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Caltech CA (College Prowler: Caltech Off the Record)

Sheikh, Mayra

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Introduction from the Author

“Oh, Cal Poly Pomona” is the mistaken response I often get when I tell people where I go to school. “No, Caltech,” is the reply I give all too often. Caltech is a small math, science, and engineering school, so many people don’t know about it. Often, people will describe Caltech as the MIT of the West. Since MIT is huge compared to Caltech and has a higher female to male ratio, the comparison is inaccurate, to say the least. Caltech does, however, boast of a truly unique combination of academics, student body, and sunny weather that only Southern California can provide.

Caltech is currently one of the nation’s top five academic schools, according to numerous national surveys. The school is recognized by academic scholars as one of the best places to earn a math, science, or engineering degree. Caltech offers a top-of-the-line education that cannot be obtained anywhere else. Caltech is extremely challenging and demands a lot of dedication from its students. The workload here is above and beyond that of most schools, including the Ivy League.

From the beginning of freshman year, students at Caltech have the opportunity to work with the leading scientists of today. Some of the leading researchers in the fields of physics, geology, chemistry, and many more teach courses here. Caltech also has many connections to larger national organizations. Caltech runs the NASA-owned JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) and has access to much of the top-notch astronomical equipment of the day. Palomar Observatory is often used by Caltech professors and students. Also, Caltech is affiliated with the USGS (United States Geological Survey). Many of their seismic processing systems are on the Caltech campus. If there’s a tremor brewin’, we’ll be the first to know.

Caltech is unique in areas other than academics. Some of the Caltech residence houses were constructed in the early 1930s and are now considered historic structures, so they cannot be torn down. These buildings have unorthodox pathways lined with olive trees, and they weren’t built in a conventional two-story system. The Caltech house membership system is one of a kind. A good way of describing the housing system is by comparing it to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School where each of the seven houses has a unique personality. The only way to truly appreciate the aesthetics of the Caltech housing system, and Caltech in general, is to come and take a look for yourself. I hope my book provides you with a good enough mental picture to persuade you to make the trip to sunny Pasadena.

Mayra Sheikh, Author
Caltech

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Welcome to College Prowler®

During the writing of College Prowler’s guidebooks, we felt it was critical that our content was unbiased and unaffiliated with any college or university. We think it’s important that our readers get honest information and a realistic impression of the student opinions on any campus—that’s why if any aspect of a particular school is terrible, we (unlike a campus brochure) intend to publish it. While we do keep an eye out for the occasional extremist—the cheerleader or the cynic—we take pride in letting the students tell it like it is. We strive to create a book that’s as representative as possible of each particular campus. Our books cover both the good and the bad, and whether the survey responses point to recurring trends or a variation in opinion, these sentiments are directly and proportionally expressed through our guides. College Prowler guidebooks are in the hands of students throughout the entire process of their creation. Because you can’t make student-written guides without the students, we have students at each campus who help write, randomly survey their peers, edit, layout, and perform accuracy checks on every book that we publish. From the very beginning, student writers gather the most up-to-date stats, facts, and inside information on their colleges. They fill each section with student quotes and summarize the findings in editorial reviews. In addition, each school receives a collection of letter grades (A through F) that reflect student opinion and help to represent contentment, prominence, or satisfaction for each of our 20 specific categories. Just as in grade school, the higher the mark the more content, more prominent, or more satisfied the students are with the particular category.

Once a book is written, additional students serve as editors and check for accuracy even more extensively. Our bounce-back team—a group of randomly selected students who have no involvement with the project—are asked to read over the material in order to help ensure that the book accurately expresses every aspect of the university and its students. This same process is applied to the 200-plus schools College Prowler currently covers. Each book is the result of endless student contributions, hundreds of pages of research and writing, and countless hours of hard work. All of this has led to the creation of a student information network that stretches across the nation to every school that we cover. It’s no easy accomplishment, but it’s the reason that our guides are such a great resource.

When reading our books and looking at our grades, keep in mind that every college is different and that the students who make up each school are not uniform—as a result, it is important to assess schools on a case-by-case basis. Because it’s impossible to summarize an entire school with a single number or description, each book provides a dialogue, not a decision, that’s made up of 20 different topics and hundreds of student quotes. In the end, we hope that this guide will serve as a valuable tool in your college selection process. Enjoy!

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