In light of COVID-19, this year's Princeton Preview, the annual opportunity for high school students admitted to the University to experience two days on campus, was canceled and then moved online.
While admitted students are not able to mingle on campus, the Admissions team quickly put together an extensive Princeton Preview operation online, allowing potential students to meet current students, hear from faculty, and see what a day is like at the University.
Though most admitted students who spoke with The Daily Princetonian were certainly disappointed that they could not attend Preview in person, they found the panels and website engaging and helpful.
“I’m glad they still tried to make it online and make the most of the situation, but I was definitely disappointed that we couldn’t go in person,” said Jasmine Zhang ’24 from Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Cai ’24, a prospective Woodrow Wilson School concentrator from Rhode Island, echoed this sentiment.
“It was a little disappointing to not have the chance to meet potential classmates and also just get a taste of student life,” he said.
But Cai has enjoyed Preview site features like “Tiger Talks” with current students.
“It’s certainly been helpful in the sense that they did a nice job having a bunch of different areas where if you wanted to, you can go out of your way to learn more,” he said.
Associate Dean of Strategic Communications Mary Buckley explained that the goal of transferring Preview online was to convey as much of the feeling of being on campus as possible.
“We were really thinking strategically about how we could make it an immersive and engaging program moving it to the digital format,” she said. “We wanted to showcase the wonderful community that is Princeton and the undergraduate student body, particularly the great personality and vibrancy of the place.”
Buckley is pleased with student engagement with their weekly newsletter, panels, and video content, which Buckley sees as a great advantage for all future outreach.
“It really made us think quickly on our feet in terms of producing content and we had to produce a lot of great video content at a rapid pace and I see that as a great benefit for us,” she said.
Another benefit of a virtual Preview is that students who otherwise would not have been able to attend Preview can get a taste of the University. Ananya Grover ’24 was pleased with the setup because she would not have been able to travel from her home in New Delhi, India, to come to an in-person Preview.
“I wasn’t planning to attend Preview at all,” she said. “So just the fact that it’s virtual and I can at least take part in some of the activities and talk to people is pretty great for me.”
However, she still misses some panels because of her time difference. Another downside of virtual preview for her is that “awkward silences on Zoom can get really awkward.”
Tejas Gupta ’24 attended last year’s Princeton Preview before participating in the Novogratz Bridge Year Program in India. He feels that, although this year’s Preview gives a good overview, these students are not getting a sense of what it is like to be a University student.
Reflecting upon attending a class at Preview last year, he said, “It really felt like I was learning along with students, which I feel like gives you a better idea of teaching in Princeton, what a class is like, than hearing it from the Dean of the Engineering School.”
“The one thing that is very unfortunate is that current admitted students aren't able to meet the type of people they’re gonna go to class with and spend four years with,” Gupta noted.
One remedy to this issue is a new app called Admeeted, which allows admitted students to video call in small groups for a set period of time. Students can gather based on interests or majors. As of April 20, over 6,000 students from more than 20 colleges were using the app.
“It’s cool, I like it. It was a nice way to meet the people,” said Jasmine Zhang about Admeeted.
Though students are disappointed that they cannot meet in person now, they remain hopeful that they will be able to in the fall.
“The added benefit of being able to connect with classmates helps, but we’ll all see each other at some point, hopefully,” Cai said.