- Class: Freshman
- Major: Engineering
- Gender: M
- High School: Liberal Arts and Science Academy
- Transfer Student: N
One of the things that makes Caltech distince is the honor code. Students are trusted to not cheat, steal, or do anything that negatively affects the community. Though it may sound futile, it has been shown that less cheating occurs at Caltech than at similar universities. Because of the honor code, we get many priveleges unique to Caltech. These include: *All tests are take home *We are trusted, and even encouraged to cooperate on almost everything *Many students have a "south master" key, which gives us access to most of the buildings on campus whenever we want. Another aspect that defines us is our side. Currently there are 864 undergraduates, which means we get as much help and attention as we seek. However, it can be difficult to meet new people. Caltech, despite our reputation, has many good athletic departments. Since we are a small school that focuses on academics first, the teams are typically less competitive. Because of this there is less athletic pride; however, it is pretty easy to start a sport - regardless of skill level. When I tell someone I go to Caltech, I get one of two reactions. Some people usually ask "is that a 4 year school" or "oh, Cal Poly?" - which can be annoying since it's difficult to tactfully descripe the academic rigor. Nonetheless, I've found that any scientist, engineer, or job interviewer typically responds with a "oh" that clearly expresses he is impressed. Typical student complaints are usually either an overwhelming workload or the 70-30 guy to girl ratio (which is exacerbated by the small size of the undergraduate population).
Caltech is consistently ranked as one of the top ten universities, and easily one of the best places to study engineering, science, and math. If you are unfamiliar with Caltech, academically speaking, we are MIT on the west coast, and professionals are aware of this and treat us accordingly. As a freshman, it is difficult to report on the classes, since I've only taken 'core' classes - classes that everyone is required to take. So far it has not been as difficult as I expected, but upperclassmen have assured me that changes. Additionally, all of my classes thus far have been pass-fail (your grades don't matter as long as you pass the class). Consequently, I don't typically go to class, and I probably spend about 25-30 hours a week working on my classes. Outside of classes, intellectual conversations are quite typical and enjoyable. I have talked to many people, and later found out he got a gold metal at an international physics competition, or she won a $100,000 scholarship for proving an original math theorem. Nonetheless, few people have an "I'm smarter than you" attitude, and the ones that do quickly learn they aren't. Many members of the administration are quite accessible. I've played poker with the Vice President at his house, eating lobster sauted to perfection by his cooking class. I've also seen a nobel laureate walking around in his pajamas helping us with our physics project, and my chemistry teacher (a very respected chemist) takes 5 students to lunch every week. Though there aren't any official programs that encourage students to work with their professors outside of lecture, I have never had difficulty meeting with a prof, no matter how many prizes he's won.
Since Caltech does not factor race or gender for admissions purposes, the student body is not an accurate representation of the nation. Yet, I don't typically notice, since everyone is an intelligent and respectable student. We do, however, have a supprising number of international students. While some have an intersting accent, or stories about their home country, they don't stand out. As for LGBT, within the Caltech community it is rarily noticed. I've found that most students come from a middle class family with very educated parents. My parents both have undergraduate degrees, but are not academically oriented. I think some of the particularly educated parents have high expectations for their kids, which can be overwhelming, but beyond this socio-economic status rarliy affects student interactions. Though family background doesn't come up, students are generally aware that they are either going to end up in academia, or get a job with a starting salary of $100,000.
The Best Things
The freedom we have because of the honor code.
The Worst Things
The guy to girl ratio.