- AdministratorOctober 31, 2020 at 3:25 pm
This Sunday, November 1st at 1-2pm EST/10-11am PST, Princeton sophomore and Squired mentor Eesha Agarwal will be available to help answer any and all questions you may have about the application process, as well as her own experience studying Computer Science at Princeton.
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:27 pm
Hi all! I’m Eesha, and I’m currently a sophomore at Princeton University. I’m concentrating in Computer Science on the BSE (Bachelors of Science in Engineering) Track, with certificates in Entrepreneurship and Statistics and Machine Learning.
I’m extremely excited to be here and to help answer any and all questions you may have about essays, interviews, college lists, standardized testing, or any other component of the application process. I’m also more than happy to talk about my own experience with the same as well as at university. Ask me anything!
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 2:02 pm
Also, just as general advice for seniors currently going through the application process:
Take a deep breath: As is, these are unprecedented times. In addition to that, senior year can get really overwhelming because of the combination of having to go through the college application process while simultaneously balancing your academics and extracurricular activities, and it’s very easy to let the stress get to you. Don’t let rejections get to you, and stay on track, and you will end up at the university which is the best fit for you
Begin early: Even if you don’t plan on applying EA/ED, start working on your application early. Plan out the different steps you will have to undertake: everything from making a list of colleges to writing up your Activities List to seeking letters of recommendation to your actual essays. The earlier you make decisions about which teachers to ask, which activities to put on there, which universities to apply for, the more organized and less stressful your application process will be. Most importantly, college essays require a great deal of reflection and thought, and hence typically also go through multiple iterations. Given this, give yourself time to be able to go through multiple drafts and different ideas.
Don’t compare yourself: Looking at things like Chance Me forums and comparing your profile to that of previously accepted students does nothing for your actual application. Remember that no university is looking to fill their student body with 1600 identical students: each student is unique and brilliant in their own way, and universities see and account for that. It’s not worth it or helpful to try to turn your profile into someone else’s. The universities you are applying to want to get to know <b style=”background-color: transparent; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit;”>you: what you are passionate about, what drives you, what has shaped you, and what aspirations you have. Different things work for different students. Remember that as long as you are authentic in what you convey and position it well, you will find a university that is a great fit for you.
Seek out a mentor: When I was applying, I came across IvyApps, where I was able to find multiple application essays from students at the universities I aspired to make it to. Reading those essays gave me a great deal of reassurance and reminded me that I didn’t need to worry about writing a pathbreaking essay: an honest, compelling story would be enough. But in addition to that, one of the biggest reasons being part of Squired is meaningful to me is because I was fortunate enough to have an incredible mentor guiding me throughout high school, facilitating me with everything from extracurricular activities to helping edit essays to advice on school selection to comforting me when I got rejected from my dream school. The college applications process is undoubtedly a tough and complicated one, with many moving parts and a lot less structure than I was used to in high school. Having someone to guide me through it all and to facilitate me with the different aspects didn’t just enhance my application and candidature, but was also a very reassuring experience. A mentor who has been through what you are going through can not only facilitate you technically and empower you to reach the best schools, but can also empathize with the specific difficulties of the process and help you through them, from interview anxiety to crafting an honest, compelling story for your common app, to tailoring your college list basis your specific interests and passions. I would, without a question, not have made it to half the universities I did were it not for my mentor, and I wholeheartedly recommend seeking out someone like that.
- MemberOctober 31, 2020 at 4:18 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:58 pm
I took IGCSE and IB Computer Science during high-school, and partook in a couple of projects — including an internship with a health tech firm for the treatment of Vertigo, a research project under a professor from HMC, and the Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics — which involved Computer Science. For my Princeton application specifically, I mentioned these experiences on my Activities List, but spoke only tangentially about them during the essays — my essays were more focused on the personal side of things than the academic, and these activities, if mentioned at all, were only included as part of another narrative.
SerinaGuestOctober 31, 2020 at 4:04 pm
My experience at Princeton has been incredibly positive — while, due to the COVID-19 situation, I did only get to spend about 6-7 months on campus, it was a wonderful experience in terms of the classes, the people, and co-curricular activities. At the same time, there was undoubtedly an adjustment period for the transition from highschool to university, as well as the cultural transition of moving to a new country altogether, as is expected. As for my major specifically, the experience has been as I expected when applying: CS at Princeton is quite heavy on theory, but the classes are very exciting nonetheless. Coursework in college is expectedly more intense than that in high-school, but the breadth and variety of courses offered is undoubtedly unmatched.
MdGuestNovember 1, 2020 at 1:30 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:41 pm
- AdministratorNovember 1, 2020 at 2:04 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 2:11 pm
Know exactly why you’re applying to this university, specifically, and be prepared with creative questions about the school. Elaborate, always — show them what you’re passionate about and be prepared with anecdotes to support your descriptions of your strengths, weaknesses, failures, and triumphs. Just be yourself, and you’ll be absolutely fine.
ThuyGuestNovember 1, 2020 at 12:21 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:33 pm
I think the most important thing is to choose teachers who you believe best understand your work and you as a student and a person. I had requested my incredibly kind physics and computer science teachers to write my Letters of Recommendation because I thought they were the two teachers who had witnessed me at my best as a student. I believe that it is important for you to choose a teacher who can communicate what makes you stand out as a student, and can speak to your character and personality: this is entirely my personal view, but I think it could help an admissions committee to be able to get a holistic sense of the kind of person they’re accepting to be a part of their campus, community, and classroom. I think what also helps is for your letter to not be boilerplate: if there are teachers who you think can mention specific anecdotes or observations to back up what they say about you, I think that’s really helpful.
