Cerena

What is Princeton like?

Princeton is a fast-paced university in an idyllic setting. It prides itself on its residential college system and undergraduate focus, but has a full range of experiences and opportunities to offer.

What is most misunderstood about Princeton?

I think Princeton is perceived to be the most elitist of the Ivies, and traces do exist, but no more than I imagine would be present in other schools. If anything, I find Princeton to be more open in terms of its resources and social life.

What kinds of students do you think colleges are looking for, and why?

I think colleges are looking to build a community, and want students that are unique in a way and will contribute to that community. I know it sounds vague, but colleges want students to not only learn from their professors but also from each other, and so I imagine that each student has some kind of spark that improves the lives of those around [him or her].

What has been one of the greatest challenges in college, and what do you think high school students can do to best prepare themselves?

Personally, the greatest challenge has been adjusting to being in a community of incredibly talented people, because you can fall into a trap of thinking everyone is better than you and so not going for opportunities. Preparation in high school would be more mental than any concrete task.

What academic and nonacademic extracurricular activities were you involved with in high school? 

I think I had two selling points in high school: summer research and intensive community involvement. My summers were always busy at research programs, and during the school year I fulfilled required community service hours and served the community on a health-related youth council. I also edited the school paper and played badminton. Not too many activities, but consistent and deep involvement.

If you were to start high school all over again, what would you do differently?  

Everyone probably feels this way, but I feel like I could have done more of what I did. Put in more hours of work, demonstrated more leadership, and made stronger bonds with friends. All of this will be the foundation for your college experience, so give it your all.

What advice would you give high school students to help them prepare for college?  

It helps to go in with a plan: try a lot of things your freshman year, nail it down your sophomore year, and make an impact in those fields as an upperclassman. College admissions seems so arbitrary—you just have to find your niche, make it your own, and be able to convey that on paper and in an interview.

List web resources where high school students can learn more about your college. Refer to sites that are not commonly known, including recommended readings, blogs, and videos. 

Read The Daily Princetonian (but I’m biased, there are other literary magazines on campus) for serious news, Princeton Alumni Weekly, and Princetonfml.com for a glimpse into the dark underbelly of this school.

Cerena

High School

Archbishop Mitty High School


College

Princeton University