Interviewing a Princeton Student

So, I promised I would be interviewing a Princeton student:




David Kurz is a major in Biology and he is really interested in Brazil. He is sharing some advice, and also some of his experiences in Princeton.


Age: 19


Class of 2012




Questions (click on "read more" to see the answers):
  1. What do you think that helped you being accepted in Princeton?
  2. How are the classes in Princeton? What are your favorite ones?
  3. How are the extracurricular activities in Princeton? Are you part of any groups?
  4. How is the community at the University? How is living in a dorm?
  5. How do you feel about studying at the same university your father graduated from?
  6. What are your interests in Brazil? What part of the country do you plan visiting in the future?
  7. Most people value the “school spirit.” In Brazil, this is something rare. How is the school spirit in Princeton and how valuable is it for you?
  8. What do you have to say to Brazilians interested in going to Princeton or any other prestigious college in the United States?
  9. What do you expect from Princeton in the future? How important do you think it is going to be for you? (Question from Marilia Costa, Portuguese and English Language teacher, PhD student in Linguistics and Portuguese Language at Unesp (São Paulo State University))
  10. What made you choose Princeton? What do you think it is unique about it? (Question from Rafael Jordan)
"Apply, Apply, Apply! What do you have to lose? About 10% of the student body here is made up of international students, and diversity is celebrated by almost everybody."


What do you think that helped you being accepted in Princeton?
I don't think there is really an "admissions formula" for getting into Princeton (or any good school, for that matter!). Of course, academic success is a pre-requisite. More importantly, however, I've found that most of my classmates are usually very passionate about one or two things - it could be a sport, political cause, specific extracurricular activity, hobby, etc - and are interesting people with potential. I really feel that the Admissions Committee looks at applicants holistically.

In my case, I had (and still have) several points of specific interest. In high school, I loved soccer and tennis, started an Environmental Club, played trumpet in jazz & concert band, and spent time on my Christian faith. Also, my academic passion has long been biology, and I really pursued my interest in animals and conservation. 

How are the classes in Princeton? What are your favorite ones?

Classes are usually a lot of work, but very rewarding as well! There are lots of opportunities to be in small lecture classes with great professors, who are very willing to meet with you during office hours, lunch, etc. I've really liked my Spanish classes and this course I'm in called the "Humanities Sequence." It's actually four courses (spread over two semesters) in which you study ancient and Renaissance literature and survey some of the greatest works in human history. My Ecology class last semester was also great! 

How are the extracurricular activities in Princeton? Are you part of any groups?

There are hundreds of groups and activities here! No matter what you like, you'll find something.. I'm heavily involved with a Christian ministry called Princeton Faith & Action; I play JV tennis in the fall and spring; I'm a leader with a program called Outdoor Action that takes incoming freshmen hiking/camping for a week; I'm a tour guide; and I play trumpet in a musical comedy troupe called Triangle Club. It's busy but a lot of fun!

How is the community at the University? How is living in a dorm?

Princeton has a GREAT community! Not only do the undergraduates love the school, but the alumni community in particular is one of the strongest in the country! One of the coolest things about Princeton is Reunions, which is a weekend at the end of May each year where 15,000 alumni come back to campus to celebrate and see each other! My first Reunions as a Princetonian was last May and was wonderful.

Dorm life is good. I'm currently living in a quad with three other guys. We have a study room, a sleep room, and a common room. It's like an apartment, and there's a lot of freedom in how you choose to arrange and set-up your room. Princeton is a little different from other schools in that almost 100% of students live on campus - housing on campus is abundant and really convenient, so there's no need to look elsewhere unless you really want to.


How do you feel about studying at the same university your father graduated from?

Hah, that's an interesting question. I don't mind; in fact, it's kind of fun to have the Princeton tradition in our family! I grew up coming to Princeton with him for Reunions and different events, but I was never set on going to school here. Now that I'm here, I'm really happy that I made the choice to come; it feels like the right place for me. Of course, my dad uses his Princeton connection as an excuse to come visit very often!


What are your interests in Brazil? What part of the country do you plan visiting in the future?

I really love the culture and people of Brazil. I've been to Rio, Sao Paolo, and Natal already (in 2002). In the future, I'm particularly interested in visiting the interior, perhaps areas like Mato Grosso and the Amazonas region, because there are some incredible ecosystems there! As I mentioned, I love biology so it would be great to explore and study the rainforest, pantanal, cerrado, and the different river ecosystems. I may be there this summer doing just that, but if not then I will definitely explore Brazil in the future. I plan on learning Portuguese after I finish solidifying my Spanish ;)


Most people value the “school spirit.” In Brazil, this is something rare. How is the school spirit in Princeton and how valuable is it for you?

School spirit is great! My friends and I went to a basketball game a couple of weeks ago and painted our chests orange and black to show our pride! I think students love Princeton because there are so wonderful things that are distinctive about Princeton: the thesis, eating clubs, and precept system (which requires every class to break up into smaller groups at least once a week). Also, the campus is beautiful and the opportunities for study are unsurpassed anywhere! It's great to go to a school you love.


What do you have to say to Brazilians interested in going to Princeton or any other prestigious college in the United States?

Apply, Apply, Apply! What do you have to lose? About 10% of the student body here is made up of international students, and diversity is celebrated by almost everybody. There is a growing community of people who love Brazil (in fact, one of my friends is starting a Brazil society!) and I see a lot of potential for Brazilians to come to Princeton and other prestigious American schools.


Questions from blog readers:
What do you expect from Princeton in the future? How important do you think it is going to be for you? (Question from Marilia Costa, Portuguese and English Language teacher, PhD student in Linguistics and Portuguese Language at Unesp (São Paulo State University))

Hi Marilia! I think my Princeton experience is going to be very important in the future. Beyond what I am learning in classes and through extracurricular activities, I am really learning how to manage my time and how to think. As our president, Shirley Tilghman, has said: Princeton doesn't prepare you for a specific profession, but for any profession. The liberal arts education you receive here is amazing! Also, the emphasis on independent work will be especially valuable for me in giving me research experience in biology before I graduate. Hopefully, that will be a great head start for future research in grad school & beyond. Socially, I'm sure that many of the friendships I've formed here and will form are going to endure for life. I know I'm going to miss Princeton a ton when I leave, but I'll always come back and be a proud member of the Tiger community wherever I go!

What made you choose Princeton? What do you think it is unique about it? (Question from Rafael Jordan)

Thanks for the question, Rafael. I chose Princeton for a few reasons (in addition to the academics): I like the park-like feel of the campus and the small town adjacent to it (I'm not a city person!); I like the undergraduate focus of Princeton (there are more undergrads than grad students, 5000 to 2300); my academic department, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, is very strong here and a lot of fun - I'm going to Panama to study tropical biology next spring with the department! Also, as I mentioned earlier, Princeton is unique in a number of ways. We don't have a med school, law school, business school, etc. so undergrads get a lot of attention. Every student is also required to do independent research and write a thesis. The eating clubs at Princeton are definitely unique - they are at the heart of the social scene here.. Eating clubs are where 70% of upperclassmen take their meals, and they also hold parties and are a hang-out place for many students. I just joined an eating club (Tower Club) and love it! However, there are many other great eating and social options for students who choose not to participate in clubs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails