With the first Preview happening this Thursday and the second one in a few weeks, Preview is certainly hovering in the minds of students and faculty alike. In particular, the administration’s decision to shorten the two Preview “weekends” into Preview “days” has resulted in the need to rearrange schedules and programs in order to accommodate as many events as possible within the greatly reduced span of time that prospective freshmen will be on campus. The pros and cons of the administration’s decision have already been covered fairly extensively, and it seems prudent, instead, to reflect on the ways that the previews can be successful regardless of the relatively late change that shortened Preview so much.
USG has already taken steps to make the preview days as indicative of Princeton spirit as possible, arranging such events as the Pre-P-Rade to cheer on the pre-frosh. In addition, the usual key events — namely This Side of Princeton, the activities fair and the keynote speech hosted in Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall — will still be taking place.
In fact, the main opportunities that visiting potential freshmen lose out on are chances to sit in on multiple classes over the course of several days, but even this shouldn’t be seen as a particular loss. For instance, through online resources such as Coursera and even YouTube, anyone — pre-frosh included — can easily access recordings of video lectures, which provide a reasonable, if not perfect, sense of the academic teaching style of many Princeton lecturers. It is likely reasonable to say that such knowledge — the feel of a class rather than the class material itself — is, in truth, the main takeaway that pre-frosh get from visiting classes. I doubt that second semester high school seniors are likely to be particularly interested in learning about Lagrange multipliers or other concepts that they won’t need to study until they actually enroll in Princeton.
Another component that is lost by shortening Preview to only a single day is the chance for pre-frosh to get to know members of their fellow class better, but even this is rectified by the fact that much of the same introductory processes — Hi! I’m (insert name here), from (insert region of hometown), interested in studying (insert major) — are repeated all over again during orientation week that precedes the start of the fall semester.
In addition, it can be argued that having prospective freshmen only visit for one day limits their ability to comprehensively tour the campus, but three days really makes no difference either (I recall still getting lost on my way to the Dinky as I prepared to head back to Newark Airport and home) — anyone who claims otherwise must be rather well-endowed with orienteering capabilities. Besides, those who decide to matriculate will have plenty of time to get to know the layout of campus.
So what can’t a one day preview do that a three-day preview can? The list is rather short and predominantly consists of offering pre-frosh the chance to experience “dorm life.” But just because they aren’t spending the night doesn’t mean that hosts can’t still give a tour of the dorm facilities.
As the saying goes, life is what you make of it, and just because Preview has been shortened doesn’t mean that we can’t work to make it as great as ever. The administration, in seeking to hold the same events as usual, and USG, in starting new, promising traditions, are both working toward a common goal of sustaining Preview’s highlights regardless of the length of the program. In fact, the people who might miss out the most are the hosts, who don’t get to spend as much time with those cuddly pre-frosh (have you seen the picture on the back of the t-shirts given out to hosts?).
But that doesn’t mean that hosts are limited to interacting with their charges for only one day — they can easily exchange contact information and continue to guide their respective pre-frosh through the entirety of their college decisions processes.
Preview may indeed be shortened, but instead of being seen as a limitation on the program as a whole, it can be seen as a chance to provide an equally positive, albeit highly-condensed, Princeton experience for the visiting pre-frosh, and it is up to the students, hosts and non-hosts alike, to ensure that the visiting prospective members of the Class of 2018 get the most out of their visit.
Jason Choe is a freshman from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.