Over the recent weeks, several prospective students have come to campus for Princeton Preview, wandering around with their orange and black lanyards and drawstring bags. I hosted two of my friends from back home and had a great time showing them the various aspects of Princeton that I fell in love with; doing so reminded me about some of the things that —looking from the eyes of myself one year ago—stood out and swayed me towards ultimately choosing Princeton.
~In no particular order~
Princeton, hands down, has one of the best financial aid programs in the country. Because financial aid was a very important factor to both myself and my family in choosing a school, Princeton ranked first in this sense. The generosity was certainly unmatched when compared to the other schools I initially considered.
Even though people may dislike the idea that “there’s nothing to do in Princeton” and that the students are enclosed in an “Orange Bubble,” I actually really like the location of the school. First off, the town of Princeton itself is incredibly safe and relatively quiet. For me, I did not want to be in a very loud environment, so this was definitely a plus. That is not to say that “there’s nothing to do,” though; there are numerable activities to partake in throughout campus and throughout the town and neighboring areas as well. From the clubs and shows that take place on campus to the community events on Nassau, there is always something to do for everyone. I recently went to the Farmers’ Market and saw an advanced screening of a movie for free at the Garden Theater.
There is also the opportunity to head into the city—Philadelphia or New York City, for instance—which is only about an hour away by train. I have been to New York City multiple times throughout the year to visit friends, attend shows and concerts, and to just take a break once in a while.
Believe it or not, but before coming to Princeton, I had never been to the East Coast (I spent my entire life in California). Although Princeton is basically on the other side of the country from my home, I was actually more intrigued about going to such a place because of that. For one, the weather was drastically different, but I felt that it would be good for me to experience more by going away from home. Here, I have been able to experience a “real winter,” one that goes below 50 degrees Fahrenheit unlike back at home and have accordingly built up a higher tolerance for the cold. I’ve also run into humorous social differences like the debate between “boba” versus “bubble tea” and being told that I talk slow like a Californian. Things are certainly different on the East Coast, but I’m glad that I am able to experience them during my time here.
This is an aspect that is almost truly unique to Princeton, clearly distinguishing it from the schools I was considering. There are about twice the number of undergraduate students than graduate students, meaning that there are more resources and opportunities available for undergraduates. It also helps that the size of undergraduate enrollment is not super big, but rather medium-sized. This meant that I would not feel overwhelmed by an incredibly large number of other undergraduates, nor would I feel like there are too little people to meet and interact with.
Additionally, the ratio between students to professors is very small, along with every class being taught by a professor—not solely by TAs like at some other schools. I personally feel that I benefit more from being in smaller classroom environments, so I was very drawn to this. Smaller class sizes allow an individual to receive lots of attention from instructors and even get to know them quite well. I’ve had meals with some of my professors, which is a very nice way to engage with them and learn things outside of the class setting.
Not knowing what I wanted to major in was probably one of the more influential factors that led me to choose Princeton over other schools. Because Princeton is so academically strong in a wide variety of subjects, not knowing what I wanted to study would not affect me negatively in regards to the quality of my education. From my interests in music to computer science to chemistry, I would be in a great program no matter what I chose.
It is also relatively easy to switch majors early on, which can be a problem at some other schools. For example, I came in thinking that I would follow AB Chemistry, but I actually just switched to BSE Chemical and Biological Engineering about two weeks ago. Being able to try different things is definitely important in learning about yourself, which is something that Princeton understands.
Out of the other schools, Princeton also had the strongest investment in the arts, particularly with music. With amazing faculty and an entire new building dedicated to the arts, it is clear that Princeton values the arts greatly. I knew that I wanted to continue playing the viola throughout college, and because of the resources at Princeton and its relative closeness to New York City, there are incredible opportunities that would have not been available to me elsewhere. The groups, both by the university and by the students, are also all of exceptional quality. As an example of the great kinds of opportunities available, Gustavo Dudamel will be coming here to conduct next year!
These are only a few of the several aspects that I love about Princeton, but they were the most influential factors for me in regards to choosing a school at the time. Hopefully they are able to provide further insight into the university and what it is like.
From when I first stepped onto this campus, I just knew that I would enjoy my time here. I know it sounds cliche, but it just felt right; I’m sure this gut feeling is experienced by all, wherever their school may be. I can hardly believe that it is almost the end of my first year here—it has been a great experience and I certainly believe that I made the right choice in coming here!
Thanks for reading, and see you next time!