During the summer, members of the Class of 2021 filled out orientation surveys designed to place them in one of three programs: Outdoor Action, Community Action, or Dialogue and Difference in Action. Some incoming students answered the survey questions in a way that would allow them to match with the program of their choice, thereby "playing the system."

Students filled out two surveys: the first on the Your Path to Princeton orientation website and the second sent in an email to students in July.  

The first survey, which assessed students’ willingness to skip showers and sleep in tents, was utilized to separate students better suited for OA from students better suited for CA or DDA. For example, a question might show three sliding scales where participants had a total of 100 points to assign to sleeping indoors, sleeping in a cabin, and sleeping outdoors, according to their preference. 

The second survey was more detailed than the first, helping to place students in specific trips within the broader orientation programs. 

Many students who were already familiar with the intricacies of each trip utilized the survey to ensure placement into the program of their choice.

“I definitely tried to make it so that I was assigned to OA,” said Kavya Chaturvedi ’21. “I tried to make it so that I was assigned to a specific backpacking trip because I knew that I wanted to go backpacking and I didn’t want to go kayaking or canoeing or biking or anything.”

“I knew that I didn’t want to be in the outdoors for a week,” explained Ana Sofia Abufele ’21 about her conscious decision to target her answers toward CA rather than OA. “I genuinely don’t like the outdoors so I was being honest in choosing things that were more CA than OA.”

Other freshmen reported similar concerns at the prospect of sleeping outdoors for four consecutive nights. 

“I knew I didn’t want to be sleeping in the woods for a week and I wanted to help people so I chose specific characteristics that went with CA,” German Arrocha ’21 noted.

Attempts to target survey responses to a particular program did not always work; many students expressed disappointment when their orientation assignment failed to match up with what they had hoped to receive. Upon being notified of their respective placements, many students in various Class of 2021 GroupMe chats expressed a mix of joy and disappointment with their trip assignments.

Orientation Programs Coordinator Lexy Parrill was not available for comment.

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