Developing the Well-Rounded Tiger

Written by
Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
Oct. 4, 2022

One of Princeton’s most exciting and important initiatives in support of these goals is the First-Year Orientation program, where matriculated students become enmeshed in the community. This intentionally selected range of programs is designed so that new Princeton students share a cohesive experience across a variety of contexts.

Small group experiences showcase the incredible depth of student leadership at Princeton. Led by returning undergraduates, the 3:1 student to peer leader ratio means that hundreds of upperclassmen volunteer time as peer leaders to support incoming freshmen and transfer students, who then learn first-hand about the Princeton student experience and campus values from its most passionate advocates – fellow undergraduates.

Ice Sculpture at 2026 Ice Cream Social

Photo by Fotobuddy

In August of 2022, 325 student leaders prepared for the Class of 2026 by spending three days training in important subjects such as community building, Gender Equity and Title IX, promoting healthy lifestyles, and diversity, equity and inclusion. The small group experiences that followed were offered in a variety of contexts, inducing Outdoor Action (OA), Community Action (CA), Dialogue and Difference in Action (DDA), with specific programs for fall sport student athletes.

While not all incoming students participated in CA led trips, values like leadership and service were instilled in every student through unified programming goals that were likewise embedded in the other experiential trips. Fall student athletes enjoyed programming that helped them integrate into the larger “team” at Princeton and beyond, while another universal feature of the trips was engagement in dialogues centered on maximizing the college experience. Every incoming student returned from their trip better understanding the University’s community values, and how the shared adoption would help to make the campus a better and more inclusive place.

Students dancing at ice cream social

Photo by Fotobuddy

Despite the range of programs that 1,537 incoming students learned and bonded throughout, the small group experiences successfully reached a unified goal: fostering the importance of these values to our community.

In addition to the experiential, hands-on learning offered in small group experiences, ODUS also organized dynamic social programs that gave incoming students a glimpse into the high-quality programs they can come to expect from Princeton. They ate Ben and Jerry’s at a tremendously popular ice cream social, attended a comedy show featuring Sheng Wang, a world-class comedian, and delighted in a class carnival and outdoor movie.

View a Gallery of Class of 2026 Orientation Photos here

Through extensive orientation programming, incoming students began writing the next chapter of Princeton’s story, adding to hundreds of years of history and tradition.

Beyond Orientation: Tiger Leadership Throughout the Princeton Experience

Even after Opening Exercises concludes, ODUS’ work of promoting leadership continues through partnerships with other campus offices to help create an environment supporting student initiatives and overall health and well-being.

Staff member and student speaking

Residential Life Coordinator Caric Appleton speaks with a student.  Photo by Fotobuddy

Student organizations look to ODUS for guidance and administrative support that nurture success through events, governance, and fundraising. Group advising helps student organizations and leaders find their footing and have a meaningful, intentional impact on the campus and greater community.

ODUS also coordinates and supports large, high-quality events that create life-long memories, strengthening a sense of belonging within a special shared experience. Ongoing programming sponsored by the Residential Colleges and by Class Governments supports continued student leadership, growth, and self-discovery in our students’ lives.

Students at Fall 2026 Lawnparties

Photo by Sameer Khan h21 / Fotobuddy

Students also learn during Orientation that they can turn to ODUS for matters of their health and well-being, including supporting students through issues that could impact their Princeton experience. The Residential College staff provide a safe place to seek help and make connections and resources available to students in need.

Each ODUS initiative, whether a large-scale event or individually tailored, is anchored in the standards and values that foster mutual respect and make Princeton a rich environment of higher learning, mutual respect, and excellence.