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Message from the Dean of the College


Valerie Smith

My colleagues and I are delighted that our new students will soon arrive at Princeton. Each year we look forward with great anticipation to the contributions the new class will make to the life of the University.

The primary focus of Princeton is teaching and learning. As you have undoubtedly gathered by now, we offer a very broad range of courses and programs of study. We assign our first-year students academic advisers who can help them choose wisely from among the many opportunities available to them. Our undergraduates are encouraged to think about their education as a whole, rather than just a term at a time, and their faculty advisers work with them not only during Orientation Week, but throughout the year. We expect students to explore the possibilities of different departmental concentrations from the beginning of their undergraduate career by taking courses in a variety of departments, attending departmental orientation programs, and seeking information and advice from faculty members. Program advisers in the Office of the Dean of the College are available to help students who are interested in special programs such as Study Abroad, Field Study, University Scholar and Independent Concentration.

Each residential college community includes a number of people to whom freshmen can turn for advice and help. The residential college deans and directors of studies have overall responsibility for the academic lives of students and spend a great deal of time exploring with them both academic opportunities and, from time to time, the questions, problems or difficulties they may encounter in their lives, in specific courses or in choosing fields of concentration that are appropriate for them. The master of the college is a senior member of the faculty who is always ready to be of assistance in academic and personal matters. Directors of student life, college administrators, faculty fellows and resident graduate students constitute a large group of older, experienced people who interact regularly with beginning students. Finally, each first-year student has a residential college adviser (a junior or senior who lives nearby, who knows a great deal about almost every aspect of undergraduate life and who provides important information and support).

Learning and growth at Princeton are not confined to classroom and academic experiences. Other kinds of opportunities abound, not the least of them the daily occasions for friendship and fellowship with people from many different backgrounds and with a wide variety of interests. In addition, students participate in rich and varied extracurricular activities, ranging from athletics to theater, from playing in a band to performing in a chamber orchestra, from writing for one of the campus publications to doing volunteer work in neighboring communities.

The extent to which each student takes advantage of the academic, extracurricular and social opportunities available here depends, in large measure, on the student’s own initiative. Students at Princeton learn to take responsibility for planning their own lives as undergraduates. There are many people who are ready and willing to provide assistance and advice. Students need only ask.

The Families Handbook provides a brief introduction to many aspects of life at Princeton. I hope that you will find it informative and useful.

My colleagues and I look forward to greeting those of you who will be bringing new students to campus.

You are warmly invited to return for Freshman Families Weekend, Friday, Oct. 11, to Sunday, Oct. 13. More detailed information on the program will be available on the website in August.

We very much look forward to welcoming the Class of 2017. We will do our best to provide them with a strong liberal arts education and a rich and memorable college experience.

— Valerie Smith, dean of the college