Total Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,428
Institutional Type: Private
Curricular Flexibility: Somewhat Flexible
Academic Rating: 5
1. Bain & Company
3. MIT LIncoln Laboratory
4. Blackstone Group
1. US Department of State
2. Jane Street
3. Bain & Company
2. Goldman Sachs
4. McKinsey & Company
1. New York City
2. San Francisco
3. Washington, DC
College Scorecard (Early Career): $74,700
EOP (Early Career): $90,700
PayScale (Mid-Career): $139,400
The fourth oldest college in the United States is also an institution whose very name rings of wealth, privilege, and power—Princeton University. A charter member of the so-called Big Three alongside Harvard and Yale, Princeton has the smallest undergraduate population of that elite trio, but that doesn’t stop it from churning out a disproportionate number of leaders and luminaries. Alumni include three current members of the US Supreme Court, eighteen Nobel Prize winners, business giants like Jeff Bezos and Steve Forbes, and countless other influential politicians, actors, writers, and scientific geniuses. We’re hardly breaking new ground here—suffice to say that Princeton is Princeton.
Once noted for its policy of grade deflation, Princeton ended that practice five years ago, and GPAs have been on the rise since, providing a source of relief to current and future undergraduates. The majority of students are required to take a freshman writing seminar, one course in each of epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, historical analysis, and quantitative reasoning as well as two courses in each of literature and the arts, social analysis, and science and technology. All students must demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. Central to a Princeton education is the culminating senior thesis project that is developed through one-on-one mentorship with a faculty member.
An absurdly low 5:1 student to faculty ratio does, as you might expect, translate to tiny class sizes for under graduates. Just a touch over three-quarters of class sections have an enrollment of nineteen or fewer students, and 35 percent have fewer than ten students. Princeton is known for its commitment to undergraduate teaching, and students consistently rate professors as accessible and helpful. The Office of Undergraduate Research, formed in2014, assists Tigers in locating faculty members with whom they can jointly conduct research in the summer or during a regular term. The university offers more than one hundred study abroad programs in forty-three countries; over half of its students take advantage.
As evidenced by the partial list of Princeton alumni, graduates of the university find themselves well received by the worlds of employment and top graduate schools. That goes for recipients of any degree, but the Engineering Department is widely recognized as one of the US's best as is the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
An attractive and historic 500-acre campus plays home to 96 percent of Princeton undergraduates who are guaranteed housing for all four years. Freshmen and sophomores are required to live in one of six Residential College houses, each staffed by a live-in faculty member and full administrative team intent on creating a “strong sense of community, collaboration, and mutual respect, and to support individual initiative and personal growth.” Sports are serious at Princeton as the Tigers field thirty-seven varsity men’s and women’s squads that compete in NCAA Division I, and the school is the all-time leader in Ivy League titles. A sizable 18 percent of the undergraduate students compete at that level, and many others join one of the thirty-seven club sports teams. There are no officially recognized Greek organizations on campus, but that doesn’t mean fraternities and sororities do not exist. In fact, 15-20 percent of the undergraduate population joins a Greek organization, and many more go through the “Bicker” process in an attempt to gain entry into one of the university’s storied and exclusive “Eating Clubs” that are located in mansions on what is known as “The Street.” The 135-member Ivy Club, immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald in This Side of Paradise, is Princeton’s version of a Skull and Bones secret society. For everyone else, there are 300 student organizations that include popular dance troupes, singing groups, fifteen chaplaincies, the Daily Princetonian (one the oldest collegiate papers), and the 500-member American Whig-Cliosophic Society. The oldest debate team in the US, it was actually founded by James Madison. Princeton’s location fifty-five miles from both Philadelphia and New York City means that big-city fun is always only a reasonable car or train ride away.
Career Services at Princeton University has twenty professional staff members (excluding peer career advisors, assistants, and IT staff) who are dedicated to tasks such as pre-law advising, employer engagement, career advising, and alumni engagement. That 263:1 student-to-advisor ratio is superior to the average college featured in this guide. In addition to loads of individualized attention, Princeton also offers large-scale events such as the Fall Hire Tigers Career Fair that features one hundred top employers, and the school’s online Handshake system sees over 42,000applications for 6,500 jobs and internships each year.
