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california institute of technology essay

How to Write the Caltech Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

Caltech has four required supplemental essays, and three shorter optional essays, with word limits of 150, 100, and 50, respectively. Because Caltech is one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country, you want to be sure that your essays capture your intellectual and creative potential. In this post, we’ll break down each prompt so that you can know what you need to do to craft a response that truly shines.

Caltech Supplemental Essay Prompts

All applicants, required prompts.

Prompt 1: Because of the rigorous courses in the core curriculum , Caltech students don’t declare a major until the end of their first year. However, some students arrive knowing which academic fields and areas already most excite them, or which novel fields and areas they most want to explore.

If you had to choose an area of interest or two today, what would you choose? (There are dropdown menus from which you can choose up to two areas of interest.)

Why did you choose that area of interest (200 words).

Prompt 2: At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further? (100-200 words per experience)

Prompt 3: The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech’s students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars , but Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to 3D printing dorm decor. How have you been an innovator in your own life? (200-250 words)

Prompt 4: Caltech’s mission – to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity – relies on its community members embracing fundamental Caltech values :

Openness and enthusiasm for having preconceptions challenged

Respect and appreciation for the idea that, while we are all members of the same community, the opportunities we’ve had to develop, showcase, and apply our talents have not been equal, passion for the ideal that science can and should meaningfully improve the lives of others, share what one or more of these values evokes for you. (200-400 words), all applicants, optional prompts.

Prompt 5: If there are aspects of your life or social or personal identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please tell us about them. (150 words)

Prompt 6: When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby and why does it bring you joy? (100 words)

Prompt 7: Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest! (50 words)

Because of the rigorous courses in the core curriculum , Caltech students don’t declare a major until the end of their first year. However, some students arrive knowing which academic fields and areas already most excite them, or which novel fields and areas they most want to explore.

After you select your area(s) of interest, you are asked to provide the reasoning behind your choice(s). This is a fairly standard “Why This Major?” prompt . This straightforward prompt is intended to give the admissions committee a sense of what interests you, why it interests you, and why/how you plan on pursuing this interest in college and beyond.

Before we continue, we have to address the elephant in the room—what if you’re undecided?

The bad news is that you’re required to pick at least one area of interest on your application. The good news is that you aren’t contractually bound to the area you choose! In fact, “Every first-year student at Caltech takes the same classes during their first two terms; you won’t even declare your major until the end of your first year.”

Don’t worry if you haven’t figured out exactly what you want to do in college—many students haven’t! Look through the list of areas of interest and pick one that’s closely related to a hobby or pastime of yours so you’ll have something to write about.

If you do have an area of interest or desired major in mind, great! Pick that one for your essay.

Now that you’ve picked a subject, you may find it helpful to ponder the following questions before you begin crafting your response:

1) What are your sincere reasons for wanting to major in your chosen field?

Ideally, you will have picked a field in which you have a deep interest—one that you can talk about at length. You should have meaningful reasons for wanting to pursue your chosen field. If your primary motivation involves money, status, or pressure from your parents, you’re already off to a bad start. An essay that seems disingenuous or too self-serving will detract immensely from your application as a whole, so be sure to choose substantial reasons.

2) What are some specific examples of things you enjoy about this field of study?

When answering this question, aim to be as specific as you can. Anyone can write about liking “information and data sciences” or “biology,” so think of more narrow subtopics like “principal component analysis to reduce dataset dimensionality” or “identifying mitotic mutations in fruit flies.” If you’ve picked a topic you’re already passionate about and familiar with, talking about something specific you enjoy about it shouldn’t be too daunting.

3) How does this major serve your life and/or career goals?

You might not have the most detailed plan for your career and adult life, and that’s totally fine! However, it would be helpful if you had some idea of what you want to do in the future. Think of industries you would be able to work in with a degree in your chosen field. What is your dream job? How can this major contribute to your attainment of that job and success in the field?

4) What’s your favorite experience with this subject in school? What are the best parts of your experience with it outside the classroom?

5) Is there any recurring emotion or state of mind that you experience when exploring this field of study? What do you find appealing about that emotion or state of mind?

You can use your answers to questions 4 and 5 to recall some relevant anecdotes that may contribute to your response.

Once you’ve figured out the answers to the five aforementioned questions, you can begin planning a structure for your response. You may find it helpful to break your essay into two principal parts:

  • The experiences that fostered and increased your interest in this field (as well as your emotional and personal connection to your chosen major)
  • What you hope to do in the future, both at Caltech and in your career

Now, you should do some research on Caltech’s website to find some unique aspects of your chosen major that you can write about. Check out Caltech’s list of majors , as it has links that will lead you to each major’s respective webpage. Also consult their lists of faculty members and research facilities to see what work Caltech is doing in your area of interest.

For example, consider a hypothetical student who wants to pursue bioengineering with a particular interest in stem cell research. She might begin with an anecdote about how her father was a participant in a clinical trial for stem cell therapy after his spinal cord treatment. Perhaps seeing the potential of stem cell treatment opened up a new world for her, which fostered a deeper interest in biology and bioengineering than she had ever had before.

She might write about her high school experiences with biology classes, her intensive preparation for the AP Biology exam, and the bioengineering publications she now likes to read in her free time. She can then transition into a discussion of what kind of research she would like to be a part of at Caltech. A faculty member she can talk about specifically is Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, whose lab used stem cells last year to create model mouse embryos “that have beating hearts, as well as the foundations for a brain and all of the other organs in the mouse body.”

No matter how unique, weird, or quirky you think your interests are, there will probably be a major or research group at Caltech that can cultivate them. Don’t be afraid to show how unique you are as an individual—that’s the point of supplemental essays!

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further? (100-200 words per experience)

This prompt is supposed to gauge your interest in and experiences with STEM, both in school and in your personal life. Writing a successful essay will ideally show the admissions committee a few things:

  • You are serious about pursuing STEM in college and beyond.
  • You have hands-on experience in STEM.
  • You have at least some idea of what to expect from a STEM-based education at Caltech.

You’ll probably know if an experience is related to STEM at first glance. Nevertheless, before you begin writing your responses to this prompt, you should make sure you have a handle on what exactly STEM is, even if you think you understand it fully.

As a quick refresher, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It heavily emphasizes analytical and critical thinking skills, scientific literacy, and domain-specific hard skills that are essential to many career paths.

Even though the prompt specifies that you can write about experiences both within and outside the classroom, you might find the tips in CollegeVine’s guide to the extracurricular activities essay helpful.

If you have any obvious STEM experience, picking some events should be fairly straightforward. Think about the experiences you’ve had with science fairs, robotics clubs, biology or chemistry classes, etc. Narrow down your experiences to the ones that had the most significant impact on your interest in STEM. If you write about an experience that you didn’t have too much emotional investment in, you might inadvertently express a tepid interest in STEM as a whole.

If you only took one science class in high school and didn’t participate in any STEM-related extracurriculars, don’t fret! Feel free to write about two experiences from the same class. You might even be able to relate some work experience to STEM.

For example, perhaps you worked alongside a pharmacist during high school. Some people consider pharmacy to be more medical and less STEM-related, but the field of pharmacology is indisputably a branch of biology and chemistry. Don’t be afraid to bend some definitions when identifying meaningful STEM experiences you’ve had.

To help you identify your two experiences, mull over a few questions:

1) What is your favorite STEM-related activity? If you don’t have a good STEM activity, which of your non-STEM activities can be linked to STEM logically?

2) What about this activity generated your interest in STEM? Why did it make you curious and how did your participation in it increase your interest?

3) What went through your mind as you participated in this activity?

4) Have you developed or strengthened any specific interests because of this activity? If so, what are they and how have they changed over time? For example, you might have been interested in chemistry in general, but this particular activity focused your attention on metal alloys.

5) Are there any specific STEM-related skills that you have developed as a result of participating in this activity? Think about hard skills like chemical titration, building robots, testing the pH of substances, etc.

Once you’ve decided on your two activities, you can begin writing your responses. For each activity, you should address each point of the prompt:

  • How did the activity activate your curiosity?
  • Why did the activity activate your curiosity?
  • What about the activity made you want to learn more and explore further?

After addressing each point, if you still have room within your 200 words per activity, you can explain some things further. Perhaps you want to discuss something specific that you learned or exactly what your role in the activity was.

For example, consider the following response by a hypothetical student:

“During my junior year of high school, I joined the Robotics Club with no prior experience, other than having taken AP CompSci. Our team’s first project involved building and coding a robot that could get to distant water sources, collect water, and purify and store it. We spent several weekends and late nights programming the bot and troubleshooting it.

