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Message from the Dean of the College


Jill Dolan

On behalf of my colleagues in West College and across campus, I’m delighted to welcome you and your student to Princeton. Although it might be difficult to imagine now, as your family and your student face a host of questions about this new learning and living environment, four years flies by, and before you know it, you’ll be coming to campus for Commencement! I hope you and your student will keep the end in sight, and take advantage of every opportunity to participate in the life of the campus throughout the next year and beyond.

To ease the transition from high school to college, we assign our first-year students academic advisers who help them choose from among the many course opportunities available. Because we encourage our undergraduates to think about their education organically, rather than just one term at a time, faculty advisers work with each student throughout the year to shape their Princeton career. Although some students arrive on campus with a clear sense of their future plans, we hope every student will explore the wide range of departmental concentrations and certificate programs with an open mind and heart. We expect students to take courses in a variety of departments; to attend several departmental orientation programs; and to seek information and advice about choosing a major from faculty members, residential college deans, and their peers.

Program advisers in the Office of the Dean of the College are eager to help students interested in special programs such as Study Abroad, Field Study (which organizes relevant internship opportunities), the University Scholars Program (for students with exceptional talent in an academic or creative area that cannot be pursued within the regular curriculum), and the Independent Concentration (for exceptional students who wish to design their own area of inquiry).

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 take responsibility for their students’ academic lives and spend a great deal of time guiding them toward academic opportunities. They also help troubleshoot the questions, problems, or difficulties students may encounter in their lives on campus, in specific courses, or in choosing appropriate majors or fields of concentration. The master of the college is a senior faculty member who is always ready to assist with academic and personal matters. Directors of student life, college administrators, faculty fellows, and resident graduate students constitute a larger community of older, experienced people who interact regularly with beginning students, creating a tightly knit web of support and mentorship. Each first-year student also has a residential college adviser (a junior or senior student who lives nearby, knows a great deal about almost every aspect of undergraduate life, and provides important information and support).

Numerous opportunities for learning and growth abound inside and outside of the classroom at Princeton. Our diverse student body offers occasions for friendship and fellowship with people from many different backgrounds, who boast a wide variety of interests and talents. Princeton students participate in a remarkable number of rich and varied extracurricular activities, ranging from athletics to theater to dance performance; from playing in a band to performing in a chamber orchestra; from writing for one of the campus publications to volunteering their skills and insights in neighboring communities; and many more. Although the “orange bubble” becomes comfortable for our students, we urge them to see themselves as part of the world beyond the campus gates, and to gear their learning toward serving others as Princeton’s motto suggests.

Princeton students tend to be full of curiosity and initiative. Our talented faculty and staff happily provide information, assistance, and advice. Students need only ask, and they’ll find themselves collecting a host of opinions and ideas.

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

My colleagues in the Office of the Dean of the College 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. 9, to Sunday, Oct. 11. More detailed information on the program will be available on the website in August.

We’re delighted to welcome the Class of 2019, and to help them begin what we know will be a world-class liberal arts education and a productive, provocative, profound college experience.

— Jill Dolan, Dean of the College