Preview is almost upon us, and all around campus, groans can be heard as students anticipate the arrival of noisy, over-eager prefrosh. The initial enthusiasm that you had when you signed up to be a host begins to wane as the two Preview sessions draw closer and closer. Plans to clean your room and clear an afternoon for ice cream on Nassau rapidly disintegrate. Instead, you start wondering whether it’s too late to take your name off the hosting list, grumbling about having to spend time with a cocky HYP cross-admit that could be better spent cramming for your chem exam (or, better yet, sleeping) and whining about the Street being closed the one weekend you actually have time to go out.
Though you may suspect that your prefrosh probably killed someone to get in (considering the acceptance rates this year), if you really think about it, there are so many reasons for us to be more appreciative of these rocket-building, smallpox-curing, perfect-scoring cyborgs.
As Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Prefrosh present an opportunity like no other to exert your influence on another human being, and it is entirely up to you what to do with your authority. Will you choose to live vicariously through your prefrosh, thrusting upon them all of your own lost hopes and dreams? Or will you swoop in on their talents like a hawk, and try to recruit them to your belly dance/improv/debate team before they’ve even committed to Princeton? Maybe you’ll be the host who deviously recommends the Econ course that almost killed you, assuring your young charge that the lectures you slept through were fascinating and the problem sets straightforward and relevant. Perhaps you’ll let them in on a little-known secret, that the best writing sem papers come from hasty binge-writing at 4 a.m. the day they’re due. Whichever path you choose, you can revel in the heady power of having someone else’s future lie in the palms of your questionably capable hands.
Two words. Never mind, just one — lanyards. Afraid you’re never going to live down that time you wore Crocs to precept (it was a rough night out, okay?)? Not to worry. There are few things more embarrassing than rocking a fluorescent beacon of helplessness around your neck. In addition to making your sweats look chic in comparison, the simple pleasure of watching prefrosh walking around like collared puppies without leashes is second to none.
While the Street may be closed during Preview week, fear not: Your social life need not suffer. Prefrosh are the only people you can actually force to keep you company. Your professor scurries into his office and slams the door every time he sees you coming, and even your parents have begun ignoring your daily Skype calls, but to an eager new admit, you are the world. The bond between prefrosh and host is somewhat unconventional, but notoriously sacred. At last you’ll have someone to walk to the bathroom with (refuse to give the code to the poor kid and she’ll have no choice) and when you insist that she must have dinner with you every night (per protocol, of course) you’ll actually look like you have a friend to eat with.
Prefrosh also have the potential to perk up your romantic prospects if they’ve been looking glum as of late. As a new crop of potential Tigers comes rolling in, you have an entirely new playing field to choose from. These kids have no idea about those embarrassing hookups or the time you sang karaoke at College Night. It’s time to let your inner cougar shine. (We won’t judge.)
Prefrosh can also strengthen your bond with Princeton. As with any other relationship, you resent that Princeton is no longer quite as romantic as it was when it first began courting you, now that it finally has you. However, Preview makes the school you fell in love with look better than ever. Prefrosh mean a return to dining halls that serve filet mignon and creme brulee, free tickets to every show on campus and tables in Frist handing out cool T-shirts and free pens. While the attention may not be directed at you, you can still enjoy it as a celebration of your anniversary with Princeton.
In the end, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we love to hate on prefrosh because we’re scared. With every new crop of admitted students, the glory of our own triumphant admission seems to dim. We worry that this will be just like the time Mommy and Daddy said they were having another baby and they’d love you both the same but you know it’s a lie because why else would the three of them go to Hawaii without you while you were taking finals?!?!?!
Instead, we should remember that these kids — however imprudently — look up to us as older and wiser role models, skillful navigators of a strange new world. We can let them play with our toys for one week, even if they’re doing it all wrong.
(If you are a prefrosh and you’re reading this, I do genuinely think you’re wonderful. And Princeton’s wonderful. And wonderful things were meant to be together.)