Princeton University
Princeton, NJ, USA

Reviews

Princeton University
4.59 Average Rating

Carolyn from Portage, IN

a current student here
28 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Because Princeton doesn't have any professional schools, it really is the case that they focus a massive amount of resources on undergraduate education. The course load is very demanding. Actually, it's essentially impossible to complete all assigned readings for every class. But the small class sizes, precept system, and dedicated nature of the students around you make it a workable model. Also, the distribution requirements encourage students to explore in all areas. Everyone I know has had some experience where they took a class completely out of their comfort zone and had gained amazing new academic exposure, and because Princeton is so focused on undergraduates many introductory courses are taught by the best members of the faculty. For example, I am a politics major but I took an introduction to molecular biology that was taught by a Nobel Prize winner. With such a diverse student body, world-class professors, and endless opportunity for activities outside the classroom, a Princeton student is hard pressed to find a moment where he or she is not learning in some capacity.
Am enjoying being here
After spending two years at Princeton I am personally convinced that it is the greatest university in the world. The academic pressure can be entirely overwhelming, but the benefits are very tangible and the amazing environment one gets to share with fellow Princetonians makes every ounce of stress worthwhile. I feel like every time I meet a new classmate I am blown away by their story. It has been an honor and a privilege to get to know so many of these people. Also, let it be known that for as hard as Princeton students work, they definitely know how to have a good time.
Bang for the buck
One of the foremost reasons I decided to attend Princeton was the support I received from its financial aid office. Their generosity is unmatched, which is made possible by the ongoing support of alumni and active investments by the university. Hands down no other university of Princeton's caliber that I am aware of offers anything close to the level of affordability that Princeton does. They are very serious about their mission to allow all students to graduate without any debt from student loans, and they offer fantastic support to parents with Princeton Parent Loans - a program that allows families to loan money directly from the university instead of through the government or a bank.
Tips for prospective students
Be prepared to work harder than you ever imagined, but also to have a true life-changing experience. My biggest piece of advice is to explore all of your options when you get to campus. Both in academics and extracurriculars, try things you haven't done before and don't feel too obligated to make binding decisions early on. The Princeton community is all about having new experiences and lots of them, so take advantage of that!
Great for these types of students
Princeton is great for students who are self-motivated. It is a very demanding environment, but if you stay organized it doesn't have to be overly stressful. Other than that, the beauty of Princeton is that it's great for all types of students. The diversity of interests and backgrounds make Princeton the dynamic place that it is. If you are the kind of student that is very concerned about GPA, you should be warned about the grade deflation policy. Whatever level of academic achievement you're used to, which for most Princeton students is a minimum of 4.0, for many there will be a bit of a shock when grades are released. Don't let this deter you, though. Everyone adjusts quickly to Princeton's level of expectation and a letter explaining the grade deflation policy is included with every transcript.
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Tiger '13

a current student here
27 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
The classes are definitely extremely challenging, but after taking a summer class at Pace (a local Westchester private college), I am really missing the pace of Princeton classes and how intelligent my peers are.
Am enjoying being here
The only serious struggle I have encountered is dealing with much lower grades than I am used to. However, I love it here. I love the people I have met. I love the activities I do. I love how generous this university is. I love the town of Princeton. I love my dorm room.
Bang for the buck
We have free printing, free laundry, free gym...free anything. We get sponsored to go abroad for anything. Our dorms are humungous (several visiting Harvard students got very jealous). I could go on forever...
Tips for prospective students
Don't let your senioritis carry over...mine did. Also I was never the grade grubbing type in high school - it was rigorous but I was smart enough to excel without caring too mucha bout my grades - but that is hurting me now.
Great for these types of students
Self-motivated, able to buckle down and focus like no other, but also let loose and have fun. Basically, anyone who is good at work hard play hard...I don't work as hard as I probably need to. Have initiative to pursue things. If you can do those two things, you will love it here.
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Nick from FL

