Time for a Fresh Start

Time for a Fresh Start

Alright, time for Round 2 of The Frosh Experience. If you haven’t read my bio, let me summarize. I’m Jordan, a freshman in Ricketts Hovse. As a prospective, you may have gotten a call from me during one of our phone campaigns or chatted with me last week during TecherChat. I’ve been having so much fun working with admissions that when I was asked if I’d like to blog for the website, I jumped at the offer.

Despite how tough Math 1a is, I’ve got to say, it completely changed the way I look at math. Do you remember how, when you first started algebra, you wondered why there were so many letters and so few numbers? Well, when you come to Caltech, you’ll wonder why all the numbers have been replaced with sentences and paragraphs. When you walk into your first day of math lecture, you start at the bottom, and I mean the very bottom, with the axioms of the real numbers. Then you work your way up through calculus, stopping along the way to prove, well, everything! For someone like me who has never really worked with formal proofs before, it may be a pain in the neck, but it does make math that much more satisfying…That’s right. Math is downright satisfying here. But until my skills catch up to my interest, I’ll be sympathizing with the Halo guy over there.

That said, there’s a lot of differences between finals here at Tech and what I’d been used to in high school. As you may (or may not) know, all of our tests are take-home. I adore the spirit behind the policy: the Honor Code is in place to give a feeling of trust between all members of the Caltech community, and to proctor an exam suggests the professor distrusts his students. Cool, huh? At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the system— now I could put off tests until the last minute too! But now, during finals week, I’m more thankful than ever for take-home exams. During high school, I hated dragging myself out of bed after 4 hours of sleep (thanks to the previous night’s cram-session) and rushing to my 8 AM final just to take it still half-asleep. Now, I don’t even set my alarm during finals week. If I’m ready for my exam at noon, after dinner, or even in the middle of the night, it’s there waiting for me. Just sit down at your desk, crank up your music, and go for it. Sure, looking at that pile of exams on my desk is a little intimidating, but hey, if you’re really ambitious you can always plow through them and go home a little early.

Going home…the prize at the end of finals week. It will be my first visit back to New Orleans since moving to California, and I’m already craving a good, hot po’ boy. Blogging for admissions, however, makes me think back to finals week and winter break last year. Like over 1,000 of you, I was nervously awaiting my EA decision. Everyone at my school knew how important Caltech was to me, and because I went to a residential high school, I would be getting my decision in front of everybody in the student center. I was in the middle of an English final when heads started popping up in the window on the door, catching eyes with me. Had people been peeking at my mailbox? Was today really the day I’d find out? I couldn’t take it anymore. I scribbled down what was probably the most hurried conclusion to a final exam essay ever (sorry, Dr. Hall) and ran down to the student center. I tore open that silver and orange envelope and celebrated, then and there, with at least 50 of my classmates. It was unreal…

So, the moral of the story is this. Whether it’s with your parents, best friend, all alone, or in the middle of a crowded room (like me!), opening your acceptance letter is an incredible feeling, and I hope it’s something you all get to experience.

Happy waiting…