Frequently Asked Questions

What is FSI?

FSI is a seven-week summer program that allows a cohort of entering students, primarily those who are first-generation college students and/or from lower socio-economic backgrounds, the chance to experience the intellectual, co-curricular, and social life at Princeton prior to the beginning of the fall semester. The program offers scholars the opportunity to take ownership over the transition from high school to Princeton by giving them the resources they need to shape their educational journey, while preparing to become future campus leaders and peer mentors.

During the program, our Freshman Scholars have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the intellectually vibrant culture at Princeton through seminar-style courses and STEM research experiences, to engage with their fellow scholars in a variety of co-curricular, community-building activities, and to work closely with faculty members from a range of academic disciplines and fields. After the FSI summer program concludes, we offer scholars the chance to join the Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) during the academic year. SIFP provides students with mentorship, intellectual experiences, professional development opportunities, and social activities designed to enrich their Princeton career.

How and why was I invited to FSI?

In short, you were invited because we are extremely excited about your clear dedication to scholarly learning, leadership, and community engagement and want to help make your transition to Princeton as productive and rewarding as possible. We believe that you will make use of an early exposure to Princeton’s resources in order to make meaningful contributions to the university community. 


We are particularly interested in providing this opportunity to students who have not yet had the chance to experience similar enrichment programs or mentorship experiences. In our holistic review of applications, we consider factors like intellectual curiosity, qualities of leadership and resiliency, the educational enrichment opportunities offered by the student’s high school, and familial educational background. While there is no simple formula for our process, Dean Gonzalez is happy to talk to you about whether and how the program might be a good fit. In the end, the decision to attend is yours to make—but we do hope that you join us!

How many students attend FSI?

Total enrollment for the program will not exceed 150 students.

When is FSI?

This year, FSI runs from June 26 - August 13, when scholars will transition into Academic Year Orientation.

What is the FSI academic experience?

As a Freshman Scholar, you’ll be enrolled in a for-credit humanities course titled Ways of Knowing. This seminar emphasizes critical thinking, reading, and writing, and allows you to engage with texts, fellow scholars, and your course instructor to dig deeply and creatively into questions about power, institutions, and identity. Having this course under your belt will help prepare you for text- and writing-intensive classes in the fall, and give you additional curricular flexibility to pursue other meaningful experiences, like scholarly research, service work, or mentorship opportunities. Finally, Ways of Knowing meets your Epistemology and Cognition and Culture and Difference general education requirements.

The synchronous components of Ways of Knowing include classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and weekly small group and one-on-one meetings with faculty and undergraduate course fellows. Scholars can expect approximately 6 hours per week of synchronous work. The asynchronous components include reading, module work, and writing assignments. Scholars can expect to spend another 10-12 hours of time per week in asynchronous work.

All students participating in FSI take Ways of Knowing in preparation for the writing, research, and independent work that they will do during their time at Princeton--including the required Writing Seminar that all students take in their first year.

Quantitative Course Offerings

Depending on their academic interests, students choosing to take two FSI courses will also be placed into one of the following four quantitative courses. Each of these courses will meet on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings (EDT).  Scholars can expect to spend about 8-10 hours of time in synchronous work, with an additional 8 hours of time per week in asynchronous work. The asynchronous components include watching lecture, reading, lab work, module work, problem sets, and writing assignments.

The following courses will be offered:

1)     EGR 150: Foundations of Engineering

This course provides a hands-on introduction to the foundational principles of engineering. The purpose of this course is two-fold. First, it provides a project-based introduction to engineering that mixes electronics, mechanical construction, and computational data analysis. Second, it provides a firm theoretical foundation for the project in both math and physics. In lab, students will have the opportunity to build, test, and iterate the design of a rocket. Complimenting the lab experience, students will engage in lectures and precepts to enhance their physics and mathematics content knowledge. (Distribution requirement fulfilled: Science and Engineering with a Lab)

2)     MOL 152: Laboratory Research in the Life Sciences

This course will introduce students to laboratory research through a 6-week original research investigation. Although lecture and discussion will be incorporated as needed, by far the largest part of the course will consist of authentic hands-on research. Students will learn how to perform essential laboratory techniques, to design experiments, and to analyze and interpret experimental data. Students will gain experience in both written and oral presentation of scientific results. Students will use synthetic biology tools to conduct original promoter analysis research. (Distribution requirement fulfilled: Science and Engineering with a Lab)

 3)     SOC/POL 245: Visualizing Data

Equal parts art, programming, and statistical reasoning, data visualization is critical for anyone who seeks to analyze data. Data analysis skills have become essential for those pursuing careers in policy evaluation, business consulting, and research in fields like public health, social science, or education. This course introduces students to the powerful R programming language and the basics of creating data-analysis graphics in R. We use real datasets to explore topics ranging from networks (like trade between countries) to geographical data (like the spatial distribution of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan). (Distribution requirement fulfilled: Quantitative and Computational Reasoning)

 4)     HUM 295: Humanistic Approaches to Media and Data

This course introduces students to critical approaches to media and data with the goal of helping students better assess media and data's permeating role in society, culture, and politics today. Through modules covering visual culture, science and technology studies, and digital humanities, students will learn to analyze mass-circulated images and text; examine the historical and social context of technoscientific innovation; and experiment with data sets and visualization. As we explore these approaches to the study of media, culture, and technology, we will consider the stakes of such inquiry from the standpoint of justice and equity. (Distribution requirement fulfilled: Social Analysis)

If I participate in FSI, will I be able to take a reduced course load in future semesters?