a current student here
18 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Princeton is really the best of many worlds - it's a liberal arts college with the resources of a big research powerhouse; it's close to the city but is surrounded by a quaint town; it's 'academic' and Ivy-like, but also knows how to have fun. This is a place that will stretch your mind and challenge you like never before, in a way that's surprisingly exciting. The beautiful campus and storied history also make it impossible not feel proud about being a Princetonian.
Academic Rigor
Rigor is really dependent on your degree program (AB - arts/sciences; BSE - engineering), as well as your department. As an AB student, most of my workload is reading-related, but you of course will have times in the semester when there is lots of written work due, and perhaps some traditional exams as well. Each week you'll also have discussion sections (what we call precepts) that allow you to discuss what you've been learning on your own or during lectures. Some don't take them too seriously, and you'll often find yourself less than enthused too, but they can be interesting if you have a good preceptor and classmates. Overall, I've really grown intellectually here, and have learned to love learning all over again.
Dorm Life
The fact that pretty much everyone lives on campus means that activities and student events are always within walking distance of your room. Since you start your first two years in a residential college, a lot of fun stuff will happen with those living within closest proximity to you, allowing for a nice sense of community if you really embrace it. However, because of the somewhat fragmented social and living scene in the upperclass years (when students have the option to join eating clubs and live in upperclass housing), dorm life is much more focused on freshmen and sophomores, making it harder to socialize and connect with older students. Also, because the dorms can often be perceived as lame, many activities sponsored by the colleges themselves won't be super-attended or exciting. It could certainly be better, but there are plenty of places where dorm life is much worse so don't let this detract from your decision!
Food and Dining
Personally, I think the food is pretty great, particularly because there are 4 dining halls you can access, so if you have an unlimited plan you can just walk somewhere else if your first choice doesn't have great options. It's all-you-can-eat, and there tend to be diverse options depending on which hall you choose. Also, the campus center offers 'late meal,' in which you can swipe an additional time after lunch and dinner (if you're on an unlimited plan), and basically eat 'free.' I can't speak to the eating club dining experience just yet, but most claim to have the best food among the clubs, so they must be pretty decent. Off-campus, the town is a little pricey so students don't tend to eat at many of the restaurants, although there are some more reasonable options that appeal to college kids. You'll have most of what you need on campus, though, so there often isn't a need to cross the street into town.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Princeton is full of traditions that I personally love. When you get to campus you walk through the front gates, and aren't supposed to walk back out before graduation, or else it's said that you'll jeopardize your chance to finish in 4 years. I think about 3/4 of students play along with that particular tradition, which I think is pretty nice, even if the superstition is of course not much more than urban legend. Another fun tradition is the 'arch sings,' in which the a cappella groups meet under archways and entertain whoever passes by on their way to pregames or the eating clubs on Thursday and Saturday nights. There's lots of other great traditions like the bonfire (if we beat both Harvard and Yale in the same season), Reunions (the largest reunion event in the country that tons of current students stick around for in May), and Opening Exercises (freshman convocation that's held in the chapel and feels like your first day at Hogwarts).
Clubs and Activities
There's pretty much always something going on around campus, from dance performances to workshops, seminars, study breaks, concerts, and more. You have a huge selection of groups to choose from, whether you're interested in politics, professional development, the arts, or even something extremely random like chocolate-making. It can be a bit difficult to find your niche at first if you just aim at selective groups (especially dance teams or a cappella groups, for example), but there's also a lot that doesn't involve auditions or applications, if you want to maybe develop new interests or skills at first before trying again later. Just don't let that potential rejection discourage you, and don't trust the image of 'effortless perfection' that you may see in your peers, everyone's trying their best and has their own story they may not tell!
Campus Safety
Every year, the 'Triangle Club' (our musical comedy troupe) performs a show for the freshmen and literally features an entire song called Nothing Ever Happens in Princeton, because it's about as safe and calm as you can get. There are occasional small blips, but I've never heard of any true emergencies to be worried about. The town itself is super-suburban and pretty affluent, and the campus is relatively insular, so there's essentially nothing to ever worry about.
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Gabriella

researching this school
12 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Princeton has a beautiful campus! The students are friendly and hardworking. You definitely have to work hard to get in!
Tips for prospective students
My Dad (who went to Princeton and does interviews for them) says to know what you want to say during the interview. DON'T complain about how much homework you have, because you will have so much more homework there than you do in High School. When the interviewer contacts you, be prompt about getting back to them, he has had so many people that contacted him back after the information from the interview was due.

