As you explore what Princeton has to offer, you'll probably want to know what traits are most common in admitted students. We look for students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. We also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.
Our goal is to understand how applicants have excelled within their particular schools and communities. We understand that you face a unique set of challenges and opportunities, and we expect to see how you have taken advantage of those specific circumstances. We evaluate each candidate individually and we make decisions based on a holistic review of the application.
We expect applicants to have taken courses in the following, if possible: English, mathematics, foreign language, laboratory science and history. (Full details are given on the Academic Preparation page.) In addition, we look for applicants who have challenged themselves with honors, advanced placement (AP) and dual-enrollment courses available to them. We evaluate International Baccalaureate (IB), A-levels or another diploma within the context of the program’s curriculum.
Instead of worrying about meeting a specific set of criteria, try to create an application that will help us see your achievements — inside the classroom and out — in their true context, so we can understand your potential to take advantage of the resources at Princeton and the kind of contribution you would make to the Princeton community. Show us what kind of student you are. Show us that you have taken advantage of what your high school has to offer, how you have achieved and contributed in your own particular context.
We look for students who make a difference in their schools and communities, so tell us about your leadership activities, interests, special skills and other extracurricular involvements. Tell us if you’ve had a job or a responsibility in your home. Most Princeton students were academic standouts in high school. Most of them also invested their energy and talents in significant ways outside the classroom. We want to know what you care about, what commitments you have made and what you’ve done to act on those commitments.
We ask applicants to write two essays as part of the application. Students interested in engineering are asked to write an additional essay. This is your opportunity to display your best writing as well as your ability to convey ideas in your own voice.
While you may want to have a parent, guidance counselor or teacher proofread your essays, it is extremely important that the essays be your own work. Intellectual integrity is a fundamental principle at Princeton. When you complete your application you are asked to sign a statement certifying that all the information on the application, including the essays, is your own work. Princeton may withdraw the application or revoke the admission of any student whose essays have been written by another source, including essays found on the Internet.