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How to Get into Princeton: All You Need to Know

Monday, September 19, 2022


Princeton tops many students’ lists for dream schools to attend. Like most other Ivy League colleges, the university is known for its rigor and increasingly competitive applicant pool. As competition for a seat at the top-rated college intensifies, most future applicants are asking themselves the same question: what does it really take to earn admission to Princeton University?

How to Get Into Princeton University: Table of Contents

  1. When to Apply to Princeton University
  2. How Hard Is It to Get Into Princeton: Early Prep
  3. How to Actually Get Into Princeton: The Application
  4. Class Profile
  5. What Makes Princeton University Unique?

When to Apply to Princeton University

There’s no doubt, getting into Princeton is a major accomplishment. It’s not a game of luck; instead, years of hard work and dedication are needed, as well as some very careful planning.

Many students ask themselves the same question: how do I get into Princeton? The first step towards gaining admission is understanding what goes into the application process and what you’ll need to do to get yourself started.

Most students will submit their applications to Princeton University during their senior year of high school, although some applicants might choose to apply as Princeton transfers after spending a few semesters at another institution.

Since the majority of Princeton’s student body is made up of applicants who applied for first-year admission, we’re going to focus on that timeline. There are several important deadlines to keep on your radar.

Princeton Deadlines

Students have two options when it comes time to apply to Princeton: regular round and Single Choice Early Action. Here’s what the timelines look like:

Single Choice Early Action


  • Applications Available
  • Students choose between the Coalition Application and Princeton Supplement or the Common Application and Princeton Supplement

November 1

  • All Application and Princeton Supplement Materials due, including:
    • Graded Written Paper
    • School Report, School Counselor Letter, and Transcript
    • 2 Teacher Evaluation Forms
  • TOEFL, IELTS Academic, or PTE Academic Test Completed (if applicable)

November 7

  • Optional Arts Supplement Due

November 9

  • Princeton Financial Aid Application Due


  • Decision Notification

May 1

  • Candidate’s Reply Date

Regular Round


  • Applications Available
  • Students choose between the Coalition Application and Princeton Supplement or the Common Application and Princeton Supplement

January 1

  • All Application and Princeton Supplement Materials due, including:
    • Graded Written Paper
    • School Report, School Counselor Letter, and Transcript
    • 2 Teacher Evaluation Forms
  • TOEFL, IELTS Academic, or PTE Academic Test Completed (if applicable)

January 9

  • Optional Art Supplement due

February 1

  • Princeton Financial Aid Application due

April 1

  • Decision notification

May 1

  • Candidate’s Reply Date

Early, Rolling, and Regular Decisions

Princeton offers two different application options, Single Choice Early Action or regular admission. Some colleges include an option for rolling admission as well.

While there are some similarities between each process, there are also a few differences between early action vs rolling admission, including:

Early: Students can apply earlier and learn their admissions outcomes before regular round releases.

There are two types of early applications: Early Decision, which is binding and means students are confirming they will enroll upon acceptance, and Early Action, which is non-binding. This distinction is important to remember when considering applying Early Decision vs Early Action.

Princeton’s Single Choice Early Action falls somewhere between these two, as applicants may apply early to public universities and international institutions but are restricted from applying early to additional private colleges.

While early application timelines will vary, generally students submit their applications by October or November of their senior year. Decisions are usually released in December.

Rolling: Think of rolling applications as a first-come, first-serve process. Students submit as soon as they are ready and learn about their admissions outcomes several weeks after submission. Generally, it’s best to submit your application on the earlier side, as RA schools continue to accept students until they reach their enrollment capacity

Regular: Students generally need to submit their applications by January of their senior year and decisions are released in the early spring. Unlike processes like Early Decision, students can apply to as many schools as they would like.

Waitlisted Applications

It’s not just acceptance and rejection you need to prepare for; there’s also a waitlisted outcome. In general, being waitlisted means that you will be considered for admission in the event that the school needs additional students for its freshman class.

While nearly half of all colleges report using waitlists, being waitlisted doesn’t mean that students are automatically considered for admission. Waitlists are not ranked; instead, the admissions office will review waitlisted applicants’ strengths and offer admittance to students who can fill various institutional needs, such as upping the number of female Chemistry majors or rounding out the campus choir.