Make sure you have an answer to the question beforehand: Why do you want to go to Princeton?
It's very important and many students can't even answer it for him!
Academic Rigor
It's an Ivy league, I'm not sure how well I can explain how hard it is.
My Dad was at the top of his class in high school, and was struggling to be mediocre at Princeton.
Dorm Life
Going from what I've seen on their website, although the majority of the dorms are older, they appear very comfortable.
Sorry I couldn't provide any more information!

See http://www.princeton.edu/main/campuslife/housingdining/ for housing and dining information
Food and Dining
The eating clubs have a great environment and are really fun!
Who wouldn't want a personalized omelet for breakfast?!?!?!?
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2016 Tiger

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Princeton was my life dream, two months in I have no doubt I made the right choice. I have met so many unique, passionate, and amazing people. My classes are very challenging, but engaging and fun.
Tips for prospective students
No one knows the secrets to getting into a school like this. The best advice I have is to pursue things that you are really passionate about. These are the most valuable experiences both from and resume standpoint and for you to grow as a person.
Academic Rigor
I worked very hard in high school, but to be honest I never really had to sit down and study so much as complete an assignment. The work here is very difficult, and the tests are even more so. I've had to learn a entire new system of learning.
Dorm Life
Because of the age of the school, dorms here are very variable. I like my dorm, and my hallmates. The roommate questionnaire was quite comprehensive and though she is a very different person from me, I feel like they couldn't have paired me with a better roommate.
Food and Dining
The dining hall food (especially the desserts) is really good. It's like any such dining situation where after a while you do get a little tired of it. As a freshman, I can't say much about the eating clubs.
What to do for fun
Princeton definatly has a party culture. However, as someone who is not into that scene, I have never felt left out or at a loss for something to do. There is no shortage of people who do party and no shortage of those who don't. The campus and student government do a great job of supplying many alternate events (like free, sometimes early released, movies every weekend!).
Bang for the buck
This is the best education in the world, there's nothing more to say.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
This place has no shortage of traditions. My favorite is probably the annual reunions where alumni come back in mass right before commencement. I have never heard of any other school with anything like this, but it is amazing to just how many people still hold such a strong connection to the school, some of them over 50 years since their own graduation.
Great for these types of students
Any one who is driven and passionate can find a way to thrive here. It doesn't hurt to have a love of quirky traditions also.
Clubs and Activities
There is no shortage of things to do and groups to join. If by some odd chance there isn't an existing group for something you're into, its really easy to start it yourself (and get university funding for it).
Greek Life
Not really applicable. There are a few groups, but they are not officially recognized by the university. Freshmen are forbidden from rushing. Princeton has their own unique eating club system, which upperclassmen join for their meals. These clubs each possess there own mansion on what is know as the Street, they also serve as the center of the party culture.
Campus Safety
I have walked across campus in the dark at all sorts of hours. Never have I felt unsafe or even the slightest sensation of sketchiness.
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Annika from Eugene, OR

