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Is strategic rationality a modern way of thinking? Not according to Josiah Ober, Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University, and formerly a professor at Princeton University.
The London Hellenic book Prize 2020 has been awarded to Dr Rosa Andújar’s (KCL) edition of The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro: Electricidad Oedipus El Rey Mojada (Bloomsbury/Methuen Drama) -- Mexican-American playwright Luis Alfaro's highly original cultural and linguistic adaptations of Sophocles’ Electra and Oedipus Rex and Euripides’ Medea to the life of urban/ immigrant Latinx communities in Los Angeles.
Taishi Nakase, an operations research and financial engineering concentrator has been selected as valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2021. Lucy Wang, a chemistry concentrator pursuing a certificate in Classics with a focus on Ancient Roman language and culture, was named salutatorian.
What type of effort goes into writing about Roman historian and politician Sallust?
The work of extruding an argument from [my] prose, Feldherr posits, “. is like eating stinky cheese through a straw.” An interesting image to be sure. If this piques your curiosity regarding the method the writer and Princeton University professor uses to answer profound questions about Sallust’s motives and integrity in his writings pick up a copy of “After the Past, Sallust on History and Writing History” available June 2021.
Marc Domingo Gygax is Director of the Program in the Ancient World and Professor of Classics. His new book “Benefactors and the Polis: The Public Gift in the Greek Cities from the Homeric World to Late Antiquity” was co-edited by Arjan Zuiderhoek (Universiteit Gent) and published by Cambridge University Press in December 2020. In this interview, Professor Gygax talks about his research into public gifts in ancient Greek cities.
Program in the Ancient World will be hosting the Magie Lecture featuring Josiah Ober.
Thucydides on asymmetrical relations between states: Rationality and its limits.
Dido, Queen of Carthage, is one of the best-known women of the ancient Mediterranean. And yet we seem to know little about what the Carthaginians themselves thought of her. In the 2021 Prentice lecture, ‘Wandering Dido: Reclaiming a Carthaginian Queen,’ Josephine Quinn, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Oxford, sought to explore this question in a wide-ranging investigation of the sources and stories behind the Dido myth.
The department's annual newsletter is now available online and paper copies have been mailed.
Inside you can find updates from faculty and students, an article by alumna Erynn Kim '17, a fascinating interview with Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow Erika Valdivieso, Clem Brown's '21, winemaking research project and so much more!
Teaching Awards honor those graduate students who have made a significant and exceptional contribution to undergraduate teaching. The selection committee for the awards consists of the deans in Academic Affairs from my office as well as senior staff from the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning.
The Department of Classics is overjoyed with Elliot's accomplishment.
The Department of Classics has been much in the news lately – and, just to be blunt about it, the content has been critical. Some articles focus on individual members of our department others criticize classics as a field. It is not my intention here to rehearse all the arguments and discussions that have raged in the media over the past few months, except to say that they have, by and large, been backward-looking in orientation, whether in criticizing the behavior of individual classicists or the shortcomings of the field at large.
Navigating Socialist Encounters. Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War is edited by Eric Burton, Anne Dietrich, Immanuel R. Harisch and Marcia C. Schenck.
During the fellowship, she will work on her project “Communicating Power and Sovereignty: Creek and Seminole Communication Networks, 1715-1880.”
The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values.
The graduate program in History values an approach to scholarship grounded in the particular while retaining a sense of the whole. The faculty encourage students to take as comprehensive a view of history as possible with the goal of cultivating a far-reaching understanding of the past. Throughout their enrollment, students develop the necessary skills to conduct discipline-defining research.
Vibrant intellectual communities within the department and across campus encourage students to engage in interdisciplinary conversations with faculty, other students, and visiting scholars. Faculty advisers supervise the progress of each student and closely oversee the research and writing of the dissertation. Deep departmental commitment to professional development aids students in becoming expert historians and effective teachers.
Explore the various fields of inquiry pursued by currently enrolled students by reading their profiles.
A new book explores the dawn of coeducation at elite universities
In the late 1960s, several prestigious universities in the United States — including Princeton — decided to admit women for the first time. The reasons it happened at this particular moment are surprising and largely unexplored. In her new book, “Keep the Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation, professor emerita of history and former Dean of the College Nancy Weiss Malkiel illuminates the forces that prompted a small group of powerful men to implement this pivotal change. She spoke to PAW about her findings.
In the book, you focus on a handful of universities that were male-only in the 1960s, even though other elite institutions had been coed for years. What was different about the universities you write about?
