Admissions Reflections

Admissions Reflections

I remember huddling around my laptop with my mom and dad at the dining room table. While counting down from three, I took a few quick breaths and finally clicked on my application decision—the confetti on the screen was all we needed to jump up and scream! I remember hugging my parents as they happily shouted, “I knew it! I knew it!” It was an extremely exciting moment, and the rest of the day was really just a blur of my friends and family congratulating me on the acceptance.

How did you decide to attend Caltech?

What really drew me to Caltech was the breadth of incredible courses and the research I wanted to become a part of. I remember going through this very admissions blog and reading a post about a bioengineering course, Design and Construction of Biodevices, which I will finally take this spring! In the course, you design and build your own pulse oximeter and spectrophotometer using Arduino. After reading about that course, I decided to peruse the rest of the Caltech catalog, and the courses in the Biology and Bioengineering department were just too cool to miss (microfluidics! biomolecular engineering! an evolution class with a trip to the Galapagos!!) I also knew that I was interested in research, and at a college with at 3:1 student to faculty ratio, I knew that there would be ample opportunities to interact with professors.

What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself senior year of high school?

I wish I could tell myself about just how much I would grow to love Caltech. Coming from the East Coast, I was nervous to travel so far from home. I was nervous about going to such a small school with people who I heard were all like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory (and nothing against Sheldon, of course—but the idea of going to college with hundreds of Sheldons felt intimidating). And I was especially nervous about just how rigorous Caltech would be.

I was never so delighted to be wrong. I found moving to a completely new state, with a completely new climate and coast to be a wonderful adventure. I met truly down-to-earth people from all walks of life, with diverse interests and talents (did you know that Desmos art is a thing? I didn’t!). And sure, the rigor is real. Caltech is a school for scientists, by scientists. But that means that you’re surrounded by people who are all willing to collaborate with and help you. I’ve never felt competition here—if anything, helping each other work through sets every week is just another way for me to spend time with my friends.

What advice would you give to the admitted Class of 2025?

Writing this after losing the end of my first year and my entire sophomore year of college to the pandemic, I would encourage you to really cherish the time you get to spend with your friends. Take that spontaneous road trip to the beach and splash around in the waves. Sign up for the club you didn’t have time for in high school, and really commit to it. Explore the Pasadena food scene and discover the best ice cream shop. Invite new people to your room and host a movie night. As much as Caltech is known for its academics, you’re going to remember the experiences here, not whether you got a 96 or a 91 on a set. On that note, challenge yourself by taking classes you’re truly interested in, or even dare yourself to pursue the major you may be afraid, but excited, to do. I came to Caltech as a biology major wanting to avoid as much math and physics as I could. Now that I’ve taken courses in differential equations, complex analysis, and boundary value problems while pursuing the (not so) different bioengineering option, I believe math and physics are some of the most important lenses through which to explore biological problems. College is truly a time to explore different places, different subjects, and different people.

Welcome to Caltech! I hope to see you all here in the fall :)