An endless stream of impressive data supports the excellent work of the Career Services office. Last year, counselors engaged students in 5,651 one-on-one advising sessions and attracted 11,541 attendees at 396 unique career services events. Close to 3,800 students participated in student-alumni engagement programs, and 46 percent of under graduate participants reported that those sessions helped influence their postgraduate plans. More than 3,100on-campus employer interviews took place each year. Overall, Princeton has recruiting relationships with an astronomical 13,669 employers. Highly personalized career and graduate school advising, along with ample resources and a supportive alumni base, assure graduating Tigers that a multitude of wonderful pathways await them post commencement.
Ninety-four percent of last year's Class achieved their post graduation plans within six months. Full-time employment was the first destination for 72.5 percent of those surveyed with professional, scientific, and technical services being the top industry, attracting 18 percent of graduates. The next most commonly entered industries were finance and insurance (13 percent), information (6 percent), and educational services (5 percent). Companies presently employing hundreds of Tiger alumni include Google, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, Morgan Stanley, IBM, and Facebook. The average salary reported by the 293 graduates entering the business and financial operations field was$73k while the school’s 107 grads holding computer/mathematical positions averaged $107k. Those finding jobs in education, health care, or social services generally made less than $40k. The majority of grads remain in the Northeast and Mid- Atlantic regions, but 8 percent head to international destinations such as China, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.
Last year’s Class saw 17.5 percent of its members head directly to graduate/professional school. Princeton alumni typically choose equally prestigious graduate schools to attend. Members of the Class of 2017 flocked in the largest numbers to Stanford (21), Penn (11), Princeton (11), Harvard (11), Cambridge (11), Columbia (10), and Oxford (10). The most frequently pursued degree was a master’s (40 percent) followed by a PhD (34 percent), medical school (11percent), and law school (5 percent). In recent years, Princeton undergrads have received acceptances into medical school 82-90 percent of the time, more than double the national average.
• “Being between Philadelphia and New York is great. I don’t take advantage of being able to go to those places as much as I should, but being able to hop on a train and go to New York or Philadelphia is really cool.”
• “I really enjoy the calmness and quaintness of the town. It’s really nice to go up off campus to Nassau Street and take a walk.”
• “It’s a bubble which is great because I get cool exposure with a lot of really smart, well-respected, and cool people who’ve done interesting things. That microcosm is super beneficial for my learning.”
• “It’s a bit isolated. For me, if I were in a bigger city there would be more things to distract me from the learning environment.”
• “For people who really like the hustle and bustle of the city, Princeton is definitely not that. It’s very quiet here.”
• “It’s a bubble, which doesn’t let me get exposure to the real-world.”
• “The weather isn’t great in New Jersey. If you’re looking for a warm-weather school, the winters aren’t great. The fall is pretty manageable, and I haven’t experienced the spring yet.”
• “If you’re looking to explore different disciplines. You’re highly encouraged to explore classes outside your
• “The financial aid is fantastic.”
• “The community and alumni network of Princeton is unparalleled, especially at the undergraduate level. Last year when I went to Reunion and it was one of the most fun weekends of my life. It was really cool to see all the alumni from the past 60 years come back and see why they love this place so much.”
• “The variety of extracurriculars and communities that Princeton offers allows people to find their niche and develop their other skills besides their academic skills.”
• “The campus is beautiful and quaint. The campus environment makes the stress that comes with the work here more palatable.”
• “You’re constantly surrounded by people who’re super fun to hang out with and have interesting backgrounds. I’ve learned just as much from the students around me in everyday life as I have from professors and classrooms. I’m constantly learning.”
• “One thing I really like about the nightlife is how it feels regulated. It’s quite predictable and you get to know which days which clubs are open, so you can plan ahead if need be.”
• “It’s fundamentally elitist. It’s a microcosm of explicitly expressed class distinctions and can produce a person that is greedy.” [Socioeconomically, about 3% of students come from the top 0.1% and 17% come from the top 1% while only about 2% come from the bottom 20%.]
• “It’s so small that if you’re interested in something that’s really niche, it’s possible that you’ll be in a department with six people. It can be kind of hard to get a comprehensive education in a department that small.”
• “If you’re looking to party and not work hard. It’s a work hard, play hard environment.”
• “The competitiveness could be a factor that might deter some people.”
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