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Ask a Princeton Freshman

alexcuadalexcuad Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
edited November 2012 in Princeton University
Now that a bunch of you guys finished your SCEA applications (way to go guys!), I'd like to open up a thread of questions you might have about Princeton.

Feel free to ask me anything you want about what I've experienced so far as a freshman, but I will ask that you don't ask me to "chance" you. This thread isn't about admissions, but about the school.

Also, if you want to send me a PM with a question, I'd be glad to reply.

Fellow Tigers, please pitch in.
Post edited by alexcuad on

Replies to: Ask a Princeton Freshman

  • MRU93RaithMRU93Raith Registered User Posts: 751 Member
    I haven't applied for SCEA yet, I am applying RD.
    I am planning on following along the mechanical engineering/aerospace engineering sort of line, though I have been developing a major interest in green technology. I was wondering how difficult it would be to complete a major in any of these as well as try accumulate a certificate/minor in at least 2 other areas? My sister graduated 2012, but wasn't a art of the engineering and applied sciences (politics major) so she doesn't feel 100% sure about explaining how things work for engineering students.
  • azahra3azahra3 Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    What is life like at Princeton? How do you spend your day? Do you find the community friendly? Is the environment one that promotes learning? I am really curious. Oh, can you go sightseeing in Princeton?
  • alexcuadalexcuad Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    Alright ... I'll take this chunk by chunk:

    "What is life like at Princeton?"

    Absolutely fantastic. I couldn't see myself anywhere else. I can't really think of anything that I would change.

    "How do you spend your day?"

    Alright, so this is different every day, but I can give you a general trend for weekdays and weekends.

    The average weekday (Monday-Thursday), I wake up anywhere between 8 and 9:30, I head to the gym for about an hour, go to breakfast, then 11 am class, lunch, 1:30 pm class, and then I'll spend the early afternoon doing work (or procrastinating it). At around 6/7 I'll head to dinner, and usually end up spending 3 or 4 hours with friends. Every now and then, at 9 pm I'll have an Intramural game or something going on. I usually then spend the rest of the night getting work done, and get to bed somewhere between 11 and 2, depending on what I have to get done.

    The average weekend (Friday-Sunday), I usually wake up at around noon or one, pretend to do work, hang out with friends, go out, and then, on Sunday get most of my work done. Sometimes when the weather is nice, I'll sit under a tree in Holder Courtyard and play the guitar. Some good pictures: Projects for Princeton University

    "Is the environment one that promotes learning?"

    Absolutely. It is perfectly acceptable to say that you're leaving to go read/study/do homework. And there are way too many good study spots to choose from. That might just be my biggest issue - deciding whether to study in an old, beautiful stained-glass atrium or in a cozy common room, or outside on a sunny day.

    "Can you go sightseeing in Princeton?"

    So this is the way I understand this question. To me, "in Princeton" refers to the town of Princeton, NJ, while "at Princeton" is the university (therefore the campus). With both, there are interesting and beautiful places to visit. I like going out to eat on Nassau St (Princeton's main street) quite often, and it's within an hour's train ride from NY, so sightseeing is never an issue. Plus, living on campus gives you more than enough eye candy (see link above). I think if I remember correctly, I've been to NYC five times so far (I've been here for just over two months), and three of those times were to Broadway shows subsidized by Princeton.

    It's good that you're curious! Keep the questions coming!
  • azahra3azahra3 Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    Wow. That's amazing. FYI I did mean Princeton,NJ by "in Princeton". You've now multiplied my anxiety for the SCEA decisions. BTW, did you manage to make friends there quickly?
  • alexcuadalexcuad Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    MRU93Raith, I didn't mean to ignore your question ... I just didn't see it. Sorry :/
    Anyhow, I'm definitely going to major in the humanities, so I have absolutely no idea. I do know that all of my (freshman) friends that are doing engineering have most of their classes predetermined (MAT, COS, PHY I think). Are there any fellow Princetonians that may be able to help an engineer out?

    "Did you manage to make friends easily?"

    Yes! As long as you make even a minimal effort, it is very easy to make friends. The first few weeks of school, it is totally normal to sit down next to random people at meals and introduce yourself. By now, I've developed a core of good friends that I hang out with the most, and I'd say that that's true for most people here.
  • baddriverbaddriver Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    Do you know happen to know anyone that has done the bridge year program? I am wondering if the experience is worthwhile.

    Also, if the on-campus cafes hire students, do you know the pay rate? It seems here https://puwebp.princeton.edu/StudentEmployment/info/classifications.jsf that there's a complicated pay rate chart. I'd say barista is level B ($11 min), but that's just me hoping.
    ^farfetched that you would know that answer, just wondering if blessed with admissions whether I should transfer to the starbucks nearby or try for on-campus work study.

    thank you :)
  • Ivyleague2019Ivyleague2019 Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Hey! Congrats on your admission to Princeton!!!!!

