Princeton University Panel
Want to learn more about what it takes to apply to and attend Princeton University? Join recent alums Alexis Rankine and Kiara Gilbert as they discuss their admissions and undergraduate experiences. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-09-01 – Princeton University Panel
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisors Princeton University Panel. To orient everyone with webinar timing, we’ll start up with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the side bar. You can download our slides and you can start so many of your questions in the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. My name is Alexis Rankine. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am a senior at Princeton in the anthropology department and I am in the class of 2023. Hi everyone. My name is Kiara. I go by Kiki and I am currently a graduate student, but I graduated from Princeton University in 2021. Um, I am currently our, a Senior Advisor for CollegeAdvisor and my pronouns are also she/her.
Great and real quick, we’re just gonna do a poll to see where everyone is at. So what grade are you currently in eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or if you’re taking a gap year and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is in.
And when we wait for those answers to roll in, can y’all tell us what was your favorite class that you have taken at Princeton? Sure. I could take this first. So my favorite class on Princeton was actually one relating to the environment and it was within the anthropology department focusing on how culture and societal trends influence natural disasters.
So, um, the premise of the class overall was how the difference between a disaster happening in a forest versus it happening within a city and how societal structures can affect the impact on. Fatality and how we react to it.
Yeah. And I think for me, uh, I took a course called, uh, black power, um, my junior year at Princeton and I found it really influential because it was very interdisciplinary. Um, so it was based in African American studies, but there was like sociology involved and anthropology involved and political theory.
Um, one of the things I really loved about my come at Princeton is I was able to tap into all these different fields and not necessarily just confined to one that is great. And it’s looking like we have a great mixture of students. We have 9% ninth graders, 22% 10th graders, another 22% 11th graders, 39%, 12th graders and 9% other.
And the first presenter can control the.
Hi everyone. To, again, my name is Alexis Rankine and it is a pleasure to be speaking with you all today. So regarding the question about my college application process, I think it’s like great to know for background that I am a first-gen low income student. I grew up in Queens, went to a school called Francis Lewis high school in fresh Meadows Queens.
And it was a very crowded school where there were about 5,000 students for a building that should have only been for 2,000. So that also meant that our guidance counselors were very packed when it came to advising students. So they had about a thousand students per counselor. So we often did not meet our guidance counselor unless we needed like a recommendation letter or had a technical question with classes.
So that meant that they were not really actively and readily resourced for. Applying for college. And aside from that, my parents did not attend college. So I just was completely thrown into this pond of the application process. So it was very isolating. And with that, it was also stressful and limiting because I did not know how to pace myself.
And I think that’s a very important skill to have in terms of time management, when it comes to applying to colleges, because not only are you conducting many applications and essays and short responses for like varying colleges, but you’re also managing the responsibilities of a senior and probably also dealing with senioritis as I’m sure a lot of us can relate to that.
Something else that happened, um, from just not only it being stressful and limiting was my unaware of different schools. So I had grew up mostly in New York for the entirety of my life. So I kind of only knew about state and city schools, which was our SUNY and CUNY system. So the majority of my lists were SUNY schools, such as Stony Brook Binghamton.
Um, Potsdam or CUNY schools such as City College and like Baruch. And that was kind of all that I had and they were also the easiest things to do. So I didn’t really push myself, um, to apply to other schools or even take that step to explore them and kind of knowing that my school list was limited. I didn’t know how to expand and how to explore for different schools and crazy enough, I was very much unaware of Princeton and the whole scheme of like the Ivy leagues, cuz I mean, I knew about Harvard and Yale, but I was not.
I was so unaware about the rest of the Ivys and overall schools across the country. So it wasn’t until a family member kind of flagged it for me, that Princeton gave out great financial aid that I started applying. This was about a week before the deadline. And if it wasn’t for that moment of them kind of flagging it to me, it would’ve been such a game changer because I did not consider financial aid in the process.
So I applied to, like I said, NYU and SUNY Stony Brook. And between those two schools, I would’ve been about Stony Brook. I think I would’ve been about 13 thousand. Each year in debt versus NYU, which was about 18,000, NYU gave like full tuition, but they didn’t cover my boarding and I needed, although I was in the city, I wanted to get out the house.
So between those two choices, that was not a reality for a low income household overall without, you know, ending up in severe debt. So with that, I applied to Princeton, I got full all of my need met and I was able to go to not only an affordable school, but also a school that would’ve challenged me academically.
And I think that was kind of dumb luck that I stumbled into that. And I know that not many people have that opportunity. So I definitely, um, do push you all to kind of, you know, lean on the resources of CollegeAdvisor to explore the different options out there. That would be like a good fit. And that kind of also brings me into the question I often get asked is if I was considering any other Ivy league schools at the time and what made me decide on Princeton.
So again, an awareness was a large factor in my college list. I did not have any other Ivy, no, sorry. Let me backtrack. I did QuestBridge for a bit. Um, I got up into the point of being a QuestBridge finalist. I did not know too many of the schools that were on the list. So I actually randomly chose a couple schools, um, and ranked it something I do not advise cause it is binding.
So I had applied to Harvard might have not been Harvard. I think Columbia on QuestBridge and Yale on QuestBridge did not get into that, but I did get. Princeton the regular decision. And it was the only Ivy league that I got an acceptance offer from. And the only one I actually tried for, um, so that, yeah, I didn’t consider any other Ivy leagues between offer lever, offer letters.
And in terms of my entire school list, what made me choose Princeton was the financial aid aspects. I didn’t have too many preferences of schools because I didn’t know about having preferences such as like majors, the racial demographics, the overall financial need met, or, you know, the percentages of like different clubs and such like that.
I had no preference, cause I didn’t know that it was like one of the factors that I should be thinking about. And it was honestly just financial aid as a low income student. So being that it gave me the most financial aid. It was the school that I went to and the location of it being central to home in New York was honestly just the plus.
But if I got, uh, Full tuition in like Florida. I would’ve also went because that was like the main priority. Um, so I am at the end of my slides and I’ll be passing it off to the other presenter. Yes. So, uh, oh, you have one more slide. sorry. um, so, um, on the question of why I majored in anthropology, it was actually something that occurred very last minute.