There’s a long tradition of single-sex education among Eastern elite universities and colleges, going all the way back to Harvard’s founding in the 17th century. Places like Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard — they were all founded on the presumption that they would educate men. They had been educating men for one or two centuries when, at the end of the 19th century, we see the founding of private colleges for women, like Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, and Barnard.
No one was thinking at that time about opening up institutions like Princeton to women, because they believed their long tradition of single-sex education really worked. These places provided an excellent education for young men they developed leaders they fostered camaraderie among students that led to lifelong friendships and important business associations. And there was a belief that the magic of all that — if you will — depended on the fact that these institutions were male.
Coeducation at these universities took place during the profound social shifts of the 1960s. How did those shifts affect the decision to admit women?
As we all know, the 1960s were an extraordinarily complicated and turbulent period. By the end of the decade, American society in general — and American educational institutions in particular — bore only a limited resemblance to what they had been 10 years before. At the beginning of the 1960s, you couldn’t have a person of the opposite sex in a dormitory except at very specific times of the week and times of day there were regulations about everything from cars to when you could actually leave campus.
All of this was shaken up during the 1960s. Conservative private, elite universities began to think about socioeconomic diversity, to consider the idea that maybe you would look for students in public schools, Catholic and Jewish students, African American students. Coeducation fits into all of this because if you’re beginning to open up admissions, why not think about gender?
But one has to stop for a moment because the real motivation for places like Yale and Princeton as they embarked on serious consideration of coeducation wasn’t really all these [social] movements. It was the changing face of admissions.
What do you mean?
Around this time, the “best boys” in private and public high schools were beginning to show that they didn’t want to attend places that only had men, these “monastic institutions,” as President Robert Goheen [’40 *48] called Princeton. So they needed to figure out a way to regain their hold on these “best boys.”
Two institutions in particular — Princeton and Yale — realized that they were in trouble at about the same time, and watched each other and reacted to what the other one was doing. At first, they tried to deal with this by having women nearby, in a coordinated institution. In the middle of the 1960s, Yale tried to persuade Vassar College to move from Poughkeepsie to New Haven. Vassar seriously considered this offer, and this led President Goheen to approach Sarah Lawrence College about relocating near Princeton’s campus. When Vassar and Sarah Lawrence both eventually said “no, thank you,” the conversation slowly turned to coeducation.
How did Princeton influence other schools’ decisions to embark on coeducation?
Princeton really stood out in its careful and thoughtful approach. While it was courting Sarah Lawrence, Princeton’s leaders decided that they needed to study the question of coeduation. In the spring of 1967, the Board of Trustees agreed to President Goheen’s proposal that they invite Gardner Patterson, a professor of economics, to undertake a serious analytic study of whether the education of women made sense for Princeton.
When this report was finished in September 1968, it was sent to the president of Yale. He had been considering establishing a coordinate college for women, but he decided that Yale needed to get out ahead of Princeton, and got approval to begin coeducation starting in the fall of 1969. There was no process or planning — they just turned on a dime. Princeton had to respond. So this is how, in April of 1969, Princeton’s Board of Trustees voted to enroll women the following fall.
Were the leaders of Princeton thinking about whether coeducation would be good for women?
They were thinking a little bit about whether Princeton would be good for women — but they were thinking a lot more about whether women would be good for Princeton. Women were imagined to be a vehicle for restoring the “best boys” to places like Princeton and Yale. They were instruments, if you will.
One of the most fascinating parts of the Patterson report is a tiny little section titled “Can Princeton Do Justice to Women Students?” In it, Patterson wrote, “It would be a disgrace to Princeton were the University to admit women only because it believed that this would serve the interests, however broadly defined, of its male students.”
Princeton officials “were thinking a little bit about whether Princeton would be good for women — but they were thinking a lot more about whether women would be good for Princeton.”
Nancy Weiss Malkiel
That’s a wonderful sentiment, but frankly, very little about the process of making the decision for coeducation spoke to this issue. Clearly there was a concept that there were women of talent who could do the work here and thrive here. But to consider what we needed to do for women students — none of these institutions were doing that. And I think that is partly why it was so tough for the first women students — because these places had no experience in educating women and they didn’t know how to do it.
How difficult was it for the early women students?
Well, of course there were the large majority of alumni who thought the magic of Princeton, the special experience of attending school here, would be irreparably damaged by admitting women. They thought women wouldn’t be serious about their studies, that they would come to places like this to look for husbands, that they were taking up places that could be filled by able men.
