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If there's one school that has become world famous for its high prestige and upper class attendees, it's Princeton University. Every single parent dreams of seeing their kids going to Princeton, especially if they come from an academic background.
Princeton isn't like most other universities—neither in reputation nor in lifestyle. Speaking as someone who has visited the school, hung out with university students, and even had a babysitter who lived by there, I have a unique perspective on the east coast college.
Believe it or not, life as a Princetonite isn't what you'd expect it to be. Here are some of the more shocking things people might not tell you about this illustrious school.
They have some of the best financial aid programs in the United States.
It's no secret that Ivy League schools have a huge price tag—one that's infamous for being prohibitive to students who are disadvantaged. That may be true for other schools, but if you're someone that Princeton University wants to accept, you need not worry.
The official price tag of going to Princeton can easily reach upwards of $40,000 per year. That's pretty awful. However, Princeton University has boatloads of financial aid for students because so many of their donors are wealthy.
If you qualify for aid, you can easily get a free ride to Princeton. That's not too bad!
Getting accepted is not the same as graduating.
For reasons beyond my understanding, a lot of people assume that being accepted to Princeton means that you will be able to just coast along and get a degree. Sure, Princeton does have a reputation for being a "Boys' Club," but there's no coasting along to do here.
This is an extremely demanding school, and that means that you will have a lot of work to do. As long as you're organized, you will be able to (hopefully) make it through.
The legacy system is real.
As someone who's hung out with a lot of Princetonites, I can say that there is a lot of truth to the rumors of "legacies" getting first dibs on admissions. An unusually high percentage of Princetonites have relatives who also graduated from here—or Harvard, Yale, or similar fare.
There's definitely a lot of unity on campus too. You definitely get the vibe of "once a Princetonite, always a Princetonite" the moment you walk through the hallways.
Don't expect to see fraternities anywhere nearby.
I sure hope you weren't wishing to hit Princeton and join a fraternity! Fraternities have been barred from campuses for ages, and there's no desire to bring them on campus, either.
This is a college that prefers Dining Clubs, which are pretty much like fraternities with fine dining. They each have their own personality, their own saying (think: "food is love," for one), and include both male and female entrants.
From what I have seen, they tend to have a much healthier dynamic than your typical frat does. They also have nicer buildings and way more awesome parties. Their student body knows how to cultivate a good social life!
The "Tiger Mom" thing is a legit phenomenon—and it's a source of anxiety for many students.
Remember when you heard about the Tiger Mom trend of the 90s? The idea of having extremely strict parents that push for kids to attend Princeton at all costs is a real, legitimate, and honestly, borderline abusive phenomenon.
I'm not going to name names, but back when I hung out with Princetonites, several confessed that their main reason for going to Princeton was to make their parents finally love them. It was heartbreaking, and it's a dynamic that's visible among many students' families.
That being said, the student body really is supportive of one another.
From what I saw, the issue of anxiety over grades and similar issues is very serious among students who attend Princeton. It can get very bad. It's actually pretty well-documented among Ivy League students.
The thing is, Princeton's student body is incredibly good at offering support to one another. It doesn't matter whether you're in freshman year, sophomore year, junior year, or senior year. They even have a Princeton Peer Nightline here.
Rooming isn't crowded, but it's never lonely.
The pros and cons of living in a dorm are inevitable. If you're living on campus, prepare to hang out with a lot of people no matter where you go. The campus housing usually has suites for up to eight people. For newbies to the roommate life, this means that you can expect a lot of chaos.
The good news is that you don't get to an elite university like Princeton without being able to handle your own shit. So, you most likely will not have roommates from hell.
Once you're accepted, people treat you differently.
It's pretty safe to say that there's no way to say you're going to Princeton without sounding like you're bragging. People automatically just assume you're elite the moment they find out that you're attending an Ivy League school, anyway.
The vast majority of the time, people will treat you with a new level of respect when you're accepted. However, I've personally seen some Princetonites I know get jealous and bitter remarks from others once acceptance came in.
It's diverse AF.
When most people think of Princeton students, they have an image in their minds that just isn't true. People often assume Princetonites as snooty, WASPish people who have a stuffy sense of style to them. It really can't be further from the truth.
Believe it or not, Princeton has one of the most diverse college campuses, even thought of as one of the best US colleges for international students. You'll see people of every nationality, every socioeconomic background, and every religion here too.
Hard to believe, right? Around 42 percent of grads are non-white!
But, it's not for everyone.
The culture of Princeton is great for many, but not all students. The pressure to excel and be the best is real—as is the pressure to network. If you are not willing to stick to greatness once you get accepted, going to Princeton won't work well for you.
I can't tell you if it's a good choice for you, though. That's something you have to decide for yourself.