Miguel A. Centeno
Sociology, Woodrow Wilson School
Life in a Residential College
Princeton's residential campus ensures that even in a student body of 5,100 undergraduates, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors develop a sense of home within a tightly knit community. Princeton guarantees on-campus housing for students for all four years and nearly all undergraduates live on campus. All residential colleges house students from all four class years as well as some graduate students. The residential colleges offer a welcoming environment and a host of social and intellectual opportunities throughout the academic year. Juniors and seniors can take advantage of these opportunities even if they choose not to live in the residential colleges.
Entering Freshmen are randomly assigned to a residential college: Butler, Forbes, Mathey, Rockefeller, Whitman or Wilson. Freshmen typically take on the identity of their college with pride early in the first semester. Each freshman has a junior or senior residential college adviser who is on hand to answer questions and help with the adjustment to college life. Each college has a faculty master, faculty fellows, dean, director of studies and a director of student life.
At the end of their sophomore year, students may choose whether to live in one of the residential colleges or remain affiliated with their college but make other living and dining arrangements.
Freshman seminars and writing seminars often meet in residential college classrooms. In addition, residential colleges organize many out-of-class learning opportunities, such as shared meals with prominent professors, foreign-language discussion tables, film series, topical speakers and trips to the theater, opera and ballet.
Colleges also organize dances, barbecues and movie nights. They compete against each other in intramural sports such as soccer and volleyball. And most important, they give every student a home base from which to explore new and exciting opportunities.