Princeton University Early Action for Fall 2023 Admission

This year, the Early Action (EA) deadline for Princeton University is November 1.

List your unweighted GPA, any SAT /ACT scores, and ECs. What majors are you going into?
Ask your questions, the CC community is here to help!

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I hope this is the right place to ask this question: is there an increase in admissions chance by applying SCEA to Princeton if an applicant is not “hooked”?

DD is top of her class in the most rigorous program (IB Dip) for a very good CA public HS, 1550 + on SATs, very good ECs, very good state and national awards, and excellent LORs. But she is not hooked.

She really likes Princeton, but the question is whether being non-hooked makes it worthwhile to apply SCEA?

She will also be applying to other private schools that give merit aid, and I understand that by applying SCEA, she can’t apply EA to those private schools. The second question is whether not applying EA to those schools will put her at a disadvantage for merit aid.

Again, my apologies if this is the wrong place to post this.

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I have similar questions as well. My kiddo has a 36 ACT (single score not superscore), very high GPA, 1 main, very high level and time consuming EC that she would continue there (and submitting an Arts supplement), top 10 boarding school that historically has about 10 offers to Princeton- some turn it down for other Ivy’s. No idea if any of those spots ever go to non-hooked, non-legacy kids.
She is also applying to other LAC’s and hoping for merit.

Also- Princeton seems to have added a question that I don’t think used to be there. They ask if any other relatives, cousins, aunts grandparents attended. I am wondering if there is any reason for this. She did have a grandparent (who passed away before she was born) who attended. But it is my understanding that these are not considered legacy so wondering why they even ask.

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Colleges using the Common App seem to be using its standard language and form for asking about legacy info. So you fill it out once and it remembers it for every school that looks at that, with some ignoring some of the data and others considering it all. Stanford is the same way – their policy is only to look at direct parents – no other relatives – but the Common App for still asks for everyone even though most wouldn’t apply.

While it doesn’t hurt to mention that a grandparent is an alum, Princeton doesn’t consider grandparents as legacy, only father, mother, step-father and step-mother.

EA is an opportunity for Princeton to offer admission to those who’d fill the university’s desired class, but what they desire from year to year can vary, so no one can tell what your chances are. “Hooked” candidates aren’t the only ones the admissions pick; they also desire a diversity of candidates, geographical, intellectual interests (majors), etc. to fill that particular year’s overall class. Applying EA does display a strong interest on the applicant’s part, so even if the applicant ends up unsuccessful in this round, the RD round isn’t going to be jeopardized. As a general rule, EA is recommended if the applicant has the heart set on that particular school over any others.


I believe that the question was specific to Princeton as it hasn’t been on any other school’s.

Yes, I realize this, which is why I found this question interesting.

Some schools require you to apply EA to qualify for merit aid so best to check with each school.

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Hi! I have been through this a couple of times now, with great kids with great grades, 1580+sats, national merits, lots of honors and ecs etc. This is a tough process, and I hope what I’ve learned will be of some help.

EA is the only realistic shot that most unhooked, high-achieving kids have at HYPS. (And the odds are still long - for example, Harvard has taken around 10% of kids who scored 1600 in recent years.) If you do not go EA, you are in a 1-3% bucket, and those 1-3% are almost all either hooked or have a unique talent (e.g. math olympiad, published author). It isn’t too far from the truth to say that it is false advertising for these schools to claim that there are actually spots available for normal, unhooked kids in the RA pool. This being said, occasionally a typical, bright kid beats the odds and gets in RA. But it’s almost like winning the lottery.

As for financial aid, since EA is non-binding, if you don’t like your package, you can go somewhere else. So EA will not negatively impact your financial aid situation.

As for top boarding schools, I still think that graduating in the top 5% or so of schools like Andover and Exeter will get you some attention from the AOs. But at these schools, many, perhaps most, of the accepted HYPS will be hooked, and the ones who are unhooked will be EA. These schools place a lot of athletes, and a lot of alums and wealthy/famous kids. On the whole, I think that the average bright kid from a big, famous boarding school probably has a disadvantage due to the competition, and to the fact that these schools have been on the other side of the admirable drive to diversify college campuses.