READ MORE: Trials of the Co-ed 100
A 1973 PAW essay by Jane Leifer ’73
But it wasn’t just the alumni who made things challenging for those first women students. You had male professors who would ask them for the women’s point of view, putting the sole woman in precept on the spot, even in classes in math and statistics. A faculty member at Dartmouth put slides up on a screen, including nude women among sea creatures. A woman student at Yale asked the chair of the history department if he would consider giving a course on the history of women, and he said, “That would be like teaching the history of dogs.” The first cohorts of women were essentially under a microscope the first Princeton women say that they felt they were in a foreign country.
You write,“Fundamentally changing Princeton would take much more than adding some female faculty and students.” Can you elaborate?
Getting women students respected for the quality of their intellects and the effectiveness of their imagination and analytic ability — that didn’t happen automatically. It took a while for some faculty to come to the view that women were fully capable of excelling as students. And none of the places that were newly coeducated moved quickly to hire and then tenure women faculty.
Those realities caused a lot of bumps along the way. Are we fully past them? No, we’re not. There are departments here that have very few women faculty and students. As we know from the report on undergraduate women’s leadership published in 2011 [See PAW, April 6, 2011], we don’t have a gender-neutral pattern of leadership in undergraduate activities.
So coeducation is very much normal now, but the full integration of women and men into a student body that warmly embraces and supports equally both genders — it’s not a finished project.
You were one of the first female faculty members at Princeton. What was your experience, as both an observer of and a participant in coeducation?
There were three women in the professorial ranks when I arrived in 1969. That meant there were endless opportunities to participate in committees and activities and give talks — they wanted one of us. In some ways, it gave me a broader acquaintance with the place than I might have had otherwise.
My students seemed amused by me. I had a junior advisee who brought me an apple during office hours. Did I encounter situations where not everyone was enthusiastic about my presence as a woman faculty member? Yes. But on the whole I had a very good time. That was not true of my counterparts in every department, of course.
What was the effect of coeducation on women’s colleges?
This story starts with Vassar. They weren’t in a geographical location near men’s colleges, so coeducation came to them as a means of institutional self-preservation. Wellesley and Smith were able to be more reflective. But they had to think seriously about coeducation because of what the men’s schools were doing. Would it be possible for a school like Smith, for example, to retain its hold on excellent students and faculty if all these men’s schools were going coed? In the end, Smith remained single-sex largely because of the women’s movement. Gloria Steinem, who was an alumna of Smith, gave a commencement speech in 1971 where she said, essentially, that feminism means being a strong women’s college.
The result was that because really excellent women students now wanted to go to Princeton and Yale, places like Smith and Wellesley had to adjust to a rather different set of credentials — in terms of SAT scores and grades and class rank — for their incoming students. But they’re still producing women who go on to become leaders, which is what they used to do.
Do you think there’s still a need for single-sex schools?
I served on the Smith Board of Trustees for a decade, so I’ve often talked to prospective students about the advantages of a women’s college and can make that pitch easily. At a women’s college, you’re the principal business of the institution. You have every opportunity to study any subject without any concerns — you’re the ones who will be the presidents and the editors-in-chief.
But then I’d always say, but I actually think that my women students at Princeton have all these opportunities too. What I sometimes acknowledge is that if women high school students were thinking about what would really be good for them as a long-term investment, they might well choose a women’s college. But if they’re thinking about where they’ll have the best time as a student, they’ll choose a coed school.
What surprised you most in researching this book?
I had no idea that President Goheen had tried to persuade Sarah Lawrence to move to Princeton. That stunned me. The male presidents of the major single-sex institutions that were contemplating coeducation did their damnedest to figure out a way to do it without actually going coed.
Interview conducted and condensed by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux ’11
In June 1967, President Goheen asked Professor Gardner Patterson to study the advisability of coeducation at Princeton. His report argued for the admission of women — but as Malkiel writes in this excerpt from her book, the discussion didn’t focus on women’s interests.
“Can Princeton Do Justice to Women Students?”
What is striking is how little of the discussion of the Patterson report focused on the education of women. It was not that women were absent from the conversation — far from it, because the issue at hand was what would happen if women undergraduates were permitted to enroll at Princeton. Still, most of the conversation was about Princeton as an institution and about Princeton men. Put differently, there were three main actors in this drama: Princeton University, Princeton men, and, potentially, Princeton women. To the extent that women figured in the conversation, it was mainly in terms of how their presence would be good, or less good, for Princeton University and Princeton men. As was the case in so many all-male institutions considering coeducation, women and their needs were largely left out of the equation.
