No two people have the same path to Princeton. If you’d told me four years ago that I’d be halfway through my third year at the University, I would’ve told you to get lost—I certainly thought there was no path to Princeton for me during my junior year of high school. Like many of you, I worked hard both in school and outside of it, but I didn’t come from a community that regularly sent students to highly selective colleges, let alone Princeton.
My favorite high school teacher asked me in the middle of junior year where I was thinking of applying to school. I listed off a few in-state schools—which were great options for me—however, she wanted me to cast a wider net. Now, I won’t claim that my decision to apply to Princeton was that simple, but with her guidance, she opened my eyes to schools that I hadn't dreamed of.
I stumbled upon this very blog one Friday afternoon as I dutifully began to widen my college search. I realized, after going through pages and pages of it, that I could see myself at Princeton. Excited, I told my dad we needed to go visit—and we did. We packed up the Camry at 5:30 a.m. the following morning and made the four-hour trek to Central Jersey.
We hopped on an Orange Key tour not long after arriving, and I remember being particularly awed by one building: Little Hall, a dormitory that is a part of Mathey residential college. We only passed by it briefly, but our guide told us it was, ironically, the largest undergraduate dorm on campus. It looked like a castle, and I couldn’t imagine how cool it must be to live there as a student. Imagine my overjoyed shock when I was randomly assigned to live there my first year! My dad talked our entire drive home about how impressed he’d been with Princeton.
Just a few short months later, I was submitting my application the day before the deadline. I remember going to pick up my cat—orange and white, like a tiger—to hug him for good luck. The wait was agonizing. I must’ve logged onto my admission portal a hundred times before the release date, hoping someone would accidentally upload my decision early. In the week leading up to release day, I was so excited I couldn’t sleep—I ultimately ended up with the flu because of it. On the day decisions were released, I told my parents I wanted to open it alone. They acquiesced, and I went around a corner to sit and open my online letter.
I can’t tell you what the moment is like, clicking the link to see a tiger appear. Literally, I can’t because I briefly blacked out from the shock (and probably the flu). I can tell you though, what it’s like to jump around on the couch and scream with your family just minutes after. I still sometimes can’t believe it happened to me—I’ll be walking to class, or to my eating club, and wonder just how my life brought me here.