A Day in the Life of a Princeton Student During Reading Period

December 4, 2020
Mia Salas

This is now my fifth reading period at Princeton, but it’s the first one that I’ve been at home for. What is this so-called “reading period,” you may ask? All written work-- papers, projects, etc.-- are due on Dean’s Date at 5 p.m., and then exam period begins after that. So between the time that classes end and written work is due, we have about two weeks to prepare. This year, classes ended on Tuesday, November 24, and Dean’s Date is Tuesday, December 8. Typically on Dean's Date, there's a huge celebration on campus hosted by USG (Undergraduate Student Government) with food and giveaways. Last year, we got cozy blankets and we had various delicious treats from Nina's Waffles, Milk n' Cookies, Dunkin Donuts, Tot Cart, and more, with music by the Princeton Band! 

Personally, I love reading period. Although it can definitely be stressful with papers and exams coming up, Princeton gives you plenty of time to get your work done. When I’m on campus, I study with friends at Firestone Library, attend self-care study breaks and stay up late chatting with my roommate. Princeton really cares about your mental health and well-being, and they understand that you need a sufficient break between the end of classes and the beginning of exams to rest, relax and prepare. And I definitely look forward to celebrating with the Princeton community at 5 p.m. on Dean's Date. 

Now that we’re all caught up, what does reading period look like at home? Though we won't be eating Nina's Waffles on December 8 in McCosh Courtyard together, there are some things that will stay the same. Here’s what my typical day looks like: 

9:30 a.m.: Wake up and post on Instagram (I run social media accounts for local small businesses).

10:00 a.m.: Cook and eat breakfast, typically eggs and toast or a bagel with cream cheese. 

10:30 a.m.: Look up primary sources on Firestone Library online for my paper on Media Lengua, a mixed language in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. This is for my course, “Languages of the Americas.” The databases have just what I need to gather research for my paper! 

11:30 a.m.: Take a break to pet my cat and give her fresh water. 

11:45 a.m.: Start working on my paper for “Writing About Family.” I decide to write on the memoir "Men We Reaped" by Jesmyn Ward. I’m curious about how ideas of home interact with physical descriptions of houses in the text...my thesis is TBD! 

12:15 p.m.: I have somewhat of a thesis for the “Writing About Family” paper, so I move on to brainstorm for my creative project in “Jane Austen: Then and Now.” I’m creating an Instagram account from the perspective of Mary Crawford, a character in Mansfield Park. I start planning out all of my Instagram posts and captions. 

1:00 p.m.: Lunch time! I eat leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, and after I’m full on mashed potatoes and turkey, I take a break and FaceTime my friends to check-in on how they’re doing during reading period. 

2:00 p.m.: Ten pages of my Junior Paper or a 10-page prospectus are due on Dean’s Date, so I get started on that next. If you haven’t picked up on it by now, my concentration is English, so I have a LOT of papers. I’m writing my Junior Paper on nameless female protagonists in literature. 

2:45 p.m.: One of my brothers, who’s a first-year at TCNJ (The College of New Jersey), joins me now after his classes. We write and study together for a little while, but we’re mostly just talking, laughing and having a good time. He’s become my new study buddy! 

3:30 p.m.: I hop on a Zoom call with my team, Princeton Cheer, to study and chat with them. Normally, during reading period, we book a room in a building on campus to study together, but Zoom works too. 

4:15 p.m.: Time to get ready for work! I picked up a job at J.Crew near my house during the holiday season to make some extra money. I typically work 5-9:30 p.m. on weekdays and longer hours on weekends. I grab a coffee at Gloria Jeans nearby before my shift.

9:45 p.m.: I get home from work, chat with my family and shower.

10:30 p.m.: Finally, Netflix time! Right now, I’m watching The Queen’s Gambit, but I’m also keeping up with the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu. 

12:30 a.m.: Bedtime :) 

Reading period surely look different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to stay connected, get your work done and make time for self care. Still have some questions about reading period, papers, and finals at Princeton? Feel free to email me!