I am a current freshman at NYU, and I want to make it into Princeton's graduate program in math. My Reasons for Wanting to Do This I'll be frank: this is a very immature goal for me to have. Aspiring for the "top" graduate program reeks of a misplaced notion of achievement. Love of math is clearly far more important than prestige. I have tried to think through my future, and although it's mostly uncertainty, I am completely sure that I want to be thinking about and discussing both math and philosophy until I die. The ideal profession for me, then, is to be a professor. I would be surrounded by intelligent people to discuss things with, and I wouldn't have to waste time doing work I wasn't really passionate about. Here's where the unreasonable want of prestige comes in: I want to eventually be professor at one of the top 10 universities. Why? Because I want prestige! Or rather, I want to not ever have to worry about anyone looking down on me. Or rather, I am insecure about the fact that my current undergrad university is not as prestigious as I would like it to be, and I want to prove myself by over-compensating. It's kind of non-sense, but I have unrealistic standards for my own academic achievement which I must uphold. However, the only chance I would have at getting one of these positions is if I were to go to one of the top 10 grad schools. If I aim to get into Princeton for grad school and miss, hopefully I would still get into one of the top 10 (and if not, I'd try various escape routes). So... I am aiming to get into Princeton for grad school, fully aware that my chances are bad to begin with, simply because I can't bring myself to aim any lower than that. In high school, I did awfully! I just didn't know what I was doing, and the reality of the situation didn't kick in until senior year. Fortunately, I still got into NYU, which has one of the best math departments and the best philosophy department. I could have done better, however, if I had just cared the slightest bit about grades. This is why I want so much to turn things around. My Current Academic Situation 11th Grade of HS: Calculus 3 (A) Linear Algebra (A-) Freshman Year of NYU: First Semester: Analysis I (A) Computer Simulation (A) Second Semester: Analysis II Vector Analysis My overall GPA is a 3.925 right now, but I can assure you it is only going to go down. I am confident, however, I can keep it above a 3.8. My GPA in math is a 4.0 right now (...only Analysis I is counted so far). I will probably get an A in Vector Analysis, because I understand the material very well. I fear I might get an A- or a B+ in Analysis II, because I got off to a bit of a bad start. I fathom I can reasonably keep my GPA in math above a 3.85... perhaps? My Academic Plan I am going to pursue an honors major in math. I have placed out of a lot of requirements, but I still need to take 12 courses total in math. I am going to have to start taking graduate-level courses at some point (of course I want to!). Even after that, I will have roughly 14 free courses to do with what I please. I plan to use this time to possibly have a second major in philosophy, although that could potentially prove disastrous (if I try to double major, I may get distracted, and my schedule would be tight). I am planning on taking either 3 or 4 math courses this next fall semester and another 3-4 math courses the spring after that. The higher concentration of math will allow me to focus my attention entirely on the subject. The downside is that the homework will all be coinciding, piling up and destructively interfering with my sleep schedule! I am going to meet with my advisor soon to try to work out details. I have applied for a couple REU math programs. I'm not hopeful (seeing as I am a freshman), but I'd really like to do math over the summer. If I don't get in, I will have more time to get a head start on my reading for next year (this should make straight-As not so difficult). What Advice I Need Just tell me anything I might want to know to help me achieve my dream. I am asking far enough in advance that any advice you give has the potential to steer me in right direction early enough to avoid seemingly inevitable failure. Tell me what kind of grades I need not only to be competitive, but to be wanted. Tell me whether I should forget about the philosophy double major and just take 20+ courses in math. Tell me whether I should keep drinking heavily every once in a while, or whether the acute damage is enough to hurt me academically. Tell me whether I should worry about the fact that I, for once in my life, find myself lying in bed awake, feeling a choke in my throat, and dreading a midterm for which I am less prepared than the other half of the class. Tell me what I should do now that I would otherwise figure out way too late. Tell me whether I should just go into something that makes money and forget about all of this. Tell me how slim my chances actually are. Tell me what the applicant pool is like for Princeton, or UChicago, or MIT, and whether the ~5% acceptance rates mean I have no chance of standing out. Tell me whether I should try to transfer to UChicago as an undergraduate and face a bunch of core requirements, but immerse myself in a far more academic environment than I can find here. And most importantly: Tell me what questions I don't even know to ask! Thank you, preemptively!