College Tour Experience - Princeton

Background: I was in Washington DC for a 2 week AMP Global Youth Scholar program this summer. Before the start of the program, I visited a few college campuses with my parents. Unfortunately, none of the CollegeFit mentors were on campus at the time of my tours so I couldn't take a personalized tour with them. I took the "generic" information session+tour at most of the campuses and did a walk through without the tour at one (Columbia) due to time constraints.

This post will focus on my tour of Princeton University.

After the UPenn tour, on the same day, we drove to Princeton for an afternoon tour. Princeton is a quiet university town midway between Philadelphia and NYC (both are an hour away). Princeton is also the college that has a lot of real ivies (as in the plant) - making it a true "Ivy" league university in the literal sense. Once again, we had an information session/presentation, followed by a student-led tour.

Princeton is primarily an undergraduate school(number of graduates is much smaller than the undergraduates). This means that undergrads get to do meaningful research with the top faculty(including several Nobel laureates). This fact was mentioned several times in the presentation - undergrads are Kings (and Queens) on campus and not an afterthought as in many other research universities which have large graduate/ Ph.D. student bodies.

You cannot double major. You can minor(aka Certificate programs) in as many subjects as you want. Princeton has no professional schools (like business, law, medicine etc. as it is primarily an undergraduate school).

A senior thesis or senior project is required for graduation.

Most students change their major(concentration) several times before graduation.

Princeton meets full financial need for all admitted students including international students. I think this is a really big deal as most other US institutions don't give financial aid to international students. Princeton also has one of the most generous financial aid packages for US students - students who wouldn't qualify for any aid at other colleges due to high family income may still get some aid from Princeton unless their family income is really high (like over $200K per year).

After the jam-packed info session, we went on the student-led tour. The tour guide shared interesting information but unfortunately, his speech delivery was rather monotonous. Some facts he shared:

  • "Eating clubs" - which are like fraternities and sororities at Princeton. Some Eating clubs are more elitist than others.
  • The myth surrounding the main gate near Nassau Hall - if you walk out of it before commencement, you will never graduate!
  • The mascot is the Tiger
  • Guaranteed on-campus housing for all 4 years.

My overall thoughts on the tour:
It was good to get a good overview of the school and facilities. However, a more in-depth tour could have covered a lot more ground like:

  • Walk into a classroom when in session (and stay for some time to listen to the lecture)
  • Check out the dorms from the inside.
  • Chat 1:1 with the tour guide throughout the tour - in the more intimate setting, the tour guides can be less diplomatic and more truthful.
  • Get more insights from a student who is doing the major you are interested in. In a generic tour, the tour guide you get may be majoring in something totally different and can't provide detailed insights about the major(s) you are interested in.
  • In a tour organized by the university, what you are really getting is the marketing package put together by the university - you will see and hear only the good things because the university is "selling" to you. .

College is your home for the next four years of your life and the impact it has on shaping your life is lifelong. Don't take any chances.  Do in-depth research of the college you are interested in. CollegeFit can help - book a personalized tour today!


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