It had trouble navigating at first, then it failed to recognize the water sources. Finally, we completed the build in a few months, and though it was far from perfect, it did the job. That first drink of purified water from the bot was beyond refreshing.

That project was the one that truly showed me how useful robotics could be to humanity. I imagined building hundreds of robots like the original and sending them to developing countries to increase their access to clean drinking water. I am now drawn to mechanical engineering because it offers limitless opportunities to create devices that can be used to improve the world and people’s quality of life.”

This example is effective because it tells an engaging anecdote, addresses each point of the prompt, and offers a plan for the student’s college career and future professional life.

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech’s students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars , but Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to 3D printing dorm decor. How have you been an innovator in your own life? (200-250 words)

This prompt is trying to determine how you think as a problem solver. The admissions committee wants to know the ways in which you have been innovative or have approached problems creatively.

Don’t feel like you have to have developed some revolutionary solution to a global problem. No one is expecting you to have engineered some brilliant scientific apparatus—you haven’t even begun college yet! Just like the prompt’s examples illustrate, you can think on as big or as small a scale as you’d like.

When trying to choose an example of innovation in your own life, it might be useful to think about abstract qualities then work your way to concrete events. Are you ambitious, adaptable, creative, resourceful, open-minded? What are some positive qualities of yours? Once you’ve decided on some attributes, you should be able to relate them to some anecdotes.

Let’s say you’re creative and resourceful. Think of a time when those traits generated something innovative or novel in your life. Maybe you were locked out of your apartment and used a credit card to open the latch. Perhaps this experience inspired you to 3D print a plastic card to use specifically for problems like that.

Your story of innovation can involve anything really, as long as you came up with a creative solution to a problem you were confronted with. Maybe the arm of your glasses broke in the middle of class, so you attached a pen cap to it so the glasses could still be used until you had time to replace them.

You have 250 words, so you may want to think of 2-3 anecdotes to discuss. It might even be helpful to write about something you want to improve but haven’t yet. You can talk about a persistent problem you’ve seen and propose a creative potential solution.

Here’s an example of an anecdote a student might write:

“I worked at a hardware store during high school to help my parents pay some bills. The store was far from my home, and often took about an hour to get to by public transportation. I’ve always been interested in tinkering with mechanical devices, so I decided to make the most of my job.

I bought parts from the store with portions of my paycheck every couple of weeks, and over the course of several months I built myself a bicycle from scratch. Of course, it wasn’t the most visually appealing or comfortable bike, but it did the job and it did it well. I don’t use it much anymore, but I still own it and feel great pride every time I pass it on my way out the door.”

This is a good anecdote because it presents an issue, describes something about the student’s creative and inquisitive nature, and showcases the innovative solution that the student devised.

You may want to approach this prompt in a similar way. Outline a problem you had to deal with, describe some relevant positive attributes about yourself, then explain how these attributes helped you find an innovative solution to the problem.

Caltech’s mission – to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity – relies on its community members embracing fundamental Caltech values :

Brainstorming your topic:

Caltech has narrowed your list of possible topics to just three things—the values listed above. Now, that doesn’t mean your brainstorming process is over when you pick the value(s) you want to write about.

You also want to have a clear sense of how you’re going to explain what that value means to you, as 400 words is on the longer side for a supplemental essay. If you’re unfocused going into the essay, your writing may end up somewhat scattered. To ensure that doesn’t happen, think of some experiences you’ve had that showcase what the value you’ve selected means to you.

For example, you might want to write about your openness to other perspectives. Maybe you describe a snowshoeing trip you took with your family, and how you were dreading the damp, the cold, and the blisters. But, even though you did end up confronting all of those things, you also unexpectedly got to see the northern lights. That once-in-a-lifetime treat helped you realize that having a positive outlook on new experiences is a choice, and if you consciously make it, you’re likely to enjoy yourself much more.

As this example illustrates, unless you choose the third value, your response doesn’t have to rely solely on STEM-related experiences. Obviously, Caltech is one of the most prestigious tech schools in the world, but remember that admissions officers will also be reading your responses to Prompts 1, 2, and 3, which are all academically focused. So, if you want to share a slightly different side of yourself, this prompt is a great opportunity to do so.

Note: given the linked webpage and the wording of the values in the prompt, you might use this space to write about a topic related to diversity . Just be sure to follow the prompt’s directions if you do.

Finally, note that the prompt says you can write about “one or more” of the listed values. If you can think of an experience you’ve had that showcases two or three of the given values, go for it! That said, don’t force anything. A well-written, cohesive response that focuses on just one value is just as good as one that includes multiple values.

400 words should be more than enough to develop your ideas in sufficient detail, but if you’re trying to cram in a connection that isn’t really logically there, your essay will feel disjointed.

Tips for writing your essay:

Once you start writing, keep this important writing principle in mind—show, don’t tell. You don’t want to just state things in a factual, direct way. Rather, describe a situation that illustrates the points you’re trying to make. To see the difference, compare the following two example sentences:

Example 1: “Although I had been having a terrible time all day, when we finally reached the overlook we had been trekking towards, we got to see the northern lights, which I will never forget.”

Example 2: “When we finally emerged from the treeline, my hair was still damp with cold sweat and snowfall, and my heels were still chafing against my itchy wool socks, but my discomfort melted away in the iridescent shimmer of the aurora borealis sparkling on unblemished snow.”

These two examples are about the same moment, but the second immerses us in the scene with sensory details and strong descriptions, which makes it much more engaging to read. Since you have a little more room to write in this supplement, don’t be afraid to show your creative writing abilities.

Also be sure you give the admissions officers a strong sense of what your chosen value means to you. Remember, within your application as a whole, the point of the essay is to set yourself apart even from other smart, talented applicants. Since everyone is going to be writing about the same three given values in their responses, make sure it’s clear how your experiences have shaped your own personal understanding of the value you select. 

Including a personal overall takeaway will help admissions officers see why the experience you’ve described speaks to the kind of Caltech student you’ll be. Remember, their job is to visualize how you will contribute to their school for the next four years, so make sure you explain how something that took place in the past continues to influence you today.

Mistakes to avoid:

The most important thing to avoid in your response is vagueness. If you speak only in general abstract terms about the value you’ve selected and fail to incorporate detailed, illustrative examples, your essay may end up sounding preachy, or like a Hallmark card.

The other, slightly more subtle mistake you want to watch out for is not drawing an obvious connection between your experiences and the value you’ve selected. For example, say that in the snowshoeing example you spent all 400 words describing how beautiful the northern lights are, and didn’t say anything about how grumpy you were at the start of the snowshoeing trip. Your reader wouldn’t have any idea how this story reflects your open-mindedness.

As long as you follow the brainstorming tips we’ve provided above and rely on strong descriptions once you start writing, you should be unlikely to fall into these traps and should be well on your way to a personal, engaging essay.

Prompt 5 (Optional)

If there are aspects of your life or social or personal identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please tell us about them. (150 words).

While we typically encourage students to respond to optional prompts, there’s no need to write additional information here if you feel that your application already captures your identity adequately.

This is a variation on the common diversity prompt . Unlike the previous prompts, this prompt has a 150-word limit, so if you choose to respond to it, you’re going to have to be more succinct.

Think about communities that you’re a member of, especially those that have played a role in your development as a person. These communities can be physical environments, like the neighborhood you grew up in, or communities defined by attributes, like your ethnic group or gender identity. Remember, identity encompasses a wealth of attributes.

Aspects of identity include traditional markers of diversity, such as ethnicity/race, country of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, your first language, and an illness/disability. However, aspects of identity also include your hometown, socioeconomic class, groups you’re part of, and even your interests or hobbies.

A quick note if you intend to write about your racial background: In June 2023, the United States Supreme Court struck down the use of affirmative action in college admissions. The ruling, however, still allows colleges to consider race on an individual basis, which is one reason many schools are now including diversity prompts as one of their supplemental essay prompts. If you feel that your racial background has impacted you significantly, this is the place to discuss that.

Because of the wording of the prompt, you might also choose to write about an aspect of your life that isn’t related to ideas of identity. These can include life-altering events, important social interactions you’ve had, or formative experiences.

After you’ve settled on an aspect of identity or an event you deem important enough to write about, consider some questions to help direct your writing:

1) What is the strongest emotion you feel about your chosen aspect of identity or event?

2) Is there a skill, ability, or talent you have due to this aspect or event?

3) Have you developed or strengthened any personality traits as a result of this background? If so, what are they and how have they changed over time?

You don’t necessarily have to include any or all of this information in your response, but if you’re having trouble putting the importance of your chosen aspect/event into words, these questions might inspire some ideas.

