My daughter is a freshman at Princeton this year and she's had a great time as well as a great education. Her friends are neither arrogant or cut throat. I'm sure you can find people like that at any college, pimenta 201. Maybe your elite school is full of those types. Maybe you didn't like Michelle Obama's thesis but take a good look at the alumni of Princeton, they're leaders. Oh anyalm, my daughter is a dancer too and she's had great opportunities this year. Next year, the dance program will be even better.
The junior papers and senior theses while in theory may be commendable are in practice not such great pedagogy: kids lose class time and face time with professors, and I am unconvinced they actually learn how to write. (Anyone ever take a look at Michelle Obama's senior thesis? Woah.)
Um, this is simply an uninformed statement. There is no loss of "face" time (whatever you mean by that). Most students take a full course load and the junior papers are on top of that and as japanoko has pointed out, students often/generally develop close relationships with their JP and senior thesis advisors. As to the writing component, while not everyone produces a work of art, working on a project where you are expected to come up with a tightly argued and cogent 100 page academic analysis is something most students are extremely proud of--in my judgment, the entire process results in students who are more organized, more analytical and better writers and thinkers than when they began.
And pimienta, I'm sorry that you don't like the kids who have been accepted/matriculate at Princeton, but to be honest, I found your post kind of snide and I'm not sure I trust your judgment. I am an alumni interviewer for Princeton and the kids who are accepted and choose to attend don't strike me as much different than the kids who choose not to attend or those who don't get accepted. Most of the kids I interview are terrific--well spoken, idealistic and accomplished--regardless of where they wind up.
And by the way, I love Chicago and the funny thing is that I think that a lot of kids who wind up at Princeton have Chicago high up on their lists. Contrary to what you might think, there are lots of "nerds" at Princeton (as I'm sure there are at Williams and Dartmouth).
I am going to respectfully disagree with pimienta. The personalities of many of the students at HYP or many other selective universities are very similar. The administrations are different and each has their own academic strengths but to characterize Princeton or Harvard students as all being arrogant is inaccurate. Since the majority of students at Princeton are from public high schools even a few arrogant preppies does not characterize the nature of the student body. Princeton students are very ambitious but not in a grade grubbing sort of way. You will make life long friendships. Princeton may have the highest rate of classmates returning for reunions in the country because Princeton students enjoy their years at the university and enjoy seeing their classmates again. The facts do not support the charge that Princeton students are “turned off'”.
I did my graduate work at MIT. My thesis advisor told me that the best predictor of a student's ability to bear down to write a quality thesis on time was having previously completed a thesis. You may not have liked Michelle's writing style but she was better prepared to write a masters or PhD thesis having completed her undergraduate thesis at Princeton. It is incredible to me to suggest that working with a professor one on one for independent research and a thesis means less “face time with professors”. This shows a lack of understanding of the role of thesis advisors, the time they spend with the students, and their dedication to personally tutor students.
One significant advantage for the best students is they are able to demonstrate their research potential and their thesis advisors can write meaningful recommendations for the students. Princeton students have an outstanding record in winning the most coveted graduate fellowships. The success of Princeton students is partly due to the independent research requirement. See: Ooops: Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell
@japanoko I'm not overly interested in Greek life, so I definitely wouldn't count that as a deciding factor against Princeton/for Dartmouth. Unless Dartmouth provides an excluding environment for Non-Greek students, which would be a point against the school.
@ronib321 Thanks so much! I'm really glad Princeton has such a focus on their extracurriculars, and I love that they pay special attention to dancing.
@pimienta201 Correct me if I'm wrong about the theses: but aren't they advised and reviewed by a supervisor? So can't they not be terrible? I can't be positive, but I wouldn't count the quality/lack thereof as a significant drawback to Princeton's curriculum.
@Alumother Thanks again! I thought the theses were just attempts made to introduce independent thought and writing, similar to the IB Extended Essay, except 5 times longer.
@midatlmom I was very proud of my IB EE! I know they're not exactly the same, but I felt a tremendous sense of pride finishing it. I'm glad to know that at least at Princeton there's a similar opportunity.
@PtonAlumnus Thank you so much for that link. It reminded me just how fortunate I was to be accepted into Princeton and all these other amazing schools, and just how difficult my decision is going to be. Although I'm not studying Science, it reminds me of all the President has done for women at Princeton, and again how different the 21st century of experience is from the past (from which much of its 'elitist' label comes from). Thank you so much, again!
Your posts have been SO informative. Thanks so much! But here's a question. My son needs to choose between 5 Ivies, including Princeton. He will only be 17 when he enters college and will not even be 21 when he graduates. Will he be left out of the social scene because he can't (...shouldn't..) drink? Can you enter the Eating Club parties when you're underage? My son is extremely outgoing and will hate being left out.. sorry if I sound naive...
^Well for better or for worse, my 18 year old freshman son seems to have absolutely no problem getting into the parties at the Eating Clubs. Although I have never asked him whether he has been served alcohol I know what the answer would be.
Most students at college including Princeton drink. But not all students choose to drink. Princeton has substance free dorms for students that do not want to be around alcohol. The Princeton eating clubs are one block off campus so the clubs are under the legal jurisdiction of the Princeton police department. Students under 21 cannot legally drink in New Jersey. Clubs use measure such as arm bands to show the bartenders which students can have a glass of bear. All students can enter the clubs but underage students cannot have a drink at the eating club.
About one-third of the upper class students choose not to join an eating club. Those students have a social life in their residential college and can also go to the clubs. There are many events of interest for students to attend. See: Princeton University – Public Events Calendar There are student symphonies, dance performances, theater, etc to attend.
Rest assured, your son will not be left out.
Since pimienta raised questions about the value of the senior thesis I thought readers of this thread could read about the research being conducted today by a Princeton senior and decide for themselves the value or lack of value of independent research. See: Princeton University - Searching the brain for social networks
I've been rejected by Princeton but accepted to some of its peers. Among the schools you've been accepted to, in my opinion, Princeton is the best. Princeton's Creative Writing program is wonderful!
Don't worry too much about fitting in at Princeton. Like other universities of its size, Princeton has a very diverse student body that is customized to accommodate all kinds of students with all kinds of interests.
If there's no specific reason for you to go to UChicago or Dartmouth or Williams, I'd say go to Princeton.
From that list, Princeton is the easy choice. My child chose P'Ton from her list and we've all been very, very happy with how's it's worked out.
For anyone interested:
Obama's paper was written 26 years ago. Princeton puts a great emphasis on writing and has instituted a mandatory Freshman Writing Seminar. My daughter's writing improved very dramatically, very quickly. This writing class was very tough, but the idea is to get the writing level of the incoming students up quickly, so they can benefit from that improvement for the rest of their time at Princeton.