John von Neumann: Yes, by age 19 he’d already published two papers in mathematics, one of which replaced Cantor’s definition of ordinal numbers. But that was at Pázmány Péter University! Just imagine if he’d had access to the facilities Princeton has to offer!
Pelé: In 1958, he led Brazil to their first FIFA World Cup at just 17 years of age. Imagine if he’d joined Princeton the year after! The parties after Brazil won the 1962 World Cup would have been just crazy!
Thomas Pynchon: The author of classics like Gravity’s Rainbow is legendary for his elusiveness. Almost nobody knows what he looks like. For all we know, he could be a student at Princeton right now! Maybe he wrote Bleeding Edge while balancing it with a JP!
Dante Alighieri: If America had been colonized and Princeton University founded by the 13th century, we like to think that the legendary author of the Divine Comedy would have taken his budding talent for poetry stateside.
Theodore Roosevelt: This precocious youngster managed to be a member of the Porcellian Club during his time at Harvard. No Princeton student has ever been a member of Porcellian. Can you say “missed opportunity”?
Joan of Arc: Tragically, she died at just 19—but on the flipside, she singlehandedly turned the tide of the Hundred Years’ War, laying the groundwork for the modern French state, all before she was 19! Imagine how crazy it would have been if she’d been balancing that with a Princeton course load!
Emma Watson: She starred in Harry Potter starting at age 11. Now, she chose Brown over Princeton, but we think she would’ve been a terrific fit here.
Jean-Claude Duvalier: When he was named president of Haiti in 1971 at the tender young age of 19, “Baby Doc” became the youngest world leader of the whole 20th century. If he’d been plucked from his freshman year at Princeton to take over his father’s rule, just imagine what people would be saying!
John Newman: “Love Me Again” is a great song, but it would have been the ultimate Tiger Admirers post.
Marc Márquez: At just 21 years old, Márquez has won the World Championship in both of his two seasons in MotoGP, the world’s premier motorcycle-racing series, winning more than half the races he’s entered. If he were a Princeton student, he’d probably be earning his diploma next June. That would really set him apart from the rest of the field!
Jesus Christ: He’s the Son of God and all, and he already made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the Cross for his sins, but “Jesus Christ, Princeton Class of 21 [A.D.]” just has this ring to it, you know?
Jeff Bezos: Yes, technically he went to Princeton, but he was a member of Quad, and we think even he would like a do-over.
Margaret Thatcher: “Iron Lady” is a great nickname and all, but “Iron Tiger Lady” is just on a whole different level. Plus, she would have provided the sort of authoritative conservative voice that the Tory desperately lacks.
Meryl Streep: This one’s completely implausible, but come on. Let us have Meryl. Let us dream, one last time, of how the world might have been.
Jane Austen: The crushing workload of Princeton, combined with the normative pressures to immediately go out and be successful, might have discouraged her from pursuing her true dream, writing. Then, perhaps, Emma would not have been unleashed on an undeserving world.
Elayne Trakand: If she were a real person instead of a fictional character, and if Princeton existed in the world of The Wheel of Time, she would totally get into Princeton. Extraordinarily powerful sorceress, reaching the rank of Aes Sedai while still in her teens? Check. Queen of Andor, the most powerful nation in the world, before she turned 20? Check. Almost certain to claim the throne of neighboring Cairhien within years? Check. She’s got Woody Woo written all over her!
Sandra Wandeckerkof (Yale Class of 2015): I still love you, Sandra. I never stopped. It’s been four years since I looked into your eyes that fateful night after graduation, and the image remains burned into my memory, never to leave. Every day, wallowing in the unending tragedy that my life has become, I think about what might have been, what would have happened if Fate—cruel, cruel Fate!—had not conspired to tear us apart, rent the bonds, far more intimate than flesh, between us, cast us adrift, unguided, in this indifferent world…. Oh, I’ve tried to move on, but no one can match you, match your laugh, so easy and carefree, yet at once carrying that unmistakable note of deep, profound satisfaction; match your shining, sparkling wit, which carried our conversations deep into the night, filled my ears with the private music of your wicked words; nor even your hair, so soft, like pure gold spun out of your head. Oh, Sandra, if only you said the words, I would be there by your side in a heartbeat!