Early on, Patterson had written to a woman who opposed coeducation at Princeton, “Our approach has not been ‘Do women need Princeton?’ but rather, ‘Does the Princeton of the future need women?’ Will Princeton be a better place if there are women in the undergraduate body?” The committee’s primary concern, he said, was “whether the presence of women would heighten the value of the educational experience of the students.”
The Patterson report took a similar tack. Patterson made plain that women were fully able “to participate in the intellectual life of the University” that they enrolled in college with excellent academic records (indeed, stronger records than those of men, on average) that they brought to college “superior cultural achievements and interests” and that, at Harvard-Radcliffe and Stanford, the schools most comparable to Princeton, their “average academic records” often surpassed those of men. And women typically graduated at slightly higher rates than men.
Going beyond the qualifications of women students, Patterson raised a tantalizing question: “Can Princeton Do Justice to Women Students?” That section of the report — two-thirds of a page in length — began with a promising paragraph:
“It would be a disgrace to Princeton if it were to admit women only because it believed this would serve the interests, however broadly defined, of its male students. Unless the University, its trustees, its faculty and its students are ready to give continuous and serious concern and effort to what it can offer women for their intellectual growth and development unless we are willing to accept as desirable that women will demand a quality of education in no way inferior to that offered men unless we are prepared to acknowledge that the restricted roles of women in the past are outmoded, and the intellectual talents of women are ‘an important personal and public resource to be developed and used with care and courage’ unless we can embrace all of these things, Princeton should abandon all thought of admitting women. In our opinion, this point cannot be stressed too much.”
But then the text meandered in puzzling ways. After asserting that Princeton could meet the charge, the report said, among other things, that there would be no need for massive curricular changes. Additional facilities would be needed for the creative arts, but those would benefit men as well as women. Women, who were less likely than men to be on a clear pre-professional track, might “profit from greater freedom in the choice of majors and distribution requirements.” It might be a good idea to permit “a certain amount of upperclass work taken at other institutions” to count toward requirements for a Princeton degree. It might be desirable to introduce some new introductory courses “with somewhat different content and approaches from those we have now,” whose pre-professional emphases were either “greater or lesser” than would be “appropriate for many women students.” It might “be necessary, in certain disciplines, for the faculty to make a special effort to encourage women students to generalize and to speculate.” And — perhaps the most arresting observation of all — “Princeton would have to avoid graduating a group of ‘little men.’” All told, “Can Princeton Do Justice to Women Students?” was the least focused, most poorly reasoned part of the Patterson report.
READ MORE: “The Education of Women at Princeton”
The 1968 report that paved the way for coeducation
Princeton was working out its destiny at a moment when American society was in the early stages of a major debate about the role of women, and thus at a watershed moment for the higher education of women in the United States. Some parties to the discussion could see what was at stake. At the Princeton Club gathering [about the report] in Denver, for example, “the best question,” Dean of the College Edward D. Sullivan later recorded, “was from a wife, a Smith graduate, who in a very thoughtful and articulate fashion wanted to know if Princeton was really prepared to undertake the education of women, if we had learned well enough how to take on a whole new set of emotional and other problems, and were we prepared to accept the really changed image of Princeton when a number of women alumnae joined the ranks.” She wondered, too, whether [development director] Jerry Horton’s view “that women would damage Princeton was widespread and might in itself be damaging to the women who were admitted.” She favored coeducation but wanted to be sure that Princeton understood what was at stake.
In a five-page letter written to Sullivan after the meeting, a Princeton wife who had spoken at the gathering wrote to elaborate on her concerns. (It was likely the same woman Sullivan had written about, though, as she said, she was a Wellesley alumna.) Although it was clear that it would be good for Princeton men to admit women, it was not at all clear whether it would be good for women. “Princeton would have to do as well by its women as by its men. But Princeton’s accomplishments and sensibilities lie with men.” How much thought had Princeton given to the needs of undergraduate women? “Is it feasible,” she asked, “for women to receive a personally meaningful and valuable educational experience in an institution so deeply and traditionally male?” “My concern,” she said, “is that Princeton is as responsible in doing this, as it is bold that it recognizes the subtlety, extent and depth of its male tradition and has the institutional courage to become as effective a coeducational institution as it was a men’s college.”
