Web Exclusives: On the Campus

May 14, 2008:

Admitted students preview campus life

By Folasade John '09

Cheers and applause filled the lobby of Forbes College the afternoon of April 10 as the first of 467 prospective Princeton students arrived to meet their University hosts during the first of two Princeton Preview weekends, designed to display the best the University has to offer.

The program, formerly known as April Hosting, was revamped and expanded with the end of the University's early-admission program, which meant that all admitted students had until May 1 to decide which college to attend. This year, a record 1,093 prospective students were scheduled to attend one of the two preview weekends, more than half of the 1,976 students offered admission. Serving as hosts were 770 Princeton students.

"It was really what made me decide to come here," said Maria Salciccioli '09, who was hosting her ninth student. "I want them to experience the sort of things they will be doing when they come here," said Salciccoli, who took her students with her to USG debates and had dinner with them in one of the eating clubs.

Brian Jeong '11, a Princeton Preview captain at Forbes who hosted four students, wanted to help because he remembered how difficult his own college decision was. Jeong said he wanted to use his "growth of appreciation for Princeton" in his freshman year to "provide a vision of Princeton that they can use in their decision."

For the first time this year, the Office of Admission also reached out to the residential colleges, planning events such as an authentic tea ceremony, a salsa dance party, and karaoke that allowed the students to get a glimpse of dorm life at Princeton. Students also had a chance to dine in Whitman College one night each weekend.

While the weekend's events were aimed at creating a positive impression of Princeton, prospective students had a wide range of concerns.

Rodrigo Rogers, of Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Ala., was looking for a community of Latin American students at Princeton. Citing the Rodriguez Scholars program at Washington University, he added: "I see that I can get that experience here without joining something like that," he said. Rogers met with Princeton students at the activities fair, a showcase for a variety of Princeton clubs and organizations.

"I enjoyed the social scene better at MIT," said Amy Zhang of Montville Township High School in Montville, N.J., saying that she felt more comfortable at the parties at MIT. A contrasting view was offered by Russell Huang of Reservoir High School in Fulton, Md. "[MIT students] were weird," said Huang, who had also attended MIT's preview program. "I think Princeton is normal."

Regardless of their experiences, the admitted students understood that there was more to Princeton than a sunny spring weekend.

While the weekend was "sugarcoated," said Matthew Young of Westchester East High School in Westchester, Pa., "What they can't sugarcoat is the excitement and enthusiasm of the students." That was what he was looking for, he said, adding that Princetonians have lots of it.

The students were sent off at 10:30 both Saturday mornings to return home or to continue on to other college preview weekends. Enrollment decisions were due May 1, and on that day, University would know just how well its recruiting efforts had gone.

Photos by Hyunseok Shim ’08