A little story from Susannah’s Preview experience: eyes bright, face flushed, she had decided that her passion was Comparative Literature (it isn’t), and what do you know, there was an open house, at 4:30, in a place called East Pyne. Perfect, she thought, locating “Pyne,” on the map and setting off. When she got to where she thought she should be, though, she lost her heady confidence: she couldn’t see any main entrance and she didn’t want to walk in the wrong place and interrupt a scholar poring over some tome, plus where was the sign that said “East”? Or even one that said “West”? As she wandered around, a tall, athletic boy appeared from the sunlight on the other side of an arch, shadow dappling his face. “Are you lost?” he said, with one look at her orange folder and lanyard.
She laughed awkwardly. Yeah. Explaining to her the difference between “Pyne” (a dorm) and “East Pyne,” (an academic building full of stained glass and graduate students) he walked her around to where his golf cart was parked and offered to zip up campus and drop her off. Susannah, absolutely floored a college boy was speaking to her and thanking God she was wearing her cutest and shortest shorts, said yes. He was everything a college boy should be: an athlete, good-looking, friendly, kind. On their way up, he asked if she was having fun this weekend, and she said no. Because she wasn’t. Don’t worry, he said. Princeton’s not normally like this. Usually it doesn’t suck this much. It’s actually—he said—really fun.
Filipa also had little fun during Preview, but nonetheless remembers it well. Not because it was eventful but because it was so devoid of events that the general trajectory of it was easy to retain. One of Filipa’s good friends from high school had gone the weekend before and it had rained the whole time; he described a lackluster program of events and being hit on by a girl at a rock climbing wall (she was later to become Filipa’s roommate and contests his interpretation of their interaction to this day). His lack of enthusiasm (despite later matriculating here at Princeton) didn’t succeed in completely dampening her excitement, and she can still remember the thrum of anticipation in her heart and stomach as she rode the Dinky here for the second time, her first as a prospective freshman. Social functions were predictably lackluster, which she remembers complaining about with obnoxious and overcompensating vigor. But inside, she was floored by the beauty of this campus. The cherry blossoms were blooming and the sunlight cast everything in a soft glow; it was the perfect counter balance to the stately distance of the buildings. She remembers thinking, stupidly, that she could never be unhappy in a place this beautiful. And she remembers intensely wanting to be worthy of this place. It was a feeling she carried all the way home, though she can’t stay it’s still with her. What is striking to her in looking back on that weekend is the number of faces that have since become familiar, though at the time they were no different from anyone else’s.
Susannah never got the hot soccer player’s name. But she did, months later—as a freshman and no longer a nervous prefrosh—see his familiar face at an eating club and started, trying to figure out how it could be that she knew this boy. Once she remembered their golf cart ride, she excitedly re-introduced herself to him. (For politeness’ sake, she also introduced him to a friend she was with, and later that night, her friend and the soccer player hooked up. Not exactly how the chick flick version would end, but Susannah emerged with minimal emotional scarring.) The great thing was that whenever Susannah and the soccer player ran into each other for the rest of the year—which, admittedly, was not often—he would hug her, smile his beautiful smile, and ask how she was.
The strange thing about preview weekend—and, we guess, the strange thing about college in general—is that you meet people and have superficial interactions with them, and you forget most of them instantly, and then some of them— some of the ones you forgot, even—go on to be hugely important figures in your lives. They become best friends and relationships (maybe even husbands—shoutout to Suzie P!) and they are all around you. It’s impossible to know who will become important. It’s impossible partially because, in the end, so much is up to chance. The course of your life will be determined in part by whatever choice you make at the conclusion of this weekend. It will also be determined by a series of factors beyond the scope of your control, like who you are assigned to live near and the activities you choose from the stupendous volume you’ll be presented with.
No matter how bored you get during Preview, know this: Princeton is fun. It’s actually sometimes stupid amounts of fun, like when you get to an eating club too early and there’s no one there really, maybe some members playing beer pong who look at you and don’t smile, but there is some music playing, so you and your friends swarm the dance floor and literally jump up and down and all around until people start to come in, and see you, and dance with you too. Studio 34 at 3 am is also stupid amounts of fun, like when a dude in a rabbit suit starts a fight with some frat bros. Late meal is fun, when you and your friends spend at least ten minutes selecting the perfect three cookies. It’s fun to be in Firestone when members of Triangle, the musical comedy group, come and sing to you as they throw candy at you in the midst of an all-nighter. It’s fun to go out to dinner with your professors and it’s fun to see them get a little too drunk. It’s fun when Jeff Nunokawa walks up to you in the Rocky dining hall and says, “Adelaide. Adelaide. Adelaide.” until you tell him your name is not, actually, Adelaide, and he doesn’t know you, and he promptly forgets to speak to you again. It’s fun to meet famous poets and famous professors and stay up really way too late because you’re actually talking about ideas the way college kids do in movies.
There’s also a lot that’s not fun here, and that’s why you need the Nass (well, it’s why you need something, at the very least, and we hope it’s the Nass, but it could be a cappella or a sports team or Model UN). Not fun: Prince comments. Not fun: grade deflation. Not fun: getting passes, not getting invited to formals, getting hosed, getting your laundry stolen, missing late meal, first drafts in writing seminar. But that’s why we’re here. So we can talk about that, if you want, or talk about other things, the things that actually matter, like who you are and what you love and what it all means and if you want, we can try to figure out how to do those things a little better.
If you do choose Princeton (and probably if you choose anywhere else, but we can’t speak to that personally), you might have a hard time making sense of the impact seemingly random things can have on your life, because it’s so hard to know what’s important and what’s not, what random face will be your roommate, what building on a map is the right one, what person you may end up loving or what passion lies low in you. It’s easy to feel like there’s a single right way to do things, and that everything you could possibly do is either in service of the narrative of your success or failing it. But this is probably not true. We can’t tell you that you should come here or that you’d be happy here without knowing you. We also can’t say with certainty that the college experience you enjoy most is the one that will improve you most as a person, or that we even know what that means. But there are a lot of special things here, big and small, that make it worthwhile. When we stop to think about it we are bowled over by the love and admiration we feel for the people who have become fixtures in our lives here.
Right now, we’re sitting here trying to write something worth reading. We’re trying to tell you something worth knowing without seeming like we have all the answers. But what it comes down to is this: right now we are overextended and tired and trying to put together this issue of this paper for you. We’re trying to finish problem sets we wish we hadn’t had to start, fill out inane and mind-numbingly tedious applications for courses next fall, get our shit together for the summer that’s coming soon. We have a lot on our plates and that’s part of what being here means. It’s not all substantive or fun. Some of it is bullshit. There’s a lot of bullshit. But most days, it feels worth it. That’s what it comes down to. We’re happy here, even if we could’ve been happy somewhere else; we’re happy here and you could be, too.