What Does it Take to Get Into Princeton?

Strategies by School
October 3, 2019
Princeton Has Deep Roots In American History…

Princeton alumni have fond memories of their time at Princeton, and even just a mention of its name brings them feelings of nostalgia. Without a doubt, Princeton is a special school. Not only was it ranked the #1 school in the U.S. by the U.S. News and World Report Rankings, but there’s an undeniable warmth that draws in new students every year.

Of course, this means that getting accepted into Princeton is no easy feat.

Princeton’s admissions process is about so much more than grades. Princeton is looking for students with intensity, drive, and passion.

That’s why we’re here to show you how to get into Princeton. Admissions is a complex process, and at some point, the college you get into is out of your control. There are so many factors admissions officers need to consider when they’re viewing applications. So, if you want to succeed, you’ll need to show them your best self!

What You’ll Find In This Article:

Princeton's Ideal Student

Princeton’s ideal student excels in academics and other school-associated activities. Princeton’s average test scores are high and their acceptance rate is low, but that doesn’t keep high school students from striving Princeton’s lofty academic expectations.

These are the average scores of incoming freshmen at Princeton:

  • SAT: 1530
  • ACT: 33
  • GPA: 3.87

It’s safe to say that any score under 1430 on the SAT won’t even be considered for admission. It’s not just good grades that are important though. Any student can study enough to get the correct answers. What sets Princeton students apart is their willingness to learn new things, even if it’s outside of their area of study. Princeton’s values reflect a deep sense of service and gratitude. They want their students to lead lives that are purposeful and unique to their own passions.

Princeton students want to be world-changers.

This means that, not only do students have to excel in academics, but they have to have heart behind it. Princeton is full of students who are not only smart, but have drive and passion behind their skills to propel them forward.

Princeton admissions officers look for:


Ambition is a healthy fearlessness. Ambitious students set difficult, but attainable, goals for themselves. They’re obsessed with the bigger picture and can always find something to improve, whether it be their work or themselves. Ambitious students have big dreams and have every intention of achieving them, no matter how long it takes.


Passion is simply the “why” behind the “what”. Having a deep, meaningful connection to what you do is important to Princeton. They want to make sure they’re bringing in students who will create positive change in their communities. These passionate students usually have a strong work ethic because they also have a vision; they’re working for something bigger than themselves.


A good leader is someone who is just as influential when they’re not in charge. Many people think that leaders are always the Presidents of clubs and committees, but this isn’t the case. Leadership is more about leading by example than it is about being in charge.


Along with the confidence to be a leader, a Princeton student must be open to being wrong. The best way to grow is not to simply ask questions about other people and situations but to also ask questions about yourself. Princeton seeks out students who are honest with themselves and willing to hear out another person’s point of view.


Princeton draws a large number of students that are interested in the way the world works. These students usually have a background in student government and leadership, or an interest in science because of Princeton’s emphasis on Engineering.

To cater to these students, Princeton offers a wide variety of majors along with a list of impressive professors.

Of course, like any college, they have their top majors:

  • Computer Engineering (Ranked 1st nationwide)
  • Quantitative Economics (Ranked 1st nationwide)
  • Public Policy (Ranked 1st nationwide)
  • History (Ranked 1st nationwide)

Interestingly, Princeton only offers two official undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (AB), and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE). There are several majors available within those degrees, and even more concentrations.

For example, under the AB degree, you can major in anything from Comparative Literature to Ecology or even Music. Under the BSE degree, you can choose one of six majors, and all of them are focused on Engineering or Computer Science.


Princeton is looking for world-changers. Their ideal student has a strong desire to be of service to humanity. Princeton wants students who will strive to be the best they can be in academics, sports, clubs, and school organizations. They need students who have the confidence to lead and the humility to follow.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into Princeton

Getting accepted into Princeton is no easy feat. In 2018, Princeton’s acceptance rate was 6.5 %. In 2019, only 1,911 applicants were accepted out of 29,303. If you’re ready for the challenge of getting into Princeton, it’s important that you know all that will be required of you.


Students can use either the Common Application, Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application to apply to Princeton.

No matter which you decide to use, each application will guide you through the process and notify you of what materials you need to provide. These sections include basic information, transcripts, scores, and letters of recommendation.

The deadlines are November 1st for early action and January 1st for regular decision.


Princeton’s application fee is $65. If you’re unable to pay the fee, you can submit a fee waiver by selecting that option on your application. Your school counselor will have to approve the request.


Princeton accepts both SAT and ACT scores, and they don’t have a preference for one over the other. However, admission officers at Princeton recommend that you take one or two SAT Subject Tests. These are not required, but they give the admissions officers an opportunity to see your strengths (and an opportunity for you to showcase what you’re best at).

For students whose first language isn’t English, Princeton requires them to take a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Test.


Princeton requires that you send in your high school transcripts, a school report from your school counselor, and a recommendation from them. You’ll also need to provide a mid-year school report so admission officers can see where your grades are in the middle of your senior year.


Princeton requires two letters of recommendation from your teachers. Both must be academically focused, but they can include facts about your participation in extracurricular activities or school clubs. Remember, Princeton is looking for well-rounded students who don’t just excel academically, but in all walks of life.


The Princeton Supplement is an opportunity for you to show admissions officer who you really are.

This supplement requires that you write a 500-600 word essay on one of five provided topics. You’ll be asked to write two short paragraphs, one elaborating on an extracurricular activity or job, and the other explaining how you spent one of your summers during high school.

From there, you’ll be asked to answer a list of questions.

