Academic Support

The Princeton admissions office makes sure that all students are well-prepared to succeed academically, but this does not mean that Princeton courses will be easy.  In fact, the majority of students will need extra help now and then as they negotiate a very demanding curriculum.   You are asked to do a lot, but we stand with you by offering a variety of academic support and enrichment options.  And support should not be seen as only for the under-prepared or the grade-grubbing; rather, thoughtful and timely use of support will provide an important context for the material you're learning in your classes, your precepts, and your labs.

The first stop for anyone seeking support should be the course itself.  Take advantage of your professor's or your preceptor's office hours--better yet, go to both.  You should not feel that you have to have a "problem" or a detailed set of questions before visiting your instructors.  Stop by to check in, to make sure that you're understanding the material fully and correctly, and to explore ways to deploy your knowledge in various contexts.

Your director of studies can also be a valuable resource for students who want to explore support options.  Dr Axcelson keeps regular walk-in hours, and you can also contact him directly at axcelson@princeton.edu to set up an appointment.

Support for the major introductory courses in science, mathematics, and quantitative social sciences is handled by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, located on the third floor of the Frist Campus Center.  You can find a very useful overview of support options both at McGraw and elsewhere on campus here.  Note that the McGraw Center offers course-based support in two forms: Study Halls bring together many students who work individually and in groups on problems, supported as needed by tutors.  Study Halls are very popular, and nearly all of the students in these courses visit them at some point--many attend regularly.  Depending on your circumstances, you can also arrange for one or more individual peer tutoring sessions.  You should not assume that a one-on-one session with a peer tutor is superior to working through the material in study hall; many times a group setting will prove helpful in ways that students may not anticipate.  If you need guidance about where to begin, Dr Axcelson would be a great resource.

At times students find that certain habits or ways of working that proved perfectly fine in high school are less effective in a more demanding curriculum.  Others discover that they have trouble organizing their work, getting through their reading, or learning a foreign language.  In these cases the best course of action might be to sign up for one of the Academic Support Workshops organized by the McGraw Center and hosted by the residential colleges.  An hour spent focusing on effective note-taking strategies or procrastination very often yields great benefits.  Here too, the McGraw Center offers an individual option: All Princeton students are encouraged to meet with a peer learning strategies consultant, who can help you think through any habits or misperceptions that may impede your academic progress.

While all Princeton first years are required to complete a writing seminar, writing support continues through all four years.  Students who have any concerns about their writing can easily arrange an appointment with a tutor at the Writing Center, who can work with students on actual writing samples, as well as offer thoughtful advice about a proper thesis or about structuring an academic essay.

Finally, remember that your residential college Peer Academic Adviser can be a wonderful resource; as someone who has negotiated the transition to Princeton and its challenging curriculum, he or she will have hard-won wisdom to offer..  Alongside the PAA stand your Residential College Adviser (RCA) and your Resident Graduate Student (RGS), and you are of course free to contact any PAA, RCA, or RGS affiliated with Wilson College.  Check them out (along with bios) on the people page of this website.