TALK BACK: How have women changed Princeton — and what work remains? Share your views in the comments section
How much did issues of this sort — admittedly subtle and complex — figure in the Patterson committee discussions? How much were they on Patterson’s mind as he wrote? It is not easy to tell from Patterson’s text. Patterson acknowledged women’s increasing participation in the labor force, presenting data showing that women would use their education by entering into employment outside the home, especially in professional and technical fields, and arguing that Princeton therefore had the opportunity to help to meet the growing “demand for highly-educated women,” thus “responding to national needs and opportunities.” He gave reason to believe that he understood that the university was facing a sea change in American society in terms of roles and expectations for women — for their education, as well as for their later lives. But that was about as far as he went.
Excerpted from “Keep the Damned Women Out”: The Struggle for Coeducation by Nancy Weiss Malkiel. © 2016 Princeton University Press. Reprinted with permission.
8 Expert Tips for a Strong Ivy League Grad School Application
Many prospective students tend to focus on GPA and test scores when preparing to apply to an Ivy League but these elements shouldn’t be the stars of your application -- they should be supporting evidence of your hard work, passion, purpose, and genuine interest in your chosen program. With that in mind, here are tips from experts Erin Goodnow, Going Ivy co-founder and CEO, and Dr. Marion Brewington, Ph.D., of Brewington Test Prep, on how to increase your chances of getting into an Ivy League school.
- Go beyond proofreading. Talk to any admissions advisor and one of the first things they’ll tell you is to ensure your essay and personal statement receive a thorough proofreading before sending it off. While this advice is great and should be followed, students applying to Ivy Leagues must go further. “Show your essays and application to others for their perspective,” encourages Brewington. In addition to grammar and syntax, sometimes applicants need help with the tone and overall message of their writing and outside perspective can help provide that.
- Go beyond the grade. “Excellent grades are necessary, but not sufficient,” reminds Brewington. “Passion for an activity, innovation, creativity, a unique perspective, and maturity all need to be evident in every corner of your application.” Admissions panels must get a true sense of the special qualities you bring to the program. “If these subjective items are so strong, they might even make up for a few B’s on your transcript,” says Brewington.”
- Get insight from a grad student who applied to your program recently. Prospective students can read every possible online article on how to get into an Ivy League, but no article can provide as much insight as someone who actually attended an Ivy League for graduate school. Seek out friends, family, colleagues, or friends of friends who attended -- or are currently attending -- your school of interest to get their insight and feedback.
- Provide those who write your letters of recommendation with unique details. Brewington suggests using letters of recommendation to help differentiate your application and in order to do that, your writers will need as much information as possible. “It’s a great idea to give your letter of recommendation writers unique details about you so they can write memorable recommendations that stand out to admission panels,” she says. Examples may include details about international travel, volunteerism, or field-specific advancements.
- Explain in detail why this school is right for you. Identifying why you feel drawn to a specific school represents an important component of an undergraduate application, but it’s even more significant at the grad school level. In addition to highlighting why the school as a whole speaks to your interests and desires for a campus community, Brewington says applicants should have specific reasons for wanting to attend a particular graduate school. And if you’re applying to multiple Ivy Leagues make sure you explain why each one is right for you. “Is it a particular faculty person? Program? Concentration only offered by that school? Highlight all of this in your application,” she urges.
- Don’t ignore anything labeled as ‘optional’. “If something says it’s optional, it is recommended,” says Brewington. Ivy League schools may indicate that certain application elements are optional, and while it may be tempting to gloss over these, taking the extra steps to still fulfill them may help set you apart from the competition.
- Take advantage of early admissions cycles. According Ivy Coach, all eight of the Ivy Leagues maintain significantly higher acceptance rates during the early decision round of applications. Students who want all the help they can get should strongly consider applying early. While this is no guarantee, it doesn’t hurt to try.
- Have a Plan B. Even if you achieved excellent grades and test scores, have an impressive professional resume, and take part in meaningful, relevant extracurriculars, Ivy League graduate programs still maintain dramatically low acceptance rates. If you don’t get in initially, it’s important to have a back up plan. “What will you do if you don’t get admitted on your first try? How can you strengthen your application for round two?” asks Brewington. If you want to re-apply to one of these eight schools, you’ll need to update your application to show how you’ve grown and/or accomplished impressive feats in the interim.
What are the next steps?
Obviously, taking a few AP® courses will give you a leg up with being admitted to Princeton – but, as you now know, they will also really help you out once you get there!
