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#PrincetonPreview: Advice to My Prefrosh Self

The prefrosh are here, which means the semester's almost over and, in my case, my Princeton experience. It's crazy to think that just four years ago, I was deciding whether Princeton was the place for me. So with the nostalgia kicking in big time, I spent some time thinking about advice I would give to my prefrosh self, and asked my fellow bloggers to contribute their thoughts too. Good luck, future Tigers!

Talk to current students and get to know your fellow prefrosh! Aside from exploring the beautiful campus and consuming all of the free food everywhere during Princeton Preview, what made me most excited about going to Princeton was meeting current students and other prefrosh. They were all so friendly, interesting, and easy to talk to, and I couldn't wait to return to campus and get to know more of them over the next four years!

—Serena Zheng '17

Congratulations! You were really hoping for this, and it happened, so you should really celebrate. Go hiking every week, or read 12 books over the summer, or watch all of Sherlock again. Just remember to spend time with family. It's going to be much much tougher for them than it is going to be for you.

Speaking of which, the next few years are going to be incredibly fun, very stimulating, but also challenging at many times. And when that happens, remember that you are extremely special and talented. And sometimes that may not be reflected in a letter or a number, but you are no less special.

On a more tangible note, take the classes that you are interested in, not the classes that you think you should be taking. Well, except Writing Sem, you have to take that. Explore: what you should be doing most at this point is stimulating yourself. 

And apply for the Bridge Year Program; there is no reason not to.

—Avaneesh Narla '17

My best advice to my prerosh self? Well, my best advice would probably be what I have learned about extracurriculars and balance here: that I can realistically engage in three things that I love at Princeton. You'll be bombarded (in the most fun and wonderful way!) with so many clubs and opportunities to try at first—and I definitely enjoyed trying a bit of everything during my first few months at Princeton. But I've found that it's ultimately most meaningful to engage fully with my schoolwork and two more major activities each semester. This, for me, has been most rewarding and has helped me define my priorities - and also leaves some free time for relaxation and friends! I would also say that taking a full day off and leaving campus to spend a fun day in New York City or Philadelphia with friends is sometimes the very best thing, even when you have a heavy work load and it feels irresponsible. I've realized the importance of taking a true break and have found that a day off is often just what I need to reset and to be committed to working hard again for the rest of the week. On a more practical and immediate level, definitely buy a (very) warm winter coat and quality rain coat—sooner than later! Take a lot of pictures—you (and your friends) will be very happy later. And while it's always important to think about the future, don't spend so much time planning for the next thing that you're not fully present here at Princeton. You'll get the most out of your Princeton experience if you see your time here as more than just a stepping stone. Lastly, don't wait as long as I did to realize how delicious the ice cream in the dining halls is! Congratulations, and welcome to Princeton!

—Makenna May '17

Makenna freshman year
Freshman Makenna with her roommates

 

One of the things I wish I had focused more on during my college process was researching some of the specific programs that the school offered that interested me. While some people come into college pretty undecided (which is totally fine!), I came in knowing I wanted a biology degree and to probably go to veterinary school. Of course my path can change, but I wish I had taken some time to see what types of biology classes the school offered, and if there was any animal care experience available for me to pursue while taking classes. Even if I didn’t actually do anything I had intended, it would have been helpful for me to do a bit of research, just so I could have a better idea of what opportunities were available to me before stepping foot on campus. Therefore, I highly suggest looking into any and all departments that sound interesting, just to get a sense of what opportunities you might have when you get to Princeton. Plus, it gives you a list of things to get excited about for when you get to campus.

—Michelle Greenfield '18

Michelle with tiger mascot
Michelle at Princeton Preview 2014

 

They say hindsight is 20/20. Fitting, I think. (Haha. 2020, get it? Ignore my bad puns; I'm still mid-thesis.) Anyway, it's safe to say that after almost four years here, I'm starting to see things pretty clearly.

I didn't really have a prefrosh experience at Princeton, but I do remember that when I first set foot on this campus freshman year, I thought I had a very clear sense of who I was and the things I would enjoy doing. While there's nothing wrong with that  (it's mostly a good thing, in my opinion) I think it led me to inadvertently limit myself to certain experiences. I did what I knew myself to be good at and didn't jump at the chance to venture into new activities. But college is a perfect opportunity to explore all the things you're even remotely passionate about or interested in, and that's something I realize more and more with each passing day. Soon, I won't have all these options available to me in one place. 

So, dear prefrosh, my advice to you is the same that I give myself every day now: go for it. Even if you find out it's not your thing or you fail spectacularly at it, embrace the chance to learn something new about yourself. 

I didn't try out for the dance group that is now such a huge part of my Princeton experience until the spring of my sophomore year. I went to auditions to support a friend and ended up having so much fun that I came back twice to really try it out. My "prefrosh self" liked to dance, but had never done it seriously and didn't think she could be a dancer. I was so nervous about failing that I almost never went for it. Now, I can barely remember my life here without BAC.

So, to recap, I'm going to hit you with all the clichés: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." "You never know until you try." "Just do it." They're all true and all very useful. Consider holding on to them for at least your four years here.

—Tomi Johnson '16