The Admissions Process:
How We Make Decisions


There are a lot of numbers and formulas at Caltech—but not at the Admissions Office. The decision-making process is much more of an art than a science here. We do not put your numbers into a computer to calculate your admissibility. Rather, we read every application to get a sense of who you are and whether you would be a good fit for Caltech.

Where You Come From
The admissions counselors read applications from the geographic regions they have visited and know well. Each student is considered in the context of his or her background. Every student has different resources, depending on his or her family, school, and community situations. Students are not compared to one another, even if they come from the same high school, because each student has a different set of life circumstances. We gather this information from the “background” pages of your application and from your secondary-school profile. We have no quotas whatsoever. The background information simply gives us the context in which to consider your application.


We first look for academic ability by evaluating test scores, grades, and recommendations. Caltech students are gifted in math and science and also are good test takers. If you have low math and science test scores, we will look for evidence of abilities in other parts of your application. Even if you have done well on your standardized tests, we will confirm that ability with your grades and teacher recommendations. Caltech students are not only good at math and science; they love those subjects, too. We will look for your love of learning in your curriculum and teacher recommendations. If you have taken courses or done research outside of school, be sure to include those transcripts and, if possible, recommendations from those experiences.


Extracurricular Activities
You should think broadly about how you spend your time outside of academics. List activities like sports, music, summer programs, community service, math and science academic teams, tutoring programs, and whatever else you spend time doing. You might even think about how you spend time with your friends. We are trying to understand how you might be involved in our community.You can detail your activities both on the Common Application and on the Caltech Supplement.

Mayan TileMillikan Library