- Class: Senior
- Major: Physics
- Gender: F
- High School:
- Transfer Student:
There are a couple of things at Caltech that I don't think can be found in many other places. One is that Caltech is very small, but very selective, so all the people here are incredibly smart and have many talents. It's a great community. Also the hard work is overwhelming many times, and people are being pushed to their limits. But those limits are many times a lot farther than they think. A third aspect is the Honor Code, which works great. All tests are take-home, collaboration is encouraged and profs trust students in whatever reason they give for not turning hw in on time, or similar things. Another wonderful thing that makes the busy life of the students much better is the House System. People have to pick into 7 different houses, each with its own traditions and personality type. It brings a lot of people with similar interests together and makes them get to know a 7th of the campus much, much better. Also, students organize many events which are very inventive and interesting - if they have time. The biggest shock, though, is for the incoming freshmen. Used to being the first and doing all the work very easily, they are shocked to find out that all the 200 other students are quite similar, just as smart and just as hardworking. 100 of those will have to be below average. This is why the first two terms at Caltech are pass/fail only. You need time to get used to not being first and not understanding everything from the very beginning.
Students collaborate on homework and there is no competition, which is wonderful. No spiting, no envy. We are smart enough to realize that there's no point. Everyone does their best. The work is so hard it simply cannot be completed alone. The professors are friendly and always willing to talk to students. But people don't really have much time for anything but school. Outside of class, people generally spend 5-10 or more hours per day on schoolwork. Most of the times when people skip class, itÕs because they have some urgent homework to finish. The core curriculum at Caltech is very hard and there are a lot of classes required. All undergrads, however, can get a summer job in research if they want, and Caltech has an awesome summer program for that called SURF.
Another great thing about Caltech is that there are many different people on campus, various races, various religions, from many countries and so on. But nobody cares! Everyone is treated the same and that's great. It matters how a person behaves and what they say, not their cultural background or race. However, because of this, the diversity can spread even easier and people find out things about other cultures without being biased against them. Also, Students generally are divided into the 7 houses and by majors. So if someone is not either in your house or major, chances are you won't interact with them so much. On the other hand, the campus is so small that almost everyone knows everyone.