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The California Institute of Technology

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First, know that I was obsessed with ctechBrightPhysics
First, know that I was obsessed with ctech for 4 years. It was absolutely my first choice. I tried very hard to love it.

Now here are all the issues. Teaching quality is bad but that's not a surprise. The house system, which initially seems like a good idea, actually serves as a horrible influence to freshmen. Think nerdy kid who never had friends growing up suddenly being hit on by every senior, being told by depressed upperclassmen to not even bother trying (yes this is very prevalent). Oh and did I mention the fact that every student is either suicidal or isolated. Sexually closed off girls with low self esteem for the aforementioned reasons who nonetheless want to date, get ready to be raped, sexually assaulted, harassed and otherwise have your academic performance demolished by such emotional turmoil. Whatever you do, do not ever tell the administration about your problems because ever since the string of suicides about a decade ago they've been more concerned with getting rid of you than fixing the problem. Even if that means rendering you homeless and banning you from campus.

The SURF program is a complete joke. Advisors don't give a fuck about their students unless you want to work for them yet mine doesn't even take on undergraduates (so why is he an advisor). You're expected to do research while taking at least 45 (read 60) units each term and not get paid for it. You'll also deal with professors saying "don't worry about your grades, this is more important." In reality, you must do everything perfectly including said research. Your chances of getting a good recommendation from anyone are nonexistent unless you work during all of your waking hours. Professors are obsessed with their academic lineage and this really adds to the academic nepotism going on in the research scenarios described.

If you don't plan on going to graduate school this is a great place, especially for CS. Their starting salaries are insane. If you plan on going to graduate school, don't socialize (mainly if you are female), keep to yourself, go to every office hour, and make sure your parents are academics so you actually know who the professors are and what their work entailes such that you don't get stuck doing menial jobs for famous professors who you actually have no interest working for (it is not a first generation students fault that they do not know what they are getting into when they declare a major).

I hope I'm making it clear that being successful here is possible for ANYONE provided you know the secret code to success. Yet, every aspect of the university is such that the opposite is often communicated to you by administrators, school 'psychologists' and peers. Not to mention that the code itself is fucked up but that's beyond the point.If you want to be a scientist, go to MIT. Save caltech for grad school. You're less likely to end up invalidating the first 2 decades of your life that way.

3rd Year Female -- Class 1920
Useful Schoolwork: A+, Collaboration/Competitive: F
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For a student lucky enough to be selectedSuper BrilliantChemical Engineering
For a student lucky enough to be selected to attend CalTech, I would give some careful advise, because the going to CalTech has some real pitfalls and your career and life opportunities could be greatly diminished by this institution.

Many of the students at this university become victimized by an institution which has serious flaws. The pace of classes is tough for everyone, and some students wash out. 25% don't make it to graduation. The criteria for success is not academic merit or achievement, unfortunately. The classes are so fast and the preparation and quality of instruction is often grossly inadequate, that one must learn the system, more than the material. This is a shallow method of learning, but still slightly better than the level of understanding at most other engineering progams. This creates a culture of academia insider favoratism. Certain academic insiders of average talent and ability get straight As, while truly talented students struggle and will have mixed grades. These students are blamed incorrectly for the failure of the program.

Acceptance to graduate school and employment prospects are less than that at most state university engineering programs.

The engineering knowledge that one receives is theoretical, impractical and does not prepare one to function as a professional engineer in any capacity. After graduation, one must start to learn about practical engineering and industry from scratch.

Some of the faculty are smited by the hubris of teaching at a prestigous university, and the attitude towards undergraduates can be horrendous.

There is an undercurrent of misconduct at the university as well; when I was there some of the students were taking laughing gas, passing out and vommiting; and the honor system was widely abused. Several students committed suicide.

Please avoid all of these negative things or get discouraged, and focus on the positive.

3rd Year Male -- Class 1996
Useful Schoolwork: A, Individual Value: F
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I regret attending Caltech.Physics
I regret attending Caltech. Although I had some great classmates, the academic experience was abysmal. The faculty is hired for their research ability, not for the quality of their teaching. Therefore most professors have zero interest in teaching. I could have received a better education at many other schools, but I stayed in order to earn my degree because of the reputation. Unfortunately the reputation doesn't help much outside of academic circles. Because of the small size, many people in the business world don't know about Caltech. There is intense pressure due to the pace of classroom as well as the natural competitiveness of the student body. While I was an undergrad, there was at least one suicide every year.
Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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