It's typical for first-year students to adapt quickly to their new surroundings within the first few weeks of arriving at Princeton.
Friendly, Inclusive Communities
As the parent of an incoming first-year student, you will likely experience the normal pangs of separation when your son or daughter leaves home. But rest assured that from the day incoming students set foot on campus, they are greeted and welcomed with open arms by faculty, staff, and administrators, and will find a friendly, inclusive community ready to support them and eager to get to know them.
As a first-year student, your student will live in one of Princeton’s six Residential Colleges—comfortable communities with opportunities for living and learning experiences that support and contribute to their education and identity at Princeton.
Each college—a cluster of dormitories with a dining hall, lounges, and seminar and study rooms—has a variety of intellectual, cultural, social, and recreational activities, with regular interaction with faculty fellows and advisers. The colleges promote close ties and friendships and contribute to the individual learning and personal growth outside of the classroom that is such an important part of the Princeton experience.
Residential College Assignments
All first-year students are assigned randomly to a Residential College and to a room and roommates by the Residential College staff and the Undergraduate Student Housing Office. As much as possible, attempts are made to match your son or daughter with roommates according to lifestyles and habits. Many rooming arrangements require a period of adjustment, but in time friendships usually evolve. The college staff will with work students to resolve differences if they arise.
In the spring, first-year students will select their own rooming groups and choose rooms in their Residential College for the sophomore year through a lottery known as “Room Draw.”
Guidance for Academics and Personal Matters
Each Residential College has a broad range of people who offer advice and help to freshmen. The college community includes a master, who is a senior faculty member; dean; director of studies, director of student life; college administrator; faculty fellows and advisers; and Residential College Advisers (RCAs), who are upperclassmen.
Academic advising for first-year students and sophomores is based at the colleges. First-year students are assigned a faculty academic adviser, who is also a fellow of the college. The dean and director of studies are responsible for the academic lives of students and intellectual and cultural programming in the college. They spend time exploring with students both academic opportunities as well as questions or problems related to courses or in choosing majors, for example.
The master of the college is a senior member of the faculty who assists with academic and personal matters. Directors of student life, college administrators, faculty fellows, and resident graduate students interact regularly with students, and the RCAs—juniors and seniors who live in the dorms—know about almost every aspect of undergraduate life and provide critical information and support.
Meal Plans and Campus Cafés
Every student who lives in a Residential College is required to purchase a meal plan. First-year students are required to have the Unlimited Meal Plan and sophomores select one of three options—the unlimited plan, the Block 235 plan (235 meals each semester or 15 per week) or the Block 190 plan (190 meals each semester or 13 per week). Students with a meal plan may eat in any Residential College or the Center for Jewish Life, a certified kosher dining facility.
In addition to the residential dining halls, meals and snacks are available at several campus locations, including the Woodrow Wilson Café, Chancellor Green Café, EQuad Café, and Genomics Café for self-service meals; and the Frist Campus Center for a lively mix of eateries. You can check the hours, see menus, and get specific information for each on the Campus Dning website.
After the dining halls close
Since students may not always be able to eat during the regular dining hall hours, they can use their meal plan to buy a late lunch, Monday through Friday from 2:00 PM to 3:45 PM, and a late dinner, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM, at the Frist Campus Center Food Gallery.
They can also order a bag lunch, Lunch-to-Go, Monday through Friday from residential dining halls and some retail locations. The Meal Exchange Program, administered by the Inter-Club Council and Dining Services, allows students to enjoy meals with friends at eating clubs without spending extra money.
Arts, Shopping and Restaurants
The town of Princeton has a vibrant downtown and business community, and is a destination for the arts, dining, shopping, and events. Along Nassau Street and on the side streets that intersect it, you’ll find clothing stores such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, and Barbour; jewelers, bookstores, barbers, and other services and goods.
There is no shortage of restaurants and pubs to visit, from Alchemist & Barrister, Winberie’s, and Triumph Brewing Company to PJ’s Pancake House and Hoagie Haven, long-time favorites of students and residents.
Princeton is within easy reach of two major urban centers, New York to the north, and Philadelphia to the south. Connecting them is an excellent network of buses, trains, and highways, with bus stops and stations located adjacent to campus.