Austinite in New Jersey: Class of 2015 graduate takes on Princeton University

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Princeton University green. Photo by Chloe Coronado Winn.

Willa Smith, Beyond Our Walls Editor and Staff Writer

“I didn’t think I would get in,” Chloe Coronado Winn, a Class of 2015 graduate of Ann Richards said. Despite her doubtfulness, Winn, is now in Princeton, New Jersey attending college at Princeton University.

Last Spring, Princeton was the last school Winn heard back from. She’d already been admitted to eight out of the twelve schools she applied to, which included some big name schools: UT Austin, St. Olaf, Drexel, Vanderbilt, Rice, Tufts, and Cornell had already accepted her.“I remember it was five o’clock eastern time, so four o’clock our time and I was in school,” Winn said about the moment she checked her application status. “It was during Capstone [Twelfth grade STARS] class…I decided I was going to check then and checked and the orange tiger thing popped up that I got in.”

Princeton’s mascot is the tiger, and as a tiger, Winn has been pretty happy. She was originally attracted to Princeton because it had the programs she wanted to study—Computer Science—but after visiting she was attracted to the community the school offered.

“They were nice and interesting people.  It was fun to hang out with them and you connected with them really quickly, even though you’d just met them…It was different from other schools I’d visited.”

The application for Princeton was an intensive one, and “one of the longest” of her applications. She had to not only submit her personal statement, but also a supplemental essay, about fifteen questions about your favorite of various topics, and a handful of “mini-essays” of 200-300 words. The supplemental essay asked the student to choose a quote from a book and discuss how it connected to them. Winn chose the book The Once and Future King by Terence Hanbury and a quote focusing on curiosity. The fifteen questions were the most unusual though.

“Usually I was pretty honest. Like they asked what my favorite website was and I said Netflix.com, so…I wasn’t trying to be super impressive there.”

Part of the hall of Rocky College, where Winn lives. Photo by Chloe Coronado Winn.
Part of the hall of Rocky College, where Winn lives. Photo by Chloe Coronado Winn.

Since moving in at the beginning of September, Winn has been pleasantly surprised by both students and academics.

“I’m sure everyone who comes here has the fear that ‘Oh my gosh everyone’s going to be smarter than me’, and that’s like a reasonable fear because everyone here is really smart,” Winn said. “I  wouldn’t say everyone is smarter than me, everyone’s just smart. Everyone has different strengths and it’s a whole lot of really smart people.”

However so far, Winn says she’s done a pretty good job at not comparing herself to other people and that she’s actually found the environment not as competitive as some would think.

“It’s good, everyone kind of helps each other out,” Winn said. Like I’m in a math study group and we meet once a week to go over math problems, and we all struggle and cry together because math is so hard here. It’s like a universal thing. It’s not just my math level, no matter what math class you’re in…It’s a Princeton thing apparently.”

Academically, Princeton has been what Winn expected—exciting, interesting, and challenging. The social scene however, has been a bit more unexpected.

“It’s more of a party school than I thought it would be,” Winn said. “I guess a lot of the social scene is partying, so it’s harder to meet people who don’t party, because those aren’t the people who go out and do social things.”

However, students still put their academics first. During the week students are focused on studying, but the weekends are busy with parties and pre-games.

“I feel like a grandma here sometimes,” Winn added with a laugh. She hasn’t been to many parties, but her roommate, Whitney Huang, “dragged” her to a party on her first night at Princeton.

“We went to this eating club—it’s called Colonial—and it was lit up with flashing colors and there were so many people,” Winn said. “It was crazy. It was so packed. And that was my first real party to ever go to, so that was an interesting experience. But I ended up making lots of friends there and meeting lots of people…I feel like everyone has to go to at least one party here.”

Eating Clubs are a Princeton tradition and have been around since 1879. The clubs include “120 to 180 members who eat together in the club’s private dining halls,” according to the Princeton website. They offer “a hub for dining and social life.”

“They’re a bunch of big fancy houses…and people throw parties in them every night…Maybe it’s what you imagine a college party being like in movies, except more fancy.”

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Part of the hall of Rocky College, where Winn lives. Photo by Chloe Coronado Winn.

Despite not attending many parties, Winn has been able to find friends. Her roommate, Huang, who’s a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major and from the surrounding area, has become a close friend.

“I think we hang out more than most roommates do,” Winn said. “People are always surprised that we’re roommates, but we’re also friends.”

Last week was a big one academically. Winn had her first two tests, and experienced Princeton’s strict honor code as a part of the testing experience. The university doesn’t have proctors present for tests, and on take home tests, which Winn had one of for Math, the professors trust students will use the allotted amount of time and not use their notes. She said it was different from high school because the professors have more faith in their students that they won’t cheat.

Her other test was for Computer Science, which she joined a study group for. She studied with a group of kids on campus called the “Rocky Asians,” who are students of Asian descent who live in her college, Rocky College. Her roommate and some friends who are members of the club, decided that Winn is now a member.

“Now I’m the only Caucasian/Hispanic member in the Rocky Asians. I was inducted into the group last week and apparently I count because I’m a Computer Science major.”

Winn has yet to meet another girl in her grade who is also majoring in Computer Science, which is part of one of the most shocking elements of college thus far—the co-ed environment. At Princeton there is a 51:49 male to female ratio, which is unusual for most colleges.

“I feel like most of the people I meet and hang out with are guys, which is different,” Winn said. “…Minus my roommate and this girl Allison, I don’t hang out with any girls.”

To make more friends Winn has joined three clubs: Chess, Anime, and Swim Club. She hasn’t made many friends through these yet though, she said.

“My roommate said I joined all the anti-social clubs,” she added.

She was hoping Swim Club would be more social, because she found when she did the sport in high school that she was able to make a lot of friends. It’s been difficult though, because there are only two other freshman girls on the team and many times they’re not all at practice. Winn says she’s not giving up on her club choices though, and is planning to stay a member of all three.

Winn hasn’t dealt with one of the biggest difficulties most college freshman deal with: homesickness. She said it hasn’t been too bad because she’s been so busy and hasn’t had too much downtime. What she misses more than anything, she says, is the food from home.

“I miss breakfast tacos and Tex Mex, and I miss Kerbey Lane. So much…I still see their pancake of the week, and it used to be like, ‘Oh they have a good pancake, let’s go to Kerbey Lane’, but now it’s like…I can’t.”

She returns home on Halloween for a week this month, so she’s hoping to get her Kerbey craving satisfied then.

“I’m mostly excited to see my family and eat food.”