Welcome to Princeton! We are looking forward to having you join us on campus. As your first experience on campus, we hope that Orientation introduces you to the community and to the extensive support available for your success. During these couple of days, you will find your home in the residential colleges, bond with students in the small-group experience, meet the other members of your class through the class-wide social events, and participate in  Princeton traditions. In addition, there will be programs that will prepare you for academic life at Princeton.

The Offices of the Dean of the College, of Undergraduate Students, and of Campus Life jointly announced that beginning in fall 2016, first-year Princeton students will participate in a single, unified orientation program.  In fall 2020, all new students will move in on Saturday, August 22, and spend the rest of that weekend enjoying a warm welcome to campus and their residential colleges.

Following this on-campus orientation, all students will leave for small-group, experiential learning trips.  These small-group experiences allow students to form strong bonds among first-years across residential colleges and with their student trip leaders across class years.  Experiential learning encourages all students to engage Princeton’s values—especially service to others and intellectual reflection—outside the classroom.

When they return to campus, first-year students will be welcomed at their first all-class assembly, and then participate in a rich array of programs that explain and explore the values of our community.

Introduction to intellectual life begins, as usual, with Opening Exercises in the University Chapel, followed by the Pre-read freshman assembly.  Students will then have the opportunity to discuss their academic goals with students and faculty from all departments at the Academic Expo, before selecting fall courses. Classes begin on Wednesday, September 2.





The goal of our Orientation program is to facilitate the transition to college by introducing first-year students to the values, expectations, and resources of the inclusive Princeton community that will be their home for the next four years.

During their first weekend on campus, students will have an opportunity to settle into their residential college community and to attend class-wide events that introduce core Princeton values of inclusion, diversity, service, well-being, and scholarly engagement.  Students will further explore these values by participating in small group, student-led, mostly off-campus experiences that allow for more intimate, reflective engagement.  While these experiences will be varied in nature—outdoor activities, community engagement, athletic practice—they will be united by a common curriculum that asks students to think deeply about the values and expectations of their place in our community.

The final segment of Orientation will focus on intellectual life at Princeton.  After Opening Exercises signals the beginning of the academic year, students will select their courses with the help of faculty and peer advisers.

Each unit participating in Orientation will be expected to develop a program that honors common curricular objectives that student leaders clearly understand.  Our primary goal is for students to gain an intellectual and practical understanding of the values, expectations, and resources of our community, and begin to feel a sense of belonging and commitment to their new place within it.

Our core curricular objectives follow.

Intellectual Engagement and Scholarly Inquiry.  Students will

  • Reflect on the intellectual, personal and professional value of a liberal arts education
  • Through the Pre-read program, be introduced to active listening, critical thinking, and thoughtful discussion
  • Understand and value academic integrity in their scholarly work at Princeton and beyond
  • Learn to identify appropriate campus resources for help in course selection and academic support
  • Engage with difference in their exploration of the curriculum


Community values, expectations and standards.  Students will

  • Learn the policies outlined in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, particularly with regard to alcohol, controlled substances, sexual misconduct and respect for others
  • Understand and be prepared to observe the Honor Code and the regulations governing academic integrity
  • Understand their responsibility to protect the well-being of all members of the Princeton community
  • Identify campus resources that help maintain Princeton’s community standards
  • Participate in a bystander intervention program


Inclusion and Belonging.  Students will

  • Reflect on best practices for meaningful engagement with difference in a community that includes individuals with diverse experiences of culture, race, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and nationality
  • Learn identity-based campus resources, as well as offices that promote understanding and engagement across difference
  • Practice techniques to avoid biased behaviors that adversely affect under-represented communities and recognize best practices for bystander intervention
  • Learn behavioral and discursive norms that help maintain and cultivate a civil environment in a community of difference
  • Learn how to report harassment or bias incidents


