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What went wrong: Princeton admissions makes rare statement on changing application

visitor's center
The Undergraduate Admissions Visitor Center.
Zachary Shevin / The Daily Princetonian

The following content is purely satirical and entirely fictional. This article is part of The Daily Princetonian’s annual joke issue, which you can find in full here. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet!

Princeton University has garnered a reputation of holding tight to its traditions, leaving many in shock when its application was released and, for the first time in decades, included significant changes. In its latest message to prospective members of the Class of 2025, the Princeton Admissions Committee explained its reasoning for changing the longstanding “favorites” section on the application. 


“After an emotional reflection on the past admissions season — and after meditating on the worst application we’ve ever received, rife with pandering and pseudointellectualism — we have decided to make the questions so boring that students cannot possibly ruin them,” the committee wrote in an open letter. 

In a live-streamed reading of the letter on Zoom, Dean Karen Richardson ’93 wept as she described the application. “This student put ‘Shirley Tilghman #girlboss’ as their favorite source of inspiration,” she said, “an answer so plainly insincere that the woman reading the application left to work for Yale.” 

“The same student,” she continued, “cited ‘Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities’ as their favorite book, claiming that they were enraptured by the prose of Section 1.61-3 on ‘Drugs,’ ‘Alcoholic Beverages,’ and ‘Smoking.”’ 

“But that’s not all,” said Dean Richardson, visibly disgusted. “That’s not all.” The student in question suggested not only that “Admission” was their favorite movie, that “Old Nassau” performed by The Princeton Footnotes was their favorite recording, and that the opening sentence of “This Side of Paradise” was their favorite quotation — the student also confessed that their favorite keepsake was “the shoes I wore for my Princeton tour,” as they had “danced upon the sacred pavement outside Hoagie Haven.” 

At this point in the meeting, many audience members turned off their Zoom cameras, feeling too embarrassed to show their faces after hearing about the deeply distressing applicant. One admissions officer accidentally left on his microphone, allowing his broken wailing to resonate through the virtual space. On the condition of anonymity, another officer on the call told The Daily Princetonian that she had never heard such agony — and she was present when Whitman ran out of chicken pot pie in August ’07. 

And yet agony was nothing compared to Richardson’s mute horror as she shared a final detail from the application: the student had declared that “” was their favorite website. 


Committee members on the call held a moment of silence to commemorate the time they would never get back from reading the application. Dean Richardson turned her camera off for this portion, returning into view a moment later with her eyes swollen and her previously dark brown hair streaked with gray. 

“The Admissions team has screened a series of questions,” she whispered, voice hoarse, “and we have challenged officers to devise potentially offensive or pathetic answers. Our current questions represent a selection of the only questions which, in a trial of 24 past and present officers, were unable to be butchered.” 

High school applicants will now be asked questions about which skills they would like to learn in college and how they would commit to public service on campus. 

“We hope,” Richardson told the ‘Prince,’ “to never again see such garbage.”

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