Once you’ve chosen a topic and have some idea of how you intend to describe it and its importance, it’s time to write. There are two strong approaches to writing this response:

  • The first approach involves doing something totally novel. You might want to pick a completely new aspect of your identity or life event that is fully distinct from one previously mentioned in your application. For example, if you mentioned your gender identity already, you may choose to write about your ethnic background here. This can be a useful approach if certain parts of your identity hold a similar level of importance to you.
  • The second approach involves building a previously mentioned attribute/event. Perhaps there is an aspect of your identity that is related to the one you just wrote about, but distinct enough to warrant a new essay. Maybe you talked about being Hispanic somewhere in your application previously, and now want to write about the Spanish language. The language you speak might be an integral part of your identity. It isn’t the same as your ethnic background, even if the two are closely linked, so something like that would be fair game for this prompt.

Though this response is really whatever you want it to be, there are some things you’ll want to try not to do. Remember to avoid simply listing aspects of your identity without elaboration, writing too much about something negative, and discussing a topic that’s too clichéd.

This is another chance to showcase who you are. During the admissions process, there aren’t too many of these opportunities, so make the most of them!

Prompt 6 (Optional)

When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speedcubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. what is a favorite interest or hobby and why does it bring you joy (100 words).

This prompt is meant to gauge who you are beyond your grades and test scores. It’s an optional prompt, but we strongly recommend writing a response to it, as this gives the admissions committee more knowledge about you.

Caltech wants to know what interests you outside of school, and what hobbies you might bring to their campus. Your hobbies don’t necessarily have to be traditional extracurricular activities, but you might still want to look at our guide to writing the extracurricular activities essay for some tips!

Before you begin writing, it’s important that you select a strong topic. Of course, you need to be sincere. Don’t write about a topic you don’t consider a hobby just because you think the admissions committee wants to read about it. An authentic topic will always make for a better essay than an extravagant one. Make a list of your most meaningful hobbies and consider the following questions:

1) Which hobby on your list have you shown the most commitment to? Which has been most influential in your development?

2) What is the strongest emotion you feel about this hobby?

  • Why do you feel this emotion?
  • Has that emotional response changed over time? If so, how and why?
  • What emotions do you feel during the activity?

3) What thoughts and feelings go through your mind while you participate in this hobby/activity?

4) Have you developed or strengthened any personality traits as a result of this hobby? If so, what are they and how have they evolved over time?

5) Have you developed any skills due to this hobby? These can include soft skills such as critical thinking, public speaking, work ethic, and teamwork, or hard skills, which are specific to whatever domain your hobby is a part of.

6) What impact has this hobby had on the rest of your life (other activities, social life, academics, etc.)?

Once you’ve chosen your hobby, think about how you want to structure your essay. You only have 100 words, which is a very small space to work within, so you’re going to have to be concise. The prompt specifically asks why this interest brings you joy, so you’ll definitely want to include a response to that question.

You have some flexibility in the way you respond to this prompt. You might explicitly state what you enjoy about the hobby, or perhaps you’ll talk about some of the activity’s outcomes that have brought you fulfillment.

Consider this response from a hypothetical student:

“My fingers pluck each string deliberately but delicately. My foot taps quietly along, keeping rhythm like a metronome. I am at peace, once again practicing classical guitar like I have every day for the past ten years. That seems long already, but there is still so much to learn.

As each mellifluous note wafts through the air, I am filled with the joy of knowing there is another technique to master, another piece to play, another obstacle to conquer. Playing classical pieces is more than a hobby; it is a challenge, an opportunity to honor something that transcends time.”

This is a strong response for a number of reasons:

  • First, it uses very evocative language to great effect, painting a picture of the hobby in question.
  • Second, it describes in detail the emotions the hobby evokes and the reason it elicits joy in the student.
  • Finally, it showcases the student’s perspective in a way that cannot be misconstrued. This student is clearly intellectually stimulated by this hobby, dedicated to it, and industrious when it comes to practicing—all excellent qualities to bring to Caltech.

You should strive to do the same things in your essay. Use imagery to your advantage, be specific when discussing your emotions, and try to describe your emotional response to the hobby in a way that reveals something about your personality.

You want to craft an effective essay, so you should note a few common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t pick the wrong activity! Bad activities include: hobbies you’ve already written about somewhere else in your application, impressive-sounding hobbies you don’t actually participate in, and hobbies you haven’t actually put that much time into.
  • Don’t just describe the interest without elaborating on its impact on you. You might get caught up in your anecdote when writing, but don’t forget to explain the hobby’s significance.
  • Don’t just list your accomplishments within the hobby. You shouldn’t simply provide a list of things that make you look good superficially. You want to show your personal perspective and growth by discussing your emotional response to your chosen hobby and how the hobby impacts your life.

Structurally, take a reflective approach and really analyze your thoughts and feelings about the hobby. Since you only have 100 words to work with, avoid writing more than one anecdote. You need to be concise in your language, but as long as you can provide a good reflection and describe what it is about your hobby that brings you joy, you will be fine.

Prompt 7 (Optional)

Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby we understand – caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest (50 words).

This prompt is also optional, but it’s a great chance to describe something else you’re passionate about. If you were stuck on the previous prompt, struggling to choose between two hobbies that are really important to you, you can describe the second one here.

Bear in mind that this prompt has only 50 words, half the words you had for the previous prompt. If you decide to write a response to this prompt, you have to be extremely precise in your word choice. Consult the guide to the previous prompt above, CollegeVine’s guide to writing the extracurricular activities essay , for more in-depth tips on how you should craft your essay.

Consider the following example response:

“My fingers pluck each string deliberately but delicately. I am at peace, practicing classical guitar like I have daily for the past decade. As notes float through the air, I’m filled with the joy of knowing there is another technique to master, another piece to play, another obstacle to conquer.”

This response is the previous example response adapted to fit the smaller word limit. Notice that it still defines the hobby, paints a picture of the activity, and describes the student’s emotional response when participating in the activity. Of course, the reduced word count means that this essay reveals a bit less about the student than the previous version, but it still answers the prompt well.

Where to Get Your Caltech Essay Edited

Do you want feedback on your Caltech essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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California Institute of Technology | Caltech’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Additional info short response.

Have you had any extenuating circumstances (such as limited course selection, inconsistent grades, or disruptions), that have affected your coursework, but that are not described elsewhere in your application? If so, tell us about them here.

STEM Awards Short Response

Some Caltech applicants engage in STEM competitions locally, nationally, or internationally (e.g., AIME, Science Olympiad, International Science Olympiads). If you have received any STEM honors or awards, list them here (with scores, if applicable).

Creativity Short Response

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech‘s students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars. But Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to how to 3D print dorm decor. How have you been a creator, inventor, or innovator in your own life?

Caltech Mission Short Response

Caltech‘s mission – to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity – relies on its community members embracing our Mission-Based Values, which include:

1. Openness and enthusiasm for having preconceptions challenged 2. Respect and appreciation for the idea that, while we are all members of the same community, the opportunities we‘ve had to develop, showcase, and apply our talents have not been equal 3. Passion for the ideal that science can and should meaningfully improve the lives of others

Share what one or more of these values evokes for you.

If there are aspects of your life or social or personal identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please tell us about them below.

Interest/Hobby Short Response 1

When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby, and why does it bring you joy?

Interest/Hobby Short Response 2

Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest!

Why This Major Short Response

Please indicate your proposed area of interest at Caltech. If you have one, please indicate your second area of interest at Caltech. Why did you choose that area of interest?

Select-A-Prompt Short Response

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further?

STEM experience/activity #1

STEM experience/activity #2

Common App Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

What will first-time readers think of your college essay?

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College Essays

feature_caltech

The California Institute of Technology—or Caltech, as it's more commonly known—is a highly exclusive college. If you want to join the Beavers, you'll need not just top grades and standardized test scores, but strong writing supplements to support them as well.

Caltech accepts around 6% of students who apply, making it an extremely competitive school . The more you know about the Caltech essay prompts before you start, the better prepared you are to answer them.

Read on to learn about 2021's essay prompts, as well as some tips and tricks for maximizing their potential to impress!

Feature Image: Canon.vs.nikon /Wikimedia Commons

BREAKING: Caltech Application Changes Due to COVID-19

As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, many colleges have made the decision to at least temporarily stop requiring SAT and ACT scores. In June 2020, California Institute of Technology announced that they will stop considering SAT and ACT scores of applicants for the next two admission cycles (those applying in fall 2020, 2021, and 2022). This means that, not only are SAT and ACT scores not required, but, even if you submit them, they won't be reviewed and they won't be considered as part of your application. (This is what we refer to as a "test blind" policy.) Additionally, international students can now meet Caltech's English proficiency requirement by submitting either TOEFL or Duolingo scores.

