yourself to the proper group of friends. I say, choose a group that you aspire to like, rather than the group you fit in with already. Generally, people could be better than they are - if you pick a group that you feel comfortable with already, they will probably only perpetuate the relatively nice person you are currently, rather than challenging you to be the truly wonderful and saintly person you could easily become. A goal directed life can be transcendent, if only we set our goals high enough. I'll remember shooting stars on Princeton battlefield, daily mass at noon in the chapel, the friends who have made me the man I have become, and a life of education and the pursuit of Truth and Love I have only just begun.

Caroline

Overall, Princeton is an incredible place to go to school. The campus is beautiful, the town is charming, the professors are some of the world's brightest and most inspiring thinkers and the educational opportunities are endless. That being said, it also some personality quirks: an unusual social scene, a constant and intense level of academic pressure and more rigorous requirements than most other schools in the country (i.e., senior thesis). I have tremendous appreciation for the education I received at Princeton, and know that for the rest of my life I will be considered part of a select group of people who are respected for their achievements.

Cat

As a college town, Princeton offers everything you might need. A mere hour commute from New York City, it's location satisfies the desires of students to get away from college, explore a big city, and experience the energy and excitement of an urban culture. But my favorite weekends tended to involve a walk around the suburban town of Princeton itself. Quiet, quaint, and filled with adorable boutiques, restaurants, and more ice cream spots than you could wish for. Some might say Princeton is boring, but it provided what I thought of as a perfect complement to all the activities offered on Princeton's campus itself. Both the town of Princeton and the campus of the University served as the social centers for students and townspeople alike ("townies" as we like to call them).

Maddie

The size of the school is just right. By far the best thing about Princeton is the people here. They are some of the most incredible people ever, with the widest array of interests and passions. You can always learn something new from the people you meet. The one thing I'd change about Princeton would be the town. It's not much of a college town; it's more of a quaint, historic town. There isn't much of a night life around here, and most stores in the surrounding township close before 6 pm which is really inconvenient.

Blake

Best thing: The people--everyone is brilliant, kind, and, best of all, has a hidden talent that makes them intriguing. School size is just right. College town: enough good restaurants and shops to keep us entertained, but not so much that it's distracting. School pride: absolutely.

Katie

The best thing about Princeton is that you know when you leave you will have a huge network to work within. The alumni network is phenomenal, and their pride in this school is amazing. Alumni are incredibly willing to help people with jobs, advice, and are super friendly.

Caitlin

The best thing about Princeton by far is professors and courses. If I could change one thing, it would be giving students the option to live off campus after sophomore year. I think the size of Princeton is just right - small enough so that classes are relatively small and it feels like a tightly-knit community, but large enough so that there is diversity and a variety of groups and social scenes. People usually have an "impressed" reaction when I tell them I go to Princeton. I spend most of my time in my dorm room or around my residential college (dining halls, study spaces). Princeton is kind of a college town (the university is the center of town), but is also very wealthy and expensive (not very friendly to college-student budget). Princeton's administration is dedicated and make an effort to listen to student concerns. They are also fairly available and approachable for students. There is a lot of Princeton spirit/school pride. Princeton is unusual in its "eating club" system, where juniors and seniors take meals at private clubhouses rather than dining halls or being independent. I will always remember the experience of being initiated into my eating club. Frequent student complaints are: the university's alcohol policies (which I think is way less strict than most other schools) and the failure of the university to recognize the eating clubs in a positive light.

Katie

As with any college, the best thing is the people. I'd change... the grad school? so unnecessary and they're kindof creapy. We'd be better off as a college purely. I think Princeton is the perfect size, though my view is only of the social people - the anti-social people hide in their dorms and since I don't see then, i don't consider them part of my Princeton experience. I spend most of my time on campus with friends, in a theater of some sort, in rehearsal, at the gym, as do many people I know - we're a very active place. Princeton is a great town, though not in the sense of a traditional college town - no real bar or club scene, but that's why we have "The Street"

Abby

Love, love, love Princeton. School size is perfect.Its very hard to get into clubs, right now. How difficult, though, changes depending on how much the borough of Princeton is trying to crack down on under-age drinking. People always seem really impressed when I tell them I go to Princeton. I actually kind of love it. We spend most of our time in the Frist campus center- you could live there, it's really awesome and has everything anyone could possibly need. Plus, its a major hangout too. Cut little college town,but more for the local folks than college students. It's all pretty expensive actually, but its a beautiful, charming little town. Biggest controversy is the university's new RA and alcohol policies- so now we're more like other universities where RA can get you in trouble for having parties, serving alcohol to minors, etc. Unbelievable amount of school pride here- everyone is always wearing Princeton gear- sweatshirts, backpacks, t-shirts, sweatpants, hats, you name it- we got it. Princeton is unusually fantastic. For such a great school, there's a pretty intense party scene. "Work hard, play hard" is big around here. Always remember my Princeton tour, it was informative and made me so excited to apply and hopefully come here.

