Princeton University Requirements and Campus Guide
School Name: Princeton University
School Location: Princeton, NJ
School Type: Ivy League / Research University
Class of 2025
- Regular Applications: 37,601
- Regular Admitted: 1,498
- Regular Acceptance Rate: 3.98%
Historical SAT/ACT Scores: (Test Optional)
- SAT Math: 740-800
- SAT ERW: 710-800
- ACT: 32-35
- High Reach
- Restrictive Early Action: November 1
- Early Results: Mid-December
- Regular Deadline: January 1
- Regular Results: April
- Schedule: Semester
- Curriculum Type: General Education
- Greek Life: limited and unaffiliated with the university (eating clubs [co-ed social clubs] are the main aspect of social life)
- Athletics: DI
Quote from person at Command who went there
- “At Princeton, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most driven and impressive people in the country. It will require you to be your best. Tigers have stripes and you’ll have to earn yours. If you want to be challenged, inspired, and given the freedom and resources to find and pursue your passions, Princeton is your place. ” – Stephanie, Class of 2017
Princeton Requirements and guide to Campus Life
Here’s everything you should know before you apply to Princeton
How Do I Get Into Princeton?
As a checklist, here’s a list Princeton application requirements:
- Common Application or Coalition App accepted
- School report & transcript
- Two stellar teacher recommendations
- School counselor letter
- Mid year report
- SAT/ACT score with writing (with 2-3 SAT IIs)
- TOEFL, IELTS Academic or PTE Academic for non-English speakers
- Princeton Supplementary essay
- Graded Paper from High School (newly added Princeton requirement)
When Do I Apply to Princeton?
Princeton offers two timelines for application. You can choose to apply Single- Choice Early Action (reinstated in 2011). The deadline for Single Choice Early Action is Nov 1st and you’ll find out whether you got in or not by mid December. In 2020, Princeton offered early admission to 791 students of the total 1,823 students admitted. This does not mean applying to Princeton early means that you’ll have an easier chance of getting. In fact, the early application pool is typically more competitive. However, if you think that your standardized test scores and application are strong (you can use this as a guide: https://admission.princeton.edu/how-apply/admission-statistics), and Princeton is your top choice, then applying early will show admissions how serious you are about Princeton. Alternatively, you can also choose to apply Regular Decision. The deadline for Regular Decision is January 1st and you’ll find out your fate in March. Princeton has also reinstated a transfer process which is due March 1. Although not a Princeton requirement, students most successful with and eligible for this process are low-income, community college, or military students.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into Princeton?
32,836 students applied to Princeton and only 1,823 were admitted. This 5.5% acceptance rate makes Princeton one of the most competitive schools in the country. 67% of students accept the offer and end up attending, which is fairly high.
Applicants who are admitted to Princeton typically take the most challenging course load with AP and IB classes and are academic standouts in high school. However, Princeton isn’t just looking for students with strong grades, standardized test scores, and SAT IIs. They want to see students who are passionate, driven, and committed to contributing to their local communities, and the community at Princeton and beyond, in significant ways. So highlighting your extracurricular, leadership involvement, and unique experiences is what will set you apart from the other high quality applicants also applying to Princeton.
Perhaps the most challenging process to go through at Princeton is the transfer process. Princeton typically only accepts a few transfer students a year based on a highly intensive, holistic approach and historically, has not always accepted transfer students on campus.
Can I afford Princeton?
Princeton prides itself on an outstanding and affordable education. Although the sticker price for Princeton is $75,210, we hope the following facts from the Princeton website offer a bit of reassurance that almost everyone, regardless of their financial resources, can afford to attend Princeton:
“Students admitted to the Class of 2023 who applied for aid with family incomes up to $160,000 typically pay no tuition.
- Approximately 61 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid.
- An estimated 187 million in grant funds will be awarded to over 3,200 undergraduates in 2019-20.
- The average grant for the Class of 2023 was $56,500, which covers 100 percent of Princeton tuition.
- For families making up to $65,000 per year, the aid package covers full tuition, residential college fee, room and board.
- 24 percent of students in the Class of 2023 receive Federal Pell Grants.