Because of SAT and ACT cancellations , as well as the difficulty some students are having preparing or paying for the tests, Caltech made the decision to temporarily stop requiring standardized test scores to make admissions as fair and equitable as possible. Because test scores aren't being considered, there will be an increased emphasis on classes students took and the grades they received in them.

What Do I Need to Know About the Caltech Essays?

Caltech accepts four different applications: Coalition, Common App, Powered by Scoir, and Questbridge. In addition to the required Coalition,  Common Application, and powered by Scoir essays, Caltech also requires three short essays. ( Questbridge applicants only need to write these if they become Match Finalists and have ranked Caltech.)

You’ll write one required academic question and three required short answer questions, but you’ll also have the option to answer three supplemental short answer questions and one supplemental academic question, if you want.

Altogether, you'll be writing up to 1100 words for the required essays, and 300 words for the optional short answer questions. These essays are fairly short, so you'll want to spend a good amount of time honing your argument to its most efficient. Start early so you have plenty of time to plan, refine, revise, and proof before you submit!

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Do a little preparation and you can look this happy when writing your Caltech essays, too!

What Are the Caltech Essay Prompts?

The Caltech essay prompts are fairly standard, though each one is tailored to the college's specifications. You'll see the usual "Overcoming Obstacles” and “Defining Your Fit” essay questions, but always keep in mind that you're applying to Caltech specifically, and your essays should reflect that.

Required Academic Question

Because of the rigorous core course curriculum, Caltech students don't declare a major until the end of their first year. However, some students arrive knowing which academic fields and areas already most excite them, or which novel fields and areas they most want to explore. If you had to choose an area of interest or two today, what would you choose? Why did you choose that area of interest? (Max: 200 words)

The first essay asks you share your academic passion (or passions), and how you discovered them. Many colleges understand that students change their majors throughout the course of their careers, and Caltech doesn’t want you to have to choose a major until you’re a sophomore. But they still want you to have a good idea of what you want to focus on and why it matters to you.

The key here is to be specific about your area of interest. Note that they don’t mention a major, but instead an overall field. In other words, now isn’t the time to say that you want to major in biology because you’ve always done well in school. Instead, focus on something more specific, like a problem you want to solve or an experience that changed the way you see your career. Maybe your physical science egg-drop challenge inspired a desire to create safer structures, or maybe a field trip to a NASA location made you realize you had to be in that control room one day.

Whatever the case, be as specific as you can with what you want to study, and remember that multiple majors could get you there. For example, visiting NASA could have inspired you to study mathematics, physics, or engineering. There are multiple paths to reach the same goal; do your homework, look at the different programs Caltech offers, and choose one or two that align with your dream.

Caltech is, in their own words, “an unapologetic STEM institution.” Whatever you do, make sure that your chosen area fits within these parameters.

Required Short Answer Question #1

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further? (Min: 100/Max: 200 words for each experience)

This prompt is asking you to discuss something you're passionate about. Your interests and activities outside of school and work can reveal a lot about the kind of person you are. As such, this prompt is a great opportunity to show how you exhibit the characteristics of the perfect Caltech candidate in your life experiences that don’t show up in your test scores and GPA.

Hopefully, thinking of a topic for this essay will be easy for you. You should write about a situation, story, or topic that gets you so engrossed and excited that it’s tough to tear yourself away from learning about it! Whether that’s reading up on the psychology of conspiracy theories or bird watching with your little brother, the most important thing is that you choose something that you’re deeply interested in. When you do that, admissions counselors will be able to feel your passion too!

Even though you probably could write pages and pages about the topic you choose, it’s important to keep things clear and concise here. Remember: you only have 200 words per topic to work with! To keep your essay focused, tell the story of how these experiences piqued your curiosity into the subject (or subjects) you’ve chosen to write about. You can describe your learning process, even if it’s quirky or unconventional. This is your chance to show Caltech how you choose to expand your mind when left to your own devices.

And that’s the most important thing to emphasize in your essay. Caltech is looking for students who don’t stop learning when the semester ends. The people who make a difference in the world are passionate, lifelong learners. This essay is your chance to show off your niche interests and prove to Caltech that you’re a lifelong learner too.

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This guy would fit right in at Caltech.

Required Short Answer Question #2

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech's students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars , but Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to 3D printing dorm decor. How have you been an innovator in your own life? (Min: 200 / Max: 250)

This question is a great way for you to show off your skills! Maybe your insight helped your school’s robotics team take home first place, or maybe you found a way to streamline some part of your family’s day-to-day routine. You have a lot of options here, but make sure to keep your topic focused on STEM-related subjects. This is an excellent topic for a problem-and-solution essay: after all, your innovation will have improved a situation, right? You only have 250 words, so you’ll need to make them count! Caltech wants to see how your mind works : why were you driven to your chosen innovation? Were there any obstacles? What was the end result, and how was it received?

Remember:  you'll need to give the admissions counselors enough information that they can understand your innovation and  its impact. Be sure to answer both parts of this question so that you're fully addressing the prompt. 

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It probably wasn't one of these kids who wrote these successful Caltech essays.

Required Short Answer Question #3

The process of discovery is best advanced when people from diverse backgrounds come together to solve the greatest challenges in their fields. How do your past experiences and present-day perspectives inform who you have become and how you navigate the world? (Min: 200 / Max: 250)

This is your chance to show Caltech what makes you tick, and how you’ve become who you are. Think back on the formative experiences in your life: your home, your family, your cultural background. How have they shaped you into who you are now and what you want? Show Caltech how you see the world, and why.

As always, you should remember to gear this toward STEM as much as you can: Caltech isn’t kidding when they tell you to “lean all the way in on the STEMiest of STEMmy topics.” The trick here is to show how your own lived experiences have informed your interest and perspective on the STEM subject that you’re most drawn to. Maybe you come from a family of artists, and their sense of aesthetics informs the way you design and present your projects. Maybe you have a different cultural background than most of your peers, which influences your thought processes.

Be sure to tell a story here so that you can connect with admissions counselors. For example, was there a formative experience in your childhood or youth that made you realize you stand out from your peers in some way? Was a family member or cultural tradition particularly influential?

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CalTech Short Answer Questions

Along with longer essays, you'll also have to tackle a few short answer responses, too. We'll break them down below! 

Supplemental Short Answer Question #1

If there are aspects of your identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please provide that information below. (Max: 150 words)

This is a pretty broad prompt! Unlike Required Question 3, which asks about your background, or Supplemental Question 2, which asks about your hobbies, this is about your identity, which includes both of those things and more! You have a lot of options here: think of past experiences that made you realize more about who you are and what you stand for. Maybe you stood up to a bully. Maybe you went stargazing with family or friends, and found yourself overwhelmed by the vastness of the universe. Just like with the other prompts, remember to be as specific as possible, and give examples.

Supplemental Short Answer Question #2

When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby and why does it bring you joy? (Max: 100 words)

This is a great prompt to answer, because it gives you the chance to show the admissions counselors more about who you are not just as a budding scholar but as a person. Here’s a chance to open up about, say, your passion for rock climbing or your increasingly-large collection of succulents. You only have 100 words, but try to go into as much detail as possible about how your hobby makes you feel. This is the place to be descriptive, and to show rather than tell.

Supplemental Short Answer Question #3

Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest! (Max: 50 words)

You've probably got more than one hobby you love. This is your chance to share that with admissions counselors at CalTech. You don't have much space, but help your readers understand why you're passionate about the hobby you choose. 

Caltech Essays That Worked

All this information is great, but it can still be tricky to understand exactly what Caltech wants to know until you've seen it demonstrated. Check out this accepted essay—and some tips from someone who took a serious risk—to learn more about what Caltech hopes to see in your essay!

Even though the example essays below respond to old essay prompts, there’s still a lot you can learn from them about how to write successful Caltech essays.

Martin Alternburg's Essay

I cross over the bridge into Minnesota. Out of my three sports, cross country is definitely my worst — but I continue to be hooked on it. Unlike swimming and track, my motivation to run is heavily intrinsic. I live for the long runs I take on by myself. While they rarely happen during our season, we were assigned a long run to complete over our first weekend of cross country. In reality, I was supposed to go six miles, but felt eight gave me more time to explore the home I had just returned to. My mind begins to wander as I once again find my rhythm. My train of thought while running is similar to the way one thinks in the minutes before sleep — except one has more control over how these thoughts progress and what tangents they move off of. While special relativity would be the "proper" thing to think about, especially at MITES, I revive the violin repertoire I had turned away from for so long and begin playing it in my head. I'm now at the edge of town in between the cornfields. The streaming floodlights on the open road give me a sense of lonely curiosity, reminiscent of the opening lines of Wieniawski's first violin concerto. I come up with adaptations of the melody in my head, experimenting with an atonality similar to Stravinsky's.