Service and Leadership.  Students will

  • Reflect on Princeton’s informal motto of “in the nation's service and the service of humanity” and understand that service is part of being a Princetonian
  • Reflect on the value of civic engagement both as service and as leadership
  • Become familiar with the potential service organizations and opportunities available at Princeton and within the broader community


Health and Well-being.  Students will

  • Reflect on the importance of self-care and care for others
  • Learn to value balance and remember that sleep, healthy eating, social engagement, and healthy relationships are critical to their success as students
  • Learn about campus resources that support health and well-being, including University Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising Resources and Education Office, and UMatter
  • Learn to use the Department of Public Safety and be aware of emergency and safety protocols


Affiliations and Traditions.  Students will

  • Begin to develop their Princeton identity and sense of belonging through their affiliation with the University, their residential college, and their class
  • Begin to develop an appreciation for and critical engagement with Princeton’s history and traditions
  • Begin to learn important Princeton rituals, including step sing, college dinners, Opening Exercises, Pre-rade, and residential college traditions


Our primary goals are for students to gain an intellectual and practical understanding of the values, expectations, and resources of our community and begin to feel a sense of belonging within the University.  

Each year, all first-year students are given the opportunity to share their thoughts about Orientation via a comprehensive online survey. Additionally, many students will be invited to participate in focus groups so we can gain a nuanced understanding of what works best in preparing first-year students for a successful and enjoyable transition to Princeton. 

While first-year students are our most important focus, we also want to learn from our university partners; both student leaders and administrators who help shape our curricular objectives. We annually solicit feedback from upperclass student leaders via an online survey and in-person focus group conversations. Likewise, we will engage in conversation with faculty and staff to identify strengths of our program and highlight areas for improvement. After we collect and review all of this data, we will issue an annual report to track our findings over time.

If you have comments, questions, or concerns about our work, please don’t hesitate to contact

Residential Colleges


Residential Colleges

We expect that a quintessential “ welcome to college” moment will be when you move into your residential college on August 31st.  This will be your “home away from home," and we’ve organized the first two days of Orientation to properly introduce you to your new home base.  The colleges are a nexus of resources and support, and you will meet the students, faculty, and staff dedicated to aiding your transition to Princeton.

Take an in-depth look at our residential college system. In no time you’ll be talking about #Whalelove, Studio ‘34, and Forbes brunch with the ease of a seasoned pro. The colleges are a four year (and beyond) affiliation, so take time to research your new home and all the wonderful opportunities that await you.


Small Group Experiences


Small-Group Experiences

As a part of Orientation, all first-year students will participate in a small-group experience, led by upperclass students. In these small-group experiences, you will get to know first-years outside of your residential college, engage with and learn about the values of the Princeton community, and have fun! There are a variety of settings where these small-group experiences will take place, and we are excited to place you in the setting of best fit for your interests and accommodation preferences. These experiences are integral to Orientation and are provided at no additional cost to incoming students.

Learn more about the types of small-group experience below!

Community Action

Students helping at a food pantryCommunity Action (CA) fosters a welcoming and supportive environment where first-year students connect with their new Princeton family and establish lasting friendships, discover new places and topics, act through meaningful service projects, and have fun! As part of a small group, students do more than just volunteer; they have fun with new friends over meals, sleep and work in the communities they serve. They shop locally, cook meals together and discover what it means to be part of a community guided by experienced CA leaders.

Each day, small groups take part in service and learning experiences that impact local youth, inspire change and strengthen community. Through this work, students will think critically about the issues and opportunities facing our community and make a tangible impact alongside the dedicated people and organizations doing this work every day. CA trips gather together to reflect about the day’s work and will even have dinner with Princeton faculty. On CA, students explore and learn about their new home at Princeton through service!

Dialogue and Difference in Action

Dialogue and Difference in Action (DDA) provides an opportunity  to engage in critical dialogue on issues of identity, power privilege, and difference. Students will examine these concepts within the contexts of the Princeton University community and society at large. Through self-reflection and dialogue, students will develop competencies and perspectives crucial to the creation of an inclusive campus climate.

