Princeton Courses for High School Students

Are you a high school student currently living in Princeton? 

If so, you’ve likely walked through the infamous Fitzrandolph gate at Princeton University, wandered the campus, and admired the historic architecture.

You may have even wondered what it might be like to actually take a Princeton class.

Most universities prioritize their enrolled student body when it comes to courses. But many offer substantial learning opportunities to community members, including high school students.

Princeton is not alone in this regard. 

Its community auditing program, discussed in this post, allows eligible community members to sit in on lectures for a minimal fee. It also offers high school students application-based research and school-affiliated learning opportunities.

If you are a high school student curious about Princeton’s academics, this post is for you!

We’ll discuss the following:

Princeton Courses for High School Students

Princeton University offers a wide variety of courses to its graduate and undergraduate students. 

These courses do not offer public, open enrollment to community members (although there is an auditing program, discussed later on in this post). 

If you’re a high school student, however, you may have the opportunity to enroll in select Princeton University undergraduate courses with the help of your guidance department.

Some local Princeton high schools offer courses that enable students to enroll in Princeton University classes for high school credit.

Princeton High School

At Princeton High School, juniors and seniors can register for Course H92021, PHS’s High School Program at Princeton University

This program allows eligible PHS students to apply for PU courses in “mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, world languages, computer science, and music (when special talent can be demonstrated).” PHS notes that “students must have exhausted all the courses the high school has to offer in the subject that they are applying to take a course at Princeton University.” 

While Princeton does not issue credits or transcripts to high school students, PHS awards high school credits for this program.

Ewing High School

Ewing High School’s Senior Experience program allows eligible seniors to pursue an independent study experience for high school credit. Seniors can volunteer, for example, seek out internships, or take college-level courses.

One recent student was able to take Spanish 107 through Princeton University given Ewing High School’s inability to offer AP Spanish that year. Here are his/her thoughts: 

“I was able to take the Spanish course through Senior Experience in place of AP Spanish. It wasn’t through a program that Princeton itself offered; it’s just that my guidance counselor also had connections at Princeton and was able to make the logistics work out. I met with Antonio Calvo and had a conversation with him so he could decide in which course to place me, and he selected SPA 107.”

West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District

Similar to Princeton High School, West Windsor offers a three-credit course (XXD) to rising juniors and seniors eager to take a class at Princeton University. 

Through this course, eligible students can enroll in a Princeton University class in “mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, foreign languages, computer science and music (when special talent can be demonstrated).”

Keep in Mind

Most schools stress the challenge of taking a university course on top of a full high school schedule. Here’s what Princeton High School has to say to students applying to its High School Program at Princeton University, for example:

“Students are cautioned to seriously consider the impact a university schedule may have on accommodating their desired high school program, especially because they are semester-based and will replace several periods in their PHS schedule.”

Secondly, Princeton has very strict requirements when it comes to high school student enrollment. WWPHS emphasizes that

“Princeton University provides WWPHS students with the opportunity to take their courses as a courtesy. The intent is to offer courses to a limited number of exceptional students who meet their criteria and follow the application procedures. The student must have completed all the courses that WWPHS has to offer in the subject they are applying to take at Princeton.”

It’s also important to note that taking courses at Princeton University as a high school student does not give you an advantage for undergraduate admission. The same goes for signing up for multiple summer programs at Princeton.

Enrollment in courses and programs doesn’t give anyone a better shot at admissions. In fact, it can be fairly obvious to admissions officers when students are “overdoing” it in this department.

Our advice? Take advantage of Princeton courses for high school students only if it serves you and your current learning path. 

Classroom Visits & Campus Tours

Map of Princeton University
Source: IAC – Princeton University

High school students wanting to learn more about Princeton are more than welcome to sign up for a general campus tour, called an Orange Key tour

In some cases, tour attendants may be able to sit in on a class before or after the tour, depending on offerings available the day of the tour. Be sure to inquire about this possibility when signing up for a tour.

Students can also attend information sessions if they are curious about admission. These sessions are offered Monday – Friday, while Orange Key tours are available seven days a week, year-round.

High school students interested in an engineering path can visit engineering courses at Princeton during the academic year (fall and spring semesters).

Princeton University’s Laboratory Learning Program

This “full-time, free research experience in the sciences or engineering” is available to students 16 and older at the time of applying. 

If accepted to this program, high school students participate in a research project with faculty members and fellow researchers for 7-10 weeks in the summer. Research opportunities vary every year.

Here’s a glimpse of summer 2019’s research projects, available in natural sciences and engineering:

  • Denitrification in biological reactors and wetlands
  • Machine learning on combustion
  • Yielding in semicrystalline polymers
  • The genetic and neurobiological underpinnings of social behavior
  • Fluidics and optics in biophysics
  • Cognitive and neural mechanisms of human sociality

Students can specify up to two projects they’re interested in when applying in the spring prior to the Laboratory Learning program’s start.

High school students do not receive any kind of academic credit for participating in this program. However, it can be a valuable experience for engaging with like-minded peers, experiencing Princeton laboratories, and working with renowned faculty on topics they are passionate about.

Princeton’s Community Auditing Program (CAP)

For high school students 18 years of age or older, it is possible to enroll in Princeton’s Community Auditing Program (CAP). 

CAP participants can sit in on course lectures for a fee of $200 per course.

You won’t receive credit for any courses you audit. Auditors are also not permitted to join in on discussion or seminar groups, take exams, or participate in labs. In fact, they are only able to communicate with the CAP office (not Princeton faculty).

However, auditors have 150-175 courses to choose from! 

Even without the supplemental discussion groups, Princeton lectures are generally pretty stimulating and enlightening. Plus, most auditors will have access to syllabi, lecture notes, and recommended assignments.

It is important to note that CAP’s rules are fairly strict. Be sure to review these before signing up.

Next Steps

Princeton courses for high school students may be available through select guidance departments. If your high school offers such an opportunity, be sure to read those prerequisites carefully and meet with your guidance counselor to ensure a PU course is right for you.

If your high school does not offer an official course, check in with your guidance counselor. He/she will at the very least be able to offer insight and potentially connect high school students with appropriate faculty.

We want to emphasize again that Princeton courses for high school students do not offer an admissions advantage. Nor should they be seen as opportunities to make an application competitive. Seek out a Princeton course only if it fits into the scope of your current learning path.

In the meantime, if you’re keen to explore Princeton University’s academic setting further, we recommend a campus tour and/or classroom visits (for engineering students). 

Eligible students may also wish to apply for the Laboratory Learning summer program at Princeton or other summer opportunities.

Planning an extended visit to Princeton University? Get your insider’s look here!

Kate_Princeton Tutoring_AuthorBio Kate

Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.