This was during the year that, um, students were back at home because of the COVID pandemic. So I was at home. I had first wanted to do pre-med because of family. So I thought I was gonna do a psychology or biology. Took chemistry realized I did not have a love for pre-med as I thought I did. And then I kind of went back to pre-law cause I was doing like Mo court and different law related experiences in high school.
So that happened about my freshman, summer of my switch to pre-med and pre-law after that, I was kind of looking at different majors that I could do for pre-law. And I found out that you could honestly major in anything. If you are a pre-loss student, it’s more about the skillset that you have. So I was looking at different majors, such as like psych and, um, sociology.
And I actually randomly took anthropology class. Um, a friend had told me that they only required like one course to declare. I was like, this is super low maintenance. This is what I’m going do. So in December I took a 201. I really enjoyed the cross-disciplinary experience that I got and I saw that many of the classes in the anthropology department cross listed with the other departments I was interested in.
So I thought it was a really great choice. I can kind of get the best of both worlds. And my other major I was considering was African American studies because I’m very focused on social justice issues and initiatives related to diversity. Um, Inequality and equality and inclusion. So, um, that was another thing that I was considering, and I decided to go with anthropology, but to minor in African American studies.
So I could still get that experience. But with a lot of the anthropology classes I’ve taken in the past year, they’ve honestly most always cross listed with like a or another department that’s really close. So, um, yeah, I was kind of picking the low maintenance one. I, again, lucked out with the major that I really liked, but I think being able to explore the different classes offered really did help out what, what major I ended up with.
So I kind of took a bit of everything before declaring my major and that’s, um, my general advice as. Yes. And now real quick, we’re gonna do another poll. So where are you in the application process? Haven’t started, I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done.
And while we wait for those responses to roll in, uh, can y’all tell us what is something you wish you knew about Princeton before applying?
I can go for it. I think for me, I think, um, really understanding what it meant to go to a school that was more suburban, um, but also really appreciating that it had access to a. Cities that were nearby like Philadelphia and New York mainly. I think when I, and I’ll talk about this a little later, but when I was first applying the Princeton, I didn’t really wrap my head around what it meant to go to school in central Jersey.
Um, but I think I really quickly discovered once I arrived, that I had a lot of opportunities to take advantage of outside the boundaries of Jersey as well. And I think it would’ve been a lot less nervous, honestly. Um, if I would’ve known that beforehand,
I think on my part, something that I really wish I knew beforehand is kind of how community focus the school is and how like very close the alumni network is. I think coming into it, I had no idea the importance of like alumni and networking and connections overall. So I kind of just kind. Resorted into my like introvert itself.
And really didn’t try to like branch out and make new friends and such like that, and kind of learn new experiences through make new friends and acquaintances and such, but Princeton is very like network based and people really kind of take care of each other once they know that you’re like a Princeton undergrad or a and alum.
So I think just being able to know that, like I can reach out to alumni and like ask for mentorship or experience, or even like a job. And it’s not like they may say no, it’s not the end of the world, but they are more likely to help out someone within that network. And I think that applies for a lot of different schools.
Just kind of knowing how to tap that alumni network and being able to just be a part of a larger community. Mm-hmm , uh, it’s looking like we have 19%, haven’t started 36% are researching schools. 26% are working on their essays and 19% are getting their application materials together and you can control the.
Yeah. Okay, great. Um, I will be taking over from here please. Um, bear with me. I am currently in London and it is one o’clock in the morning, but I’m very happy to be here. Um, so in regards to my college application process, uh, so I also came from a pretty large public high school, but I’m from the south. So I was in North Carolina.
Um, it’s actually one of the largest high schools in North Carolinas, but like 4,500 students. Last time I checked. Um, and it was, it was in a very wealthy part of town, but there was a large, or large-ish um, like grouping of low income students of which I was one, I was a first generation, low income student as well, applying, um, To Princeton.
And my school was particularly well known for sending students to local UNC schools. So the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is a really famous example for folks who are outside of the state, but also like UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro. Um, these are just all schools that were within the, the larger public school system at the collegiate level in North Carolina.
Um, I think at one point 33% of our, the graduating high school at my high school, uh, went to UNC Chapel Hill. Um, so I knew that I didn’t wanna go there cause I didn’t just wanna go to high school part two. Um, I really wanted to branch out and be able to meet different people. Um, I didn’t really have much help for my guidance counselor in part, because of how large my school was.
And also to be quite honest, because a lot of people relied on resources outside of the high school in order to like get themselves ahead in the college application process. Um, for me, that outside resource was a nonprofit by the name of leader, which stands for leadership enterprise for a diverse America.
It’s a summer program for first generation, low income students, uh, who are high achieving you apply sometime in your junior year. Um, and for me it was completely life changing. So everything that I could have gotten, you know, if my high school had more resources, uh, such as guidance with my essays, uh, thinking about my extracurricular list, um, even deciding what a school list was and how I wanted apply, and really thinking about the resources of the schools that I was applying for.
I got all of that from Nita. Um, I also full disclosure, got the ability to spend about two months on Princeton’s campus the summer before my senior year of high school. So I was pretty comfortable, relatively speaking on Princeton’s campus. I was more familiar with it than any other college campus I had never been on.
Cause I really hadn’t spent time on college campus prior to that. Um, and I think for that reason, Princeton always like, felt like a kind of comforting option for me when I was going to apply for the college application, um, like cycle, um, When I was applying, I really was thinking about how to present myself, like as someone who was going to be on campus for me, that was like me getting myself as a philosophy student.
Um, so in my application, I talked a lot about like the perspective major that I wanted to have, which was philosophy and all the things that I helped to do in philosophy. Should I get the chance to major in it, even though, you know, spoiler alert, I didn’t end up majoring in philosophy, ultimately. I would consider my application strengths overall to have been my essays.
