The “Old Nassau” wave
Photo: Ethan Sterenfeld ’20

When does an undergraduate officially become a Princeton alumna or alumnus? How does the University manage to assign alumni interviewers to nearly every Princeton applicant? And at the end of “Old Nassau,” what exactly is that thing we do with our arms?

Alumni Association President Monica Moore Thompson ’89 and a group of alumni volunteers and staff members answered these questions and more at “Ready For It? Your Princeton Alumni Journey,” a seminar-style gathering for students during Wintersession Jan. 18.

Undergrads who have enrolled at Princeton become alumni when their entering class graduates, regardless of where life has taken them. Hence, John F. Kennedy became an alumnus in June 1939, even though he’d long since disembarked for Harvard.

The 98% alumni interview rate for applicants is a product of the very devoted (and very organized) Alumni Schools Committee, which has more than 7,500 members worldwide. In total, the University has about 25,000 alumni volunteers.

And that wave in “Old Nassau” — yes, a wave, not a salute, said Jean Hendry *80 of the Princetoniana Committee — was initiated by a student, Alexander Moffat 1884, who led his peers in extending their hats in reverent praise. At the end of the session, students received Princeton baseball caps and sang the alma mater together, demonstrating that while fedoras may have fallen out of fashion, the wave endures.