By earning one or two credit(s) over the summer, most FSI alums give themselves the option of taking a reduced course load in a future term, should this prove useful or necessary.  Students in the B.S.E. program normally alternate four-course and five-course semesters over their four years at Princeton; students in the A.B. programs take at least one five-course semester in their first two years.  FSI credit can be used to reduce their course load from five to four, or (in the case of A.B. students) from four courses to three during a semester.

What is the Co-curricular Experience in FSI?

In addition to our academic curriculum, FSI provides robust co-curricular programming for our scholars. This provides many opportunities for students to explore the seemingly boundless number of resources and opportunities at Princeton. By engaging with the many offices and resources that Princeton has to offer, FSI scholars get a head start on defining their pathways through Princeton, both as scholars and future campus leaders.  Throughout FSI, you will participate in Meet and Greets, Office Hours, and workshops with university staff, faculty, and fellow students that will connect you with the many opportunities available at Princeton and ensure that you take the best advantage of them.

Is FSI all work and no play?

No! (That would be a terrible use of a summer.) While academics are a definite priority, the social connections you will make as a student are just as critical. Upon joining FSI, you will be placed in "Zee groups'' led by our Graduate and Undergraduate student advisors (RGSes and RCAs, respectively). Your RGS and RCA are experienced guides to all things Princeton (virtual and in-person), and will plan social activities throughout the week. These activities include things like gaming nights, movie nights, and just time to get to know other FSI students. Additionally, there will be numerous all-community events so that you can get to know our expansive community of FSI scholars and staff, and arrive on campus in the fall with a solid network of friends and connections.

Our Scholars report that the friends they make in FSI remain good friends throughout their years at Princeton, regardless of the majors they choose, the residential colleges in which they live, or the clubs and teams to which they belong. Being part of a tightly-knit, diverse cohort by the end of the summer is a welcome relief from a worry that almost every new student faces-- and in fact, FSI students consistently report having a higher sense of connection and belonging compared to the average Princeton student! Again, between co-curricular and social activities, you can expect to spend about 8-10 hours/week.

Is FSI really free?

Yes! The program is designed as a fellowship opportunity, so for students who receive any amount of Princeton grant aid, there is no charge to attend: the entire cost of the program is free, including tuition and any course materials. In addition, you will receive a stipend to offset expenses during the summer. 

Why should I join FSI?

We hope that you will join us! Students who have attended FSI in previous summers believe that the program was instrumental in helping them thrive in their academic, co-curricular, and social lives at Princeton. 

How can I sign up for FSI?

Given the popularity of FSI, spaces fill quickly. Although we will make every effort to accommodate all invited students, we cannot guarantee admission: acceptance is on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for accepting the invitation is May 21.

To reserve your space in FSI, please refer to the link you received in your personal invitation.

I’m worried about my access to technology and/or internet. Can I still participate?

Given that FSI will be conducted virtually, you will need to have certain technological requirements, including reliable internet access, the ability to video conference, browsing capabilities, a mouse, a keyboard, and access to google docs. These requirements can be met by the equivalent of a laptop or a desktop, for instance. Please note that a tablet is not sufficient for the required technology. While a Chromebook is sufficient for the Ways of Knowing, Engineering, and Humanistic Approaches to Data and Media courses, if you plan to take the MOL or SOC second course, you will need a computer with a hard drive.  We understand, of course, that some scholars might not have reliable access to these technologies yet, and we are happy to work with you to provide resources to try to meet them. However, scholars will need to participate from a location in which they can connect to the internet, potentially with the aid of a “hotspot.”

Will I have time to do my part-time job or summer internship?

It depends. If you have a summer internship or job that you plan on participating in over the summer, you must communicate this immediately with FSI staff. It is possible that you can participate in both FSI and another summer opportunity. However, you must ensure that you are still able to meet all of the FSI hour requirements, attend class, and participate in extracurriculars.

What different kinds of University resources are available to me over the summer?

FSI scholars are considered full University students and are able to access various academic advising, tutoring, and co-curricular resources over the summer. In order to facilitate student connection to these resources, our office hosts regular “meet and greets” with our campus partners such as the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, LGBT Center, and Residential College staff.