Being the first person in your family to go to college is a big deal. We're proud to know Caltech is among the list of colleges and universities you're considering.
Applying to college is exciting and stressful for any student. But when you're the first in your family to apply, it's easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what questions to ask. That's why we want to share some of the top questions and concerns we hear from first-generation applicants. Along the way, you'll also hear some advice from our students about applying to Caltech.
Will I get into Caltech?
It's hard to get into Caltech, but you can't get in if you don't apply.
Imposter syndrome is real, especially for first-gen students. As the first in your family to go to college, you're stepping into and exploring the unknown. But guess what? That's exactly what it means to be a Techer. So if you're passionate about STEM and research, and not afraid of a challenge, Caltech might be a great fit. You can explore our site to learn more about what we look for when we consider applicants and how you can prepare.
I am a first generation Mexican-American with a family who comes from very humble beginnings. Education, especially for women, hasn't always been a priority in my family. I'm working very hard to break this vicious cycle and be the first one to graduate with a degree in STEM.
Will I fit in at Caltech?
To give you a sense of our student body, here are some stats from last year's incoming class (Class of 2025):
- First-generation college students: 17%
- Students who receive financial aid: 67%
- Pell-eligible students: 20%
- QuestBridge students: 17%
- *Underrepresented students: 22%
* Includes students who self-identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American, and/or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
The class of 2025 is the most diverse in the history of Caltech, but we want to do better. We believe science is better when there are many different minds approaching it. Learn about our commitment to diversity.
It was a very big deal for me in my family for me to go to Caltech. I was the first person to go to college.
If Caltech is right for you, we don't want finances to be a barrier. Caltech thoroughly reviews every financial aid application to assess each family's financial need: the difference between how much Caltech costs and how much your family can pay. We then provide financial aid to meet that need.
At Caltech, admissions are need-blind for domestic students. That means we don't consider your ability to pay tuition when we're evaluating your application.
The college transition
Leaving home and going to college is a very big step for most students. On top of that, a Caltech education is incredibly demanding. Whether you're a few minutes from where you grew up, or on the other side of the world, there may be times you feel overwhelmed and isolated. Know that we're here for you. For many of our students, first-gen especially, asking for help is hard. But at Caltech, that's how you'll succeed.
The summer before you start at Caltech, you can participate in the Freshman Summer Research Institute (FSRI). This program is designed to ease the transition from high school to college for students who may not have had all the academic and research opportunities as other admitted students. You'll have access to mentors, prepare for some of our most challenging first-year courses, and meet fellow classmates who will be part of a first-year cohort experience designed to support you.
Our Undergraduate Deans' Office is where you'll find information about academic advising and tutoring services. Student Wellness Services offers medical care, counseling services, and an array of resources to support your health and wellbeing. The Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity works with the entire Caltech community to provide education, advocacy, and allyship. They plan a variety of cultural events and can connect you with affinity groups.
As you continue to explore whether Caltech's the ideal place for you, we encourage you to connect with our admissions, financial aid, and student services offices. Don't be shy. Ask our teams questions, candidly and honestly. We're here to help make the process easier.