Seniors plan elaborate Ditch Day activities for the underclassmen each year, often sleeping very little the night before. There is a midnight curfew till 8 am, the only time seniors have free reign over the campus without the chance of underclassmen might walk by and ruin the surprise.
At the 8 am wake up call, all the underclassmen flood to the sign up sheets for the stacks in their house and are given a puzzle with their breakfast. The solution to this puzzle leads to their next destination. Our four teams each got a “car” that they had to drive to all their activities.
For our stack, the destinations could be “Miami beach party” aka the Gene Pool or a good ol’ LA traffic jam in the an actual parking garage.
The four teams are then gathered for one last “larger than life” tournament, with giant Jenga and giant bucket ball toss.
We get free lunch at Tom Mannion’s house…
…and then are off to our last destination (using real cars), where there are even more races to be driven: Speedzone.
Ditch Day activities are outrageous, and consume the whole campus, so it’s no wonder that they are all very well-documented. Last year, we had a film crew come by to take videos of all the shenanigans, and our stack had one of the seniors be the designatedhistorian tofollow the teams around to take photos. The Caltech Parents group also has photographers running around and posting to theCaltech Parents Facebook page:
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.