Special Greetings to the Wilson College Class of 2016!
Alongside the excitement of entering a new place—and a new and important phase of your life—you may feel some anxiety about the road ahead. This page is designed to get you started on the right track. To get the most out of Princeton, you’re going to need a lot of advice from a variety of sources. You have amazing academic options before you, and you’ll soon be expected to make important choices, but you’ll also have access to a lot of help.
Academic advising comes in various forms. Some information is best presented in print or web sources; for other, more complex, matters, there is no substitute for face-to-face discussions with an advisor, an administrator, or a more experienced peer. There are a lot of people around campus who are eager to talk to you and share their experience and expertise. Here’s an example of the people you are encouraged to draw upon:
There are also lots of print and web resources available for browsing or for quick answers to simple questions. You have already received copies of the Undergraduate Announcement and the Freshman Seminar bulletin, and you should know that these resources (and many others) are available on-line through links on our Additional Advising Resources.
As you begin to plan your first semester at Princeton, we urge you to consider the following suggestions:
1. Think about discovery. You may be tempted to take courses in subjects you’ve already studied in high school, and that’s fine. But you should also begin to explore other areas of study—particularly a subject you didn’t or perhaps couldn’t study in high school.
2. Keep an eye on requirements, especially writing and language. All freshmen will take a Freshman Writing Seminar in either the fall or spring term (sorry, you can’t choose which semester). And many freshmen will need to fulfill the foreign language requirement; don’t put this off! If you need to start a foreign language at the 101 level, do so right away: 101 language courses are offered only in the fall, and if you don’t start the language now you’ll still be taking required language courses in your junior year. If you will be starting a language from the 105 or 107/108 level, do that right away as well, before you forget much of what you learned in high school.
Don’t worry too much now about the distribution requirements, and don’t use them as the primary basis for planning your first semester of study. Most Princeton students have broad interests that enable them to complete the distribution requirements without pain.
3. Balance your workload. Different courses demand different kinds of work. Math courses have homework and quizzes, history courses require reading and papers, art courses emphasize the study of visual images. Some courses have weekly assignments, others require a big paper at the end. Mix things up.
4. Think about possible majors.
As you choose your courses, think especially about areas in which you might eventually wish to major. You won’t choose your major until the end of sophomore year, but don’t wait until then to start thinking about it! If you do think you know your likely major, don’t try to take all the courses at once. Take the prerequisites and perhaps some additional courses, but keep your mind open and explore other areas, too, while you have the chance. Many students intent on majoring in one field take a course in another and discover an entirely new interest. Take advantage of the “major choices
” events in the residential colleges designed to introduce you to the wealth of programs and resources available through Princeton’s many academic departments and programs.
Best wishes for a great start at Princeton! Please do try to introduce yourself to us sometime during orientation or the first few weeks of the term.
Lisa Herschbach, Dean
Jack Axcelson, Director of Studies