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Welcome Princeton Families

Standing in dorm room.

Congratulations on becoming part of the Princeton family! You must be very proud of your children for the hard work, ambition and talents that have brought them to Princeton. We look forward to welcoming your family to campus on freshman move-in day, when you will help your freshman move into his or her new dorm room and meet the residential college staff who will guide them through their freshman year. It can be a bittersweet moment when you leave a child to begin a new life without you, but you, and they, will be in good company. I encourage you to read Lisa Belkin ’82’s reflection on “tiger-parenting,” which is an entertaining portrayal of how families experience that fantastic first day—and first farewell—of the college experience.

College is not only a major transition for students, but also for families. I suspect that many of you were quite involved with their high-school life, and it may be hard to adjust to playing a less pivotal role in their experiences over the next four years. We keep a close eye on our students, but it may surprise you to learn that much of our contact with them is not shared with families. Indeed, many of our communications this summer will go directly to students’ personal email accounts, and so you will have to ask them to keep you in the loop. Even notification of the tuition bill is mailed directly to the student, and you will not be able to view this information until he/she activates your access to the account. You may be shocked to learn (even after you have paid the bill) that we don’t send grades home. Our practices are governed by federal law (FERPA), which states that students have a right to privacy with regard to their educational record, but they also reflect an educational philosophy that encourages growth, independence and personal responsibility. We want our students to learn how to take care of themselves. We will give them a lot of support as they learn to do that, and they will need you to cheer them on and to encourage them to seek advice and assistance when they need it. These days it is easy to keep in touch by phone, email and Facebook, and you will surely continue to be an important source of comfort and counsel from afar. And you will have the opportunity to check that all is well when you return for freshman families weekend in October.

Don’t see the video? View it on YouTube: Princeton Freshman Parents Weekend

We want to make the Path to Princeton as smooth as possible for families as well as for students. As you browse this website you will become familiar with many of the things we think are important for students to know before they arrive. We will also be putting occassional blogs specifically for families on this page. We also have a Families Handbook (check back in July), which should answer most of the questions you have about how things work at Princeton, as well as provide information on practical details about how to get here and where to stay. If you don’t find what you are looking for there, you can always call. Here you will find a list of numbers that are especially useful for families.

All the important dates can be found here (orientation; academic calendar). Room and residential college assignments will be emailed to students in mid-July; the college advising staff will reach out immediately to the student, and they will also be happy to answer questions from family members. In the meantime, there are many important forms we need the freshmen to complete this summer so that we can be ready to receive them. They have to fill these forms in themselves, but perhaps you could take the lead in encouraging them to do that as soon as possible!

Have a wonderful summer, and we look forward to welcoming you to campus in September!