Reviewing the Applications

What does Princeton look for in its applicants?

We review each application individually to get a sense of that student’s particular combination of strengths. We don't have a profile of the ideal applicant or the ideal class. In fact, one of Princeton’s greatest strengths is the variety of talents, personal qualities, experiences and points of view in each incoming class. There are some qualities we hope all Princeton students share: integrity, a deep interest in learning and a devotion to both academic and non-academic pursuits. Many students also bring distinctive academic and extracurricular talents and achievements. Beyond those fundamental qualities, we consider how each candidate might contribute to the community we will bring together for that year’s class.

Is different weight given to different parts of the application?

No. We do not have a formula for weighting different parts of the application. While the transcript is the most important part of an application, we consider all of the components of each application and consider each applicant’s particular strengths.

How does Princeton measure academic promise?

We include many factors in our assessment, particularly a student’s secondary school program and record, as well as standardized test results, and teacher and counselor recommendations. All these components are taken into consideration when we evaluate a student’s high school performance. We value liveliness of mind, motivation, creativity, perseverance and independent thought. A prospective student’s intellectual curiosity and academic excellence are the most important factors in our decision.

Are minimum grade-point averages, class ranks or test scores required for admission?

No. There are no cutoffs. We consider all of these measures within the context of each applicant’s school and situation. Our most promising candidates tend to earn strong grades and have comparatively high scores on standardized tests. We also look at other parts of the application, including teacher references and essays, to learn more about what kind of student you are and how you approach learning.

Do weighted grades or class rank matter in the evaluation of applications?

In trying to get a sense of the strength of the academic program you have pursued in high school, we look at your transcript course by course and consider all the information your school provides about your academic performance. We also ask the school official completing your School Report to comment on the rigor of your academic program in the context of what is available at your school. Weighted grades or class rank can be another measure of the strength of your academic program as compared with other students who also have many As, but we give equal consideration to applicants from schools that don’t weight grades or rank.

To what extent are extracurricular activities considered in the application process?

In addition to academic qualifications, we are interested in the talents and interests you would bring to Princeton outside the classroom. We don't value one type of activity over another. Rather, we appreciate sustained commitment to the interests you have chosen to pursue. Some of the students we admit have one well-honed talent; others have participated in a range of activities. We take particular note of leadership and exceptional talents or accomplishments.

Does Princeton limit the number of students who can be admitted from a particular school?

No. We will look at your application individually, in comparison with the entire applicant pool, not only in comparison to applications from other students at your school.

Will my choice of a main field of study affect my chance for admission?

On the application we ask you to indicate the degree program (A.B., B.S.E. or undecided) and the departments that most interest you. These choices don't affect your chances for admission, nor do they commit you to a particular course of study. We look closely at the math and science background of students interested in the B.S.E. program, and we consider every applicant’s abilities across the academic subjects. Princeton engineering students choose a field of concentration (major) after one year and liberal-arts students after two years. More than 70 percent of our undergraduates are majoring in fields different from those they indicated when they applied.

Are senior year grades considered when evaluating applications?

Your counselor is asked to send us your first semester or first trimester grades with the Mid Year Report. It is important that you continue to excel in your classes during your final year of high school. If you are admitted, your counselor is asked to send us your final grades for the senior year with the Final Report. Admission is conditional upon your successful completion of the senior year. Princeton reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission if there is a significant drop in your academic performance between January and June of your senior year.