Um, I really briefly worked, um, not in a pretty serious capacity, but like I worked alongside some, the admissions officers, um, who are at Princeton. And I also spent some time with some of the other folks who got a chance to like see my essays applications for other things. Um, and I generally heard feedback that went to the fact that, or pointed to the fact being that my essay was something that was particularly strong or seen as particularly strong.
Um, I also think that when I was applying, I really made sure to highlight my extracurricular activities. So I did a lot of student organizing when I was in high school. Um, and so like my essays and then thinking about my extracurriculars, those are also things that I really made sure to stress over the process as a whole.
So when I ended up deciding, uh, between schools that I wanted to go to, I was deciding between Princeton and Columbia. Um, I wanted to be in the kind of like New York, New Jersey area since I actually had some family up there, but I wasn’t sure, like if I wanted to be in Columbia, which was in the heart of New York city, if I wanted to be more of a suburban place, which was Princeton, um, I think something that ended up pulling me towards Princeton was the fact that it really is undergraduate focused.
So I feel like it’s a little hard to understand what that means if you haven’t even like, if you’re not in enroll as an undergraduate in college yet. Um, but now as a graduate student, I can say very confidently that Princeton devotes, most of its resources to undergrads. Um, so there’s like a lot of like emphasis on giving undergraduate students first priority when it comes to classes that you might be taking.
Resources are grants that you can apply for. And it’s something that’s very unique to Princeton. You can’t really find it in the same degrees in other Ivy league, uh, schools. It’s actually one of the reasons why, if you look at like a lot of, um, like lists that rank various schools, Princeton pulls out on number one for undergraduate students, it’s because of this really intense undergraduate focus.
Um, and so I think for me that was very appealing. And then along those same lines, like because of this undergraduate focus, um, there are lots of leadership opportunities for undergraduate students specifically, even like for students in their first year. Um, so I got like, um, a. A competitive, like, uh, like application grant of sorts, like lead a trip, um, outside of Princeton for spring break.
Once when I was just doing like service work, but like I had complete control over the trip and I got the money and the funding, and I was like the person who was like going to make sure that everyone arrives safely, et cetera, et cetera. Um, and it was a really cool opportunity and I don’t think it was one, I could have gone in many other places.
Um, I ended up like, um, winning something called the spirit of Princeton award. And this was in part because I really, really got involved in my first year as an undergraduate student and like trying to make a difference on campus. Um, as I already mentioned, I was also quite familiar with campus already because of the fact that I had done the Leah scholars program.
And then also I think it should be noted that all Ivys, for the most part, like have pretty comprehensive, uh, financial aid packages, especially as they pertain to like low income students. But I would say that Princeton and definitely more so than Columbia, I can say with a bit of confidence there. Um, Even though, like they both institutions offered me a full ride.
It would’ve offered me a full ride. Princeton had a lot more tangible resources for me as a low income student. So like, for example, like if you’re a first generation, low income student and you’re moving into Princeton’s campus, you get a, a check, um, of a couple hundred dollars to like help you with the transitionary period.
Um, I also never had to worry about not being fed, for example, over breaks, like some of my peers, other Ivy league institutions, because Princeton ensures that if you’re staying over break because you don’t have anywhere else to go, that you’re going to like have food and that they’re gonna keep the dining halls open.
Even at least they did before. COVID, I’m not sure if they still do that now. Um, and there are also like just lots of different centers on campus that was very familiar with. Um, but just like if I needed anything. Just gimme whatever it was that I needed. Um, and I had peers at other Ivy league institutions who also had given them full rides, but weren’t as comfortable just giving them money if they needed money.
And that was something that I really appreciated from Princeton and frankly, that I needed over the course of my undergraduate years, um, in regards to why I majored in African American studies. So I started off in philosophy, as I mentioned, I really build myself as a philosophy student, but I found that it was really limiting in regards to the kinds of questions that I could ask.
Um, so I wrote here non-ideal theory versus ideal theory. Basically the idea was that I felt in philosophy. I couldn’t think about questions that interrogated the world. um, that I recognize to be unjust, um, and philosophy, a lot of the questions that you ask happen in these like hypothetical scenarios and which you assume that the world is a perfect place, and I didn’t really feel comfortable with that.
Um, so I ended up switching African American studies under the guidance of a mentor whose name is Eddie Claude. Um, who proved to be very, very valuable for me. Um, both as a resource at Princeton and also outside of Princeton. I also felt like under, um, that equal guidance, but just more generally speaking, the African American studies felt like a family to me.
Um, whenever I was going through anything, either in my personal life or my academic life was the department that I knew always had my back. Um, it was absolutely the best decision that I made as an undergraduate student. I felt like because I could focus on like being whoever I wanted to be as a scholar, as a student in African American studies, I could really start to like grow and like prosper and thrive in ways that I wouldn’t have in other departments or that were on campus.
Um, And I ended up doing philosophy stuff. Anyways, I’m currently a graduate student at a philosophy program, uh, in the UK, uh, on a scholarship called the Marshall scholarship. Um, and I, I really do like think African American studies for that. Cause I think that’s what got me here. Um, But yeah, those I think are all my slides.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember again, that you can download the slide from the link in the handout tab, and this webinar is being recorded. If you would like to view it again, later on our website, moving on to live Q&A, I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page, also known as the website or else you won’t get all the features of big marker.
So yeah, just make sure you join through that custom link and another thing, um, uh, in terms of undergrad and the, um, more focused on undergrad, I thought that was a great point. Um, with different schools, when you’re looking at schools, different schools will call themselves a university or college and the difference.
There is a difference between the two, a university means that there are graduate programs also. So, um, it has bachelors, master’s, doctorate, however many levels they have, but it means that there’re not just undergrad students at college is just undergrad students. So people getting a four year bachelor.
So, um, at schools that are just a college, you will have more of an undergrad focus at schools that are university. There may be a lean towards graduate students depending on the school. And even within the school, there can be colleges. So like Harvard University, Princeton. Well, I didn’t look into Princeton.
Actually. I should have, uh, Cornell University. Um, we at, well, let me talk about Cornell at Cornell. It’s a university, but we have individual colleges, like I’m in the college of human ecology. So it’s very undergrad focused, even though it does have grad programs. Uh, so when you’re looking up schools, you can look into that.
