7 Princeton Traditions in My Last Semester

May 16, 2024
Amélie Lemay

As a follow-up to my sophomore blog post about 7 traditions in my first on-campus semester, I now present to you 7 traditions from my final semester. 

1. Taking 3 courses + thesis

In the final semester, seniors generally take a lighter course load to have additional time to focus on the thesis. This spring I only took 3 courses plus the thesis (which counts as a course), giving me more time to focus on my project than when I have a typical 4-5 course load. This also gave me time for graduate school interviews, student visit days, and other tasks associated with planning for life post-Princeton.


2. Choosing a grad school program

Come March, I was notified of my acceptances to the different graduate school programs I'd applied to. In the fall, I'll be starting a doctoral program in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT working with Dr. Desirée Plata! Being able to share this news with my professors and letter of recommendation writers was exciting and rewarding.


3. Printing and binding my thesis

In mid-April, my thesis was wrapping up, and it was time for official printing and binding. Printing your thesis is optional, but it's traditional to present a leather-bound copy to your advisor. I chose to print my thesis and was incredibly proud to present the culmination of my project to Dr. Bourg.

Leather-bound thesis lying on table


4. Stepping into the Fountain of Freedom post-thesis submission

Following submission of the thesis, seniors will step into the Fountain of Freedom to officially mark the beginning of the mythical "PTL" (post-thesis life). The water wasn't very warm on the day after my department's thesis submission date (April 15), but I still honored the tradition by stepping into the water.

Reflecting pool and fountain in summer


5. Wearing my class jacket

Formerly known as a "beer jacket," to be worn by seniors at the Nassau Inn to protect their day clothes, the class jacket is now the de facto uniform for Reunions. The jacket prominently displays your class year, making it easy to spot your classmates among the masses of orange and black that flock to campus for Reunions each May. Our class voted on the design in the fall, and I'm really pleased with the final design.

Author wearing 2024 class jacket


6. Taking photos by the bronze tigers

Our class government offered free sessions with a pro photographer by the bronze tigers, and I also took photos of my friends myself. We brought numerous graduation props (thesis, class jacket, cap) to the session.

Author in class jacket sitting on bronze tiger


7. Walking through FitzRandolph Gate

At Commencement, I'll walk through FitzRandolph Gate for the first time since the class of 2024 Pre-Rade in my first on-campus semester. Legend has it that students who walk through the gates between the Pre-Rade and Commencement won't graduate in four years. All appears to be on track for me to officially receive my diploma on May 28, but I certainly won't be taking any chances between now and then.

And with that, my undergraduate experience at Princeton has come to a close! I've truly loved my time here, and I'll forever be grateful to Old Nassau.