What is Princeton like?
Princeton is amazing; the people there are all so accomplished and interesting. Everyone is really nice and supportive as well, and the residential college system ensures that you get to know the students living around you really well and form a tight support group. The workload is really hard though, and grade deflation is not a myth, unfortunately.
What is most misunderstood about Princeton?
A lot of people come into Princeton thinking it will be full of socially awkward geniuses, but that is far from the truth. While we do have our fair share of super geniuses, there are a surprising number of people just like you and me!
What kind of students do you think colleges are looking for?
I think colleges are looking for enthusiastic, motivated students. It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in as long as you’re passionate about it and take your love for it to the next level. When I wrote my college essays, I wrote about the things that genuinely excited me, and I think admissions officers can tell whether an applicant is truly interested in something. You don’t have to stress too much about doing something incredibly unique–someone has probably already done it anyway–but as long as you take what you have and take it to the next level, like running for sports team captain or club president, colleges will appreciate your hard work and dedication. Lastly, be yourself and don’t be afraid to insert your quirks into your application. All my friends at Princeton said they wrote “weird” things in their application, talking about their strangest habits and ideas. This makes you more personable and [makes you] stand out, so do it!!
What has been one of the greatest challenges in college, and what do you think high school students can do to best prepare themselves?
One of the biggest challenges of college was adjusting to the new environment–you’re surrounded by so many people and there’s always something going on. Finding a balance between work and play is really hard because there will always be someone having fun, and you’re going to want to join them. In high school, start developing really good time-management skills and learning to say No sometimes; this will be really helpful in college!
How did you spend your time in high school?
In high school, I was involved with my school’s French Club. I also played on the Varsity badminton team and played competitively with a private club. I was on Class Council all four years at Gunn and was in El Camino Youth Symphony for eight years, where I played violin and participated in international tours every other summer!
If you were to start high school all over again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start high school all over again, I might try getting involved in more clubs and exploring my interests. In college, there are so many interest groups that I didn’t know existed and it would have been cool to get involved in them in high school as well. Overall though, I’m pretty happy with my high school experience.
What advice would you give prospective college students to help them prepare for college?
I definitely recommend taking the hardest classes you can; AP credits can come in handy when you’re picking classes, and you can often skip the hard “weeder” science classes. Also, these harder classes prepare you for the harder workload of college and more independent teaching method. Learn to work independently without relying on teachers too much, as college professors are very impersonal.
Do you recommend any websites and resources that will help students get to know Princeton?
Gunn High School