Start your journey
A day at Caltech starts bright and early (think 10 a.m., which is early by Caltech student standards) with breakfast at Lee F. Browne Dining Hall or coffee at the Red Door Marketplace. If you're looking for something off the beaten path you might venture to Broad Cafe, next to the recently built Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience.
As a first-year student, you will begin your academic journey with our core curriculum, which forms the rigorous foundation for all undergraduates in math, physics, chemistry, biology, and (contrary to popular belief) the humanities! Then you might stop by Dabney Hall for a freshman seminar, or a lunchtime pizza course, as Caltech's scientists and engineers catch you up to speed on the most cutting edge research on campus. With our 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio, opportunities abound to interact one-on-one with our faculty anywhere on campus. You might even score a lunch invite to the Athenaeum, where Einstein and Stephen Hawking dined while visiting campus!
Define your variables
As a Caltech student, you'll take a course load of 45–51 credits per 10-week term. The net result is that most students at Caltech are enrolled in five to six classes each term (also known as a trimester at some schools). You'll also live by our Honor Code, the simple, straightforward principle that lays the foundation of Caltech cultures and traditions. The Honor Code is succinct: "No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community." Abiding by this code, students are trusted with take-home exams, and typically collaborate with their classmates on challenging problem sets.
There are never classes scheduled between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., so you might have practice for one of our 16 NCAA Division III athletic teams, a club meeting or activity, or a music or theater rehearsal. About 80 percent of undergrads at Caltech participate in organized athletics, ranging from intramural sports to our varsity teams, and over 65 percent play at least one musical instrument. At some point during your Caltech career (typically at the end of your first-year), you'll conduct research, either in our labs as a part-time researcher, or as part of our Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program, where you'll get to propose and carry out your own project (and get paid for your work!).
Take care of yourself
Away from the hustle and bustle of college life, you might take a moment to appreciate Caltech's charming campus landscape, perhaps stopping for a quiet picnic at the Turtle pond, or mindfully strolling along the Olive Walk outside Caltech's residential houses. Every week, Caltech's Student Wellness Services (SWS) also hosts workshops and meditation groups where our counselors and occupational therapists share stress management techniques and tips to navigate the sometimes rocky road of early adulthood. On days when life feels a bit overwhelming, you can seek support from Caltech Counseling Services and from Peer Advocates – trained students who live throughout the residences and serve as a more informal source of support. Similarly, there are Health Advocates who are also trained to aid with minor physical ailments, and to make sure everyone remains safe and healthy!
Feel at home
Most nights, you'll enjoy dinner in your House or residence, each with its own unique rendition of dinner rules. Afterwards, you'll finish up the day by collaborating with your peers on problem sets, attending evening classes, socializing in your houses' common area and carrying on its traditions– including planning pranks!