- For the Class of 2023, 100 percent of families making up to $180,000 per year qualified for financial aid.
- 82 percent of recent seniors graduated debt free. For seniors who borrowed, the average total indebtedness at graduation was $9,000.”
Princeton strives to be as generous as possible with financial aid packages and allow students to enjoy a fruitful college experience without the stress, fear, and anxiety of student loans and financial debt. You can use the estimator here https://admission.princeton.edu/cost-aid/financial-aid-estimator to determine how much financial you and your family might qualify for.
Where is Princeton?
Princeton is located in the quaint and lovely town of Princeton, NJ. There are tons of amazing restaurants and local favorites within a few minutes walking distance of campus such as PJ’s Pancakes or Jammin’ Crepes for breakfast food, Olive’s for fresh market food, or Witherspoon Grill, Teresa’s, and Winberries for dinner food. Frequent ice cream stops at Bent Spoon or T-sweets is a must. There is a local movie theater that plays free movies for students on the weekend. In town, you have everything else you need from shopping and hair/nail salons to the local library (if you’re getting tired of Firestone Library), CVS, and Starbucks and Small World Coffee. Princeton students often refer to the community as the ‘Princeton Bubble’, because you don’t need to travel very far to run errands or stock up on essentials that you can’t find at the University Store.
Princeton is also a relatively quick and convenient 1-2 hour train trip to the major metropolitan cities of NYC and Philadelphia. Luckily, Princeton University has its own train station with Dinky/bus connections to the Princeton Junction stop on the NJ Transit, making trips anywhere up and down the East Coast, or to Newark airport if you’re from the MidWest or on the West Coast, extremely convenient.
Where do students live at Princeton?
Freshmen and sophomores live in one of the six residential colleges (think Gryffendor, Huffepuff, Slytherin, etc.). Once assigned, students live in those mini-communities for two years, and then usually move to independent housing or other areas on campus such as ‘The Slums’ (don’t worry, it’s actually a very beautiful part of campus) as a junior or senior. Some students who become officers of eating clubs will live in their respective clubs (more on that in a second), but in general, nearly all students live on campus all four years, which provides a very connected and special community. It is uncommon for a student to find (or need to find) off-campus housing.
What is Social Life like at Princeton?
Princeton has a spirited, tight-knit community of students who predominantly live and convene for social gatherings on campus all four years. There are a few sororities and fraternities, but Greek life is not a huge part of the social atmosphere on campus and none of the sororities and fraternities have their own houses.
What makes the social life at Princeton very unique is the infamous ‘eating clubs’. Dating back to 1879, ‘eating clubs’ were created by students at a time when they were not given sufficient dining facilities on campus. Because of this, students created their own spaces “off campus” to eat and hang out at. Freshman through seniors now have several dining halls or cafés to find great food on campus, but in the winter of sophomore year, students typically ‘bicker’ (a process similar to ‘rushing’) one of the 11 eating clubs to join officially for junior and senior year*. The awesome part of these eating clubs is that they are co-ed and once admitted, students can enjoy being a part of an additional community of people and have a space to have fun, relax, play games, watch TV, study, etc. Once a member, Princeton students are alumnis of their eating clubs for life and can head back there to reconnect, eat, and drink with their closest friends long after they’ve graduated. To learn more about each of the eating clubs, check out this link https://princetoneatingclubs.org. If you hear Princeton students referring to “The Street”, this is a reference to ‘Prospect Street’ on which the eating clubs reside. If Firestone and McCosh Hall are where students ‘work hard’, then ‘The Street’ is where Princetonians ‘play hard’.
*In addition to choosing to eat at the dining halls or join an eating club, juniors and seniors year can also elect to be ‘independent’ and live in housing in which they can food shop and have a full kitchen to cook their own food.
What are academics at Princeton like?
Princeton is a liberal arts university and strongly encourages students to fully explore their curiosities and passions. Students can receive a Bachelor of Arts A.B or BSE (Engineering) degree which involves eventually concentrating in one of the 6 departments. Since A.B students have until the end of their sophomore year to declare their major, they are given the freedom to figure out what they want to study or concentrate in after taking a variety of classes in subjects anywhere from Journalism and Mathematics to Global Health and Anthropology. Requirements include Writing Seminar and taking one of the 18 languages offered (for A.B students), and then a junior paper and senior thesis.