The parent alum ‘hook’ is fading, as institutions preference other groups (for example, Princeton and Harvard now actively seek low-income students). This hook is best used with EA - in the RA pool it certainly does not have the pull it used to, unless the alum in question is famous or connected. The distant relative alum provides almost no help (unless you’re applying to Yale as a Bush grandchild).

As a matter of application strategy, a winning approach is to highlight a unique talent or quality that you possess. The kid with one super-strong activity, especially if it’s interesting, difficult or suggests a path to future fame, may fare well if the admissions committee smiles upon the activity. So AnonMomof2’s kiddo may have a decent shot. Gone are the days of the ‘well-rounded’ applicant.

The silver lining is that there are many schools that offer overall experiences that will probably be better than HYPS for most kids. The quality of life and quality of teaching at these schools are not always on par with their reputations. There are quite a few LACs that offer more attention, more access to faculty and, arguably, a better overall experience. But a name is still a name…

I wish you and your children the best of luck,


Pretty sure that is what got her into her current BS last year as a Junior, as she also receives huge financial aid there and had no legacy or sport and new Juniors are almost always sports recruits.
Anyway, she’s taking the gamble and applying EA to Princeton. Has 9 other schools. Finding targets was difficult but she found a few great safeties. Good luck to all.


S23 has decided to roll the dice and apply EA. Really wrestled with the decision because he was thinking of applying ED to Duke as a legacy (really helps the odds).

4.0 GPA, 12 AP classes, 1530 SAT, International (Latin America), Extracurriclar: Researcher on a published medical paper, Secretary General of MUN, Medalist in Math Olympiad, 4 year letterman Basketball Team Captain last two years, Statkeeper for a pro basketball team, National Honor Society, volunteers at the local food bank

Not sure about a major…might be some combination of math and economics. The ORFE program has also gotten his attention.

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legacy at Princeton
3.9 unweighted; several APs
1450 SAT
Many leadership roles, ECs, and strong essays

Here’s my questions - to EA or not? Submit SAT or not? It is slightly below 25th and well below recent median of 1510

I want EA and Princeton is top choice but am also very worried about the “no” or the defer and have a more traditional EDI option that’s a 25-30% ED admit school where am totally in the range. And a school i like a lot.

No clean answer. Curious what folks here would suggest given legacy.

If that Is truly where you want to be apply SCEA and apply to a couple of Public/rolling schools at the same time. Have an ED2 back up plan.

The reality of the SAT is that it is low, but also that the vast majority of accepted students submitted a score, and Princeton is clear about preferring a score.

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Hi,I am from Pakistan and am planning to apply in Princeton for Fall 2023.I am applying in Early Decision.I wanted to ask that I haven’t given SAT because it is optional for 2023 cycle so will it put any effect.
I have 6A*,1A,1B in O-levels and good High school Transcript with good ECA’s.So do I have any chance?

Princeton does not offer early decision, only restricted early action.

They’re test optional so not submitting is ok.

Princeton is a very tough admit for pretty much everyone, and a lot harder for international applicants.

If you want rough chancing:
If you have top grades and great ECs, LoRs and essays and you’re full pay: maybe a 2.5% chance

If asking for financial aid, and less than stellar application: maybe 0.1%

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Delete. correction bellow.

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Just to clarify, Princeton is need-blind for international students, as well, so asking for FA has no influence on the admissions outcome. Also, Princeton has recently announced that for most families whose annual income is less than $100,000, they will pay nothing for tuition, room and board, up from the previous $65,000 annual income level. That’s more than 25% of the undergraduate student body. They also eliminated the $3,500 student contribution typically earned through summer savings and campus work. This new FA methodology applies to international students, as well.


where is that stat from? The Princetonian survey?

Sorry I misread that.

In testing, perhaps no group stood out more than recruited athletes. Only half of recruited athletes (50.5 percent) submitted standardized test scores to Princeton — an option made possible by the University’s decision to remain test-optional through the 2022–23 admission cycle. Among those athletes who shared their SAT scores with the ‘Prince,’ 41.3 percent scored lower than 1390. This contrasts starkly with non-athletes, 81.3 percent of whom submitted test scores and 8.5 percent of whom scored below 1390.


I don’t think this is true. I think a majority of spots in the RD pool are unhooked kids.