Finishing Strong: Dean’s Date Traditions and Reading Period Excitement

Photo taken by Whitman College Council; depicts two young individuals smiling at the camera holding the showbill for Harry Potter
Keep an eye on your inbox for once-in-a-lifetime events that you can enjoy during Reading Period, like Whitman College Broadway trips!

Can you believe it is almost time for finals? Our fall semester is coming to a close and it feels surreal. It is true that finals season, reading period, and Dean’s Date can be stressful. Furthermore, if you are a first year, it may not be obvious how the whole system works. In sum, our last day of class is December 8th. Then, reading period, a week without classes used to study for finals and prepare for Dean’s Date, begins on the 9th and ends on the 16th. The 16th is the infamous ~Dean’s Date~ or a fancy term we use to describe the day in which many of our written assignments and final projects are due. Finally, we go out like legends and finish our finals from the 17th to the 23rd. You can check the date of your finals on the University Registrar and reach out to your Academic Dean about rescheduling them if you have multiple finals on one day. The next few weeks may seem like a gloomy time on campus, but I want to use this post to share some moments of excitement and sneaky Princeton traditions that you can look forward to.

First, you should check your emails for fun events sponsored by your Residential College. Personally, I have served as Chair of the Whitman College Council and we often plan exciting events. This year, we will offer massages and mocktails to keep students motivated and happy. You can also look out for PSEC events as I am sure that they will offer some cool study breaks at the Coffee Club such as a paint and sip. Furthermore, there will be A TON of holiday events. Frist becomes the North Pole and I heard that President Eisgruber dresses up as Santa himself (just kidding). But, seriously, there are many religious services offered for the Holidays, ornament decorating through PSEC, and a competitive gingerbread making house competition. 

Another upcoming opportunity is Princeton Wintersession, which is a period of activities and learning experiences that go from January 16th to January 29th. Registration for these events opens on December 1st here and there are countless courses to explore. This is a great way to do research in a field that you may feel new too. For example, classes are offered in a variety of topics ranging from dance to foreign affairs and these sessions are open to beginners. Each session is truly unique and there may be some that you feel truly excited about (I am leading a Wintersession trip to explore cuisine in New York City!)

In addition to these winter events, Princeton, as always, has some unforgettable traditions during this time period. For example, Dean’s Date is full of tricks and treasures and as a first year, you may be in for a surprise. At midnight on Dean’s Date, students gather in their Residential Colleges and they scream as loud as they can for a straight minute. 60 seconds. Everyone goes crazy. And then they act like it never happened and go back to studying. At Whitman, we call it the Wail. Another tradition is the continental midnight breakfast. The night before finals begin, residential colleges open up their dining halls and serve pancakes, waffles, and more. Students come together and wish each other good luck. It’s a true College experience.

Finals may sound scary and stressful, but I hope that this post helps create some happiness during the grind of the next few weeks. In addition to fun opportunities, there are many ways to prepare for finals themselves, and I suggest taking a look at a PCUR posts that list essential items for finals or give advice on how to stay productive to learn more. Whether you are deep in a math PSET, attending a review session, or contemplating a Consequentalist theory, be prepared to meet me at midnight at Dean’s Date for the scream of a lifetime and in the dining hall a few days later for a delicious meal. Good luck everyone and I wish you a happy end to your semester! 

— Ryan Champeau, Social Sciences Correspondent