REQUIREMENTS AND CAMPUS GUIDE
School Name: Princeton University
School Location: Princeton, NJ
School Type: Ivy League / Liberal Arts
Category: High Reach
Princeton University Admissions Rates Fall 2020
Test Optional for 2021-2022
Fall 2020 Test Scores
Single Choice EA: November 1
Early Results: Mid-December
Regular Deadline: January 1
Regular Results: April
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)
– Stephanie, Class of 2016
Princeton Application Requirements, Admissions Tips, and University Guide:
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 evaluation forms
- School counselor letter
- Mid year report
- Optional SAT/ACT score with writing
- TOEFL, IELTS Academic or PTE Academic for non-English speakers
- Princeton Supplementary essay
- Graded Paper from High School (newly added)
When Do I Apply to Princeton?
Princeton offers two timelines for submitting applications. You can choose to apply Single- Choice Early Action. 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 the 2020-2021 application season, Princeton did not offer early action. Historically, though, acceptance rates tend to be higher for applications who apply early. 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) 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 admission decision in April.
Princeton has also reinstated a transfer application, which is due March 1. 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?
37,601 students applied to Princeton in the 2020-2021 application cycle, and only 1,498 were admitted. Lower than 4%, Princeton’s acceptance rate continues to make the school one of the most competitive in the country.
Applicants who are admitted to Princeton typically take a 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 and standardized test scores. They want to admit students who are passionate, driven, and committed to contributing to both their local communities and to the community at Princeton and beyond in significant ways. So, highlighting your extracurricular involvement, leadership, and other unique experiences 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.
Can I afford Princeton?
Princeton prides itself on an outstanding and affordable education. Although the sticker price for Princeton is $77,690, 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:
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 financial aid estimator to determine how much financial aid 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 from campus such as PJ’s Pancakes or Jammin’ Crepes for breakfast, Olive’s for fresh market food, or Witherspoon Grill, Teresa’s, and Winberries for dinner. 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 weekends. 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 Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, 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. Students created their own spaces “off campus” to eat and hang out. Students now have access to 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’) or ‘sign up’ to join one of the 11 eating clubs 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 with their closest friends long after they’ve graduated. 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 can also elect to be ‘independent’ and live in housing in which they can foodshop 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 six 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, taking one of the 18 languages offered (for A.B students), and completing a junior paper and senior thesis.
Princeton is most known for the School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Architecture.
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 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 get involved in. During their 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 a low faculty- student ratio (5:1) and students get direct guidance from their Dean of College or their 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 offer at Princeton?
Rarely do you find a Princetonian who is not involved in an extracurricular activity on campus. To start with sports, Princeton is known to have 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 make 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 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 38 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. If you don’t see a club you want to see, students are encouraged to bring people together and start a club of their own.
What study abroad opportunities are available at Princeton?
There are several opportunities to study and volunteer abroad at Princeton University. Many Princeton students consider applying to an IIP – International Internship Program – throughout their time at Princeton. IIPs allow students to gain valuable experiences interning while experiencing life in a different country. Some of the most popular places students choose to do IIPs are Vietnam, France, and Ecuador!
Students can also participate in the traditional study abroad programs through Princeton University’s partnerships with schools and universities around the world. Princeton students study abroad at more than 43 countries every year.
One of Princeton’s most unique features is Bridge Year, in which incoming freshmen can delay their matriculation for one year to serve in a community in a different country. The Novogratz Bridge Year Program is a tuition-free, nine month international program that allows incoming freshmen the opportunity to immerse themselves in a different country, learn the language and stay with a host family. Currently, Princeton places students in one of their five program locations – Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia, and Senegal. You can read about students’ Bridge Year experiences here and learn more about the program here.
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 consist 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 newly 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 an 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.