Princeton is most known for the Woodrow Wilson School of Political Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Architecture. There are tons of new majors such as Neuroscience major (at the Psychology and Neuroscience building) and teacher preparation program.
Another unique aspect of learning at Princeton is that nearly all 100 or 200 level courses that have a larger lecture class twice per week will also have ‘precepts’ once per week. Led by TA’s, ‘precepts’ are held in smaller classrooms of about 10-20 students, and allow Princetonians to more deeply digest the lessons from lecture and content from the long readings and take more initiative in their learning with their peers. In precept, students are often graded on their attendance, participation, and group project work. Above all else, these precepts allow for a more interactive and engaging learning experience.
The focus of academics at Princeton is on the undergraduate experience, however, since Princeton is a research focused institution, there are graduate students who take part in meaningful research on campus in social sciences, natural sciences, or engineering, which undergraduates can help get involved in. During junior year, undergraduate students are required to write a junior paper and then senior year, all students are required to write a thesis paper on a topic of their choice (this can be a piggy back on the junior paper topic).
In general, students are academically supported and if you ask for help, you will receive it. There is low faculty- student ratio (5:1) and students get direct guidance from their Dean of College or own academic advisor. Frist Campus Center has tutors to help with problem sets in econ classes and the Writing Center is an incredible resource to help students brainstorm, write, and edit their papers. Professors are very accessible and students are encouraged to attend office hours, get to know their teachers on a more personal level and even invite them for a meal (for free) at their eating club.
What extracurricular opportunities do they have at Princeton?
Rarely do you find a Princetonian who is not involved deeply in an extracurricular activity on campus. To start with sports, Princeton is known to be one of the largest and most successful Division 1 athletic programs in the country. Since around 18% of undergraduates play a sport on one of the 37 varsity men’s and women’s teams, athletes take up a big chunk of the student body on campus. Nearly all athletic fields are within a few minutes walking distance of each other, so it is easy for students to go and cheer on their favorite teams, and even get to two events in one day. Princeton has had historical success in lacrosse, squash, rowing, tennis, and water polo, just to name a few. It’s led the Ivy League in rankings for the non-Power Five school list 22 of the last 25 years. The Class of 2018 graduated with 47 Ivy League team championships, the most of any school during this 4-year period. All of this is another way to say that Tigers get it done on the field, on the ice, on the court, in the pool, as well as in the classroom, and getting to cheer on student-athletes on campus is usually a fun and rewarding experience.
If D1 sports aren’t your cup of tea, there are also 37 sport clubs, from frisbee to volleyball to dancing, or IM sports to engage in friendly competitions, usually taking place in Dillon Gym.
Princeton also proudly has more than 300 student-run organizations. It’s fun to head to Blair Arch to get an ear of an a cappella group or see diSiac Dance Company put on a spectacular show. Here’s a full list of all of the amazing organizations on campus to check out or get involved in: https://odusapps.princeton.edu/StudentOrg/new/directory.php. If you don’t see a club you want to see, students are encouraged to bring people together and start their own club.
What are Reunions at Princeton?
Saving the absolute best for last, Reunions is by far the most astonishing gathering of alumni in the history of the human race. Reunions weekend attracts almost 25,00 alumni, family and friends, every year. Taking place the weekend after Memorial Day, Reunions is the perfect way for Princetonians to kick off summer and tap back into their fun and social college self with their old buddies. It’s something you’ll have to see to fully appreciate, but Reunions consists of parties, sporting events, presentations, concerts at every reunion tent, fireworks, costumes, and a lot of dancing. Held on Saturday, The P’rade is the most central part of the celebration. The oldest Princeton alumni (‘The Old Guard’) start the event and make their way down the center of campus, followed by every class at Princeton, and ending with just graduated students, who walk for the very first time. The P’rade makes you proud to be a part of such a passionate community of Tigers. In the massive sea of orange and black all weekend long, you’ll find anyone from a 81-year-old grandfather to a 3-year-old future Tiger and everyone in between, and it quite literally takes a whole year to recover from the magic.