    I have a short question--- are people at Princeton different than those from other universites?? I am a sophomore in HS so just wanna get to know more about my options... heard that many people have started extremely successful companies before attending Princeton... they have won ridiculous awards....

    I'm just an average high school student with a computer tech business under my belt.. we are pretty big in town and out of town... the only thing i'm actually focused on..

    Taking all honors and getting A's in them.. average stuff as most people in my extremely competitive school have the same grades...

    Can you explain how people are different at princeton and how i can stand out?
  • alexcuadalexcuad Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    I know a handful of students who have done Bridge Year and they have all loved it. It is extremely competitive to get accepted, though.
    As for jobs, yeah it's somewhere in the $10-12/hour range. The nice part of working on campus is that you can ask for time off because of a test coming up, or lots of hw, etc.

    Thank you! Let's just say that some of the people at Princeton are the best and brightest in what they do. It attracts the most talented and intelligent people in the world. That said, not everybody has started a business or had an original composition performed at Carnegie Hall (though I know of these people). Everyone finds their niche.
  • OmgRayOmgRay Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    This may be heading off the path from the original topic a bit but I was wondering what the transition from high school into Princeton felt like. And could you list maybe some adversities you faced and/or overcame? Thanks!
  • tiger14tiger14 Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    Class of 2014 CS major here. For me the transition went pretty well. The first week or two (hiking for a week + no classes yet!) felt a lot like summer camp, actually....people running around trying to meet people, everyone being equally a n00b, etc. Then things settled down, classes started, actual friendships started to develop. I got lucky in that I met the people who would become my friends, early.

    Basically it was everything I had hoped college would be; funny, smart, interesting people and a world away from my very ordinary high school. I didn't have any issues with homesickness or anything. It took me some time to get over my Impostor Syndrome, though.

    Challenges: oh god the academics. I got pounded in my freshman engineering requirements. I didn't know how to study! (This is what happens when you go to a normal public school...) I had also never written a paper before where the teacher didn't hand us what we were supposed to say. So I had to learn to study. I'm now doing pretty darn well in my major, though, and everything worked out fine. ;)

    I also had to learn when to say "no" to fun things in favor of sleep. For some people, myself included, sleep is very, very important.
  • LinaNickLinaNick Registered User Posts: 23 New Member
    Hey Tiger14! I was wondering if you could elaborate on what you mean by "Impostor Syndrome." I'm pretty I understand, but I'd appreciate hearing you explain it in your own words just to make sure. Thanks!
  • azahra3azahra3 Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    I have a question. Are Princeton students (forgive me for this) "party animals"? I am really trying to avoid going to a place like that.
  • alexcuadalexcuad Registered User Posts: 233 Junior Member
    I can agree with a lot of tiger14's comments. His first paragraph is spot-on.

    I think what he's referring to with 'Impostor Syndrome' - and correct me if I'm wrong - is the idea that you feel as if you didn't deserve to have been accepted, the idea that you 'faked it' and somehow fooled admissions. I think everyone feels that at a place like Princeton at some point or another. You are overwhelmed by the best and the brightest, so it's hard not to.

    As for the party scene, what I have experienced is an environment where those who want to party can get their fill, but if you want to avoid it, that's perfectly fine too. I find ti to be a social scene that can accommodate just about anybody.
  • tiger14tiger14 Registered User Posts: 190 Junior Member
    *cough* I'm a 'she', actually. :) (Is it my writing voice? My major?)

    alexcuad basically nailed the Impostor Syndrome definition. "Omg, all of these people are so talented / smart / accomplished, what am I doing here?? I must have been admitted by accident! Or because of x/y/z stupid trait." A lot of people feel it, a lot of people don't talk about it, but I think it's pretty normal. And eventually you realize that you're doing fine, and you get over it. There's a great TED talk about "faking it til you make it" and overcoming Impostor Syndrome.

    Princeton students are definitely not all party animals. That is to say -- there are plenty of people who party hard, and plenty of people who don't. I like the eating clubs, actually, because it keeps the party scene focused in one location. I think our social scene does a great job of including everyone. And academics come first for most people.

    Re: an earlier question about campus jobs. The campus minimum wage is good ($11 I think?) and there are lots of jobs that pay more. Plus you can snag a nice one where you can also get homework done. CS lab TA's make ~$14/hr.
  • shannonhadleyshannonhadley Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Were there any concerns/paranoia you had going into your freshman year that you eventually found out resolved themselves with little effort?

    Conversely, was there anything (besides the 'learning to study' issue) that caught you off guard when you made the transition from high school to college?
This discussion has been closed.