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Being at Princeton feels a lot like winning the lottery on a daily basis. The people are incredibly interesting and I'm being challenged like I've never been challenged before. It's a place for those who love to work hard and play hard.
Tips for prospective students
-Keep an eye out for the people who aren't taking Princeton for granted - they're the people you're going to want to be friends with.
-Don't be afraid to try new things and join new groups - at the very least, you'll get to sample lots of different kinds of free foods.
-You were probably pretty outstanding in high school and that's going to be stripped away and you're going to feel humbled and it's going to be hard. Stay in touch with people back home to keep you grounded and don't let yourself get insecure - you're here for a reason.
Academic Rigor
This is a hard school. You're going to work a lot harder than you had to before - probably even harder than you had anticipated. Look for help - lots of people are offering it (if you're struggling in your writing seminar, visit the writing center; if science is causing you some problems, try McGraw.)
Dorm Life
Princeton has six residential colleges. I live in Forbes, which is commonly considered the equivalent of Hufflepuff (it's out-of-the-way and not very glamorous.) While a lot of my dormmates love Forbes, I'm less convinced - as an arts student with a work-study job in the Lewis Center for the Arts, I have to walk about ten more minutes to get places than more centrally-located students. Forbes sponsors frequent events, from theme dinners and parties to trips into NYC for Broadway productions, which tend to be very well-attended.
Food and Dining
I'm currently home for Spring Break and dreading heading back for another few months of dorm food. Luckily, I know Princeton will do its best to break up the monotony. One of the (few) good things about living in Forbes is the food - we have a fancy brunch every Sunday and a delicious monthly vegetarian night, and every Wednesday night tends to be pretty special food.
What to do for fun
Princeton isn't known as the orange bubble for nothing. The campus is very self-contained and most of your entertainment will be found here. Some suggestions:
-The USG sponsors free movies every weekend at the Garden Theater. Free popcorn and soda are included.
-We have a lot of fantastic performing arts groups on campus. Find a few groups you like and follow the work they're doing - everybody stays busy throughout the year. I would highly recommend checking out Quipfire, one of our great improv troupes.
Bang for the buck
This is Princeton - the buildings are covered in ivy, there are gargoyles over the door to the gym, and the campus is flat-out beautiful.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Make sure to check out Murray-Dodge, a cafe under the center for religious life that serves tea and fresh-baked cookies every night from 10 to 12:30.
Clubs and Activities
There's a venue for almost everything I can think of here, but if you're lacking something, feel free to start a group - at the activities fair this year, I saw everything from big glossy signs for groups that have been part of the Princeton extracurricular scene for a century to a posterboard advertising a bug-eating club.
Greek Life
I'm not involved with Greek life, but I have several friends who are - the three sororities tend to be fairly popular and I know a lot of girls who really love what Greek life is adding to their college experience. The frats are less popular and, from what I hear about them, less fun.
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Tara from Lebanon, NJ

a current student here
10 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
You will work harder than you have ever worked before but you will take away one of the best educations America has to offer. The environment is highly conducive to learning; your peers are motivated, every lounge and common room is a potential quiet study area, the professors are brilliant and care about their students. My computers' professor told me that he wished he didn't have to assign grades, since the important thing was learning something, not performing well on a test. That said, there is a LOT of pressure to get good grades. Widespread grade deflation doesn't help. Many students find their motivation to learn transformed into motivation to keep up their GPA. If this happens, you'll continue to take in an astonishing quantity of knowledge in an astonishingly short amount of time, but you will have a smaller soul. Resist the pressure.
Am enjoying being here
You are certain to find some extracurricular, be it club, dance group, or volunteer service, to consume your extremely limited free time. You will probably end up a leading board member of said club or dance group while spearheading your own community service initiative. How Princeton students manage to juggle their exhausting rigorous academic schedules and their absurdly over-committed outside-the-classroom lives mystifies everyone, especially the Princeton students.
Campus is stunning. The facilities (gym, lounges, libraries) are great and well maintained. School pride is embraced to the point of cultishness. If you don't let your commitments eat you alive, you'll love it here.
Bang for the buck
Princeton has one of the best financial aid package of all the Ivies. If you don't qualify, however, then you are paying an obscene amount of money for a degree you could theoretically get somewhere else for half or even a third of the price. Is it worth it? I think so. My professors are the best in their field, I have 3 different academic advisers, and campus life is overflowing with free food/events/lectures/performances. This semester I'm going on a University-sponsored trip to Bermuda for coral reef research. There are universities as expensive as Princeton where that simply would not be a viable option. I'm not sure what these universities are spending their money on, but Princeton spends it on undergrads. You are the university's economic priority.
Tips for prospective students
Know why you want to come; because it's Princeton is not a good enough reason. It won't convince admissions officers (they know it's Princeton) and it won't prepare you for your experience here. You should have some feel for the work load, the expectations, and the culture before you enroll. If you don't, you'll probably end up loving it anyway, but you will have a VERY difficult first semester.
Great for these types of students
Highly self-motivated, initiative-taking, stress-resistant multi-taskers with leadership skills who aren't daunted by the prospect of not being the best at everything.
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GA

