Princeton University, perennially ranked in the top 5 undergraduate institutions by Forbes, is the 4th oldest college in the United States. With a massive endowment of 17.1 billion dollars, Princeton’s endowment ranks 3rd , behind Harvard’s 32 billion and Yale’s 19.1 billion, but has a third of Harvard’s student body and 4000 fewer students than Yale with only 7,500 students, undergraduate and graduate. In other words, Princeton has about 2.3 million dollars to spend on each student, but spent “only” a total of 1.4 billion in 2011. That’s still almost $200,000 a student. Not surprisingly, students will often joke that the Princeton administration will just throw money at a problem to make it go away.
Though the cost may seem daunting at about $53,000 a year, Princeton’s financial aid office makes sure that cost will never prevent a student from attending the school. Last year, $210 million was spent on student aid, covering Princeton’s no-loan policy, with an average aid of $36,000, completely covering tuition fees.
Another amazing aspect of Princeton is its active alumni community. Though many Princeton graduates will attend professional schools at other Ivy League schools, they always refer to themselves as Princeton graduates. Sixty percent of Princeton graduates donated to their Alma-mater in 2009, which far eclipses Harvard and Yale’s 38% giving rate (even Texas Aggies aren’t that crazy about their school).
So what does it take to get into Princeton? Well, a high SAT score definitely doesn’t hurt as students with a SAT score from 2300-2400 have a 21% acceptance rate, almost tripling the 7.9% general acceptance rate. Surprisingly, alumni relations aren’t all that beneficial, as only 12% of the student body have parents that have attended Princeton. Diversity is also a major emphasis at Princeton, since about half of the population are minorities while 11% are international students.
Princeton’s campus is often referred to as the “Orange Bubble” by students because they often feel slightly isolated from the outside world. Even though New York City is only an hour train ride away, students do not venture outside the bubble very often. Though many enjoy the close-knit atmosphere the bubble creates, others will complain it’s too close for comfort.
One of the great aspects of Princeton is it’s emphasis on undergraduate studies. It requires that all its professors teach some undergraduate classes; in fact, even its president, Shirley Tilghman teaches courses. As an undergraduate, no resources are hidden away. From the minds of famous professors, such as Paul Krugman and Cornel West, to the amazing research facilities, Princeton undergraduates can expect access to all the school has to offer.
At the moment, the Princeton administration is waging a war to kill off Greek Life at the school. Princeton does not recognize any fraternities or sororities. Beginning in Fall of 2012, freshmen are not allowed to engage in rush activities. The administration defended this decision by citing the drinking culture of Greek Life and also noted that they believed residential colleges and eating clubs to be better options for social life at the school. Speaking of eating clubs, they represent an important aspect of life at Princeton. Beginning in the spring semester of sophomore year, students have the option of choosing to become a member of eating clubs. These coed institutions will often host parties and, as you might guess, feed their members. There are two types of eating clubs, sign-up and bicker. In a bicker club, students must apply and go through an interview process to join while to join a sign-up club, students simply sign-up and join.
In all, Princeton’s reputation as a top school is well deserved. Even though students must write the dreaded Senior Thesis, they are adequately prepared when the time comes around to write the 80 page monster. From the strong students it attracts to the amazing educational experience it offers, it’s hard to go wrong choosing Princeton.