If you’re looking for like those undergrad opportunities for like research or internships, or just looking for more focus, but you still want a big school. Some people like the university aspect, just because if they wanna do a pipeline into a pre-med program or pre-law, if the school has a law school vet school medical school, um, that can be easier, especially with those seven year programs that some schools have like, um, brown university, um, So, yeah, so that’s something to consider when you’re looking at schools, but now moving on to the Q&A um, so, okay.
So, uh, y’all kind of touched on this, but just to start it off, a lot of students are worried about standing out, especially to the admissions officers and like what they’re looking for. Um, that is a bit, uh, maybe a harder question to answer if you haven’t worked in admissions, but Kiara you did mention that you had some time speaking with them.
So can you talk about, um, what are the qualities that Princeton are looking for? And then also what were some highlights from y’all’s admissions process? Like your own application? Yeah. So something interesting that I noted about the Princeton application itself is that it’s changed. Um, so the application that I applied for a few years ago is not the same as what it is now.
And now I think the questions are a lot, or at least from my personal opinion are geared more, um, towards students who are interested in like making a difference, so to speak and Princeton’s model, please, correct me if I’m, if I’ve forgotten, this is in the service of humanity. Um, and I think this is something that like, um, The admissions office and just Princeton, just generally as an institution is trying to emphasize more in the class of students that it’s building up.
Um, so I mean, with that being said, obviously like everyone has something to offer and, um, it’s a holistic process, which means that like, um, admissions officers really look at every single part of the student’s application and of who they are and what they’re bringing to the table. Um, but just like, based on the application questions that they’re asking now and the direction the application itself is going in, I would say students who are actively trying to make a difference in their communities or who are interested in having the opportunity to make a difference and their communities,
uh, Alexis, would you like to add anything or talk about your admissions experience? Yeah, I could talk about my admissions experience and kind of walk through what that was like. So, um, I applied regular decision. Um, application was due in early January. And then after that, I got an email notification from admissions officers that I was going to be invited for an alumni interview that was gonna be in New York.
So I reached out, we scheduled a coffee chat for, um, a meeting in like Queens. Um, it was a pretty informal conversation. I was able to kind of know more about the school through the interview process, through her own experiences on Princeton and kind of learn through a direct resource while also kind of allowing for my application to speak through our conversation.
And so also add in some like supplemental information that I thought that I couldn’t add in at the time that I was doing that, um, doing the process. So I was talking more about my extracurriculars and kind of giving life to what the paper said. Um, after that, I think it was March 28th. It differs with every year, but March 28th is when I got the decision that I was accepted.
after that, it was kind of a process of figuring out financial aid. But I would say that I really love about Princeton is that they are very generation when it comes to financial aid. And it was a very quick turnaround for figuring out how exactly my need would be met. And after the application process and declaring, it was really a smooth transition over into like the college lifestyle and my matriculation to the college, which I really did appreciate.
Um, so like, um, mentioned before, uh, what the undergraduate focus Princeton is very, um, giving when it comes to ensuring that freshmen are attended to and have the resources that they need, especially with like the orientation program that we have for freshmen at the beginning of the year, it’s called, um, it could be community action, outdoor action, or, um, dialogues, um, dialogue in action as well.
So they just make sure that you’re able to have a very. Like linear and like smooth transition into the college setting. So I think that’s what I really liked about the school overall that it wasn’t kind of, I wasn’t being tossed into like a pond and figuring it out on myself, but they kind of had a lot of resources and they were very active with reaching out my freshman year.
Yes. And, um, for students asking about, um, like specific SAT scores, we won’t be going over that the purpose of this webinar is more so to go over our panelist personal experiences. And so for questions, like go on specific majors or, um, specific, um, admissions requirements do go to the website. I linked, uh, different, um, pages in the public chat where you can find out more information as well as information on specific financial aid, though, both of our panelists did touch on that.
Um, there is more information about what they offer just as a preface. Um, none of the Ivy leagues, if you’re interested in, uh, offer merit based scholarships, all of them only offer needs. Aid, which means that your admission into the school is determined by your merits and like, um, what you did in high school, your grades and everything.
But the amount of money that you get from the school is determined by your family’s financial situation, not by your merits. So if you’re looking for athletic scholarships or performance scholarships, or academic scholarships, you will have to look outside of the school or look at other schools, but their, your financial aid will not be based on your merit.
Um, so yeah, so do check out the public check for more specific information or links on those topics, but keeping up with the theme of y’all’s application, um, what makes an essay stand out in your opinion, but I’m gonna kind of tweak this. What did y’all talk about in y’all’s essay and why do you think it was strong?
I know, uh, Kiara you mentioned, um, your topic, but if y’all wanna delve a little deeper
Um, so I’m actually on the essay review team here at CollegeAdvisors. So I think about essays a lot, um, but I will focus on my own essay unless products do so otherwise. Um, I think for me there, it’s really not a one size fits all. Maybe that’s a bit of a theme here. Um, I’ve read essays that were drastically different from another and like the topic and the approach, um, and that, but have still been really impactful.
I think for me, a good essay is an introspective essay. Um, it’s one that, like, isn’t just about like, telling people about who you are, but that shows people who you are through a journey that you like leave through the page. I don’t know. Um, from my essay I wrote about, um, a very thick, old book that I was very much influenced by when I was in high school and still am to some regards today.
Um, and how I looked to this book, which was, you know, like a white, old book, a part of the cannon by which I mean, like a part of like, um, A kind of instruction and certain literature courses that wasn’t very diverse. Um, and I wrote about how this book, how I was able to find an entry way to this book and why I thought it was so important, even though none of the characters it reflected me.
Yeah. And I can also take this. I think that overall, um, like here said it is not really a one size fit, all approach to essays because there are various students that are applying and you all have different stories. So I think it’s more so how you tell your story and how an admissions officer is kind of able to kind of pick out characteristics from that story without it being like directly mentioned.
