Undergraduate Admissions

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App season survival tips

It’s crazy to think that I began applying to college almost three years ago. I still remember spending hours looking at college websites, admissions blogs and reddit pages to try to get a sense of what college is ACTUALLY like. To help you get through these stressful times, here are a few tips that I wish I had listened to. Hopefully, these will ease your worries and maybe even make the process more enjoyable!?

General tips:

  • Just write. Ramble even, it’s part of the process. I know it sounds obvious, but I think I probably spent hours at a time just staring at an empty word document trying so hard to find the perfect words. Don’t waste your time doing this, start writing and you’ll find the words you’re looking for!
  • Ask one or two adults you trust to read your essays. I think this was really helpful for me. I asked my AP Lang teacher, Ms. Breeding, because she is brutally honest but also because I knew she had my best interest at heart. Find your two adults, consider their input, but always stay true to yourself.
  • Hang out with your friends. Continue to enjoy the things that make you happy and just set aside some time each day to write a little bit.
  • Don’t be afraid to write about your struggles.
  • Explore your hometown. “Where are you from?” is a natural conversation starter when you are meeting new people. And this question tends to be followed by “Are there any cool things to do in [insert hometown here]?” It’s nice to have an answer and fun memories to look back on.
  • Have fun! College essay-writing can be a process of self-discovery. Lean into it and reflect on all the little things that make you who YOU are.

Caltech specific tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to write about a non-academic experience: My essays at Caltech covered a wide range of topics from tennis, my experiences growing up with a single mom, to how I cut up diapers for a high school project.
  • Showcase your love for STEM in different ways. Talk about your involvement in physics/chem/math/comp sci club and talk about your love for TV/music/dance/sports…etc.

Decision Tips:

  • College is much more than just the academic aspects, it’s also about growing as a person and learning from others. Choose to go somewhere where you can see yourself as a part of the community.

And remember that at the end of the day, whatever the outcome of your college decisions, it doesn’t define who you are. You’re going to make great friends and memories at wherever you end up.

Bea Avila-Rimer ’24

Hi! My name is Bea, and I am a senior from Houston, TX majoring in CS with an IDS minor. I am Questbridge Scholar and former President of the Questbridge Club on campus! I am also part of the Women’s Tennis Team, a PA (peer advocate) and a member of Lloyd house! In my free time I love to hang out with my friends, explore LA, and learn new things.