If you feel stressed about the work that AP® classes require, you shouldn’t be, because we are here to help. So sit back, relax, and take a look at our handy guides to help you on your AP® journey.
You can read about the easiest AP® classes and tests here, and the hardest ones here.
You can also find a helpful guide about when to start studying for the AP® exams here, so you can avoid a major freak out in May when the all of the tests start piling up.
We wish you the best of luck on your college admissions journey! Remember Albert.io is here for all your AP® needs, whether it is some quick information on a school’s requirements or detailed study guides – we have it all.
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On the Campus Curriculum Changed to Add Flexibility, Race and Identity Track
The Princeton faculty approved curriculum changes in the departments of politics, religion, and classics in April. Politics added a track in race and identity, while religion and classics increased flexibility for concentrators, including eliminating the requirement for classics majors to take Greek or Latin.
Professor Frances Lee, associate chair of the politics department, said the idea for the new undergraduate track in race and identity was part of the larger initiative on campus launched by President Eisgruber ’83 to address systemic racism at Princeton. A committee put together by the chair was asked to look broadly at the department to recommend responses. The new track was created out of courses the department already offered. The goal is to offer this track as a defined pathway for students who are interested in the topic, as well as to set them up for future academic work in this area, Lee said.
“The politics of race underlies so much of U.S. political history,” she said, adding that there is “a wide array of intellectual questions as well as subjects that you need to understand if you want to understand politics at its core.”
Students who choose this track will need to fulfill three main requirements: take the introductory core course “Race and Politics in the United States” complete three other courses from the 14 focused on race and identity and incorporate the theme as part of the senior thesis. The track is open to all undergraduate students in the department.
In religion, courses for concentrators are now available in two main “streams.” The first, called traditions, “encompasses different religious traditions, approaches, geographical areas, and time periods,” and the second, called themes, allows students to concentrate on thematic areas, according to a department memo. The department has wanted to do this for some time, said Seth Perry, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor of religion.
“We also wanted to do a better job in articulating what the major does in terms of transportable learning outcomes for our students as they go off into graduate schools or in their careers,” Perry said. For example, students can pursue Islam and religions of Asia, or they can pair religion with media, art, philosophy, or politics.
In classics, two major changes were made. The “classics” track, which required an intermediate proficiency in Greek or Latin to enter the concentration, was eliminated, as was the requirement for students to take Greek or Latin. Students still are encouraged to take either language if it is relevant to their interests in the department. The breadth of offerings remains the same, said Josh Billings, director of undergraduate studies and professor of classics. The changes ultimately give students more opportunities to major in classics.
The discussions about these changes predate Eisgruber’s call to address systemic racism at the University, Billings said, but were given new urgency by this and the events around race that occurred last summer. “We think that having new perspectives in the field will make the field better,” he said. “Having people who come in who might not have studied classics in high school and might not have had a previous exposure to Greek and Latin, we think that having those students in the department will make it a more vibrant intellectual community.”
How Stanford's Tilt Toward STEM Affects Admissions Chances
One difference between Stanford (and Cornell and UC Berkeley) and some of the other top-10 colleges is that Stanford is not a pure liberal arts college instead, Stanford is a liberal arts college with a significant STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) tilt.
This means that—all else being equal—if your interests learn more toward engineering, you'll get a slight boost in your admission chances. For your base diversity of extracurriculars, it helps to focus more on engineering and/or math it also helps if your spike is in engineering or math. So if one student were a top-100 young writer and another were a top-100 math competitor, it's likely that the latter would have a slightly better chance of getting into Stanford.
Don't just take my word for it, though—you can Google it yourself. You'll see that Stanford is in the US News' top-ranked engineering schools, while Harvard and Yale are nowhere near the top 10. Part of this, however, is a self-fulfilling prophecy: because good engineering-type undergrads come here, it becomes an ideal place for similarly minded students.
Despite this clear STEM tilt, Stanford is certainly not a STEM-only school (which other top-ranked schools such as MIT, Caltech, and Carnegie Mellon essentially are). As a result, math-related classes and extracurriculars are not the only things that matter when applying to Stanford.
The next two sections will give you advice based on which subjects you plan to study in college. If you're less into STEM, read the next section. But if you're already focusing on a STEM area and plan on continuing to do so, skip on ahead to the section after for my most helpful tips.
Do you plan on majoring in a humanities or similar subject? Then this section is for you!
