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Applying to Caltech as transfer

  1. Sep 7, 2008 #1
    Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    FACT Caltech is one of the most competitive, and one of the best universities of the world due to which undergraduate admission is too selective. Additionally, I know the fact that during the last 5 years only 32 transfer students from 2-years institutions were admitted.
    Currently, I am studying in one of a California community college and transferring to 4 years institution, hopefully UC Berkeley, next fall as a physics major.
    I was wondering should I give a try to Caltech?

    If somebody ask me the same question, I would obviously say yes! Why not. However my main concern is whether it is worth to spend time preparing for the entrance test or better to focus my classes and get ready for UC.

    Let me write about myself
    Background: Schooling from a small village of Nepal
    Did high school over there,
    Status: Political Asylee,
    Studying in: one of the California community College,
    Unit Completed: 68 units by this fall,
    GPA: 3.74 overall, 3.89 science and math,
    Classes Completed: calculus series, Differential equation and linear algebra, Physics series and will complete intro chem., C++ programming, and a bio.
    Awards: President Honor list, Dean List
    USS pellias scholarship, leadership service award,
    Taking honor classes :))
    Research experience: summer research in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, particle physics R&D group
    Work experience: salesman in a jewelry store :D, math tutor from last year
    Club: not so active, though member of PTK (honor society), EOPS, and bunch of other club , I have almost 6-7 months, so hopefully by that time I can be active and involve in social works 
    Recommendation: Can get good recommendation (hope so) letters from my summer research mentor, professor of UC Berkeley, and research coordinator.

    One of my friends took entrance test last year and was rejected, so I have some clue about how her tests were. Thus, I guess if I will spend reasonable time preparing for the test, I might do well in the entrance test. Despite my simple background and being an average student, is there any chances that I will get accepted into Caltech for my undergraduate. As I was in UC Berkeley during this summer for summer research through some Transfer program, hopefully I will get accepted for next fall: coz last year 100% of the students from the program who conducted research were accepted.
    Sometime I feel like let me give a try nobody knows my luck :D , but I am afraid that I will be too occupied by the idea of preparing and applying to Caltech, and there is no any point if I am already a weak candidate.
    Your answers are appreciated
    Thanks for your time
    ~~ youtom
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2008 #2
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    UC Berkley has more than enough the same level of Education and Programs that Caltech has to offer. Some of my friends that studied in a Community College that held an above 4.0- 5.0 GPA still couldn't even get into Berkley, let alone have any chance whatsoever in getting into Caltech.

    Everything they do pretty much can be done in the same level of training in any UC in California. Is your intentions in selecting a University are for seeking knowledge, or is it just for the fancy school name?
  4. Sep 7, 2008 #3
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Thankx Hippo
    I guess they are still in highschool coz community college calculate GPA out of 4.0. Anyway, i understand what you are saying, it is not the point that you are trying to make.
    It is obvious that Caltech is a dream school for science students. However, the reason behind my interest is due to the ongoing researches which are related to my interests
    and the competition level they have.
  5. Sep 7, 2008 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    As long as you won't be devestated by rejection, what's to be lost by trying? The worst that could happen is they could say no.
  6. Sep 7, 2008 #5
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Honestly? You'll need more to get into CalTech because it is a fact that top universities are biased against community colleges. It's not my decision, but I know a lot of CCs (even the top one in my state) where a 4.0 is very easy to maintain- and the admissions counselors know it.
  7. Sep 7, 2008 #6
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    exactly, i agree with you, that motivates me to apply for Caltech so that i will not regret in future :D
    anyway thankx
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  8. Sep 7, 2008 #7
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    yup i agree with you, i know it is not that difficult to get 4.0 in cc, if we study bit more than average people, although i dont have one because of my English classes. And i agree that, they are biased against community college. However, my question is what can i do more than that. As i don't have 4.0 i cant get at any cost. and i understand that i am not so strong candidate for caltech. Thus i was wondering, what should I do?? should I forget about it and apply for grad school coz i will be rejected for undergrad anyway :D :D:tongue:
  9. Sep 7, 2008 #8
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Oh! Apply of course. It's not like you have only one shot at applying in your lifetime. You can always apply again when you're gearing up for grad school :)

