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The California Institute of Technology

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The work here is hard.Quite BrightPhysics
The work here is hard. Real hard. I mean really really hard. All the time.Despite that, we have an amazing bunch of people here, most of whom you could never meet anywhere else (although, in many cases, you might prefer not to), and some rather interesting (nerdy) stuff is always happening on campus. Caltech does have a way of beating the science out of people, but I think it makes us better scientists in the end (I hope grad schools will think so!). If you're a planned science/math/engineering major who loves it -- I mean really loves math and science, wants to do it all the time -- then I think this is the place to be. If, however, you'd still like some variety in your class schedule -- maybe some painting or good writing classes here or there, then avoid Caltech. Despite the nice small humanities classes (15 students or less), and some decent profs and class variety, the courseload simply doesn't permit the time to dedicate to pursuits outside math and science. Finally, I think there are some great opportunities for undergraduate research that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere (though I should mention that undergrads from other schools sometimes do summer research here).
1st Year Male -- Class 2005
Scholastic Success: A+, Faculty Accessibility: D
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The half-frat/half-dorm housing system is not great forSuper BrilliantUndecided
The half-frat/half-dorm housing system is not great for everyone; if your personality doesn't "click" with one of the dorms, you might be out of luck. The advising system is haphazard at best, and does nothing for undecided students. Some of the dorms are disgusting, filthy, and depressing. Some of the students are disgusting, filthy, and depressing. On the whole, the students are the most fascinating people you could ever want to meet. The psychological counseling service is no longer free--watch for psycho killers. There was an in-house survey that 24% of students regularly used marijuana, and 10% had used hallucinogens. Many of the students are extremely bitter. A lot of freshmen want to be physics majors but aren't able to hack it. This leads to broken dreams. The administration is getting increasingly unreasonable, and is taking away many freedoms and priveleges. I think the honor code is abused; I'm not sure to what extent. Some students are not friendly and won't answer if you say "Hi, how are you?" right in front of their face. The high stress leads to strange social behavior; I dealt with some pathological liars. Some of the profs have an amazing attitude and philosophy toward teaching. This will be a mind-blowingly challenging school for people from small, rural high schools. Dating at Caltech: For girls, the odds are good, but the goods are odd. For guys, the odds are terrible and the goods are all screwed up.
2nd Year Female -- Class 2003
Collaboration/Competitive: A+, University Resource Use/ spending: D-
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Caltech was a pretty low quality place toBrightPhysics
Caltech was a pretty low quality place to go, it didn't really offer much in the way of a 'college experience'. The coursework was very rigorous, however, in many cases it seemed to emphasize covering more material instead of covering in great depth. I thought the core would give me a very solid foundation in math/physics but the classes seemed rushed and overall I think the coverage of the various fields was somewhat spotty.
2nd Year Male -- Class 2004
Scholastic Success: A+, Social Life: D-
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