So like Kira said, it’s like through the actions, um, being able to kind of show yourself as a student. So rather than directly saying it, you’re able to express it through the essay that you’re writing. And for me, I wrote about my. It was a very like small, minor interaction outside of my high school. I was at like a gas station with a friend before our first period was starting.
And, uh, NYPD usually patrols around high schools. So a police officer came into the gas station kind of just asking us what we were doing if we were skipping school and stuff like that. So we kind of had to go, go through the process of IDing ourselves and then explaining that we started at a later period.
So it was probably a five minute interaction, but I kind of wrote it through the perspective of like a young adult fiction story. So I was like describing, you know, the color of the walls and the smell of the food and like how outside was like really humid and just like explaining my feelings in that moment, um, from general interactions with like law enforcement, um, for BIPOC communities.
Um, so I was expressing my like anxiety and fear in the moment and I think. By kind of writing that through descriptive words and kind of painting a story in my head and tying in like my racial identity. I was kind of able to express, um, who I am as a person and the ideals that are like very important for me.
So I think that’s like what stood out to the admissions officer in my head. I mean, I don’t know what got me in, but I think that’s what it was my personal statement. Yes. And I’m seeing a question asking, do they get feedback on your essays? No, that. Often, I mean, if you work in the admissions office, then, uh, you can, um, but no, they won’t, you won’t get feedback on your application, but if you work with CollegeAdvisor, we can help you through your application and give you feedback throughout the process before you submit.
Um, but no, they don’t typically do that. That will take a very long time. And then also SAT scores. It’s test optional at Princeton for this upcoming cycle. And they say for next, the year after cycle, they’re gonna, re-review their test optional policy. And it says they have no minimum, um, test, like.
Threshold you need to meet, uh, it’s just for context, according to their website, you can find out more information through the links that I sent. Um, but uh, pretty much they just wanna see, um, how you’re doing on the test, but it isn’t like the most important part of the application from what I gathered.
And then also they do still offer interviews. And if y’all would like to talk about how the interview impacted your application process, or if it added to it and your experience, I know Alexis, you went through it, but if you wanna add anything more. Yeah, sure. And I’ll say that, um, not every student is offered an alumni interview, even if they are acceptance to the school.
It kind of really depends on the availability of alumni and the region that you’re in and admissions officers did note that it did not, it would not like impact your. Application and put you at a disadvantage if you didn’t have an interview. So I just wanna preface by that. So, you know, you could still potentially get an even without having an interview.
But my alumni that I had was, uh, actually a professor in the CUNY school system. So our conversation was actually very, uh, casual. It wasn’t, it didn’t feel like a formal interview process, like a job. She was also a bit sick at the time. So she, we just grabbing coffee. That was like most of it. I think I was like talking about one of my favorite books at the time and kind of knowing more about Princeton, her thoughts on the environment.
Um, kind of, she was telling me some of like the myths about Princeton and how it’s like cons, um, some misconceptions about it overall. So it kind of eased my anxiety and overall like. Um, thoughts about Princeton and kind of familiarized me more with the actual student environment. So I would say it really did improve my application process by reaffirming that it was a school that I wanted to attend overall.
Um, in terms of like my chances of getting in, since it was a, such a casual conversation, I didn’t really think about it on that aspect, but just more so if that was the school I wanted. So honestly it was an interview for the school. Like it was like my interview of the school in a way, because of me asking, you know, her questions about how it is.
Yes. So, um, going on to the next question, um, okay, so a student is asking, uh, what kind of extracurricular activities did you do during high school? And do you think that made you stand out more in your application?
Uh, yeah, I know that I owe were you gonna go for it, Alexis? Now you can go I know I already touched on this a little bit earlier. Um, so just to summarize it very quickly, um, when I was in high school, I was involved, I think with mostly three things. The first thing that I was involved with was something on educational accessibility.
Um, I was a black student who was in the IB program and I was the only black student really in the IB program at my high school. Um, maybe one of two or three, um, despite my high school being about 30% Black. Um, this is something that brought me a lot of frustration. And so I worked a lot with the like various folks in my high school to think about why that was the case and how it could be changed.
Um, and I think similar to that, I was just involved with other kind of like non-profit work, which was about educational accessibility, especially for low income students. Um, and then finally I was involved with the, a youth black lives matters group. Um, in North Carolina, after an unarmed black man was killed a couple minutes away from where I lived.
Um, and so I think all those three of those things, um, I mean, I, I, I don’t wanna say like they made me, I’m sure they made me fit on some regards, but I think for me, it’s all about like the various components of your application telling a story. And those extracurricular activities helped me to tell a story about myself, um, that I would like to think was cohesive.
Yeah. And I could add on about my own extracurriculars. Um, so I kind of was the student that did. Bit a little bit of everything where I wasn’t in a club for the entire, like four years or, um, something like that. So I did a media club for a little bit. Um, I think I did like a garden’s club. Um, I also helped out with like a play for a semester and that was to get like a gym credit.
So I did that for a little bit, but really, it was just like one of the things where we were just chatting for the most part. I also volunteered at a New York city park at Fort to, so that was like volunteering and we did a bunch of like, um, stuff within the community on the weekends, such as like beach cleanups, visiting, plant nurseries, visiting, uh, the old landfill that’s in Staten island.
Um, that’s kinda like a park. Um, I also was working for the last year, uh, for like the beginning of my senior year, that summer into my senior year at like Macy’s. So I was talking about my work experience. Overall. And I think that may have been like one of the highlights because that role in itself it was retail.
So it was very disastrous, but it kind of pushed me to my limits in terms of like being flexible and managing different obstacles that came at me. So I had like a variety of, uh, extracurriculars, but I think I mostly talked about like work experience. Oh, sorry. I completely forgot this donut slipped, but I also did a, um, internship at, uh, Hofstra university for about like three years.
It’s like a pipeline program to be Zuckerberg school of medicine. Um, so that was also something that was like a big thing I did for like, um, sophomore summer until like the summer before college. Uh, sorry. Uh, going on to the next question and then we’ll move on into more broader things about your undergrad experience.