If you find yourself on the Princeton waitlist, you will need to decide whether it’s still your first choice school. If not, you should withdraw your name from the waitlist. If so, it’s often advisable to write a letter to the admissions office reiterating your desire to attend.


If you choose to apply in the early rounds, there is a chance that you will get deferred from college. Deferrals are somewhat similar to waitlist outcomes because there’s some uncertainty about what happens next. Deferral means that the admissions office will review your application in the context of the regular round applicant pool and come to a final decision after this.

If you find yourself on the Princeton deferral list, you’ll need to decide if you still want to go to the school. If so, find out what Princeton needs from you, which will often include updated grades and potentially a letter to the admissions office reaffirming your interest in attending.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Princeton: Early Prep

Most students know that getting into Princeton requires a lot of hard work. But what exactly goes into the preparation process? Compiling a compelling application requires planning in advance, plenty of research, and ample self-reflection, which is why we always encourage students to begin their application process early to produce their best work possible. It also helps to have college prep resources on hand.

Build Your Profile

As an Ivy League university, Princeton values academic rigor and intellectual capability above all else. Like most colleges, Princeton looks for students who are passionate about academics, have defined interests, and applicants who can convey the impact they will have on campus.

Princeton University provides some helpful tips about exactly what Princeton looks for in a student:

Key takeaways include:

  • Intellectual curiosity is a top priority
  • Princeton is looking for students who’ve achieved academic excellence
  • Strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments are also valued
  • Princeton looks for students who have challenged themselves with advanced level coursework
  • The University advises students to create applications that will help their admissions office see accomplishments in their true context

Visit the Campus and a Class

If you’re interested in submitting an application to Princeton, it’s important to get a feel for the campus. One of the best ways to do this is by visiting the college and sitting in on a class.

Currently, students have the option to visit the campus for an outdoor tour or to attend a visit virtually. Regardless of the option you choose, make sure you sign up for an information session with an admissions officer to show your interest in attending the college and learn more about the admissions process straight from the source.

If you choose to tour in person, see if you can sit in on a lecture as well so that you can get a better understanding of the classroom dynamics. It can also be beneficial to follow Princeton on social media so that you can stay updated on what’s going on on campus. Check out our top social media tips for college admissions!

Connect With a Student

Connecting with a current student is a great way to gain another perspective on enrolling at Princeton. If anyone in your network is currently at Princeton, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Make sure to prepare some questions before your conversation so that you can get as much out of your meeting as possible.

Learn About Any Student Experiences

Before applying to any college, you will want to learn more about the student experience. One way to do that is by scheduling an alumni interview. Virtual visits led by students are another great option.

How To Actually Get Into Princeton: The Application

While understanding the steps that go into the application process and what you’ll need to research is important, ultimately it is the strength of your application that will decide whether you’ll earn a seat at Princeton University.

Since Princeton is one of the most selective colleges in the country, applicants need to make sure they’re giving their all throughout the entire application and avoid making any careless mistakes that could potentially detract from their submission. The best way to do this is by triple-checking your work, starting early, and following the guidelines that Princeton provides.

When it comes to submitting an application to Princeton, what exactly can you expect? The key components of your submission will include:

GPA Requirements

While there isn’t a clearly defined minimum GPA that students need to aim for, every applicant should strive to maintain a GPA that is as close to 4.0 as possible. Unlike some other colleges, Princeton University doesn’t publish average GPA ranges for previous class years, but they do note that only 2.6% of admitted students in the most recent application cycle had a GPA below 3.5, and nearly 10% of the admitted class had 4.0.

SAT and ACT Scores

Princeton University has extended its test-optional policy for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, which means applicants are not required to submit a score with their application. However, test-optional admissions is not the same as test blind.

In fact, submitting an impressive test score can work in your favor, as it demonstrates your ongoing academic commitment and overall college readiness. When it comes to SAT/ACT ranges, most students admitted to Princeton are nearing the top percentiles for performance. Most recently, the middle 50% range for ACT scores for admitted students was 32-35 and the middle 50% range for SAT scores for admitted students were 740-800 (Math) and 710-800 (EBRW). When developing your test-taking strategies, be sure to keep this data in mind.

Personal Statement

In addition to hard factors like grades and test scores, students will also be evaluated on soft factors. One of the most important soft factors is the quality of their personal statement, which is an essay of generally 500-600 words. This document gives students the opportunity to reveal something new about themselves and demonstrate their writing prowess.