These questions are simple and fun like “What’s your favorite book and why?” and “What’s your favorite movie and why?”. Finally, if you’re planning on pursuing a B.S.E. degree, you'll be asked to write an additional engineering essay.

Finally, you’ll need to include any graded paper from a recent high school class, preferably from a class like English or History. Yes, Princeton requires a lot of supplemental material on their application, but it makes sense for a schools as fiercely competitive as they are.  


Students who perform exceptionally in the classroom while also making time for other school-associated activities are great candidates for Princeton. It’s also helpful if those students have a specific goal or pursuit in mind that gives them drive and passion.

Students who want to do everything they can to get accepted to Princeton should focus on what makes them passionate. They need to lock in on why they’re driven and what they want to do with their lives. After all, Princeton wants to read essays that are full of life and honesty, so you’ll need to hone in on what makes you truly unique as a student.

Princeton's Campus Life

On campus, it’s not all work, though it may seem that way on the outside. Princeton is known for its idealistic campus, and Princeton’s campus culture emulates the classic college experience. There are over 300 student organizations, ranging from the arts to intramural sports, debate, and religion.


Princeton offers several dining plans for its students. These include Lunch-To-Go and Late Night programs for students who can’t eat during normal dining hall hours. Princeton recently opened a tea room where students can make reservations for afternoon tea as well.


Princeton requires that its students live on campus during their first two years. Juniors and seniors have the option to move off-campus, but they rarely take this opportunity due to the spaciousness of the dorms and overall beauty of the campus.


Princeton’s campus offers a wide variety of activities, clubs, sports, and organizations, and most of them are totally pressure-free. Basically, not everything at Princeton is about excelling in academics. Princeton is aware of the link between a healthy mental state and positive academic performance; breaks are necessary for growth.

The amount of activities Princeton has to offer is overwhelming. You’ll be able to find intramural sports, the arts, politics, and debate. Don’t be afraid to try new things and build a new skill!


Princeton is a proud member of the NCAA Division I and the Ivy League. They have held the record for more Ivy League championships than any other school over the last 20 years. Their athletes are exceptional in academics and their sport.

Their sports teams include football, baseball, golf, lacrosse, rowing, and even fencing. There are 31 other athletic programs and 36 sports clubs Princeton has to offer.


Did you know that Princeton isn’t considered much of a party school? Nearly 65% of students say that Greek life isn’t prevalent. This is because there are 13 Greek life associations on campus, 10 fraternities and 3 sororities but they are unaffiliated with the university.

Princeton has a statement explaining why they don’t recognize Greek life, and it mostly has to do with avoiding a sense of exclusion. Although the Greek life is unofficial, it’s still available for students who want to be part of a fraternity or sorority.

From Application To Career: What You'll Experience At Princeton

While your application will be the lynch pin that determines whether or not you get accepted into Princeton, that’s not all that Princeton has in store for you. If you manage to get accepted, you’ll have four years of college to look forward to, as well as a long career in the area of your choosing..


When creating your application, focus less on your achievements and more on what you gleaned from certain experiences. Princeton is looking for students who understand that learning is never over and have a vision for the future.

Still, based on Princeton’s admission statistics, academic achievement takes first priority.

After an impressive academic record comes life experiences. Admission officers at Princeton want an applicant who take advantage of opportunities, no matter how unexpected or strange they are. Talk about clubs, organizations, sports teams, and what you learned from your experiences. They want to see a well-rounded person, not just an exceptionally smart student.


As mentioned earlier, you’ll be provided with five topics, and you can choose one for your essay. The essay must be at least 250 words and no more than 650. These topics are not writing prompts, they are themes. This way, students feel free to explore their own ideas in depth.

It’s important that you make your essay honest and passionate. Princeton wants to hear your voice. Don’t shy away from talking about significant turning points in your life that made you who you are today. This will give the officers a better picture of who you are and what matters to you.


Your time in college will be some of the best years of your life. Everyone says it because it’s true!

Not only is college great, but spending four years at Princeton is unforgettable. The picturesque campus combined with the rigor of academics is an ideal picture of classic college life. For students who are deeply passionate about an academic subject or about making a difference in the world, Princeton is the perfect place to connect with like minded people, find unique opportunities, and spend their college years.


Some of the most influential people in the world attended Princeton, including three U.S. Presidents: James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, and John F. Kennedy. It’s list of alumni also included major figures like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michelle Obama, and Brooke Shields.

While these alumni went into careers like government, public policy, and writing, a large majority of Princeton alumni today also go into:

  • Computer Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Business & Financial Operations

72% of Princeton’s class of 2017 were employed right after graduation in the field of their choice, while many others moved into non-profit fields. For those who were employed full-time, they had a starting salary of $72,128.

Your Future At Princeton

No matter what you want to pursue, whether it be politics, engineering, or the arts, Princeton’s endless list of opportunities will get you where you want to be. Of course, getting accepted into Princeton is a huge achievement, not least because of their strict academic expectations.

If you’ve decided that you want to apply to Princeton it will be no easy feat, but there are many tools available to help you.

For starters, reach out to any of WeAdmit’s counselors! We can help you develop a plan for creating an application for Princeton that will be hard to ignore. While applying to college isn’t black and white, it’s still possible for any ambitious student to ensure they touch all the bases college admissions officials look for.

Ultimately, statistics aside Princeton is considered by many as the best school in the country. Applying there is a big step, and while acceptance is never guaranteed, it’s still possible to do everything you can to chase your dream of going there.

With A Little Patience And A Big Dose Of Passion, We Know You Can Do This!



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