Princeton eating clubs?

<p>Hello--</p>

<p>For s, a prospective freshman, class of 2015:
We have visited Princeton and of course loved it in many respects. But, we are a little concerned about the eating clubs tradition, and the thought that this might be an exclusivity phenom.
In particular, we've heard that they are pretty expensive, and that middle class folks might have a hard time fitting in. Are we worried about an outdated stereotype?
Can anyone help us with this perception, give some "real world" info about the Princeton socio-economic vibe, put our minds at rest?
Thanks very much!</p>

<p>Here's a parent's perspective. My son is a current sophomore. Eating clubs were a nonfactor to him going in; he's not a frat type or social climber, wasn't put off by the clubs or drawn to the idea, either.</p>

<p>Second semester soph year is when you decide to join or not. He joined a sign in club that he feels is a great fit for him. He's only been a member for a few weeks now, and I haven't seen him since he joined, but he seems happy with the decision.</p>

<p>I think it's financially neutral to join a club or not. Finaid is designed to not impact the eating club decision.</p>

<p>My middle class, not from the northeast son hasn't experienced exclusivity or classism at Princeton.</p>

<p>Good luck to your son.</p>

<p>There are a few which fit the exclusivity / rich white kids / have to be a social climber to get in stereotype, but all my friends are in sign-in clubs (which aren't like that AT ALL), and so they don't really effect my social life. When I was applying, the eating clubs definitely turned me off, but now that I've found that there are a few that I really like. </p>

<p>I don't think that finances are too much of a problem generally - princeton increases your financial aid junior and senior year to help outset the higher cost of an eating club and there are also options like the shared meal plan which allows you to have some meals in the dining halls and some meals at the club for a lower price than the club meal plan.</p>

<p>Thank you, Sherpa; this is a very helpful post. :)
I think we will consider the eating clubs thing a wash.
Happy junior year to your son!</p>

<p>And, stlkarategal, thank you for your very useful insider info. It sounds as if the eating clubs are more diverse and heterogeneous than we feared, so that is great. The increase in financial aid in junior and senior years to accommodate this is interesting....for a relatively unique tradition among American universities.</p>

<p>I think kids these days need to toughen up, instead of worrying about whether they're rich or popular enough to join certain rich white kids' clubs. It's so high school.</p>

<p>There are clubs for every sort. And while getting "hosed" from a bid club is not fun, almost everyone picks themselves up and either joins a signin club or bickers again in the fall. Then they will often tell you that getting hosed was the best thing that could have happen. The young with any luck are resilient. </p>

<p>When I was a student, way back when, I hated my eating club and quit. My kids, both quite different, both in different clubs, have absolutely loved theirs. As a result I've changed my mind about the clubs' role at Princeton.</p>

<p>Many Princeton alumni will tell you that their their Eating Clubs were one of the strongest factors contributing to their great undergraduate experience at the University.</p>

<p>The relationships and close bonds that developed during those years have, for many, continued for decades thereafter.</p>

<p>However, clubs are a bit anachronistic and by definition pretend to social exclusivity: might be fun (like a rarified Gatsby-version of a frat), but it does honestly give pause to intellectually serious prospective students otherwise sufficiently qualified to have other top choices.</p>

<p>
[quote]
However, clubs are a bit anachronistic and by definition pretend to social exclusivity: might be fun (like a rarified Gatsby-version of a frat), but it does honestly give pause to intellectually serious prospective students otherwise sufficiently qualified to have other top choices.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>so Dad2, I take it that these are your thoughts as an alumnus or undergraduate of Princeton, or a Parent of a Princeton student?</p>

<p>My daughter, didn't want to apply to Pton because of the eating clubs. A friend suggested she read "The Rule of Four." She did and changed her mind. </p>

<p>Flash forward, Pton became her first choice, she was accepted and just ignored the issue of eating clubs. As time went by, she realized that one of the eating clubs made sense for her (in terms of her friends and socialization etc), bickered and was accepted.</p>

<p>She likes it, but it doesn't rule her life. For a bit, she thought she'd drop out in senior year because of rooming with a kitchen, but that fell thru.</p>

<p>just go with the flow.
The eating clubs are part of Pton, but not a deciding factor on whether or not to attend.</p>

<p>The clubs, while a major part of nightlife at Princeton, don't comprise the whole of the social life, or even most of it. Student groups take up a lot of time, but I personally enjoy just hanging out with friends most nights talking or watching a movie. Campus life doesn't spring from the clubs, the clubs are a convenient place for social life to take place. As an example, Triangle Club, the university's original musical comedy ensemble, flocks overwhelmingly to Tower when it comes time to bicker. Why? Because most of the upperclassmen in Triangle, the upperclassmen most likely to be friends with the sophomores in Triangle, are also in Tower. This just happens every year, so Triangle tends to go to Tower. Unlike a frat, clubs aren't "join now, make friends through a common experience." Friends are first, where you choose to party or eat is secondary (and in many cases arbitrary). While indeed the clubs are exclusive, it's more a product of this phenomenon and limited space than an intentional exclusivity (it would be like calling Princeton itself inegalitarian for adopting admissions procedures: they're just trying to form a cohesive group). People go where their friends are and want their friends in their club. Simple as that. I guarantee you that if a person makes friends at Princeton, they will have a club to go to. </p>