Ultimately, what matters most is asking a teacher you think will be happy to support you in your endeavour, and knows you well as a student.
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 12:58 pm
- MemberOctober 31, 2020 at 4:34 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:53 pm
Hi Ava, I’m beyond happy to be here and to be able to answer your questions!
The workload at university is undoubtedly extensive: there is a lot of work, and consistent work. Academic and extracurricular commitments combined do end up taking a great deal of my time. However, it is definitely possible to balance the two. Princeton is a beautiful town, with two massive cities (Philly and NY) only 50 minutes away, plus the social scene at the university itself is also great. I think ultimately (and I still struggle with it sometimes!), it’s just about trying your best to manage your time so that you have dedicated downtime to take a break and revitalize yourself.
- MemberOctober 31, 2020 at 4:46 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm
I think a major misconception I had about university in general prior to the application process was an expected homogeneity amongst the T20 schools. As I began to go through the process and applied to multiple universities, I comprehended the importance of the culture of different schools, even those with similar rankings, as well as the undeniable importance of fit: culturally and academically.
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:41 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 2:17 pm
I chose Princeton largely because of its undergraduate focus, STEM focus, and alumni network, and I have not been disappointed on any of those fronts. Princeton is a primarily undergraduate institution, and that is undoubtedly reflected in the way it allocates its resources. Even as a first- or second-year student, you have the opportunity to be able to conduct research with leading minds in your field. In terms of the cultural aspect of it, I knew some students who were alumni from my high-school, and learning about their experiences at the university made me certain that it would be the right place for me.
ArifGuestNovember 1, 2020 at 12:45 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:19 pm
I went to an international school in India, and was extremely fortunate to have had two brilliant college counsellors be unmatched resources to me throughout high-school, and especially through the college application process. What also helped a great deal was that my school has a tight alumni network, and thus being able to seek mentorship from other students with the same context and experiences, other students who have been through the same process themselves.
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:25 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 2:08 pm
For my common app essay, a process I found incredibly helpful is simply talking to people who you think know you best, and evaluating whether a theme emerges. I did that, alongside mapping all my major life events (academic, personal, or otherwise), which helped me a great deal. It’s also wonderful to have another person’s perspective on that essay, especially someone who doesn’t know you as well, because they can give you a fresh perspective on what exactly your essay conveys about you as a person and a scholar. I think the most important thing with college essays is just authenticity: don’t worry about writing some pathbreaking essay, just know that an honest, compelling story which is unique to your background and experiences is enough. Something I’ve heard often is: if your name were taken off your application and your essay were left in a classroom, someone who knows you should be able to recognize that it’s yours.
LukeGuestNovember 1, 2020 at 12:43 pm
I think the most important things are:
1) To stay on the right track academically, because while that is definitely not the only factor, it is an important one.
2) Keep finding ways to increase your involvement with and commitment to those things about which you are most passionate. Admissions Officers see multiple instances of students trying to be who they think universities want to accept, and so they can tell when that is the case. But if you just keep getting involved with activities that matter to you and that you care about, I’m sure at the end of your two years, that will reflect in your application.
MelodyGuestNovember 1, 2020 at 12:41 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:25 pm
AB and BSE COS have identical requirements in terms of your departmental courses and department prerequisites for Computer Science. What differs are the general prerequisites of AB and BSE Coursework, and the nature and length of independent work you are expected to do. As a BSE Student, you have to take 4 semesters of math, 2 semesters of physics, 1 semester of chemistry, and 1 semester of Computer Science. You are expected to complete 36 courses over your four years at Princeton, and partake in 1 semester of independent work. As an AB Student, the prerequisites are more spread out over the different subject areas, you are expected to complete 31 courses, and partake in 4 semesters of independent work.
I personally chose BSE because having completed the IB Diploma program in high-school, I had been able to fulfil half the prerequisites, and because I generally felt that it was the better path for me. There are many people pursuing both AB and BSE COS; it is a completely personal choice which depends on what path you feel suits you better.
You can read more about this on the COS Department’s official website here: https://www.google.com/search?q=princeton+computer+science+ab+vs+bse&rlz=1C5CHFA_enIN893IN893&oq=princeton+ab+vs+&aqs=chrome.3.0j69i57j0l2.7500j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:36 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 2:22 pm
More than happy to be here! If I could go back, I think something I would think more about is where to apply early. I had had my heart set on a single university since I was in my freshman year of high-school, and did not think twice about it when it came to applying there. What I wanted out of university had changed, as had my understanding of it, and I think having changed my approach to that could’ve saved me the stress of applying to so many places during RD!
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 12:37 pm
- MemberNovember 1, 2020 at 1:49 pm
So I applied to a total of 22 schools: 17 universities in the US and 5 in the UK. When I was making my final decision in April, it came down to choosing between Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and UPenn — while they’re all amazing schools, and it was a challenging choice, I chose Princeton largely because of its undergraduate focus, STEM focus, and alumni network, and I have not been disappointed on any of those fronts. Princeton is a primarily undergraduate institution, and that is undoubtedly reflected in the way it allocates its resources. Even as a first- or second-year student, you have the opportunity to be able to conduct research with leading minds in your field.
At the same time, honestly, between schools that wonderful, if time, energy, and resources allow for it, I would recommend applying to all of those schools. Ultimately, fit really matters, for you and for the university, and by limiting your options when applying, you would eliminate the possibility of giving a chance to another university which might turn out to be the perfect fit for you.