It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.
I almost didn’t come to Caltech. I was extremely fortunate during college admissions: I got into 6/7 schools I applied to, all them very competitive schools. My decision came down to this: Caltech, a half tuition scholarship at one school (13% acceptance), tiny scholarship at another school (9% acceptance). Honestly, it really came down to Caltech and the last school – their admissions officer had handwritten me a note about my application with specific comments on my essay, and honestly, I just felt wanted there. Caltech was objectively the better school academically (especially in the geosciences), but I really did not connect with the people when I visited. In-fact, I actually really didn’t like a single person I met while touring Caltech. Because of the house system on campus people with certain hobbies/interests often group together at Tech and during my Caltech in a day experience I didn’t interact with a single person from the house I ended up in, or any of the houses that I share interests with.
What it came down to was this: I was going to go out to participate in the other school’s weekend event, but it conflicted with the FIRST Robotics World Championships, so I didn’t go. I know for a fact that if I had gone to that school’s weekend event that I would not have attended Caltech, and that that would have likely been the biggest mistake of my life. In this particular circumstance, fate, or perhaps the butterfly effect, intervened and led to me committing to Caltech.
So, here’s my conclusion. My advice for you, whether it’s at Caltech, or any school you go to, is to make sure you know the complete picture before deciding. Know the school, make the time to visit (perhaps virtually this year), and meet some students. That way, no matter what you end up picking, you’ll know that you’ve made the best choice for you and for your future. I’ll be honest, Caltech is not easy. I’ve been working harder and had much less fun than most of my other friends in college. And I’d do it all again.