3 thoughts on &ldquo Alexander Hamilton’s connection to Princeton &rdquo
Why do you assume that a person’s political affiliation makes him less truthful, as per:
“But given what is known about the young Hamilton’s political attitudes, what is known about the administration of the College at the time, and the original source, the veracity of the story is questionable.”
As the author of the post I appreciate your question however I fear that you may have misunderstood the implications of the quoted statement. To clarify, it is not Hamilton’s truthfulness that is called into doubt by his political stances, but rather the reliability of the passed down legend that he sought admission to Princeton.
By his own admission, Hamilton lacked the revolutionary fervor of many of his “founding brothers” and instead favored a more moderate approach to political reformation for the colonies, particularly in his early years. By contrast, Princeton under the guidance of John Witherspoon had acquired a somewhat deserved reputation as a breeding ground of radical political sentiment. King’s College, his eventual destination, was headed by ardent Tory and loyalist to the crown Myles Cooper and therefore may have been a more politically attractive environment for the young Hamilton. It is clear that while attending King’s College his views on revolution evolved rapidly, but we must put ourselves in the shoes of Hamilton, just another 18/19 year old attempting to navigate the uncertain world of choosing a college like so many high school seniors today.
So in piecing together the evidence that Hamilton may have sought admission to the College of New Jersey, his infant political leanings can be considered something of a strike against the credibility of Hercules Mulligan’s Princeton story, but certainly not against Hamilton himself in any way.
Thank you for commenting. If interested, a fuller discussion of these topics can be found in Ron Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton,” particularly Chapter 3 “The Collegian.”
First and foremost, thank you for your comment. As a blog owner yourself, I’m sure you are aware that one of the unique aspects of blogging is that it opens the door to interaction between readers and writers, something we wholeheartedly encourage.
My reasons for questioning certain aspects of Mulligan’s narrative are perhaps most effectively expressed by Hamilton biographer Nathan Schachner in an article published in The William & Mary Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 2 of April, 1947. In the article, titled “Alexander Hamilton as Viewed by His Friends: The Narratives of Robert Troup and Hercules Mulligan” Schachner points to several known historical inaccuracies in these two earliest Hamilton life stories. Though infrequently cited, the article is worth tracking down and can be found through JStor.
In the case of Mulligan, who was clearly a close acquaintance of Hamilton and whose narrative (as channeled through John Hamilton) must be treated with a certain level of respect, the main source of suspicion is the amount of time that lapsed between many of the events he describes and the commitment of his recollections to paper. By the time that John Hamilton requested Mulligan provide him some documentation of Hamilton’s early years, Hamilton had long since passed into the realm of legend. Schachner’s suspicion, and one that I share, is that this colored his recollections considerably.
In addition to these situational suspicions, when compared with primary sources such as records of the New York Provincial Congress (or the archives of the College of New Jersey, for that matter) one finds Mulligan’s narrative to contain a number of inaccuracies, chronological and otherwise.
Of course, this is all open to debate and most modern Hamilton biographers such as Chernow and Randall choose to accept most if not all of Mulligan’s narrative as fact without any further inquiry. For their purposes, this is perfectly acceptable. However since Mulligan seems to be the original source of the story regarding Hamilton’s attempts to attend to the College of New Jersey, it is worth some closer scrutiny in this case, particularly when balanced against the lack of supporting documentation in the early archives of the College of New Jersey.
Hello Mr. Brennan. Your blog is a terrific resource for confirming hearsay with the historical record. It has come in handy for my own personal research thank you.
In addition to thanking you for sharing your knowledge with the public, I also have a question about the remark you made concerning the accuracy of Mulligan’s narrative (for your information, my real name is not Hercules Mulligan I just modeled my Internet name after him). I am curious as to why some historians have questioned its accuracy.
If it is at all possible, do you think you can fill me in? Why is the accuracy of his narrative questioned? What is the evidence pro and con that it is reliable? And what is your own conclusion on the matter?
I have been researching both Alexander Hamilton and Hercules Mulligan, and that is why I am curious. Any information you can provide me with, at your own convenience, is most appreciated.
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The Princeton Branch provides rail service directly to the Princeton University campus from Princeton Junction, where New Jersey Transit and Amtrak provide Northeast Corridor rail service, heading northeast to Newark, New York City, and Boston, and southwest to Trenton, Philadelphia, and Washington. As of 2016, the branch schedule includes 41 round trips each weekday.  The line is served by a two-car set of GE Arrow III self-propelled electric coach cars.