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Princeton is challenging and the content of what we learn is relavent to life. There is no other place I'd rather be. The wealth of networking and level of academics has been worth the work to get here!
Tips for prospective students
Service, SAT, leadership, excellence in an area of interest and leading a life of character.
Academic Rigor
high level of rigor
Dorm Life
good people, quiet time for study, activities and breaks, food, friends, free laundry :-)
Food and Dining
good fresh food! short walk to dining hall
What to do for fun
I've been busy studying and playing football but there are fieldtrips to various places like NY, malls, shows....
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
When we beat Harvard and Yale - we burn a huge bon fire!
Great for these types of students
You want to make a difference. You are studious. You like food, people, life and learning.
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Tim from Singapore

researching this school
8 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Possibly the most exclusive college in the world, with fantastic academic resources for students' academic endeavors.
Tips for prospective students
There are no transfers, so work hard and try again for graduate school if you are rejected for Princeton's undergraduate program.
Academic Rigor
Stretches you to whichever way you want your potentials to be stretched.
Dorm Life
Historic and beautiful.
Food and Dining
Superb food with a wide variety of choices.
What to do for fun
Parties in eating clubs.
Bang for the buck
It may be expensive, but you are meeting the world's best professors and most talented students in Princeton.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
You never cross the FitzRandolph gate, if not, you never graduate with your class.
Great for these types of students
Sporty, intellectual
Clubs and Activities
They keep you busy.
Greek Life
Not really active as compared to most other schools.
Campus Safety
Safe to walk at night when I visited the campus.
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A Midwestern Boy

a current student here
35 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Princeton is an extremely welcoming school with excellent professors, students, and faculty members. I am wrapping up my first semester here, and I have had the time of my life...I really wish that time would just slow down and I could be here for the rest of my life. It's a work hard, party hard kind of place.
Tips for prospective students
No set formula will get you in, though there are a number that will keep you out. Your SAT's don't have to be perfect, but ideally they will be above 30. You don't have to have straight A's, but if you go to a second rate public school like I did...you kind of do. On the other hand, if you submit an application, your chances of admission go up infinitely; and if you get accepted here, there is absolutely no reason not to matriculate. Princeton is hands down the most undergraduate-focused of the big three Ivies, and that certainly played a large role in my decision-making process, as it should in yours.
Academic Rigor
Somewhat contrary to what I said above, if you absolutely hate doing work, don't come here. Don't do that to yourself. On the other hand, if you like learning, and you want to be intellectually stimulated by interaction with one of the brightest student bodies in the nation and a legion of brilliant professors...come to Princeton. I guarantee, you won't regret it. Oh, and don't cheat. We have an honor code.
Dorm Life
Compared to dorms at, say, WashU, Princeton dorms are no good. On the other hand, Princeton dorms compare very favorably with dorms at state schools and most private colleges. So, while I am giving them a 3, be aware that it is a 3 in relation to the best dorms that I have seen rather than to the national median. Also, there are newer dorms at Princeton that are quite nice, but they are few in number.
Food and Dining
The food here is very good. It is served buffet style so that once you are in the dining hall, you can eat as much as you please, and there is always a good variety of choices. There are 4 major dining halls for undergraduates (5 counting the grad college), which are all open to all students for every meal, and which all serve different kinds of food. Menus vary, but can be checked online. Also, get the unlimited plan. Then you can eat all the food, swipe in as many times as you want, guest people in, and get free food at the campus center for late meal when you aren't eating regular meals.
Bang for the buck
Financial aid here is really good. I am paying essentially nothing for the privilege of attending this wonderful university.
Great for these types of students
All of them.
Clubs and Activities
You want it, it's there. If by some dark sorcery it isn't, you can get a grant.
Greek Life
Greek life at Princeton exists, but is marginal. Instead, we have eating clubs.
Campus Safety
Princeton is really, really safe. This means both that A) crime doesn't happen and B) that if crime were to happen, campus safety would be on it immediately in order to alleviate their typical state of boredom.
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