Martin Altenburg's essay is well-structured, using the narrative of a morning run to demonstrate all the things that run through his head, and, more importantly, all the unique traits that make him who he is.

From just these two paragraphs, we know he's a runner, that he's driven, that he strives for more than he thinks he's capable of, and that he knows music and composition. Because the essay is in a narrative format, we're able to follow this line of thinking and have it all wrapped up neatly at the end. We're drawn in by energetic and purposeful writing that also delivers us all the information we need.

Throughout the essay, Altenburg discusses his interests and his growth. His strategic use of locations in his hometown allows readers to understand where he comes from both literally and figuratively, especially the part about his beliefs and how the community he's grown up in have impacted them. All this is valuable information to an admissions office, who wants to see how you see yourself and why.

One thing to note about this essay is that it doesn't include any reference to Caltech. In fact, Altenburg used the same essay to apply to—and get into—eight different Ivy Leagues as well as some other schools. The essay was likely written as part of the Common or Coalition Application rather than as part of Altenburg's Caltech supplement, hence the lack of specificity. Your essays for the Caltech supplement should contain more specificity than this, as these essays are unique to Caltech and want to know exactly what draws you to that school above others.

Michelle Fan's Essay Reflection

"How do you believe Caltech will best fuel your intellectual curiosity and help you meet your goals?" If I had a few weeks, I might have done enough research to namedrop a few professors, rave about the strength of their computer science programs, and come up with a compelling story about all my professional goals. But I didn't have those few weeks, so I told them the unembellished, wholehearted truth: I said I have no idea what I want to do in life. All I knew was that I liked making calculator games and explosions and wanted to participate in the bread-throwing, water-dumping congregations otherwise known as Caltech house dinners. As it turns out, being yourself actually works. Shocker, I know. Colleges really do want to like you for you.

Michelle Fan doesn't post her Caltech essay directly, but she does talk about her process and what she discovered between her highly planned essays and the ones she wrote the day they were due.

Fan points out that her last-minute essays, the ones that she wrote from her heart rather than from her head, are the ones that got accepted. Though I definitely don't advocate for waiting until the same day that your essay is due to start writing it, it's a good message to keep in mind—when you're faced with an imminent deadline and you just need to get something out, your writing is probably more genuine than if you've been editing and revising it for ages.

But the big takeaway here should not be to wait until the last second to write your essay (please, don't do that!). The real lesson is that you should write in a way that is true to yourself, not a way that you think will impress admissions offices. You should be authentic and genuine, letting your personality and interests tell Caltech why you're a good fit.

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If your essay looks like this, that's a good thing!

4 Key Tips for Writing a Caltech Essay

Like all college essays, there are some general things to keep in mind when working on your Caltech writing supplement. The earlier you get started, the better—take a little time to make sure that your essay is as polished as possible!

Brainstorming before you start writing will help you pick a topic that's both meaningful and impressive. Jotting down a list of ideas for each topic, no matter how silly they might feel at first impression, gives you options. Spend a little time away from your options so that you can pick the one that you feel most strongly about with less bias!

#2: Get People to Read Your Essays for You

Feedback is an important tool as a writer. Getting someone else to look at your work—preferably someone who will be honest about its shortcomings—will help you find logical holes, weird phrasing, and other errors that may creep into your work. When you feel like your essays are as polished as you can make them is a good time to hand them off to someone else. Remember, you don't have to make every change they suggest exactly as they suggest it, but if your reader is confused about something, see what you can do to make it clearer!

#3: Edit and Revise

Take that feedback you got from your reader and turn it into gold. Again, don't feel like their suggestions are always the right move, but do consider what's causing their confusion or dislike for parts of your essays. Fix them in your own voice, and re-read your essay, especially out loud, to catch any additional errors. The more time you can spend revising, the better!

#4: Be Authentic

Always remember that you're not just trying to impress Caltech with a bunch of statistics—you're trying to impress them as you. That means always staying true to yourself and striving for authenticity. Give Caltech an essay that showcases what it means to be you, not an essay that gives them what you think that they want to hear.

What's Next?

Need an even more in-depth guide to how to write a college essay ? Those tips will help you write a stellar essay from start to finish!

A strong essay is just one part of a successful Caltech application. Also look into Caltech's SAT scores and GPA requirements so you can draft an effective academic plan!

Before you send in your Caltech application, it's a smart idea to figure out how much money it's going to cost you to attend. How do Caltech's financial aid offerings measure up to tuition costs?

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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Admission to the First-Year Class

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Students are admitted to the first-year class on the basis of strong academic performance in a rigorous course of college preparatory study, especially in the areas of math and science; teacher and counselor evaluations; personal characteristics; a strong demonstrated interest in math, science, or engineering; and information provided on the application. Information on the application process can be found on the admissions office website at admissions.caltech.edu. Students are encouraged to apply online through the Common App or the QuestBridge program. For further information on admission, please e-mail [email protected]. To be considered for admission, applications to the first-year class must be submitted online by November 1 for Restrictive Early Action or January 3 for Regular Decision.

Information on the application process can be found on the admissions office website at admissions.caltech.edu. Students are encouraged to apply online through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the QuestBridge program. For further information on admission, please call (626) 395-6341 or e-mail [email protected]. To be considered for admission, applications to the first-year class must be submitted online by November 1 for Restrictive Early Action or January 3 for Regular Decision.

QuestBridge

Since 2008, Caltech has been a proud QuestBridge partner school. QuestBridge partners with approximately 50 institutions to connect the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education where they are given a full ride with no loan. Applications are due to QuestBridge annually at the end of September. Students are able to rank Caltech as one of fifteen institutions they’d like to attend and, if chosen as a QuestBridge Match Finalist, Caltech reviews student applications in November and matches with QuestBridge Match students on December 1 each year. For more information about QuestBridge, visit www.questbridge.org .

Restrictive Early Action

Restrictive Early Action is a non-binding option that limits the number of schools an applicant may apply to during the early period, but in return offers a student the opportunity to receive an offer of admission from their first-choice school. The Restrictive Early Action process requires that the completed application be submitted online by November 1 through the Common App. Under this application plan, students will be notified in mid-December of their admission decision. Students admitted under Restrictive Early Action have until May 1 to make their commitment to attend.

Students who choose to apply REA to Caltech may not apply Early Action nor Early Decision to any other institution, with the following exceptions:

  • An institution outside of the United States;
  • Any public institution that has a non-binding admissions policy with a fall application deadline (such as the University of California system);
  • An institution's non-binding rolling admissions process;
  • Any military academy;
  • Any scholarships or special academic programs with an early deadline at another institution, public or private, if the early application submission is a necessary aspect for consideration, and the outcome is non-binding;
  • If you are deferred admission after applying REA to Caltech, you may apply to another institution's Early Decision II program. If you are admitted to that institution's Early Decision II program, you are required to withdraw your application of admission to Caltech.

Academic Requirements

Students are expected to prepare for Caltech by successfully completing the following curriculum:

  • Four years of math, including one year of calculus*
  • One year of physics*
  • One year of chemistry*
  • One year of biology (recommended)
  • Four years of English
  • Two years of history and/or social sciences courses (3+ years recommended)

If a student is unable to take a calculus, chemistry, or physics course in high school because it was not available to them or they experienced unresolvable course conflicts, Caltech will accept examination scores or certification showing proof of knowledge in the subject in lieu of an academic course requirement, provided both the student and their counselor document the underlying, unresolvable issue(s).

The following examinations and certificates can substitute for the course requirements for calculus, chemistry, or physics:

  • A score of 5 on AP exams in AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, or AP Physics C
  • A score of 6 or 7 on the IB Mathematics HL; Chemistry SL or HL; or Physics SL or HL examinations. Note, IB Mathematics SL does not meet our requirements.
  • A certification from Schoolhouse.world in one of the following courses: AP/College Calculus AB or BC; AP/College Chemistry; High School Physics or AP/College Physics 1

For the class of 2028, these are the only avenues for substituting course requirements in calculus, chemistry, and/or physics at Caltech. There will be no exceptions.

Standardized Exams

Applicants should note the following changes made to Caltech’s standardized exams policies:

Five-Year testing moratorium on both the requirement and consideration of SAT and/or ACT test scores. This change will be in effect for all first-year students applying to Caltech for fall 2021 through fall 2025.

