An admission rate less than 10 percent may seem low to applicants for undergraduate degrees, but it’s safety-school territority compared to the hurdle that students must overcome to study at Princeton as exchange students. Only 17 visiting students entered the University this year, all admitted through exchange programs between Princeton and their home schools.
Oxford University, the Institute of Political and Social Sciences (Sciences Po) in Paris, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Ecole Centrale Paris, the University of Hong Kong and the Berlin Consortium are the only universities that have active exchange programs with Princeton.
“All exchanges must be kept in balance so that we send out as many students as we receive,” Nancy Kanach, senior associate dean of the college, said in an e-mail. “Each school puts forward nominations that are vetted at the home institution and then sent forward to the partner institution. The final admission decision rests with the receiving institution.”
All exchanges are designed to provide foreign students with access to Princeton’s vast academic resources and Princeton students with unique learning experiences abroad that they might not be able to get without an exchange, Kanach added.
Students studying at Princeton through exchanges said they have enjoyed their stints at Old Nassau.
Currently taking four architecture classes, in addition to a design studio workshop, Victor Leung ’11 highlighted the quality of education he is receiving here.
“Professors are very good here. I could never get that [kind of] attention [from] my professors in Hong Kong,” Leung said.
Oxford is known worldwide for the close faculty interactions developed through its tutorials. But Paul Rosefield ’11, an Oxford student who matriculated here for the fall semester, said Princeton’s independent work was his “most intellectually rewarding experience.”
“In my final year at Oxford, I’ll have to write a dissertation, but there’s no preparation for this such as there is at Princeton, so it was very useful for me to have some practice in doing independent research and even writing a paper of that length,” Rosefield explained.
Kristyna Pelikanova ’12, from Sciences Po in Paris, came to Princeton to fulfill a graduation requirement for her home school. Though she considered other British and American locations, one of the reasons she chose Princeton was the “level of autonomy and the availability of professors,” she said in e-mail.
“I appreciate ... the great pluri-disciplinarity of the U.S. educational system, and the possibility to explore other fields than the academic one,” Pelikanova added. “I also think that students at Princeton are given great opportunities during breaks and holidays. There is nothing like this in France. At Princeton, the approach to education is very global.”
In contrast to Rosefield and Leung, Pelikanova’s favorite aspect of Princeton is not academic, but social.
“All the classes are great, but I have always appreciated the most the interactions I had with other students: during conferences, in the corridors or simply enjoying dinner together and leading discussion on many different issues,” she said.
Leung also said he had a positive opinion of Princeton students.
“I really love the helpfulness and friendliness of people here,” he said. “It’s better than Hong Kong.”
While testing the social scene and exploring the academic waters, Rosefield and Pelikanova said they also enjoyed exploring outside interests.
“There were so many things to do at Princeton, and I don’t think, by any means, I took advantage of all of them, but I tried to do as much as I could, and this was certainly one of the best bits of the exchange,” Rosefield said. Rosefield was a sports writer for The Daily Princetonian during his exchange.
Pelikanova said she is also enjoying her time outside of classes.
“I am currently [a] member of three or four associations at Princeton — mostly related to my studying interests, but also a cultural one, and a sport team — which is pretty difficult [to do] in France, where you simply don’t have time nor enough financial support to do it,” Pelikanova said.
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