Learning to Thrive and FLI

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Learning to Thrive and FLI

By: Zoie Nieto

It was May of my senior year of high school when I heard the news that I would be joining a cohort of around 70 other students from first generation, low income (FLI) students like myself to partake in classes and learn how to navigate Princeton a little earlier than the rest of the freshman class. I was nervous of course but the day I had been waiting for was now just around the corner. Coming from Ohio to Princeton, New Jersey was a transition. One I was prepared for but also not at the same time. The beautiful thing is that I was able to be surrounded by those that felt the same way as me. During my six weeks at the Freshman Scholars Institute (FSI), I was able to learn the ropes of Princeton life. In class, we worked on tough readings and papers and engaged with intense topics in our more scientific classes, but I was able to consult with my professors during office hours and make use of the abundant amount of resources, like the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. Outside of the classroom I was able to interact with students from the same background as me, something I didn’t have the pleasure of doing back at home. We were able to create a community that understood the struggles of being away from home, dealing with imposter syndrome, battling Princeton academics, and just the initial woes of starting college life. Together we all got a sense of how we needed to adjust for the upcoming academic year in September.

For me, at least, the transition seemed rough. I was battling imposter syndrome and my confidence was low. Initially coming in as a Chemistry major, I sat in on the general chemistry course and left half way through knowing that there was no way I could spend my next 4 years as a Chemistry major. I was then in crisis mode. What do I do now? I was interested in Forensics, so I thought maybe Forensic Psychology as a possible career choice. So, I took Psych 101 my first semester and I decided it wasn’t for me. I felt like I wasn’t cut out for Princeton academics and that I would never find any major that would suit my interests. Luckily, through the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) and more importantly, my Director of Studies (DOS), I was able to talk through my dilemma and figure out next steps. My DOS recommended Forensic Anthropology and I said sure let’s give it a try. I took my first Anthropology, as well as my first Archaeology course second semester and absolutely fell in love with it. My grades improved and I finally felt like I could be the Princeton student that deep down I always knew I could be. I couldn’t be more grateful for the resources Princeton has offered me. SIFP has been a home where I can go if I am ever feeling stressed out and need someone to talk to and my DOS has always been more than willing to help me whenever I have a crisis. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out! As you make your own transition to Princeton, keep in mind that there will be successes but there will also be failures. You may not get the grades or get into the clubs that you want, but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the road. Princeton is all about learning and growing, finding out who you are and what you love to do. Don’t get discouraged. It can be a much harder transition for FLI students, but never forget that you deserve to be here!


Welcome to Princeton, and to an amazing opportunity to thrive and FLI!


Author Profile

znieto's picture
Zoie Nieto '21

Hi Class of 2023! My name is Zoie Nieto and I’m from Findlay, Ohio. I am currently a sophomore who is involved in SIFP, QuestBridge, as well as an Orange Key tour guide and a Peer Career Advisor. I also spend my time working various jobs, such as making amazing chocolate chip cookies at Murray Dodge Café, and golfing in my free time. I am majoring in Anthropology and pursuing a certificate in Archaeology so that I can continue my path to becoming a Forensic Anthropologist! If you have any questions or concerns about Princeton life, academics, or just want to chat, please feel free to reach out to me at znieto@princeton.edu! )