I recently visited Princeton University in New Jersey, where I toured the campus and heard from the admissions office about the latest trends in admissions. Here are some takeaways from my visit:
· Princeton distinguishes itself from many of its Ivy peers by its intense focus on undergraduate research and teaching. Students can become involved in research as early as freshman year, and research projects are required both junior and senior years. The campus lacks many traditional graduate schools (business, medicine, law), and the majority of students are undergrads.
· Because of Princeton’s unique senior thesis requirement, students can only major in one subject. There is also a narrower range of majors – 37 – than at many of the university’s peer institutions.
· While most classes are small, some lectures have up to 120 students (or, in the case of Introduction to Computer Science, 200).
· Students live in one of seven residential colleges their first two years but belong to the college all four years. Social life for the majority of upperclassmen centers around Princeton’s “eating clubs,” which each have their own culture and flavor.
· Princeton fields some of the strongest athletic programs in the Ivy League and has a total of 38 D1 teams and as many club teams.
· Students can opt for a fully-funded gap year abroad through the Novogratz Bridge Year Program. Students will complete a work project based on their interests.
· A unique feature of Princeton admissions is that they require a graded paper, ideally from within the last two years in English or history. Princeton will consider the writing within the context of the student’s high school.
· The optional interview is encouraged, and submitting an arts supplement “can only help” an application.
· Engineers also fulfill liberal arts distribution requirements but are exempt from the foreign language requirement.
· Princeton no longer caps the number of A’s at 35% of each class, but there is still some grade deflation in programs such as engineering.
· The entire campus is a 10-15 minute walk from one end to the other. Most students are not allowed to have cars on campus.
· Students can elect to take up to four classes in total pass/fail.
· A new art museum is currently under construction and the gym is undergoing renovations.