Princeton applicants will have several different prompts to choose from and they will vary slightly depending on whether students choose to submit via the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Since personal statements are an important part of your application, they shouldn’t be left to the last minute. The best essays require brainstorming, drafting, reviewing, and editing, which is why starting early is such a big advantage.


In addition to a personal statement, Princeton applicants will need to submit answers to the school’s own essay prompts. Many colleges require supplemental essays to further evaluate a student’s level of knowledge about their school, also known as demonstrated interest.

Other schools ask quirky questions to help glean more information about a student’s personality. Common App essay prompts can change from year to year, which is why it’s so important to refer to Princeton’s website for the most updated information about supplements. If you’re looking for additional guidance, you can learn more tips on how to write Princeton supplemental essays.

Letters of Recommendation

Princeton’s admissions officers want to develop a well-rounded picture of each applicant. To do this, they ask for letters of recommendation from teachers and school counselors, which allow them to better understand how an applicant contributes to the classroom.

Generally, we advise students to select teachers from their junior year, as they will be most up to date on your current academic performance. Get the ball rolling by asking teachers to write your letters at the beginning of senior year. This will give them enough time to reflect on their academic journey and write something compelling.

Princeton also asks for a letter of recommendation from an applicant’s school counselor, so don’t forget to reach out to them as well.

Admission Interviews

Many Princeton applicants will have the chance to participate in interviews with alumni. These conversations are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the campus and to demonstrate your interest in attending Princeton. Students will receive an email from a member of the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee to set up an interview.

Contribution to the Princeton Community

Like most colleges, Princeton admissions officers affirm students who are going to make an impact on their campus. When you’re compiling your application, you should continuously ask yourself “What does this reveal about me and the role I will play upon enrolling?”

Admissions officers should walk away from your application with an in-depth understanding of exactly what classes you want to take, the clubs you would join, and what you’re hoping to do after graduation.

Class Profile 

From learning Princeton admissions stats and how many people apply to Princeton to their class size, the admitted students profile is a valuable resource for application information. Below are some key highlights:

Acceptance Rate 3.98%
Class Size 1,345
Diversity % Range 64%
Undergraduate Majors 37

What Makes Princeton University Unique?

Plenty of students might think they want to apply to Princeton, but the only way you can be confident in your decision is by understanding exactly what makes Princeton unique in the first place. Some of the key characteristics that set the campus apart include:

Clubs and Extracurricular Activities

There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Princeton offers 37 Division 1 intercollegiate varsity teams for men and women. There are also 38 different sports clubs, including ballroom dancing and ultimate frisbee. If sports aren’t your thing, there are more than 300 student-run clubs to join, with focuses that range from community service to politics and debate.


Princeton has 9 libraries, including the Mendel Music Library, the East Asian Library, and the Lewis Science Library.


Princeton has several noteworthy cultural centers including the Princeton University Art Museum and the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, named after Dr. Carl Fieldes, the first African American dean at an Ivy League institution.


Princeton counts many famous athletes as part of their robust alumni network, including Bill Bradley, Dick Kazmaier, Keith Elias, and Cathy Corcione.

With their diverse array of academic and extracurricular offerings, Princeton will appeal to students with an array of different goals and passions. The school has an idyllic campus that is just 90 minutes outside of NYC, giving students the opportunity to pursue major internships while experiencing a close-knit campus culture. The University is also known for its active alumni network and famous graduates including Michelle Obama, Alan Turing, Jeff Bezos, and Woodrow Wilson.

Admission Consulting

As the lengthy admissions requirements indicate, getting accepted into Princeton isn’t simple or easy. Students will be competing with peers across the globe for a seat at this top college.

Since the application process is complex, every student can benefit from working with an admissions specialist who knows the journey inside and out. Admissions consultants can help students who know exactly where they want to apply, as well as those looking for a little more direction. Counselors will offer guidance throughout every step of the process, from building a balanced college list to fine-tuning your personal statement.

If Princeton is at the top of your college list, it can be particularly beneficial to work with an admissions counselor who was previously affiliated with the university because they will be most familiar with the college’s specific application process.

While getting into Princeton is undeniably challenging, IvyWise’s admissions experts are here to provide support to students throughout every stage of their journey. Take the first step towards getting into your dream school and set up an initial consultation.


Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Application Tips
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