<p>And there is plenty of opportunity to make friends–good friends–at Princeton, especially as a freshman. There's the Outdoor and Community Action Trips that nearly force a friendship (it worked for my group: we're still great friends and we don't really have much in common other than hiking together for five days). Frosh week (the week of freshman orientation, for those who don't know, that starts on freshman move-in day and ends on the first day of classes) is a wonderful time to expand your circle of friends if the kumbayah is wearing off after a week in the woods with OA (LNT can get old after fast, especially after eating the pb&j you dropped on the ground or washing your bowl out with dirt for the umpteenth time). Two major things will happen during frosh week. First, everyone will figure out that no one knows anyone, which leads to the carefree friendfest that I like to call, quite aptly and redundantly (at this point, anyway), "friendfest." This is the second-wind of loving energy that dissipated on OA when you had to wander in the pitch dark back to the campsite after troweling for the third time that day because of all the gorp you're eating. Second, student groups will assault you with pleas of "join us" fervently, frequently, and, often, en masse. Do yourself a favor and join more than you can handle. You can always drop, but you get to meet so many amazing people for as long as you're in a group at Princeton.</p>

<p>Really, though, it's not the academics or reknown of the professors or buildings that will shape your experience here. It really is the people. Get to know as many as you can. We're really not as elitist and exclusive as some posters would like to make us out to be (Dad2, I'm looking at you). When it comes down to it, a Princeton student really likes to help people (except, ironically, the occasional premed). Just ask a question and we will answer. Call in a favor, and we will do it, no reciprocation needed. Talk to us. Be our friends. More people on this campus like hugs than you may expect. I don't want people scared off because they think it isn't a good place for "intellectually serious students." We're all here to learn, and we're all here to help each other live and learn in the best environment possible.</p>

1 Like

<p>
[quote]
Get to know as many as you can. We're really not as elitist and exclusive as some posters would like to make us out to be (Dad2, I'm looking at you).

[/quote]
</p>

<p>soulpatch, we are still waiting to see whether Dad2 is a Princeton Alumnus or parent of a Princeton student.</p>

<p>Don't be so crabby! The issue of eating clubs is Princeton's particular cross to bear. As far as I can tell, everyone who goes to Princeton loves them, but a significant number of people who don't go to Princeton are very suspicious of them. I know the eating clubs had a lot to do with my decision not to complete my Princeton application way back when (despite getting what now would be called a likely letter) -- and I am pretty comfortable with elitism and snobbery. I know lots of people in my kids' cohort, including my kids, for whom eating clubs were a big turnoff when thinking about Princeton.</p>

<p>I am happy to concede that most of those people, including 17-year-old me, may be poorly informed. The many Princeton friends I have acquired since I was 17 have convinced me that the eating clubs are fine, or better than fine. But, knowing what I know today, if I were deciding among HYP all over again the eating clubs would still be a something of a negative for Princeton. You can't just wish the issue away -- all you can do is keep explaining to people why they're so great/not so bad, depending.</p>

<p>JHS - I agree. The clubs exist. We can't ignore them. They are loved by many, tolerated by many, disliked by some, and hated by a few. Clubs keep some people from applying, but it's quite possible they are also one of the reasons for Princeton's extraordinary (and I mean that in its statistical sense) alumni loyalty and the high rates of Annual Giving. As I said, I've changed my attitude over the last 30 years.</p>

<p>JHS, currious, what other schools did you apply to?</p>

<p>Dad2:</p>

<p><a href="http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/12176955-post10.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/12176955-post10.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>looking forward to your answer</p>

<p>My club meant a LOT to me in my years at Princeton. It's always going to fill me with warm fuzzies and memories and I adored the specific people and loved the traditions.</p>

<p>Had bicker not been successful for me, there was a sign-in club that was very similar where I would have been equally as happy. It's great in college to have somewhere to hang out each day where you know everyone's name; where you can sit anywhere at lunch because you know everyone else. The clubs offer parties, and that's huge; but they also offer places to hang out between classes; libraries where the seniors shut themselves up together to work on their theses; lawns where people hang out playing cornhole in the sun. My happiest Princeton memories revolve around my club.</p>

<p>Not all of my friends bickered the same club, and some didn't bicker at all. That didn't exclude anyone from hanging out anywhere and having a great time. My friends who decided not to join clubs were certainly no less happy or included in campus life than anyone else. The clubs are what you make them, and you won't be able to decide until you get here whether or not it's for you. But don't make it the end-all-be-all of a Princeton decision.</p>

<p>I think both JHS and Alumother have it right. JHS is certainly correct in pointing out that many potential applicants find the 'idea' of the Eating Clubs unattractive and may not apply to Princeton for that reason. Alumother points out that after the passage of time (and after having experienced the clubs as a student) she has changed her mind and now sees them as a positive.</p>

<p>I think the point to be made here is that the 'idea' of the Eating Clubs is very different from today's 'reality'. The stereotypes of the clubs (as repeated by those who have never experienced them while a student) are certainly negative. The reality, as experienced by Princeton students of today is startlingly different. </p>

<p>See: </p>

<p>Multimedia</a> Presentation on the Eating Clubs at Princeton</p>

<p>Princeton</a> University | Eating Clubs</p>

<p>To be fair, the negative stereotypes were, at one time, deserved. Thirty or forty years ago, the clubs were exclusive and bicker was a much uglier process. That was a long time ago and the clubs have been in a process of transformation for decades. All of them are now coed and half of them are completely open to any student who wants to join. Even those that still use the bicker process have internal rules they refer to as "positive bicker". During the club meetings when potential new applicants are considered for membership, no current club member is allowed to say demeaning things about any applicant. Only positive statements are allowed. Silence is taken as a lack of support for that candidate.</p>

<p>Every alumnus, alumna and current Princeton student who has participated by commenting on the CC boards has probably addressed this issue. I have many times and a quick search on CC will bring up those threads. I didn't belong to a club but had a great time at all of them. It's easy to get passes to the parties whether or not you belong to the club giving the party.</p>

<p>As someone considering Princeton, assuming I get accepted at allÂ…, I'd just like to say thanks to all the parents and students for the great info!</p>