The email app has always been one of my most used apps on my phone, and this was especially true my senior year of high school. One Saturday, I was checking my email for maybe the 7th or 8th time that day, which was normal for me. What wasn’t normal that day though, was the surprise email I received from the Caltech admissions office. When I saw the message sitting in my inbox, my heart immediately began racing. I quickly opened it, and my heart rate doubled; I had been accepted. In total shock, I ran into the living room of my boyfriend’s apartment (who I was staying with at the time), and told him the good news. After celebrating, he told me to call my parents. I called my dad first, and his reaction was “Really?! I was not expecting that”… (thanks, Dad). I then called my mom, who was very excited and happy for me. Needless to say, that was one of the best emails I ever received.
How did you decide to come to Caltech?
I wasn’t really sure what to think about Caltech until I had the opportunity to visit during Caltech’s admitted students weekend. Frankly, I didn’t even know much about the school beyond that a character from Modern Family went there, there was a notoriously strong STEM program, and it was a tiny school. I actually had a lot of hesitations… Was it too nerdy? Was it too small (I had also applied to schools with undergrad populations >15,000 students)? Was it the right choice if I wanted to be a premed? Once I had spent a few days on campus, though, those worries were quelled; the strong sense of community, the abundance of not too nerdy students, and the clear ways in which a Caltech education would benefit my future all showed me that Caltech was a good fit for my undergraduate education.
As a side note, the sunshine, palm trees, and constant floral smell on the Caltech campus was also a factor. Sun and warmth are an underrated part of Caltech. I knew my mental health might suffer if I went somewhere really cold, so being in Pasadena was a huge +1 for Caltech.
What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself senior year of high school?
Relax a little. Your intelligence and your worth are not defined by what schools you do and do not get into. The college application cycle can feel all-consuming at the time, but you should try to take a step back occasionally and put it all in perspective. Once you’re on the other side, you can see how ridiculous the stress around the process really is. On top of this, make time to combat the stress of senior year and applications. Your physical and mental health are never worth sacrificing. Go workout, see your friends, listen to music, and do something you enjoy because you actually enjoy it, not because you can put it on an application.
What advice would you give to the admitted Class of 2026?
If you come to Caltech, here’s my advice:
- Take advantage of the research! Even if you plan on going into industry, try to do research of some sort, even if it’s not related to your area of study. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do undergraduate research at Caltech.
- Take advantage of Pass/Fail! It is so nice to not have to worry about grades during your first two quarters at Caltech. Use that time to socialize, to pursue non-STEM activities, and adjust to college life.
- Take advantage of Los Angeles! Pasadena and Los Angeles have so much to offer, from the beaches, food culture, museums, community organizing and volunteering opportunities, music, and so much more. You’re only here a short time, and you should capitalize on that while you can.