Five Things To Know About Caltech

Ah, Caltech… it’s a school defined by contrasts. They’re famous for their practical jokes and their strict student honor code. It’s the MIT of the West Coast. Sound like the place for you? We’ve got some tings we think you should know before you apply…

  1. Cross-Registration. Can’t find what you’re looking for at Caltech? Feel free to head on over to nearby Occidental College and Art Center College of Design. Caltech’s got an agreement with these institutions, and students can take courses at either free of charge and receive Caltech credit.
  2. Caltech-UC San Diego Medical Scholars Program. If you’re set on med school, consider this option. Each year, six freshman at Caltech are offered early admission to the University of California – San Diego, School of Medicine. But first, students must complete their degree at Caltech as a “medical scholar,” meaning that they have achieved an overall GPA of at least 3.5, and have taken one year of biology, two years of chemistry (one of which is a full year of organic chemistry), and one year of humanities emphasizing literature and composition. It’s a rigorous program—but no one said going to med school was easy! Students interested in this program must apply to Caltech by the November 1st Early Action deadline.
  3. Honor Code. Caltech is known for being challenging and attracts students who want to push themselves. However, one of the distinguishing features of the college is the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. In a code which states, “No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community,” the college confers a large amount of power onto the students. Most professors assign homework with the expectation that students will work together to solve problems. Students are given 24-hour access to labs, workshops and other campus facilities. Perhaps most impressively, exams are never proctored—and most are take-home. Students find that they highly value this freedom and protect it fiercely—which, as Caltech says best, “is why the system actually works.”
  4. Core Curriculum. To promote the development of future scientists who can communicate across disciplines, Caltech’s educational requirements include a core curriculum that covers basic science as well as humanities and social science courses. Also, you’re going to have to get out from behind that microscope at some point… that’s right, physical education requirements. Many students meet these by participating in intercollegiate athletics.
  5. Study Abroad. Caltech has six official study abroad programs. During their junior or senior year, students can study at the following schools: Cambridge University or University College London in England, the University of Copenhagen or Danish Technical Institute in Denmark, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Ecolepolytechnic in France, or the University of Melbourne in Australia. There are certain GPA requirements that must be met in order to be accepted into these programs, and some (such as the Cambridge Scholars Program) accept only a limited number of students, while others (such as the Melbourne Scholars Program) have unlimited enrollment.

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