PHS and Princeton University Reflection: Matt Wang ’18

Taking a Princeton University course can be challenging, especially if said course is not a language in which you are practically fluent. There are five primary fields in which students take university classes: physics, chemistry, math, biology, and language. There are two classes per week (or three if you take a “language”. Maybe even one if you’re a top tier pro) and you get weekly homework sets. These problem sets are typically completed in one of two ways. The first way is locating a solution PDF online. The second way is “collaborating” with other students. Not many people know this, but there is a third way: doing it by yourself.

People sometimes ask me how the college students treat me. Not bad, actually. I easily gained the respect of my PU classmates by telling them that I was a fellow senior. The professors are extremely informative (if you understand the material), and hold office hours once or twice a week for extra help. I remember the first day of my MAT 214 class vividly, as it was my introduction to a college course. I got to the classroom, sat down and took notes. I think the professor let us out a couple minutes early that day.

At Princeton University, the grading system generally only includes homework sets/quizzes, the midterm exam, and the final exam. Jo Prentice ’18 tells me participation is included if you take a language. Good man.

The environment in a college classroom is definitely more relaxing, as everything revolves around what you want to get out of it; the professor simply lectures and answers questions if you ask. If you want to allot that class time for an extra 80 minutes of sleep, remember to choose a seat in the front of the room, so the professor takes a hint and livens up his class a little more. If you want to skip class because you have more important things to do, such as getting food in town, make sure to bring headphones because the walk to and from town is surprisingly long. You should probably pay attention and take notes, though.

I think the biggest difference when taking a Princeton University class versus a PHS class is the extra preparation and stress revolving around the midterms and finals. I took MAT 214 and MAT 215 last year, and unless you are taking a “language” course, you cannot wing these exams. If you do not understand all the material exactly, you will get a 27%. With curve, maybe an 85%. All in all, taking university courses has been a carpool inconvenience.

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