    (At worst, at least you'll get essay writing practice. At best, you might be admitted. So take a shot)
  10. Sep 8, 2008 #9
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Do you mind if I ask what brand of Physics you are interested in and of the research topic?
  11. Sep 8, 2008 #10
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    haha you are right. Actually i did apply into summer research program this summer and was rejected. I knew that i was going to be rejected because on the first place, i haven't even completed sophomore level physics classes, no programming background, no chemisty but still i applied coz nobody knows future :D

    "Try Try until we die" (though i don't want to be rejected so many time that i will never make it :)) )
  12. Sep 8, 2008 #11
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    absolutely not, i am interested in theoretical physics, especially in gravitational field and other famous discipline such as Superstring theory, quantum gravity, quantum field theory, cosmology, particle phenomenology,

    To tell you honestly, I am at community college and havent even taken quantum mechanics or other basic physics classes, so i dont know the real world of physics.
  13. Sep 8, 2008 #12
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Not to be mean but....Cal-Tech admitted...8 transfer students last year.
    THey only admit 200 students or so too.

    Try Ucal or UCLA or Stanford.
  14. Sep 8, 2008 #13


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    Science Advisor

    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Firstly, how do you know you are interested in these areas if you've never studied them? Secondly, by all means try and transfer, but I'm not entirely sure that Caltech need to take students that have had to attend community college (especially not the theoretical physics department at Caltech!!)
  15. Sep 8, 2008 #14


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    That's graduate school material, except for particle physics. Many universities do offer an undergraduate level introduction to particle physics. At the undergraduate level, beyond what you've taken already, you mostly study "basic" stuff like quantum mechanics, E&M, thermo, etc. You have a few years to go, and a lot of material to absorb, before you can begin to approach, say, superstring theory beyond the level of pop-science books. If you can get into Berkeley, and do well there, you'll be in great shape.
  16. Sep 8, 2008 #15
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Sorry to go slightly off topic but I never knew it was so difficult to get into CalTech. Coming from Australia, I always thought it would be more difficult to get into UCB or Stanford. Those 2 unis seem more well known
  17. Sep 15, 2008 #16
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    'well known' is a relative term. It depends on the population you are referring to.

    Getting admission into Caltech is difficult as it is, for theoretical physics it is darn right ridiculous.

    I am aware of kids with amazing IQs, extremely good knowledge of physics (including modern) DFQs, programming (including assembly, C, matlab etc), incredible SAT scores etc who did not make it to Caltech (I have worked there and at JPL for two summers). These kids are just 12th graders in high school, mind you.

    It indeed is extremely competitive and as a transfer student you will need to show far more than grades to get in. Obviously we are all making it sound daunting but please go ahead and try. Otherwise you will never know.

    Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and USC all offer amazing theoretical physics programs that you should look into if also not outside of California. Caltech is definitely not for everyone. If you want even a remote shot at a normal life (like girls?) look elsewhere.

    I for one find all sorts of heavenly bodies interesting. Why limit yourself.

    jtbell gives good advice.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2008
  18. Sep 15, 2008 #17
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    I'm not affiliated with Caltech, but as a high schooler I was interested in Caltech so I researched their admission process.

    Caltech values academic extracurriculars and early scientific "breakthroughs" -- people who published or at least wrote papers during their high school years, and won in ISEF and/or got to semis in Siemens or STS. They also value the AMC10/12 and AIME tests more than the SAT, so if you can get that nailed, you'd be in PLENTY good shape. Scientific passion is important, but alone it just won't cut it.

    Oh and did I mention there are transfer exams you gotta take?
  19. Sep 15, 2008 #18
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    Look into UCSB as well. There Physic program is 10th in the nation or so. 7th in Particle Physics.
  20. Sep 17, 2008 #19
    Re: Applying to Caltech as transfer !!!!

    All three are very good schools... however, UCB is *huge* (22,700 undergraduates), Stanford is medium-sized (6700), and CalTech is *tiny* (900). It makes a difference in how hard it is to get in...
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