For 16 years I have lived near Princeton University as a shopper or tourist. Being one has certain privileges, especially when you can get a taste of what it means to be a Princeton Tiger.

You get to attend amazing reunions

Five and a half years ago, I “snuck into” a Princeton University alumni reunion and took enough photos to make a nice Pinterest page. . No one stopped me to ask why I was taking pictures, or if I even attended a class at Princeton. An alumnus of the Class of ’58 dressed in his spiffy orange blazer and bow tie told me Tiger tales over french toast and bacon at the legendary PJ’s on Nassau Street, and paid for my breakfast! I have attended homecoming and alumni events at Rutgers and the University of Illinois. But nothing beats a reunion at Princeton as you will see from these photos!

Be a freshman all over again

Princeton alumni do more than just host a big summer party and come up with many ways to design an orange blazer. The university invites alumni to participate in the Fall Pre-Read with the incoming freshman class. Alumni may read and discuss the class book sent to each student by the president of the university. As the freshman class assembles for group discussion after they have arrived on campus, alumni can have their own discussions with among members in their area chapter. Alumni meet, greet and hear from Princeton faculty at regional chapter events, even football games, and even sign up for free online classes!

Esprit de Corps

Princeton University also encourages alumni into public service. Inspired by consumer advocate Ralph Nader and four classmates in the Class of 1955, Princeton Alumni Corps has placed over 1,900 university alumni into fellowships in public service in over 500 organizations, supported by more than 200 alumni volunteers. Since 1989 between 34 and 52 alumni, the most recent graduates of each class, have been selected each year. Over ten percent of each Princeton senior class applies to become Fellows. Sixty percent of those selected have continued into a career in non-profit management or public service. The Corps has also established an Emerging Leaders Program for experienced professionals. They also engage their alumni network as pro-bono consultants.

Princeton Alumni Corps was founded with an initial commitment of $200,000 to be raised from the Class of 1955. The founding members had already received commitments from 120 of the 700 members of their class when the organization, then known as Princeton Project 55, was launched, a resolution establishing the organization was passed. Today, the organization has an annual operating budget of approximately $600,000.

That previous paragraph is important. It shows not only commitment to social entrepreneurship on the part of alumni who had been out of school for over three decades, but also reflects on their loyalty to alma mater. On average, according to data that the university submitted to US News, 59 percent of Princeton alumni, on average annually, make a contribution to the school. Higher than Harvard, Yale, or any other research university.

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