The Calm Before the Storm

By now, your student has survived midterms, roommate choices, and spring break. There is a mere month of classes before reading period and finals. The weather is wet, but warmer, and spring allergies are beginning to take effect. Students are dining al fresco, showing signs of spring fever, and preparing for end of year performances and plays. This is often one of the most relaxed and pleasant times on the Princeton campus.

The primary blot on this bucolic scene is the dreaded room draw, when some students will (unfortunately) end up with late pick times, and consequently little choice in their room for next year. This is especially difficult for those students who feel as though they were shortchanged their first year—and that they somehow deserve preferential treatment as a consequence. A second year in a remote, charmless dorm room, and the resulting conviction that they are doomed to misery their sophomore year, is a common lament. 

Rather than joining the chorus, please remind your student that a lottery is simply the most equitable way for the University to manage this annual dilemma, and refrain from agreeing with the verdict of inevitable disaster. In our many years, we have never seen a student’s life ruined by real estate. 

Decisions about next fall’s courses are also being made now. It is important that your student think carefully about possible majors, and keep all of their bases covered, if possible. There is certainly still time for exploration and maneuver, but it is a good idea to have a short list by now, as many departments have prerequisites which must be fulfilled before declaring that major. Discussions with the assistant dean and departmental representatives can be very helpful in narrowing things down. You might also recommend they visit the bookstore, and wander through the aisles to see what catches their attention, and which subjects seem the most intriguing. If they find themselves parked on the floor near the anthropology section, that might be a sign...

What your student may experience:

  • Students get "spring fever" as the weather warms up. They’ll find concentrating on academics harder than ever.
  • Seniors are “checking out,” as they wrap up their thesis work. This means that underclassmen must take on more responsibility in student groups, as the onslaught of spring activities starts in earnest. 
  • The frustrations of room draw.
  • The challenge of making fall course selections.

What you can do to help:

  • Encourage your student to stay on top of their academic work, despite the appeal of alternative activities.
  • Be supportive if your student is disappointed by the results of room draw, but help them to keep it in perspective.
  • Remind your student to spend time thinking about fall course selection and speaking with advisers, understanding that changes can be made after the start of term as well.