Each day, trained student leaders and staff will lead small-group discussion sessions and full group interactive exercises designed to help participants explore their own identities and contend with the challenges posed by the pervasive influence of racism, sexism, homophobia, and religious and other conscious or unconscious biases in society. First-year students will gain a better understanding of the broader community they are newly entering, and will learn proactive ways to build coalitions and engage in productive campus action. This immersive experience will cultivate knowledge, skills, and strategies that students can use to build meaningful relationships with their peers and develop strong and supportive networks across the University community.

Outdoor Action

Students posing as a group outdoorsLearn through adventure on an Outdoor Action (OA) trip, where building new friendships is amplified by the simplicity and camaraderie of a small group in an outdoor setting! OA provides an opportunity to learn about Princeton while exploring the outdoors through a variety of activities. Some trips camp in the backcountry, and others stay in the sidecountry at a summer camp or campground with access to facilities. Each group works together to be self-reliant and interdependent, traveling as a team, setting up camp each night, and preparing communal meals. In the evening, groups share stories and talk about campus life while gazing at the stars or sitting by a campfire.

OA  is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves to try something new. There are a range of physical activity levels and no previous experience is necessary. OA trip leaders represent a cross-section of the diversity of campus; they are eager to share their experiences and knowledge of Princeton and are trained to teach first-year students all of the outdoor skills they will need.

Fall Student-Athletes

Students posing together in a groupBeing a member of one of Princeton’s 37 varsity teams provides a tremendous opportunity to develop a tight-knit bond with fellow first-year students and form meaningful relationships with upperclassmen.

For first-year student-athletes who are on a team with a fall competition season, we’ve created a program where student-athletes can both fulfill their pre-season obligations and enjoy the benefits of small-group experiences that allow for more intimate, reflective engagement. While members of the class who are part of teams who compete during the winter and spring seasons participate in the small-group activities led by the Outdoor Action and Community Action programs, we’re pleased to provide a similar experience right here on campus.

Led by upperclassmen student-athletes, these small groups will be united by a common curriculum that asks students to think deeply about the values and expectations of their place in our community. First-year students will be able to foster friendships across teams and widen the concept of team during this important first season at Princeton.



Class Unity


Class Unity

With over 1300 students, the incoming class encompasses an impressive range of backgrounds and experiences— it’s the true benefit of attending a university with a global reach. During Orientation, there are numerous ways, both formal and informal, to get to know the fellow Princetonians with whom you will march through this experience for the next four years and the decades beyond (if you doubt this, check out the P-Rade). The Orientation Leaders host many class events during your first few days on campus; please take advantage of these opportunities to connect with classmates. Class officers are elected in mid-October; until then the Orientation Leaders will plan events to foster class unity and inclusion. Upcoming social events will be posted on this page. Stay tuned to get a glimpse of the fun we have in store for you!





A walk across campus illuminates to even the casual observer that Princeton reverberates with history and tradition. The true beauty of Princeton’s traditions is that many of most of the enduring ones were started by students. Whether the tradition is 250 years or 250 hours old, these rituals strive to create expressions of affiliation and belonging. It’s important to note that while we appreciate our past, as a learning community we are called to think critically about where we have been and where our aspirations will take us.

Traditions can be as expansive as an entire class or as intimate as a residential college ‘zee group. There is something quite unifying about engaging in activities that students were similarly participating in over two centuries ago. To learn more about some of our most long-standing traditions, visit the Princetoniana website. Or take a look at Facebook or Snapchat; some of the traditions found there are just minutes old yet will be as indelible as those carved into the stones of our campus walls.

Seem unlikely? We’re fairly certain that the first group of Tigers who gathered on Nassau Hall steps on the eve before their graduation didn’t expect students to be following suit 265 years later. This place is yours—we can’t wait to see how you make it your own.

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