California Institute of Technology Top Questions

Describe the students at your school.


Caltech hosts the greatest wealth of brilliant, interesting, crazy, enthusiastic, welcoming and convivial scientists one could ever hope to find building massive structures for parties once on Playboy's list of top events, creating hot tubs or LN2 ice cream on a whim, showing belligerant peace to classmates, or driving to the mountains or the sea when not working harder than they ever thought they could. We're also nerdy as hell and love it.


How do college guys really keep themselves organized? See what kinds of things can be found among the dust and darkness...


Brilliant and often quirky.


My Classmates are wonderful talented caring individuals who may be super-genius in their major/disciplines, or very creative in other areas such as music, some sports, constructing interhouse projects, research projects while very willing to help each other and share enthusiastically.


They are all very smart, and about half of them have decent social skills.


No preference programs. Anyone accepted gets in on ability not any other criteria. No interviews. Just send them your grades, SAT scores, Act Scores, Published papers, science fairs you have won and a reason why you want to go there. That is it


Techers are a very interest-diverse group. Many students here play instruments, but other than that their social interests vary greatly. Everyone here is incredibly intelligent and hardworking. Techers tend to be fun-loving, but somewhat lazy. I suppose most of the motivation here is spent on work, leaving many people to spend their free time just hanging out.


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.


The type of people you'd meet as a student at Caltech are who I'd deem as the "outcasts" from your high school: the nerds, the hippies, the anti-socials, the quiet. Very rarely will you find the average dresses-trendy, basketball playing (if boy), wears a lot of makeup (if girl) student that comprises most larger universities. And I have a feeling that the admissions committee does this on-purpose; they select the unique applicants because they're usually the most creative. And creativity is definitely a part of Caltech that you'd notice immediately. Students are allowed to draw "art" on their dorm rooms, and build weird structures for parties and senior puzzles, etc. And that's the single greatest social aspect about Caltech: that the administration supports the students both socially and academically to express themselves and foster new ideas.


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.


At Caltech, all the things that would normally divide people into cliques do not matter nearly as much as your Hovse. The Hovse lines are the main divisor of students because the people in your Hovses are the ones with whom you live, eat, study, and hang out. Students generally develop very close relationships within their respective Hovses. This is why Rotation is very important, for it determines which Hovse you will be associated with. However, it is not as if these things are set in stone. One could always gain or drop a Hovse membership. Be careful during Rotation because all the Hovses will be acting slightly differently (unintentionally or otherwise) than they normally would because of all the prefrosh around. Rotation rules are in effect for everyone who could potentially be a Caltech student, and this basically means that people shouldn't unfairly bias the prefrosh for or against any particular Hovse. That's why I'm not mentioning any specific Hovse right now.