Advice for families of the Class of 2021

Family members of students and alumni share tips for families of students starting their Princeton journeys this fall.

New students aren’t the only ones starting their Princeton University careers this fall. Families of the Class of 2021 have a lot to look forward to as they experience the University and its traditions while supporting their Princeton students.

Excited and curious family members of incoming students have joined Princeton Parents, a Facebook group maintained by and for family members of Princeton University students. The group, which has been active since 2015, is a platform for parents, grandparents and other family members to interact, ask questions and bond over the experience of having a child go to Princeton.

To welcome new Princeton families, group members decided to share lessons they’ve learned since their students first moved to campus. The following tips represent what parents of currents students and alumni think new Princeton family members should know.

Move-in is a chance to make new friends

  • “My sophomore son was in a quad in Whitman last year. There was plenty of room with two bedrooms and a common room. He did not know any of his roommates going in and they ended up getting along well.” — Julie Finley O’Connor

Move-in for the Class of 2021 takes place on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017.

The University has resources to help your student stay healthy

  • “McCosh is awesome. My daughter had the flu near the end of junior year. She spent 3 nights in McCosh under the excellent care of nurses.” — Stacy Neese
  • “There is a pharmacy in the U-Store. … Make sure your student knows that, too, because one never knows when they’ll need that first prescription while on campus.” — Carolyn Matthews
  • “There are amazing opportunities in all areas of campus life and the support available is incredible!” — Jodye Green

Learn more about University Health Services and see key contacts for health and well-being.

Stay connected through social media

  • “If you want to keep abreast of what’s happening on campus … there are various Facebook pages you can like. … If there’s a big event on campus … they’ll post a SLEW of photos and if you’re lucky you’ll spy one of your kid. This is really comforting in those first months when the student is totally immersed and doesn’t get in touch much, then you see a photo of him/her smiling with friends and you know all is well.” — Jan Carr

See a list of official Princeton University social media accounts.

Have school spirit

  • “Buy LOTS of orange and LOTS of Princeton swag (for yourself).” — Laura Gerber
  • “Go to [Freshman Families] Weekend freshman year.” — Jennifer Fox Markulec

Read more about Freshman Families Weekend.

Show your student support 

  • “Encourage them when they say ‘I was admitted by mistake! I don’t belong here!’ because they do [belong] and they will find their way :)” — Susan Parker Wild
  • “My rising junior has never had to work so hard in his life. He still says he loves it and it’s worth it, though. Remind your kids that they are not alone if they feel the pressure.” — Renee LaCombe
  • “Don’t panic when they call you (perhaps in tears) about their writing seminar paper, midterms or whatever else they are panicking about. Remember they were admitted because they are very capable. Your confidence will help them.” — Laura Gerber

Learn about advising resources in the residential colleges, at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, and through the Writing Center.

Students have many opportunities to get involved

  • “Tell your student to explore every aspect of Princeton that they can, especially that first semester, even if it may not be their ‘thing’ (e.g., going to the Orange and Black Ball or a sporting event). They will get busier and … less likely to do this later on.” — Julie Finley O’Connor
  • Students get deals on trips to Broadway shows through their residential colleges. “My son saw so many musicals, I was so jealous!” — Sandra Thorn Gray
  • “Encourage your child to do one of the Princeton summer programs. My son studied Swahili in Tanzania. He had an amazing time. It also helped him fulfill his language requirement.” — Jennifer Fox Markulec

What to wear

  • “Unless he is a fashion hound, shorts, jeans and t-shirts are the uniform.” — Benjamin Sands
  • Pack “a nice dress” or “a suit and tie for the occasional fancy event. They’ll be glad they have it to pull from their closet.” — Jan Carr
  • “T-shirt giveaways are in abundance!” — Sheryl Abrams Gilman

With the Class of 2021’s Opening Exercises only a few days away, Laura Gerber, mother of a student in the Class of 2016, shares one more piece of advice to family members of new students: “Enjoy the gift of sharing in their Princeton experience. The years will go much faster than you can imagine!”

More tips for new Princeton family members, along with questions and conversations, can be found in the Princeton Parents Facebook group. Find more information for families on the main University website, the website of the dean of the college, and the Your Path to Princeton website.