Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.
Clearly, everyone here is disturbed enough to adopt this color as a new fashion statement; we ostentatiously adorn our Princeton apparel—the vibrant orange color—in public. Many would think that our pride and willingness to represent orange derives itself from our number one ranking on the US News and World report, but it goes deeper than that. Princeton is, for the most part, aesthetically the bomb: The majestic, gothic architecture impresses all who visit and motivates a brilliant, hardworking student body. At the same time, however, orange is ugly. There are certain unsexy qualities of this school that still remind me how divisive the color can be.
The decision to adopt such a color was extremely tough for me. It’s akin to the Yves Klein painting entitled Monochrome in Blue. At first glance, one would think that it is just a simple contemporary painting with no substance: the whole canvas is just one color. On further inspection, one realizes that it is not just any blue—it’s this arguably perfect, welcoming shade that Klein spent years tirelessly developing in a lab. Klein has said that such a painting is an “open window to freedom.” Choosing a college (and its color) can provide this freedom: the ability to dictate the next four-year path in our lives
For me, Princeton seemed as if it was the odd one out of the Ivies: The dominance of the undergraduates in its student body seemed strange for such an established institution. And the color orange is not a hue that was ever in my wardrobe before—I am reminded even now of the jarring nature of orange. For example, many upperclassmen I know struggle with adequate mental health resources. I’ve already been warned about waiting weeks to schedule an appointment at CPS and about the University’s poor handling of mental health-related suicide. With the rigorous coursework that constitutes a Princeton education, it seems counterintuitive to lack the necessary means to support students mentally and emotionally—especially with the stark transition between high school and university-level work. Although I’ve been told that the University is still working on improving this, it still reminds me of the ugly side of orange.
Orange is also loud. The welcoming faculty at Princeton reminds me of how noticeable the color can be because they stick out from the crowd. When I sat in on a professor’s lecture at preview, he nonchalantly discussed an important theory that he discovered—and named after himself. While I may end up exhausted from all the coursework, I will never forget the fact that I am learning from a world-renowned professor. Other institutions may brag about their faculty as well, but Princeton is unique in that my sense of a greater connection among its staff and the students was so visible. Professors seem open, if not eager, to meet their students outside of class during office hours, allowing many interested students conduct research alongside them. Instead of the importance on graduate students, the faculty put significant energy on helping their undergraduate students. In my writing seminar and my freshman seminar classes, I see this benefit head-on. Each of my professors puts particular emphasis on each of our individual needs, adjusting course material to fit the interests of my class and working with us on a closer level to give us direct feedback.
This isn’t to say I’m not cognizant of the less academic, stereotypical life after Princeton. When I was at the career fair, I was a little intimidated by the fact that more than half of the tables were dedicated to finance or consulting. While I don’t have anything against people who go to Wall Street, it made me fearful about the emphasis and resources available in other departments at Princeton.
Nevertheless, after 18 years of searching, I have found my monochrome in orange, a color that I dare say could be favorite from now on. For the next four years, I will be able to enjoy this unique color with students who are not only hardworking, but translate their energy in maintaining personal, strong friendships. While nothing can ever rival the warm orange that embodies Princeton, I will still maintain a focused eye on even less desirable aspects of orange. You may still find me at Fred Segal one day in an orange, angora sweater—one that represents the enchanting nature of Old Nassau.