SAT Subject Tests: As of January 2020, Caltech eliminated the requirement for applicants to submit two SAT Subject Tests. These sections will not be considered in the application review process.

English Proficiency Scores are required of all international students unless 1) the student's native language is English or 2) English is the primary language of instruction in the student's secondary school.

Acceptable English proficiency exams include:

  • TOEFL Internet Based Test (IBT)
  • Duolingo English Test (DET)

The essays, which are required as a part of the application, are intended to provide students the opportunity to communicate their interests, experiences, and background. Since Caltech is interested in learning about each applicant, the essays are viewed as an important part of the admission decision process. Caltech's supplemental essays are updated annually and listed on the admissions website each August 1.

Evaluations

Two teacher evaluations and a Secondary School Report are required. One evaluation must be from a math or science teacher, and one evaluation from a humanities or social science teacher (see the instructions in the application). A Secondary School Report must be filled out by the applicant’s secondary school counselor or other school official.

Additional Materials

Students are welcome to provide supplemental materials that they believe will help the admissions committee learn more about them. These materials may include but are not limited to:

  • Research paper, abstract, or publication (citation if published, letter of evaluation, and research description required)
  • Maker portfolio
  • Description of an internship

After the application deadline, students will receive a link to the Caltech application portal (Beaver Breakroom), which will include instructions on submitting supplemental materials .

Caltech is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling and therefore agrees to comply with the national candidate’s reply date of May 1. Places in the entering class will not be held after May 1. Restrictive Early Action applicants will be informed of their admissions decision in mid-December and Regular Decision applicants will be informed by mid-March. Regardless of round, admitted students have until May 1 to respond to their admissions offer.

Caltech will consider requests from admitted students for a one-year gap year (and occasionally two-year gap years in the case of students on religious missions or doing required military service). Students who request a gap year must accept their offer of admission and then submit a written request stating the purpose of postponement to the Director of Undergraduate Admissions. Instructions are provided to admitted students annually in the Caltech applicant portal, called the Beaver Breakroom.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and College Credit

Caltech encourages all prospective undergraduate applicants to prepare by challenging themselves with the most rigorous course of study available, including the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. However, college credit for AP or IB classes is not automatic. Course credit and/or placement in an accelerated program is sometimes granted as deemed appropriate by the department faculty. The awarding of Caltech course credit takes place at the time of registration each fall.

Biology majors who have passed Bi 8 and Bi 9 (with 9 units on grades) are considered to have met the core requirement of Bi 1.

The student’s qualifications for placing out of Ch 1 ab will only be determined by the performance on a placement examination to be administered in the summer prior to registration. Qualified students, with the instructor’s consent, are allowed to substitute either Ch 8 or Ch/ChE 9 for the ”core” chemistry laboratory requirement (Ch 3 a or Ch 3 x).

English/Writing

All incoming students (first-year and transfers) will take a placement assessment to determine whether they are adequately prepared for the substantial writing component that is part of all first-year humanities courses. Most new students participate in a web-based version of this assessment, which is usually conducted in early June. A makeup assessment is held just before fall classes begin. Based on results of this writing assessment, students may be required to take Wr 1 or Wr 2 in the fall quarter. (Wr 1 and Wr 2 count for general Institute credit only.) After completing these courses, students may, at the discretion of humanities faculty, be required to go on to subsequent coursework in academic writing, such as Wr 3, Wr 4, or Wr 50, before or concurrently with first-year humanities coursework. During the first week of classes, students will be required to produce an in-class writing sample to confirm the initial placement.

Mathematics

During the summer before the first year, entering first-year students are asked to take a diagnostic exam in basic calculus that will determine which students will be placed in a special section of Ma 1 a for those with less complete preparation, and later take Ma 1 d; and if they are interested in advanced placement, they may also take an examination to determine whether they will begin the mathematics core sequence at an advanced level.

Normally, an entering first-year student takes Ma 1 abc, Calculus of One and Several Variables and Linear Algebra. This course covers the calculus of functions of one and several variables; infinite series; vector algebra; basic and advanced linear algebra; derivatives of vector functions, multiple integrals, line and path integrals; and theorems of Green and Stokes. The course is divided into a lecture part and a recitation part that focuses mainly on problem-solving.

Students in need of additional problem-solving practice may be advised to take Ma 8 (in addition to Ma 1 a) in the first quarter.

The required first-year physics course, Ph 1 abc, is considerably more rigorous than most advanced placement work, and entering first-year students are encouraged to take Ph 1. A test is administered during the summer to aid in the organization of Ph 1; students who have performed particularly well can discuss the possibilities for advanced placement with the physics representative during orientation. A second test may then be required.

Residency Expectation

Undergraduate housing includes the eight houses (Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Venerable), and the Bechtel Residence and Marks House and Braun House. First- and second-year students are required to live on campus. Requests for exceptions to this requirement should be submitted to the Office of Student Experience, and must be approved by the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Vice President for Student Affairs.

New Student Orientation

All first-year, transfer, 3/2 and exchange students are expected to attend the New Student Orientation as part of the regular registration procedure. Orientation takes place the week prior to the beginning of classes. Faculty members, staff and upperclass student leaders participate help to introduce new students to the Caltech community. The orientation period provides an opportunity for new students to become acquainted with the campus, the Honor System, and other aspects of life at Caltech. In addition, they will meet classmates, upperclass students, and faculty during this time

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September 14, 2023

2023-2024 Caltech Supplemental Essay Prompts

A building is featured beyond a fountain at the California Institute of Technology at night.

The California Institute of Technology has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. The school, one of the last among America’s elite universities to release their essays for applicants to the Class of 2028 , asks applicants to respond to several required and optional essays as well as short answers. These essays are, of course, in addition to The Common Application ’s Personal Statement. So, what are this year’s Caltech essays and how should they be approached? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 California Institute of Technology Essay Topics and Questions

Required academic question.

Because of the rigorous courses in the core curriculum , Caltech students don’t declare a major until the end of their first year. However, some students arrive knowing which academic fields and areas already most excite them, or which novel fields and areas they most want to explore. (Max: 200 words)

If you had to choose an area of interest or two today, what would you choose? Why did you choose that area of interest?

This essay prompt is a straight-up-the-middle Why Major essay. Caltech’s admissions committee wants to understand the origin story of an applicant’s interest in the discipline they wish to study at Caltech. Yet, students should be sure to set that origin story during their high school years. Too often, students share stories about how they developed their academic interests as children. Admissions officers want to hear how students think now — not then.

Required Short Answer Questions

1. At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe  two  STEM-related experiences  from your high school years , either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further?  (Min: 100/Max: 200 words for each experience)

Through anecdotes, this essay allows applicants to show rather than tell why they love the STEM fields. Students could write about a lab experiment from a physics course. They could write about independent research they did in engineering. The opportunities are endless — so long as the stories showcase a student’s passion for learning.

And note how Caltech’s admissions committee emphasizes that the examples should stem from high school. Remember when we said how examples should always stem from high school rather than childhood? Here, you’ll see the advice straight from the horse’s mouth.

As to the word count, students have 400 words for this essay. As Ivy Coach has long espoused on the pages of this college admissions blog , students should  always  use all of the real estate they’re given to make their case. Students should thus write up to the maximum word count of 400 words!

2. The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech’s students, faculty, and researchers have won  Nobel Prizes  and put  rovers on Mars . But Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to how to 3D print dorm decor. How have you been a creator, inventor, or innovator in your own life?  (Min: 200 / Max: 250)

This essay is another excellent opportunity for students to share one small story about how they’ve developed something in the STEM field. And the example does not need to stem from award-winning research. It doesn’t need to be anything formal.

A great example would be seeing a problem on a bike ride to school and figuring out how to fix it. Maybe a student’s bike went over a pothole, so they designed a way to light up a grid on the road to identify when potholes were forthcoming. Caltech’s admissions committee wants to see how applicants think and how they’re creators and inventors even in life’s small moments.

3. Caltech’s mission – to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity – relies on its community members embracing fundamental Caltech values :

  • Openness and enthusiasm for having preconceptions challenged
  • Respect and appreciation for the idea that, while we are all members of the same community, the opportunities we’ve had to develop, showcase, and apply our talents have not been equal
  • Passion for the ideal that science can and should meaningfully improve the lives of others

Share what one or more of these values evokes for you.  (Min: 200 / Max: 400)

In this essay, through one small example, applicants should showcase how they want to explore STEM to make our world better. Too often, students express grandiose plans — like ending climate change through the power of STEM. Instead, applicants would be better off focusing on a small issue and then highlighting how they hope to address it in their lifetime. 

