At Caltech, cooperation and collaboration, rather than competition, are the keys to success. The community is shaped and guided by the Honor System, which has been a crucial component of the Institute since its earliest days. The system encompasses a variety of practices and behaviors, but finds its purest expression in the Honor Code:
"No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community."
It's a simple statement with far-reaching implications. It means, for instance, that Caltech students are routinely given 24-hour access to labs, workshops, and other facilities on campus. It means that collaboration on homework and other assignments is not just encouraged, it's practically essential for success. And it means that exams are never proctored (in fact, most of them are take-home).
The Honor Code confers the power to freely choose responsible actions. Caltech students value this freedom highly and guard it fiercely, which is why the system actually works.