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.