Um, A student is asking, is it stronger to show a broad variety of interest or a very specific focus in your college application, uh, essay, and just to broaden it out, your college application, both of y’all have had some very different ends of the spectrum. So if y’all would like to talk about that.
Sure. So I think, um, in terms of the application, I was a bit varied for the application aspect where I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. I forgot to mention I did mock trial for a bit. So I was like all over the place. I did some pre-law stuff. I did some pre-med stuff. I did some environmental stuff and I did like retail.
So I had a bit of everything cuz that’s like my personality. I kind of wanna get a lot of experience. Um, I would say that I would recommend, um, the quantity, sorry, the quality over the quantity of the experience. So making sure that you’re in a club because you personally enjoy it and then like it’s growing you as a person.
So although I did many things, I did spend a good amount of time in it, whether it was like for a year to be able to kind of talk to how it shaped me as like a student for the college essay aspect of it. I was like very narrowed on just like what I wanted to pursue after like in college. So at that time I was premed.
I wanted to help out with like, uh, health disparities for like black patients. So I was just talking about my racial identity and how that had like formed my ideal. So. um, the lens was very focused and it was just strictly like social justice issued, but like my application was a bit more varied, but there was still depth to it.
So I would just advise not to like throw in as much as you can, but kind of just include the things that you can talk to. And it would be like very obvious that you have like a passion for and can like really show how it developed you. um, I agree completely with everything Alexa said. Um, I would say like, if it’s something that speaks to you and that, like, it’s an honest reflection of like who you are and what your interests are, like, put it on the page.
Um, and that’s also because, I mean like, and a lot of y’all have already started working on the college applications, but there are lots of questions which also try to get to like things that you do for fun or things that you do to relax or unwind. Um, and the goal with those questions is to like, genuinely like figure out, like, what do you do outside of the things that might come immediately to mind that you might brag on, on a resume?
Um, but also I think it’s sometimes really nice, um, and surprising in a good way when I’m looking over an application for one of my students and I see something that I maybe didn’t expect already. Um, so for example, when I was in high school, I did lots of social justice things, but I also was a part of just like arts.
Feeder troop called Odyssey of the mind, um, which was also very important to me. Um, and I’m working with a student who does a lot of nonprofit work, but she also has an eBay business where she sells like thrifted clothes that she like goes and gets on the weekends. So, um, and to me, like those like kinds of idiosyncrasies make an application feel more human.
Um, and even with that being said, though, I think there are lots of ways to show like that you’re well rounded, even if it’s not in regards to your extracurricular activities, it could be because you’re very insightful. You’re very empathetic. And that’s something that comes out even though you only really work on two or three extracurriculars with the course of your four years at high school.
So I guess like, yeah, to summarize, I know I’m rambling a little bit. I think in the past, thinking about applications in a spike versus well rounded way has been very popular language to think about how to apply to these schools. But I would just kind of put all that to the side, um, put on the application.
What feels most honest to you and best reflects the way that you spend your time. Yes. And, um, every part of the application, well, except for test scores, in my opinion, but every part of the application does matter and it all comes together to really show them who you are as a person. Uh, and as a student and as a community member, as a family member, just different aspects of your life.
It’s really about what you’re able to put into that application, as well as what other sources, such as letters of recommendation are able to add, um, some different perspectives about you. Um, there isn’t really gonna be a perfect list of clubs you can do, or a perfect essay you can write. It’s really about just putting your best foot forward and showing them what’s important to you.
What matters to you? What matters about you to yourself, um, and what you really want them to know about you? Um, I’m seeing something. any school that says their test optional will usually have a policy on how not sending you, their, your test scores will affect your application. Most schools say it won’t affect it.
Some schools say that they, um, will look at other parts of your application, more rigorously, look at the school’s policy to find out more information on that. And then, um, Kind of going off of that. All of these parts of the application, um, really can be a bit confusing. You may be stressed out about wondering how you’re gonna really show off who you are and stand out in this application process, especially when applying to schools like the Ivys and Princetons in particular.
Um, but, um, we really do highly recommend signing up for CollegeAdvisor, um, where you can get one on one, uh, advising sessions from our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts, including current and former students at schools like Princeton that have been accepted into, um, other Ivy leagues or attend other Ivy leagues or other schools that you may be interested in.
So, uh, our team of, uh, over 300 former admissions offices and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all. Um, by just scanning this QR code, you’ll be taken to a form where you’ll be able to fill out, um, some information and sign up or free, um, 45 minute strategy session with an admissions expert to figure out where you are in the application process and what sort of package would be best for you.
You can find out more about our packages pricing and what other resources we offer at CollegeAdvisor in this meeting as well. But just to let you know, um, not only will you get more access to our wonderful webinars, you’ll also get access to the financial aid review team who can help students who are looking for good financial aid packages, find the best schools for them and the best pathway for them who can help build your college list.
So you’ll not only have Princeton on your list, but also some other wonderful schools that, um, will suit you and then just navigating the admissions process with you and your parents in general. Um, As well as helping with essays, um, but also you’ll get access to our wonderful advisor network. So even if your advisor does not do your specific major or is not at Princeton, but got into Princeton, um, you can, um, reach out to our other advisors within network to get more, more support and information about the school and really get those niche questions that you want answered.
So, um, sign up for CollegeAdvisor by scanning the QR code on the screen. And now back to the, uh, Q&A. So now we’ll kind of shift into, um, uh, what your experience in undergrad has been. So our first question is, um, what is the best thing about going to Princeton for you and how has it impacted you either career or personally or otherwise?
Um, go ahead. Alexis, you spoke a little bit about the alumni network. Sure. So, um, overall with, um, going to Princeton, I came in and I wasn’t too aware of the alumni network, but coming into like my senior in junior year, it was like very evident how much it impacted just overall how people were able to find out about experiences or kind of gravitate towards the field.
So for example, I had to learn how to kind of outgrow my introvertedness and reach out to alumni, whether it was through like platforms like LinkedIn or cold emailing, or actually talking to someone at an internship, I had to like really kind of get out there and like talk to different people. I would say that it’s provided me with a lot of guidance on how I’m gonna be shaping, um, shaping my career afterwards.