Andrea

Princeton is the perfect size, big enough for a level of anonymity but small enough that you always see a friendly face around. The residential college system helps with that, since your home dining hall will be the same people much of the time. The town of Princeton is a nice place, though the shopping can get a bit expensive, but New York City and Philadelphia are easy train rides away - about an hour to either city. Princeton students are incredibly happy and have a lot of school pride, and the alumni network is one of the best things, since basically any alumni would love to help you get an internship or a job. The eating clubs get the most attention when people think of Princeton, and I came with a bad image of them. In reality, though, there are some bicker clubs (where members are selected) and sign-in clubs (all you have to do is join) and they are all popular and great places, and there are options for everyone and for what anyone might want to do. And of course, one of the best things about Princeton is that devoted alumni continue to give generously, so we get lots of funding for all sorts of activities (I recently saw an opera at the Met for $5).

Andrew

The best thing about Princeton is that is is really an amazing place for academics. The amount of brain power on campus is pretty astonishing, and you often forget that almost everyone you meet has something that they are very very good at. The professors are great, because they're often at the top of their fields. It is really great to have the opportunity to live in this kind of atmosphere, and interact with such great minds. At the same time, there are aspects of the social life here that I would consider unideal. The eating clubs play a huge role in the social life. This can get a bit redundant, as the majority of partying on campus occurs in the same clubs with very little variation. The clubs also promote a somewhat exclusive atmosphere, as they are very selective not only in admitting new members, but also in allowing people in on any given night. The selectivity is also exacerbated by the small size of the campus, and it sometimes feels like everybody knows everything about everybody else. But in general, the people here are pretty nice and cool, especially if you look for friends in the right places, which may not be certain eating clubs. I know that I have found some great friends here, and the people I regularly hang out with It is largely the type of place where you can make of it whatever you choose to. There are so many opportunities to be taken advantage of that it would be very difficult to summarize the school. Politically, the campus is somewhat more stagnant than I may have expected. People are interested in politics, but the campus protest or demonstration is pretty rare. This may currently be due to the fact that Princeton is relatively conservative, compared with other schools.

Madison

Princeton is wonderful. The architecture is inspiring, class size and availability is generally great, the professors are brilliant, and your peers are at once subtly intelligent and openly fun. While the university's insistence on the residential college system is both misguided and short-sighted, the school as a whole is a perfect size. It's big enough that there are always new people to meet, but small enough that it's hard to find anyone that's not at least a friend of a friend. Though football attendance is woefully poor, there is still a notable undercurrent of school pride. Everyone at Princeton is very excited to be here and most could think of nowhere better. The worst thing about Princeton is having to leave. Princeton's administration is often foolish, as evinced in recent changes to the alcohol policy, RA policy and the introduction of the 4-year residential college system, but ultimately it is the students that make the school. Talk to any alumnus and the love that students here feel for Princeton is great and timeless.

Lance

The best thing at Princeton is the classes. I would change the administration at Princeton. It is just the right size. People are usually impressed when I tell them I go to Princeton.

Katie

Umm, Princeton. It's so hard to describe. I just love it that much and cannot imagine myself any other place. When I applied and accepted, I was so unsure of Princeton, but I have just loved every single minute here. If I had to change anything, it would be grade deflation. I think that it has affected some of my grades and is more trouble than it is worth, especially when other schools aren't implementing it. Princeton is just the right size. I definitely wouldn't want it to be twice the size, and absolutely no smaller. At first I was reluctant to tell people I went to Princeton because I was afraid they'd judge me. Even some of my friends from home who also went to good schools--they just weren't Ivies that were ranked #1 in the nation. But I've found there's a way to be proud of going to Princeton because it is your college and you love it and not make it seem like you're bragging or bashing other people's schools. I spend most of my time in Frist either working my job or studying or going to class. It's really conveniently located and has everything you might need pretty much. College town sort of, but not really. Nassau St., sure, but not the whole town. The administration is growing more invasive and interfering without good reason or student input. We're still fighting. The biggest recent controversy was the RCA alcohol policy. People didn't fully understand what it was meant to do from the University side, but the University also doesn't need to do this. THe RCA's shouldn't be local policemen for the University, but rather people to go to for help. P-Safety also busts parties that aren't even loud, which is ridiculous. There's a ton of school pride. #1 in the nation. Duh.

