Frequently Asked Questions

What is FSI?

FSI is an eight-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 120 students.

When is FSI?

This year, FSI runs from June 27-August 21, when scholars will transition into Academic Year Orientation.

Each week, you can expect to spend approximately 25-30 hours engaged in academic, co-curricular, and social experiences. Approximately 12-15 of these hours will be held synchronously and another 10-15 can be completed, asynchronously, at your convenience.

FSI’s calendar is grounded in Eastern Standard Time, but we recognize that Princetonians will be participating from across the world. We will do our best to schedule our programming, including the Ways of Knowing course, to make sure students living in any part of the world can become engaged members of our community.

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 general education requirement. 

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 6-8 hours per week of synchronous work. The asynchronous components include reading, a weekly speaker series, module work, and writing assignments. Scholars can expect to spend another 12-16 hours of time per week in asynchronous work. 

During the final two weeks of FSI (August 10th-August 21st), scholars engage in a non-credit-bearing, virtual 2-week immersive STEM mini-course. Scholars will be placed in a track tailored to their academic interests, made up of 1 or 2 of the following offerings: 
1.      Chemistry
2.      Physics
3.      Molecular Biology
4.      Engineering
5.      Statistics and Data Visualization

Each of these mini-courses will require approximately 6-8 hours of synchronous time/week (3 days/week of precept, tutorials, and faculty office hours) and about 10-12 hours of asynchronous time. FSI students are required to participate in one of these mini-courses, and may elect to participate in two.

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

By earning one credit 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 way! Without question, the primary focus of FSI is academic. But that doesn’t mean that Scholars don’t have fun. Our Graduate and Undergraduate Community Advisers are experienced guides to all things Princeton, and will plan social activities throughout the week. These activities include scrabble tournaments, karaoke nights, dance parties, trivia games, and more. 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. They tell us that 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.

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 of $1600 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. 

Our former participant’s are eager to share their experiences with you! We encourage you to speak to a participant in last year’s program if you have any questions and are setting up open Zoom Rooms for just this purpose! You can connect with former FSI scholars on the following times to learn more about our program:

In addition, FSI alumni and PAI staff will be calling invited students to answer questions about the program. Missed our call? Don’t hesitate to email or call 609-258-1013 with any questions; we’ll get back to you ASAP!

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 Monday, May 25 at 5pm EST.

To reserve your space in FSI, please reply to this online form: as soon as possible but no later than Monday, May 25th at 5pm, letting us know whether or not you would like to attend, or whether you need more information before making your decision.  Please enter the appropriate information in the response form.  Please note that participation in FSI is by invitation only and is available only for students who matriculate at Princeton. 

How can I learn more about FSI?

To learn more about the Freshman Scholars Institute and read testimonials from former students please visit our website: or visit our Facebook page at 

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, and access to google docs. These requirements can be met by the equivalent of a Chromebook, for instance. 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.

Will I be able to participate in OA or CA if I attend FSI?

Yes; all incoming students will participate in either Outdoor Action or Community Action. These are great opportunities to build relationships with your fellow freshmen - and have an awesome experience! OA and CA will be conducted virtually this year.

We very much hope that you will join us for what we know will be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding summer.  If you have any questions about FSI, please contact us at any time. We are happy to talk with you about the decision