Set in the picturesque town that is its namesake, Princeton University is a haven of Gothic and colonial architecture, as well as a few more modern buildings. The most notable building is Nassau Hall, which served as the temporary home of the Continental Congress in 1783. While known for its exclusivity, the office of admissions has been on the lookout for more students who demonstrate intellectual curiosity, including STEM majors, creative types, and high ability/low income students.
Here are a few quick facts about Princeton:
4-year Graduation rate: 90%, 6-year: 98%
Freshman retention: 83%
Freshmen out of state: 81%
Most popular majors: computer science, economics, public administration
Student Community Diversity: 8% Black, 10% Latino, 12% International
Housing: Princeton’s dorms are grouped into six residential colleges, each with its own dining hall, faculty residents and social calendar. While some students do continue living in their residence hall through graduation, many juniors and seniors opt to occupy the nicer upperclassmen dorms. Only 4% of undergraduates choose to live off campus.
Another feature of Princeton’s campus, and exclusive to upperclassmen, is eleven eating clubs, five of which admit members through a lottery. These eating clubs are run by the students and unaffiliated with the school administration.
Academics: Princeton is one of the few top liberal arts universities with equally strong computer science and engineering programs. Their math and philosophy departments are among the best in the nation. All students must fulfill course requirements in epistemology and cognition, ethical thoughts and moral values, historical analysis, literature and the arts, quantitative reasoning, social analysis, and science and technology. Freshmen must also take a first year writing seminar with 70 options to choose from. During junior year, students work with a faculty member on 2 papers – 30 pages of work per semester on top of their regular work load. Students must also complete a senior thesis.
Princeton is known as the smallest of the Big Three Ivies, which means that undergraduate students will find that 76% of classes have fewer than 20 students and around 70% of department heads teach introductory courses. Princeton is also unique in its approach to exams, including a two-week period before exams for students to catch up and an honor code that allows for unproctored exams.
Similar colleges to consider: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania
Social: Virtually all social life takes place on campus through the aforementioned eating clubs and dorm parties. The college does not endorse any fraternities or sororities, but they do still exist in small numbers. Princeton boasts the oldest college radio station in the country, and those who are culturally inclined will be pleased to find plenty of art offerings both on and near campus.
Varsity and intramural athletics are a big deal at Princeton. Eleven of the Tiger’s 38 Division I teams took home Ivy League conference titles in the 2017-2018 season, including men’s cross country and track and field, as well as women’s lacrosse, soccer and basketball. Every fall the freshman and sophomore classes square off in the Cane Spree, an intramural Olympics that has been a Princeton tradition since 1869. Other traditions include Communiversity Day, which is an international festival, and lawn parties are hosted in the spring.
The surrounding town of Princeton, New Jersey has plenty of parks, woods and bike trails. When students do want to take a break from campus, they usually only venture as far as New York City or Philadelphia, both of which are an hour away (opposite directions) by train.
Financial: Students are admitted to Princeton without regard for their financial need. Princeton offers need-based financial aid and has replaced loans with grants in their financial aid awards. The average percent of need met is 100%, with 100% being fully met. Although the tuition and fees are $77,000, the average financial aid package is $50,000. 85% of students receive financial aid. Princeton does not offer merit or athletic scholarships.