Jessica

Princeton is maybe one of the most idyllic places for that old-school Ivy League experience. I lived in gorgeous buildings, met super-interesting people from a really diverse array of backgrounds, and had a lot of fun with the classes. It’s a very self-contained environment: The town of Princeton doesn’t offer much by way of shopping or nightlife unless you’re a wealthy middle-aged white person, and students rarely ever live off-campus, so you really do spend all four years immersed in the Princeton campus. Like all things Ivy League these days, Princeton is definitely in a transition phase, as more students demand access to the awesome education without the perceived social and economic elitism associated with top-tier private schools. The fairly new-ish president, Shirley Tilghman, is fighting the eating club system by building and promoting the new four-year residential colleges and admitting more “artistic” students (and fewer future i-bankers). It’s a tight-knit community with a lot of wonderful academic and extracurricular options, but if it weren’t for the eating clubs, I don’t know whether I would have enjoyed my time here nearly half as much. So, you know—there are things to be said for the new, and things to be said for the old. The very-active alumni community has a large say in keeping the history and traditions alive, for better or for worse. All I know is that if I ever become one of those people who give money to Princeton, I’ll bypass the school altogether and make a donation to my old eating club, Terrace, and fix the person-shaped hole in the upstairs hallway, or possibly put in a cross-walk so fewer students have to take their lives into their hands crossing Washington Road every day.

Jessica

My favorite moments at Princeton were spent sitting in my dorm room talking to my roommates. As much as I learned in my classes, I learned at least as much from my friends. We talked a lot about what we were studying, so I got to hear different viewpoints than those I’d heard in class and spend more time carefully examining my own. We also spoke a lot about our backgrounds, and since my college friends were more diverse than my Long Island high school friends in a lot of ways—geographically, racially, experientially, religiously, and (perhaps less so) economically—I was exposed to varied worldviews on a constant basis. The size of the school is perfect—small enough that I ran into people I knew all over campus, and large enough that I met new people through the end of senior year. The college town wasn’t a big part of my life; I rarely left campus, except to go to a movie or out to dinner every few weeks, and there wasn’t much communication between students and Princeton residents. The area is also expensive, with stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor, which aren’t friendly to college students’ budgets. On campus, I spent a lot of time at my eating club, Tower, after I joined at the beginning of my junior year. (For the second half of college at Princeton, eating clubs are where most students take their meals and go out at night, so the eating club you belong to determines a lot of your social scene.) Other than my eating club, I spent a considerable amount of time in my dorm with my roommates, and in Frist, the campus center. There is a ton of school spirit at Princeton. On a walk from any building to any other, I saw an average of five students wearing Princeton clothing. (This is also an effect of the school’s affinity for giving away free T-shirts at almost every event.) I was always embarrassed to admit I went to Princeton, though, because I’d invariably receive a response of “Oh, Princeton,” denoting my obvious snobbery-by-association. In general, I was fairly obsessed with the school and my friends there, and was very upset when I had to leave at the end of every school year. Fortunately, the education prepared me for this grueling existence as a real live employee, and I still live with two friends from college—one of whom was my roommate for three years (beginning freshman year, so Housing did something right).

Cameron

Princeton is a very strange town to have a college in, in that it's not really a "college town." Princeton, New Jersey is an upper-middle class suburb with a good public school system. It's a good place to raise a family, and it shows - lots of families live here. Because of that, there aren't really many good places for students to hang out off campus - there aren't really any college bars (well, maybe 1), and most of the restaurants are upscale and expensive. As a result - or perhaps the causality goes the other way - most of the socializing occurs at the eating clubs on Prospect Ave.

Hannah

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.

Bevan

The academics. All of the professors are leaders in their respective fields, but also very willing to share their time with students. There are plentiful opportunities and resources to do independent work, and the guidance to be very successful and thrive.

Katherine

Princeton is the perfect size; it's small enough that you always recognize people in your classes, but big enough that you never feel suffocated. there is always the possibility of meeting someone new. As a college town it has a good selection of restaurants and it feels very safe, etc. my only complaint is that retail options are overpriced and geared more towards the upper-middle class borough and not towards students. students at princeton have a lot of school pride, but those who are most vocal about it generally seem to be basing their pride on either individual intelligence or on national rankings and the outsiders' view. in other words, it often surfaces as an elitist, comparative pride rather than a passion for the environment or sports teams. the strangest thing about princeton is the eating clubs, but they have their definite positive sides - they give princeton a community social scene. everybody always knows where there are parties. as far as princeton's administration goes, i've always been impressed that RA's at princeton haven't been portrayed as police forces in the dorms. princeton works very hard to make students feel like the university cares about their welfare above and beyond anything else.