Service suspension Edit
In September 2018, New Jersey Transit announced that it would be suspending all service on the Princeton Branch from mid-October 2018 until mid-January 2019, and providing shuttle bus service instead. Restoration of train service was later postponed until May 12, 2019. Systemwide service reductions were attributed to the installation and testing of positive train control, compounded by a shortage of train engineers.   The automatic braking system will not be installed on the Princeton Branch itself. 
Operational milestones Edit
When the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company (C&A) opened its original Trenton–New Brunswick line in 1839, completing the first rail connection between Philadelphia and New York Harbor, the line was located along the east bank of the newly completed Delaware and Raritan Canal, about one mile (2 km) from downtown Princeton. A new alignment (now the Northeast Corridor Line) opened on November 23, 1863, but some passenger trains continued to use the old line until the Princeton Branch opened on May 29, 1865, at the end of the American Civil War. The branch's first train used a Grice & Long wood-burning steam dummy for passenger service, and took about 20 minutes each way. The Pennsylvania Railroad leased and began to operate the C&A, including the Princeton Branch, in 1871. The branch was re-aligned and double-tracked in 1905 to handle popular college football weekends, upgraded from coal to a gasoline-electric train in 1933, fully electrified in 1936, and single-tracked again in 1956.     The 1956 rail bridge over U.S. Route 1 was replaced in 1994 to allow further widening of the highway. 
Penn Central Transportation took over operations in 1968, and discontinued the little-used Penns Neck station in 1971.  When Conrail was formed in 1976, the Final System Plan called for the transfer of the Princeton Branch to Conrail and then to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, but the transfer to NJDOT was not made until 1984. 
University highlights Edit
The Princeton train, locally called the "Dinky"  or the "PJ&B" (for "Princeton Junction and Back"),  is a unique symbol of Princeton University that has grown over time to emblemize the University. It is mentioned in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise", featured in the TV program "Family Ties" when young Alex Keaton goes for his on-campus interview, and it is also in the 1934 Bing Crosby movie "She Loves Me Not". The theme of Princeton and the train is repeated in the University's own traditional homecoming song "Going Back to Nassau Hall" by Kenneth S. Clark (Class of 1905). In it, the lyric "We'll clear the track as we go back" refers to the Princeton Branch track leading to the campus.
The Great Dinky Robbery was an incident on May 3, 1963, in which four men boarded the Dinky and abducted four passengers. Princeton was not yet co-educational, and the Dinky was the usual mode of transportation for women dating members of the then all-male student body. On a Friday evening, four Princeton University students, riding horses in Western attire, ambushed the train as it was arriving at Princeton station. A convertible was parked across the track, forcing the Dinky to come to an abrupt halt. The men, including George R. Bunn Jr. of the Bunn coffee maker family, who was armed with a pistol loaded with blanks, boarded the train and persuaded four female passengers to leave with them. The Dinky later resumed its trip and arrived at Princeton station. Although the University administrators were aware of the event and may have known who was involved, they took no official action.    
Princeton station relocation and controversy Edit
In 2006, Princeton University announced its intention to construct a new arts center, calling for the replacement of the 1918 Princeton station house, the shortening of the trackage right-of-way, and the creation of a new terminus 460 ft (140 m) to the south.     Rail advocates opposed the relocation, fearing that access to the new station would be less convenient, resulting in decreased ridership that could "threaten the train's existence."  The proposal prompted protest from residents, students, faculty and alumni, and led to the creation of the organization Save the Dinky and a lengthy series of legal challenges.  In October 2010, the Princeton Regional Planning Board passed a resolution supporting the continuation of train service.  The new Princeton station opened on November 17, 2014, with construction continuing on a complex of arts and dining buildings in the surrounding area.     As of 2017, weekday ridership was down 20 percent from 2012, the last full year of the old station.  
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and New Jersey Transit have conducted studies to develop the Central New Jersey Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit Project. Parts of the proposals call for the construction of a "Dinky Transitway" along the Princeton Branch right-of-way, which would incorporate the rail service and add exclusive bus lanes and a greenway for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.   
In April 2012, the university submitted a revised plan for the arts and transit center, calling for the extension of the station's freight house onto the right-of-way for possible use as a restaurant. The Regional Planning Board introduced an ordinance requiring the land be preserved for a transportation right-of-way that could eventually extend farther into Princeton's central business district at Nassau Street. According to the university, ownership of the trackage would have to change hands in order for the transitway to be implemented.  Approvals were subsequently issued for converting the station house and the extended freight house into a pair of restaurants.