Optional Short Answer Questions

1. If there are aspects of your life or social or personal identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please tell us about them below.  (Max: 150 words)

While the United States Supreme Court outlawed Affirmative Action , Chief Justice John Roberts penned a loophole in the majority opinion. As he wrote, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

This essay allows students to capitalize on this loophole by sharing their stories. And students do not need to be underrepresented minorities to have a story to tell here. Applicants could focus on their faith, community, sexual orientation, or gender identity — the possibilities are endless.

2. When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby, and why does it bring you joy?  (Max: 100 words)

While having a passion for the STEM fields is a prerequisite for Caltech, the admissions committee wants to know that you have interests beyond these disciplines. So here’s an excellent opportunity for applicants to showcase their love for poetry, history, foreign language, anthropology, or any other field. As long as applicants showcase their intellectual curiosity through their storytelling — ideally in an area outside of STEM — they’re on the right track.

3. Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest!  (Max: 50 words)

We encourage students to write about a hobby that highlights their intellectual curiosity. So many options would work here. It doesn’t need to be a hobby in which a student changes the world. Yet, it should showcase their intellectual curiosity. If they love tie-dying t-shirts, they should focus on the mathematics of creating extraordinary patterns.

Optional Academic Short Answer Questions

1. Have you had any extenuating circumstances (such as limited course selection or disruptions), that have affected your coursework, but that are not described elsewhere in your application? If so, tell us about them here.

While we at Ivy Coach are  always  in favor of responding to all optional essays — because no optional essay should be considered  optional  in elite college admissions — this prompt doesn’t apply to all students

 In fact, unless a student needs to explain a disruption in their learning during their high school years that is apparent on their transcript, we encourage the student not to answer this prompt. Too many students choose to answer prompts like these, and they do indeed come across as complainers. It does their candidacy a great disservice.

2. Some Caltech applicants engage in STEM competitions locally, nationally, or internationally (eg., AIME, Science Olympiad, International Science Olympiads). If you have received any STEM honors or awards, list them here (with scores, if applicable).

Hopefully, applicants have so many STEM awards that they couldn’t fit them all in the honors section of their Common Application. Here is the place to list them. And it should be a list — not an essay. It’s always critical to adhere to the directions.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Caltech Essays

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Caltech by submitting essays that will wow Caltech admissions officers, fill out Ivy Coach ’s free consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors.

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Most students apply and are admitted to Caltech through the Regular Decision (RD) option. The RD deadline is Jan. 3 and applicants are notified of their decision in mid-March. If Caltech is your first-choice university, Restrictive Early Action (REA) could be a good choice. REA is a non-binding early admissions process for students who are confident that Caltech is their first-choice university, are excited about the possibility of attending Caltech, and want to learn early if they are admitted to Caltech. Applications are due November 1 and students will be notified of their admissions decision (admit, defer, or deny) by mid-December. Admitted students will then have until May 1 to decide if they will accept Caltech's offer of admission. There is a one-time, non-refundable application fee of $75. However, if you plan to apply for financial aid, and the application fee presents a hardship for you or your family, we will waive your application fee .

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California Institute of Technology

Essay requirements, academic requirements, costs & scholarships.

When you apply to Caltech through the Common App, Apply Coalition, Powered by Scoir, or QuestBridge Application, you will also submit the Caltech Specific Supplemental Questions.

Short Answer Questions

All questions have to be answered.

If there are aspects of your identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please provide that information below.

When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby and why does it bring you joy?

Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest!

Academic Prompts

If you had to choose an area of interest or two today, what would you choose why did you choose that area of interest (max: 200 words) have you had any extenuating circumstances regarding your coursework (such as limited course selection or disruptions) not described elsewhere in your application if so, tell us about them here. required short answer prompts.

This essay is only required for international students.

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further? (Min: 100/Max: 200 words for each experience)

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech's students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars, but Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to 3D printing dorm decor. How have you been an innovator in your own life? (Min: 200 / Max: 250)

The process of discovery is best advanced when people from diverse backgrounds come together to solve the greatest challenges in their fields. How do your past experiences and present-day perspectives inform who you have become and how you navigate the world? (Min: 200 / Max: 250)

Learn more about Essay Requirements

Unconventional Essay Formats 

Unconventional Essay Formats 

Unique Essay topics that Stand Out for US Undergraduate Admissions

Unique Essay topics that Stand Out for US Undergraduate Admissions

How you can put the ‘personal’ in personal essay

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Photocopying money anonymous, california institute of technology.

"Can you photocopy money?" my teacher asked. I shook my head, slowly reddening. No, I was not involved in some illegal money laundering scheme. But at that moment, my teacher accused me of a crime to the same punishable degree.

My junior English...

Hulahooping in Humanities Anonymous

While my classmates conversed in hushed tones about philosophy, I stood alone in the back corner of the room—hula hooping.

My Humanities teacher had asked me to hula hoop for the entire class period to prove my claim that I was the "best hula...

Herpetology Anonymous

My mom stood in front of the cash register, waiting for the cashier to scan her credit card. Employees walked back and forth, shouting requests for price-checks or scanning items at lightning speed. But today, I didn’t notice these things. I didn’...

Widow's Peak Anonymous

According to English folklore, a woman with a widow's peak will outlive her husband. Well tell that to a self-conscious fifth-grader and tell me how she responds.

In 5th grade, a girl in my class sidled up to me, grinning, and informed me, "You...

My Life On My Hands Anonymous

My legs dangled high above the ground as I sat next to my mom on the train. As I fidgeted the way little children do, my mother spoke to me. “You have plump fingers, not thin and bony like mine.” I frowned at her as she held my then tiny hands in...

Real Research Abubakar Abid

I arranged the bottles in front of me: 30% acrylamide, TEMED solution, ammonium persulfate, Tris buffer, and distilled water -- all of the materials I needed to run electrophoresis on the protein samples I had isolated earlier that morning. Oh,...

STEM Education Anonymous

“It focuses 201 precise beams of radiation directly on the tumor. Scary isn’t it?” As I deliver my prepared presentation about the Gamma Knife during the TSA National Conference, I can't help but wonder if I have really done justice to the power...

The World's A Stage Anonymous

I feel myself jump as the ground shakes, and Horace Vandergelder storms out. My heart beats, and all I can think is to wait for it, wait for it—dialogue, more dialogue, finally singing… “And now that we’re dancing who cares if we ever stop!” That’...

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Book 1: Jurassic Park

This was the first book I read that combined math with action and portrayed the mathematician as a hero, which made me hopeful about my professional future—but did give me unusual, dinosaur-infested nightmares.

Book 2: Der...

Curing All Cases of Moodiness Anonymous

Is she moody... or just broody? An obstacle course game should do the trick. Let’s also add some dried mealworms to the mix!

Every day, my pet chickens surprise me with their unique personalities and quirky behaviors, whether they are gracefully...

Small in Size but Big in Heart Anonymous

“Oh d-d-d-d-dear, dear!”

Among the lush trees of the Hundred Acre Woods, a little stuffed pig named Piglet searches for his friends. Despite being a tiny ball of anxiety, he displays remarkable amounts of compassion and fortitude whenever his...

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Hello! I'm Drew and I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton University with a B.S. in Computer Science. I realized my passion for college advising in my sophomore year in college where I began working as a Matriculate college advisor. In the past, I've advised students interested in computer science or engineering. My approach to college advising is focused on drawing out the unique strengths of a student and ensuring that their application not only demonstrates their academic achievements, but also embodies their story and who they are as an individual. My favorite part of the process is definitely helping students develop their personal statement essays. I look forward to working with you!

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California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2018-19 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

The Requirements: 3 long essay of 250-400 words; 3 short essays of 120 words each

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community , Activity , Short Answer , Oddball

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2018-19 Application Essay Question Explanations

Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a stem field. use the separate spaces provided below, one for each stem experience and/or activity., stem experience/activity 1 and explanation (your response should range between 10-120 words.): stem experience/activity 2 and explanation (your response should range between 10-120 words.): stem experience/activity 3 and explanation (your response should range between 10-120 words.):.

Think of this as three hyper-specific activity essays. It’s common practice for schools to ask applicants to expand on an activity that has been meaningful to them, which opens up an opportunity for you to highlight your leadership qualities and creative skills. In this case, Caltech, in its scientific precision, has asked you to write about exactly three (3) experiences or activities related to STEM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, in case you didn’t know). The thing is, this is Caltech: every applicant probably has something interesting to say about this topic! So you’re going to heed to work extra hard to stand out. Although this prompt asks for three distinct descriptions, you should still think about your answers as one cohesive story where each chapter reveals something new. What connects your three experiences? Is it simply growth over time (from doing a lab in class to eventually interning in a real research lab)? Or is it more thematic (gardening, field research, and earth science tutoring)? Make those connections crystal clear to demonstrate not just intention but direction: you are clearly headed towards a promising career in STEM. Also keep in mind that Caltech asks for “experiences” OR “activities” meaning you can choose formal school activities, professional experiences, and even informal experiences.

Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a “Techer” relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)

Caltech wants to know that you’re a team player. As far as topics are concerned, any time you worked with others is fair game, so don’t restrict yourself merely to your science fair project or the dance squad. This could be the perfect opportunity to write about a professional experience (your first time working as a camp counselor!) or even community service (organizing the coat and blanket collection at your church!). Ideally, you should describe an experience that spans a decent amount of time — a few weeks or even months — so you can describe the phases of your work and the end result. What challenges did your team face? Were they internal, organizational issues? Or were there larger, external problems that you had to face as a single strong unit? In what ways were you a leader, but more importantly, how did you allow others to lead? It’s all well and good to say that you spearheaded your group history project, but remember that this question is about collaboration. A more reflective and honest essay will consider how each person’s unique contribution set the course for your team’s success (or failure). If you’re talking about a large group (singing in a 100 person choir!), perhaps you’ll want to focus on the values or goals that are strong enough to unite such a large group of people. In the end, you should be able to clearly state a lesson that you will carry with you into the future. In other words: an experience that will have a positive impact on your collaborative work at Caltech.

Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)

We usually caution applicants against being weird for weird’s sake, but in this case, Caltech is asking for just that! If you identify as a quirky person, you’ve probably already got an idea or two, but if you don’t, you could find yourself drawing a blank. In either case, our advice remains the same: (a) use your judgement, and (b) don’t force it. There’s a fine line between charming quirk and alienating strangeness, so stick to describing hobbies that won’t get you arrested. Take your cues from your friends and family. Does your father sigh an affectionate sigh every time you decide to ride your unicycle to school? Do your friends affectionately tell and retell the tale of the time you all tried, in vain, to do the cinnamon challenge? What do you do to entertain people? Remember, Caltech wants to know how you have fun, so it’s okay to get a little bit silly with this essay and even make fun of yourself a bit. Identifying your own quirks is, in itself, an exercise in self-awareness; the more you display this quality, the more down to earth and humble you will seem.

The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)

You could look at this question as a reverse why essay. Caltech isn’t asking why you want them, but why they should want you. What will your unique contribution be? Before you start writing this essay, you’ll want to start out with some good old fashioned research. Learn about the school, what it offers and values, and what its students are like. Think about Caltech in the abstract — what is it like, and how might your presence shake things up (in a good way)? First and foremost, is there something in your background or upbringing that would make you stand out from your peers? Diversity can be defined in many ways. Typically, we think of things like race, class, political affiliation, and religion. But diversity could also speak to something unique in your lived experience. What have you done that few other people have done before? How has this affected your worldview in a way that distinguishes you from your peers?

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  1. Supplemental Application Essays

    The essays are an opportunity to tell us about yourself in your unique voice. There are no right or wrong answers but we do have some advice: Remember, Caltech is an unapologetic STEM institution. Literally, there is no way to write about too much STEM in your supplemental questions. So lean all the way in on the STEMiest of STEMmy topics (yep ...

  2. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2023-24 Supplemental Essay

    California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations. The Requirements: 3 essays of 200 words; 1 essay of 400 words; 3 short optional essays Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community, Activity, Oddball, Why, Short Answer In addition to the personal essay in the Common Application or the Coalition Application, applicants to Caltech must complete required ...

  3. How to Write the Caltech Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

    Caltech has four required supplemental essays, and three shorter optional essays, with word limits of 150, 100, and 50, respectively. Because Caltech is one of the most academically rigorous schools in the country, you want to be sure that your essays capture your intellectual and creative potential. In this post, we'll break down each prompt ...

  4. California Institute of Technology

    Caltech Mission Short Response. Required. 400 Words. Caltech's mission - to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity - relies on its community members embracing our Mission-Based Values, which include: 1. Openness and enthusiasm for having preconceptions challenged. 2. Respect and appreciation for the idea ...

  5. How to Write the Caltech Supplemental Essays: Examples

    Caltech Supplemental Essay Prompt #2. At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity.

  6. Academic Requirements for First-Year Applicants

    Supplemental Application Essays Ethical Use of AI: Guidelines for Fall 2024 Applicants Essay Writing Advice Application Fee & Waiver Teacher Evaluations Writing Advice for Recommenders ... California Institute of Technology. 1200 East California Boulevard. Pasadena, California 91125.

  7. How to Write Amazing Caltech Essays

    How to Write Amazing Caltech Essays. The California Institute of Technology—or Caltech, as it's more commonly known—is a highly exclusive college. If you want to join the Beavers, you'll need not just top grades and standardized test scores, but strong writing supplements to support them as well. Caltech accepts around 6% of students who ...

  8. Admission to the First-Year Class

    The essays, which are required as a part of the application, are intended to provide students the opportunity to communicate their interests, experiences, and background. Since Caltech is interested in learning about each applicant, the essays are viewed as an important part of the admission decision process. ... California Institute of Technology.

  9. California Institute of Technology Essay Guide 2020-2021

    The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) - famous for both its prestige in STEM and its wild pranks - is a private research institution in Pasadena, California, home to the Rose Bowl and a short drive away from Los Angeles. Caltech is one of the smallest schools in its prestige level, with an undergraduate enrollment of only 948 ...

  10. Caltech Essay Prompts

    The California Institute of Technology has released its supplemental essay prompts for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. The school, one of the last among America's elite universities to release their essays for applicants to the Class of 2028, asks applicants to respond to several required and optional essays as well as short answers. These essays are, of course, in addition to The Common ...

  11. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2019-20 Supplemental Essay

    The Requirements: 3 long essay of 250-400 words; 3 short essays of 120 words each Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community, Activity, Short Answer, Oddball California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2019-20 Application Essay Question Explanations Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field.

  12. Undergraduate Admissions

    Supplemental Application Essays; Application Fee & Waiver; Teacher Evaluations; International Applicants; Homeschooled Applicants; ... California Institute of Technology. 1200 East California Boulevard. Pasadena, California 91125.

  13. How to Get Into Caltech

    As you construct your "how to get into Caltech" approach, keep in mind that Caltech looks for innovative thinkers and leaders. Pursue your interests and seek out experiences that will strengthen your candidate profile well before the Caltech application deadline. 2. Write compelling Caltech essays.

  14. Apply to California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

    Apply for first-year. Explore. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering Institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions and pressing societal challenges. Caltech's extraordinary faculty and students are ...

  15. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

    California Institute of Technology Essay Requirements Overview Academic Requirements Essay Requirements Costs & Scholarships Essay Requirements When you apply to Caltech through the Common App, Apply Coalition, Powered by Scoir, or QuestBridge Application, you will also submit the Caltech Specific Supplemental Questions. Short Answer Questions All questions have to be answered. 150 words If ...

  16. California Institute of Technology Undergraduate College Application Essays

    These California Institute of Technology college application essays were written by students accepted at California Institute of Technology. Best summary PDF, themes, and quotes. More books than SparkNotes.

  17. What We Look For

    Supplemental Application Essays Ethical Use of AI: Guidelines for Fall 2024 Applicants Essay Writing Advice Application Fee & Waiver Teacher Evaluations Writing Advice for Recommenders ... California Institute of Technology. 1200 East California Boulevard. Pasadena, California 91125.

  18. California Institute of Technology

    California Institute of Technology Cost. Average Cost* $26,542. Average Total Aid Awarded $61,182. Students Receiving Financial Aid 51.77%. *Average cost after financial aid for students receiving grant or scholarship aid, as reported by the college.

  19. 2017-18 California Institute of Technology Supplemental Essay Guide

    The Requirements: 1 long essay of 500 words; 3 short essays of 200 words each; 1 short answer Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Activity, Short Answer, Oddball California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 2017-18 Application Essay Question Explanations. LISTEN UP, NERDS!

  20. Top 4 Caltech Admissions Essays

    Top 4 Successful Caltech Essays. ... The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 1...

  21. Transfer Deadlines

    February 15, 2024. Transfer Exams due. March 1, 2024. Transfer notifications. Early May, 2024. Transfer admit reply deadline. June 1, 2024. Transfer Process. The Transfer admissions process is for students who have completed their secondary education and are enrolled at a college or university other than Caltech where they have earned course ...