In the summer before you’re set to begin your Princeton journey, you’ll get an email that will determine much of the social trajectory of your four years on campus. Mine came on July 19, 2017. I knew it was coming — I’d been awaiting this day for weeks. Finally, it pinged my inbox at 11:42 a.m., as I was standing in line at Costco with my sister and mom. I anxiously opened it to find my residential college assignment, dorm room number and the names of my three roommates enclosed.
I didn’t even finish reading through my new roommates’ names before I Google-searched pictures of “Mathey College at Princeton.” Mathey is one of Princeton’s six residential colleges. In my totally objective and not at all biased opinion, it’s the best. Other than its sister Rockefeller College, it’s the furthest north on campus. (That means easy access to Firestone Library and all the delicious snacks on Nassau Street). It’s also designed entirely in the classic Collegiate Gothic style, meaning you’re guaranteed to spend your first two years living in an actual castle. Our color is maroon, and our mascot is Mathey the Moose.
Though I don’t live there anymore — I chose to move into upperclassman housing when I joined my eating club — I cherish the memories of my time in Mathey. More than its location, architecture or adorable mascot, Mathey is a community of interesting, kind people. The professional staff in the residential college is always available to support Mathey students and stays in touch even after you’ve left the walls of your college. Mathey-wide events bring the community together each week, and the communal dining hall means the college quickly becomes a collection of familiar faces. (The gear each college gives out at the beginning of each semester also means you’ve automatically got clothes to match with your best friends). Princeton’s residential colleges are touted as a way to make the over 5,200 member student body feel small, and Mathey certainly did that for me. Even now, when I choose to eat in a residential college dining hall, I almost always pick Mathey’s!
Your residential college is first presented to you as a, well, residential assignment. Even before you arrive on campus, though, you’ll discover it’s more than that. In Mathey, I found a community that I still draw upon today for companionship and inspiration. And, while Mathey is obviously the best, that same sense of home is present in each of the six colleges.