As an admitted student, you may know that many a meme in Princeton Memes for Preppy AF Teens, the student-generated Facebook group dedicated to sharing mood-lifting JPEGs, are devoted to bursting the bubble of “prefroshian” optimism (the mind of a child is truly wonderful). By being real about everything from precept participation and eating club stereotypes to grading on curves and who is really the best Ivy, we Preppy AF Teens find solace in the public acknowledgment of our many woes. Aside from keeping tabs on the University experience through our beloved Facebook group — where you’ll soon discover our love for Ted Cruz-related slant rhyme — I’m here to share some other “memes” of wisdom for incoming students, relying largely on its alternate definition (yes, I looked it up) for my continued usage of the word.
The word ‘meme’ was first used in 1976 by British scientist Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene.” Dawkins’ newly coined term referred to “an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation,” taking its root from the Greek “mimēma” and adopting the monosyllabic structure of the word “gene.” (Thanks, Google!)
Now that we’re all on the same page, here are some of my Princeton memes of wisdom, which, although less comical than more familiar internet memes, will give you some ideas for how to get a happy and healthy start to your Princeton career.
1. Go to events.
Regardless of how much homework you have, you should always let yourself take an hour out of your day to go to whatever event your friends are begging you to attend, whether it’s a belly dance show, a lecture on private prisons, or an arch sing in 30-degree weather. In the long run, these experiences will be more memorable than 250 pages of Descartes, and let’s be honest — you’d probably spend at least an hour being distracted while at the library anyway.
2. Build a network of mentors.
Whether it’s your OA leader, freshman year RCA, or someone you met while fighting over the last free hoagie at a study break, be sure to put the time into making those connections count. It’s always nice to have people outside of your immediate friend group that you can go to for advice and support, especially upperclassmen, and your RCAs and OA/CA leaders love to have frosh friends. Having a solid support network is extremely important during your time at Princeton and beyond!
3. Take personal days.
I’ve found that taking a break — a real one, not just grabbing free bubble tea and drinking it while writing a lab report — helps me to feel like a normal college student every once in a while and gives me more energy once I get back to writing my papers. Not only will your peers understand what you’re going through, but there are also ample mental health resources on campus that encourage students to know their limits and seek help (or Netflix) as needed.
My most important extracurricular activity on campus is a student volunteer group run through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. As a Project Leader for El Centro, I work with an amazing leadership team to coordinate a group of 50 volunteers who travel to Trenton every weekday to teach a free English class to Spanish-speaking immigrants. You’ll hear time and time again that getting out of the Orange Bubble is the most valuable thing you can do, and I’m here to say the same. Be sure to check out the Pace Center’s activities fair to get involved with a volunteer group!
5. Be real with yourself about course selection.
If you don’t know about our distribution requirement system yet, I’m here to tell you one thing: Don’t jump the gun trying to fill your distribution requirements with classes you won’t really enjoy. It’s better to wait a semester or two so that you can fill your requirements with classes you’ll really like. On that note, you also don’t want to leave them all for senior year, so talk to your Peer Academic Adviser and the friendly folks in your Residential College Office for more advice on managing course loads, meting out distribution requirements, deciding on a major, and more.
6. Take advantage of freshman year.
Finally, be sure to make the most of your freshman year. That not only means enjoying late meal, which will be taken away from you all too soon, but also trying out as many clubs and activities as you can. Make yourself go to any audition or open house that you think you might be remotely interested in — if nothing else , you’ll meet interesting people along the way!
Congratulations, prefrosh, and welcome to Princeton!