So I’m, pre-law when I go to law school, but I have no idea what I wanna do because like, For, like I mentioned, I like a lot of things, so I know that I can’t practice a law sector that fills in everything like housing education, but, uh, the environment and like overall social, social justice. So I knew that I needed to narrow a focus and I, through Princeton, I found out about internships, um, within the government, which I did the summer with the department of labor.
And from there, I was able to kind of build like a network that told me and kind of guided me towards employment law, which is kind of the work that I’ve been. Doing throughout my, like years at Princeton through my essays, through my research, but I didn’t know that it was an actual field. So kind of talking to different like employees and like alumni at Princeton, they kind of told me and light bulb went off, that what you’re doing is employment law.
This is exactly what lawyers do with this, that within this section. And kind of knowing that there was a name or field for like my passion. It gave me a good like ground and structure for how I wanna pursue those, um, like pursue the sector afterwards. So for example, I’ll be looking for jobs within the upcoming year.
And I know now that I should be looking for different opportunities, that specifically focuses on employment law to make sure that it’s a sector that I really wanna do. So overall Princeton has provided me with many resources, mentors, and experiences to kind of figure myself out in what I wanna do after graduating.
Um, honestly, I can only really echo that. Um, Princeton helped me figure out what I didn’t wanna do. Um, so through the alumni network, after my first year at Princeton, I actually was an intern for a politician in Chicago, um, who herself was a Princeton alumni. And that’s how I figured out that politics wasn’t for me.
And I think just gradually, like I ended up shifting towards academia, so maybe a little bit of a different trajectory, um, and. It’s not something that you’ll have to worry about anytime soon, but Princeton has a really robust, uh, fellowship office. Um, so after you graduate from college, there are lots of different scholarships and opportunities that you can apply for.
Um, Princeton has the ability, they just have lots of resources for helping you to apply for those things, which is how I got to where I am now, which is in the UK. I, um, I just finished a graduate program at the university of Cambridge and I’m currently starting another one at the London school of economics of this like weird two year period where I have to be in the UK.
Um, and then after this, I’m actually going to be transitioning to a JD PhD with the goal of becoming a professor someday. Um, and I think something that’s really, um, that honestly can’t be understated enough, even though it sometimes makes it a little cynical. Is that if you went to an Ivy league institution or if you’re going to an Ivy league institution, um, it opens the doors for you.
Like people say that, but it, it actually is very true. Um, I feel like that’s been offered some really incredible opportunities. Um, And I on part, you know, cause I like to think that I do good work, but also because people trust me or trust my capabilities in a way, because I went to Princeton. And because of the name value of going to a school that has that kind of name recognition, um, it’s something that can certainly be interrogated, but I think it is true that I’ve gotten opportunities that I might not have gone otherwise.
Um, when it comes to like academic work that I’ve had or being able to publish things, um, or just getting access to certain conferences that I think Princeton really helped me to do as a perspective, uh, professor academic. Yes. And I just wanna add something to that. I do attend Cornell university also.
So is an Ivy league and it’s kind of hard to say you don’t need to apply it in an Ivy league from someone that goes to one. Um, but you don’t, uh, Yes, the Ivy leagues do have this certain prestige and having it on your resume can help with just opening doors for you. But it’s also just attending an Ivy league.
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna enjoy your college experience or doesn’t mean that you’re automatically gonna get ex. Experiences that are worthwhile. You have to attend a school that is going to give you the experiences you are looking for that are worthwhile to you and give you the opportunity to explore and feel comfortable, um, on the campus.
So there are people that attend Princeton or Cornell and hate it and transfer out. There are people that attend the other Ivy’s and transfer out, even though they’re the Ivy’s. Um, so don’t just go off of the name of the school. And also every Ivy league is different. Princeton is nothing like Cornell, uh, and Cornell is nothing like Princeton.
So do really look into like the vibe and the characteristics of the school to figure out if it’s gonna be a good fit for you. Every Ivy league is not made the same way. Every school is not made the same way other schools are also great. So that was my spiel, but, um, kind of going off of that. Oh, real quick.
Um, did either of y’all do AP, IB, dual enrollment or any of those sort of courses. Uh, did you receive credit when applying also then? Yeah, so I did a couple AP classes. I think I took AP US History, AP World. Um, I got fives on those, AP stats I got a four on that. AP calc BC I think I got a five on that AP psych.
I got a four and another AP I’m forgetting. Um, so it might differ for every school, but Princeton, for example, doesn’t directly give you a credit for those AP scores, but instead it helps to place you into a higher course. So for example, I had a five on the AP Calc, um, B I think, or BC, AP calc AB exam. So it did not take off like my requirement for like a, we call it a QR quantitative reasoning, which is.
Think of it, like a math course that you have to take. So I didn’t get the credit for that immediately, but instead, but instead it would place me into a like non introductory course for like calculus instead. And then I would’ve got the credit that way. So it depends on each school. So you would have to like research the policy and how it would transfer over.
But for Princeton, it just helps with like a further placement rather than a direct credit. Uh, and in terms of dual enrollment or having an associate’s degree, it depends on what state you’re coming from, um, with most schools. So like if it’s an out of state school, it’s less likely just because they may not know the accreditation of the community college that you went to, or the program that you were in dual enrollment is just a bit trickier.
If you’re going out of state. Uh, AP is usually accepted at most places though. Every school has different rules. So like, I, like Alexa said, you can either get credit or you can move ahead to the next level or, um, what else is there? Or you can just get bumped up to an honors level. It really just depends on the school.
So you do have to look at the policies of each individual school to see if you’re gonna get credit, um, for that. And then going onto the next question. Um, Which I call it. Okay. So I’m gonna combine, so a student is asking, um, how easy was it to connect with other, um, black students on campus? And then also just to go off of that, what would you say the community and the vibe is like on campus?
Would you describe it as cutthroat? How is it towards students of color and just students in general?
I think that’s a very good question. Um, so I think everyone’s experience is different. Um, but in terms of like the black community on campus, I think this is like a lot of other schools. There are a lot of opportunities to be involved in like, um, student organizations that are oriented towards like black students.
