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The California Institute of Technology

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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 is the kind of place that isChemistry
Caltech is the kind of place that is very rare indeed, and you don't know how rare it is until after you have left. It has the academic and research resources of a large research university, but the intimacy and strong student-faculty interactions of a small liberal arts school. The classes are intense, but the community is extremely supportive. Everyone helps each other out. Socially the place is unusual, but it houses the most amazing and creative set of students I have ever met. The female:male ratio, while better now than when I graduated is till skewed, and as such the dating atmosphere is far from the usual in college life.

It is an amazing place to go to, and if you are up for a lot of hard work (but with friends to help you) and stretching your mind, imagination, and analytical abilities to their limits, then this is a wonderful place. You have freedom, trust, and responsibility to do whatever you need to. The Honor Code is taken very seriously here, and it truly builds a place where everyone feels they are in it together. You meet and discuss science with some of the finest scientist in the world on a regular basis, and something I wish I had taken more advantage of.And, I got be in a musical with Richard Feynman. What more could you want?

Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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The most important thing that Caltech taught meMechanical Engineering
The most important thing that Caltech taught me was a solid work ethic, good problem solving algorithms, and an understanding of my own limits (which aren't as much as I thought they were!) After the extraordinary challenge of classes at Caltech (what other place is going to require every single student to take quantum physics and linear algebra?) the rest of life has been a breeze... granted, I have only been out for 5 years, but those 5 years have included graduate work at MIT, working at a small engineering company that faced extreme funding issues, and getting married, amongst other things. I feel like after having finished Caltech, I can take on pretty much whatever I want.
Alumnus Male -- Class 2000
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