For many admitted students, Princeton Preview is the official introduction to the University’s campus. Given the program’s goal of offering admitted students an in-depth look at the life of a Princeton student as they make their decision to matriculate, the Board, as we have previously stated, argues for lengthening Preview to create a multi-day program that would allow students more time to socialize with each other and their hosts.
The Preview program in its current form has many positive attributes. In particular, we commend the Princeton Office of Admissions and the Interclub Council for opening the doors of the eating clubs to admitted students. Allowing admitted students to tour the eating clubs offers a balanced view of the Princeton social life and an early look at upperclassmen eating options, giving vital information to students who are deciding whether or not to matriculate.
However, the current length of Preview does not offer the most expansive and informative experience possible for visiting students. Almost all the events for this year’s Preview were scheduled on the first day, while the second day was largely underutilized and uninformative for the visiting students. This resulted in many scheduling conflicts the first night; due to overlapping classes, student group open houses and various panels and speakers, the visiting students were prohibited from learning about the full range of academic opportunities and extracurricular opportunities that they might like to be involved in if they were to matriculate to Princeton.
A Preview lasting multiple days, on the other hand, would allow for programming across more than one day. Classes, student group events, panels, and speakers would be more spaced out, thereby allowing the visiting students to enjoy all that Preview, and Princeton, has to offer. Preview attendees could, for example, attend multiple classes and stop by a variety of student group open houses. The traditional activities fair could be reorganized into several smaller fairs, organized by group category and spread out across the multiple days of Preview, to allow the visiting students to learn about as many extracurricular opportunities as possible. College should be a time of exploration, and Princeton should give admitted students the chance to explore as many opportunities as they can over a multi-day event instead of forcing them to start limiting themselves even before they have arrived on campus in the fall.
Extending Preview would also allow for more interaction between visiting students and their hosts. This interaction is an important aspect of the Preview experience, as it allows Preview attendees to learn about Princeton directly from a current student. Furthermore, for students who end up matriculating to the University, forming a good relationship with their hosts can be an invaluable resource for ascertaining advice over the summer, when they have not yet met their Residential College Advisers, Outdoor Action or Community Action leaders and other upperclass mentors. This is particularly useful for incoming freshmen who do not already know current students, perhaps because they come from schools that do not usually send students to Princeton. Despite these clear benefits, the current Preview format does not allow visiting students to spend an adequate amount of time with their hosts. Most of the meaningful interaction between visiting students and their hosts occurs during a short dinner in the residential dining halls, but these dinners are often cut short in order to make time for the activities fair. This is particularly true for hosts who are also student group leaders, as these student leaders must leave dinner early to set up for their stations at the fair. Extending Preview would therefore allow student hosts — particularly student group leaders — to spend more time with their visiting students throughout Preview.
The University Admissions Office has argued that extending Preview would increase the strain on the already-busy schedules of visiting students, but that argument doesn’t hold up when one considers that our peer institutions hold multi-day campus visits with no issue. Moreover, a shorter Preview might leave Princeton at a disadvantage compared to these peer institutions by giving some the impression that Princeton does not care as much about the experience of newly admitted students. Additionally, a longer program incentivizes students who live further away from campus to attend Preview, whereas they might consider a shorter Preview not to be worth the burden of long-distance travel for such a brief visit. Consequently, the Board reaffirms our suggestion to extend Preview programming across multiple days, thereby bringing our program in line with similar programs at peer institutions.
Preview is an important first step in the undergraduate career of many Princeton students. As such, the Board feels that these suggested changes are vital for improving the image of the University and enhancing the experience of admitted students.
Jeffrey Leibenhaut ’16 abstained from the writing of this editorial
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.