So for example, Princeton has the black student union. They have a. Association for students that are African descent. And now we might be having one for African American descent and another one for like Caribbean descent. So there are many organizations for you to be a part of and to build your community.
And Princeton specifically had activities fair like each year at the beginning of September for you to kind of be introduced to these different organizations. So they’ll come with like their boots, um, their booths, their photo, and just information about their club. And they would have like a bunch of events for freshmen in the sub on September month.
Um, and I speak from experience, um, the current president of the BSU, and we have about like events for every weekend in September for freshmen, so that they know that we’re there and that they’re aware of our presence. So it’s very easy to get connected. And for example, um, in terms of the nature of the school, Cannot speak to every school.
And I mean, it’s my own individual experience. I don’t think it’s cutthroat as much as people say it is. Um, from my own experience, I think I’ve been in a lot of classes that are on the smaller side of scale that were like very on the humanities track that were very collaborative. And I mean, if someone gets an F and someone gets an A, you know, it doesn’t really affect your like GPA or your grade in the class, how someone else performs.
So it wasn’t cutthroat. I can’t really speak to the classes where there is like a curving scale where there’s like a limited number of people that could get like an A or a B or anything like that. I can’t speak to that environment, but for me, it was very, I like a lot of the people in my classes and it’s more so discussion based.
So you may differ with people, but at the end of the day, it’s like a very, um, collaborative environment. Yeah, and just very quickly on, cause I think Alexis covered, but all of it, um, well to answer the latter question first, I think it really does depend. Um, so sometimes I found myself in spaces that felt more competitive.
Um, like for example, there are some, there are certain like, um, in-house fellowships that exists for undergraduate students. So I was a BN fellow, if that means anything. Um, but, uh, by which I mean that there’s like, there are certain communities, I think that can be more competitive, but you almost have to find them.
Um, it really depends on like the spaces that you decide to put yourself in. Um, and if there’s anything that I, to harken back to the first question I was asked, um, if there’s anything that I wish I could have known about going into undergrad before going into undergrad. I think when I first got on campus, I.
It was really important for me to find a black community and find a black space. And I did in some regards find a black community, but I also realized that like, just because it was a black community didn’t mean that it was like a leftist or a progressive community or that like, there are other kinds of spaces that maybe like address needs that I was looking for, that I couldn’t find in the Princeton black community.
I think this is like a conundrum that you’ll find no matter what university or institution that you’re, you’re going for. Um, but I think just like thinking very specifically about what it is that you’re looking for. Like, I think I was looking for an organizing space and I ended up having to look somewhere else for that.
Yes. And Alexis, someone was asking about the specific medical program you did and, um, high school. So if you don’t mind typing that in the public chat, um, but just to close out the webinar, cuz we are coming up on time, can y’all say, um, what it’s like, um, being on campus, is it safe? What is the area like?
And then just in general, what is a typical day in the life of a Princeton.
Sure. And, um, on the previous question, I just popped in the chat, accidentally sent it as a question, but it’s called the medical scholars pipeline program. Um, through Zucker school of medicine, they had, um, qualified me through my PSAT sophomore year. Um, so I’m not too sure how it works outside of the PSAT um, as for life on campus, um, day to day, I would say I’m also, this depends on your major, your like, area, but I think I don’t spend too much time in classes.
It’s mostly outside studying and reading because I’m more on like the humanity side. And I’m very like research based with like a lot of my classes. So I have papers for midterms papers for finals. Like short essays in between. So it’s like very scholarly based reading and like, um, prepping for essays.
Um, there’s a lot of there’s time for it depends on your schedule. Um, I know some people say, you know, if you wanna do something, you can make the time, but sometimes it can be very overloading. Um, so for me, I get to kind of like have free time on the weekend. So I might like go eat out with friends or go to some social events.
And like, my time for myself during the like week is like probably procrastinating, but I’ve been building in self care more often, which I do recommend. So, um, that’s kind of my day to day. So I’ll just like eat, go to class, eat again, study for a bit, take a break, chat with friends and like go back to studying and then kind of like repeat the day
as someone who’s also a community student. And my schedule was nearly identical to that one with probably less studying.
Yes. So, um, and same with mine, I’m in the education route. So it is a bit different. Um, medical and engineering tend to be the most time constrains folks on campus. Uh, In general. Uh, it really just depends on how much you want your course load to be. If you plan on graduating early, if you wanna do an honors thesis, everything is very personal in college.
Even if everybody’s doing the same major as you, everybody’s doing it their own way. Um, so that’s something to consider when looking into schools. Um, but that is the end of the, um, webinar. I, I hope you found this information helpful, and again, remember this webinar is being recorded, so we will be able to view it again later on our website.
Thank you to our wonderful panelists for all this great information. Uh, and thank y’all for coming out tonight. Here’s the rest of our September series, where we’ll have more college panels for those who are still researching schools or trying to find a good fit for them, uh, as well as different webinars on how to write essays and how to fill out, um, financial aid forms, um, which that time is coming up.
It, it will be opening FAFSA and CSS will be opening on October 1st. So a month from today, um, If your question did not get answered tonight, remember that you can check out our other webinars or our upcoming webinars, um, by typing in the keyword you’re looking for at app.CollegeAdvisor.com uh, under webinars.
And then, um, you can find webinars that speak specifically to this, uh, on our blog. We also have some essay guides. I believe there is one for Princeton. Um, there are other essays on various topics such as being a Black student on campus or, um, researching schools. We have a bunch of webinars and blogs on this topic, but we also recommend signing up for CollegeAdvisor where you can get that one-on-one experience, um, and find out more information about how to research schools really have someone guiding you through the process for your individual situation and helping you through the essays.
And, um, every step of the way. And just real quick, I saw somebody ask if in person or virtual tours are better. It really just depends. Both are good and beneficial going in. Person can help with, um, figuring out what it’s really like on campus. Like moving around the space and what it’s like, what the atmosphere is like.
Uh, virtual tour can just give you a general idea and can help with saving money. Um, so yeah, so thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight .