Caltech Restrictive Early Action: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Restrictive Early Action?
Restrictive Early Action (REA) is a non-binding early admissions process for students who are confident that Caltech is their first-choice university, excited about the possibility of attending Caltech, and want to learn early if they are admitted to Caltech. At the same time, students will not be required to accept a Caltech REA offer and may compare financial aid options if they choose to apply to other institutions during the Regular Decision process. 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, 2023 to decide if they will accept Caltech's offer of admission.
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.
Why is Caltech moving from Early Action to Restrictive Early Action?
In the last two years, Caltech has seen a substantial increase in applications, more than doubling our total applicant pool since Fall 2020. With a first-year class of only 235 students, the application pool is far outpacing the space we have available on campus. Lowering our admit rate is not a goal for Caltech; instead, we want applications from students who are thrilled about the idea of engaging deeply in science, technology, and engineering in Southern California.
We believe that moving to a restrictive early action process will be responsive to our applicants' desire to identify Caltech as their first choice while, at the same time, allowing them to consider all their college options and financial aid packages until May 1, before making a final decision. We also intend to make the majority of our admissions decisions in the Regular Decision round and, as explained below, only make deferment decisions for a select few students.
What is the difference between REA and Regular Decision?
- November 1, 2022 for Restrictive Early Action with a notification date of mid-December.
- January 3, 2023 for Regular Decision with a notification date of mid-March.
Additionally, REA should be for students who are prepared to submit their most competitive application by November 1, including letters of recommendation and required course work for admission.
Will I have a better chance of getting into Caltech REA?
Caltech's admit rate is under 5% for both Early Action and Regular Decision and the difference in admit rates is negligible. As such, we recommend it for students who:
- are excited about the possibility of attending Caltech for their undergraduate career
- have taken the calculus, chemistry, and physics courses required for admission to Caltech
- have prepared a competitive application by November 1, including letters of recommendation
What is the deadline for applying REA and when will decisions be released?
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, 2023 to decide if they will accept Caltech's offer of admission.
What admissions decisions are possible after applying REA?
There are 3 admissions decision outcomes when students are notified in mid-December:
- Admit – a student is admitted and has until May 1, 2023 to accept or decline their offer.
- Defer – a student is deferred and has the option to opt-in to Regular Decision. Caltech is very judicious with our deferment offers, only choosing this option for students we are very interested in learning more about and considering them in the wider Regular Decision pool.
- Deny – a student is denied admission to Caltech. All deny decisions are final and a student cannot appeal the decision, nor can they apply to Caltech in the Regular Decision round of that cycle. Students are welcome to apply for admissions again the following fall.
At Caltech, a student who is deferred to Regular Decision can only receive one of two admissions decisions in mid-March: admit or deny. We do not waitlist students who were deferred admission from REA.
If I am admitted, when will I receive my financial aid decision?
Our plan is that students admitted to Caltech through REA will receive their financial aid notification before the December holiday break. The financial aid logistics and timeline will be posted later.
Why shouldn't I apply Restrictive Early Action?
Great question. Caltech reserves most of our admissions offers for Regular Decision, so please do not feel compelled to apply REA to improve your chances of admission. As stated above, admission to Caltech is highly selective in both Early Action and Regular Decision, and there is a negligible difference in admission rates between the two. So what does this actually mean?
There is no rush to apply early to Caltech. Regular Decision is a perfectly acceptable and equal admissions process for the majority of applicants. We mean it.
REA is recommended for students who a) are excited about the possibility of attending Caltech and b) who feel confident of their academic preparation for Caltech by the end of their junior year in high school. If a student reviews their transcript and sees a strong case for the highly specific academic nature of Caltech, then they should consider applying REA.
Students who feel that their senior fall term course work will help make the academic case for Caltech should wait for Regular Decision when we will receive their fall term grades.