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Caltech vs. MIT (admitted to both)

nwoodwardnwoodward Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
Dear Techers,

I was admitted to both MIT and CalTech for 2014. I am still undecided for which school I will attend and I had a few questions.

My basic concern is not averages of students or anything, I truly want to know where I could get the best Math/Physics education. Who has better competitive teams, who has tougher curriculum, better professors, better research, more research opportunities, etc.

I know the two school quarrel all of the time, but what could CalTech offer me? I'm looking at opportunities from the top of the scale, not things like freshman experience or social experience but which school could I benefit the most from and have a successful career as a research scientist or mathematician.

Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it.

(P.S. I am posting this on both CalTech and MIT forums)
Post edited by nwoodward on
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Replies to: Caltech vs. MIT (admitted to both)

  • jdhutchinjdhutchin Posts: 320Registered User Member
    My basic concern is not averages of students or anything, I truly want to know where I could get the best Math/Physics education. Who has better competitive teams, who has tougher curriculum, better professors, better research, more research opportunities, etc.

    In terms of these, both schools are pretty much the same. Sure, you can argue rankings and approach, but in the end, you'll get the same great education and opportunities from both schools.

    You can have an excellent career as a scientist from either school. So, your decision really should come down to which school you feel like you fit in better at. Remember that whichever one you choose, you'll be spending four years at- you want to enjoy them, not be miserable because you spend all your time working.

    I strongly encourage you to visit both schools and decide based on that. I know that's not always possible, so I would suggest reading lizzardfire's post "Why Caltech is different"
  • mazewanderermazewanderer Posts: 1,399Registered User Senior Member
    From an education and opportunity point of view, you cannot go wrong either way.

    I do not believe you will get an objective answer to your question. You are comparing apples from two different trees and both look and taste delicious. What you are trying to do is find which one is better and there may be no objective measure. So it is a subjective decision. My advice is go with your gut? Where does your gut tell you you will do better? What do your parents or GC say. At this stage look at all other factors also, as both places will give you a foundation to become a great researcher. Hope this helps.
  • QuantumArbiterQuantumArbiter Posts: 599- Member
    @nwoodward:

    I really really really despise you....
    hahaha jk. And congratulations! Remember, social life is really really important. There's always going to be someone smarter and better than you, so academics doesn't define you.
    Get out there and have fun! Talk to women. Go to parties. Drink up! haha. Pick a place where you can have fun and study hard.
    I'd say you should personally visit these places to make your decision :]
  • nwoodwardnwoodward Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    You guys take my question the wrong way! I'm not a basement dweller, I was just trying to get the answers focused on academics rather than social. From what I have heard MIT has better social scene? However I do not like the reports of heavy drinking, etc. Is there lots of things to do at CalTech besides study? There isnt a city nearby and no other schools really in the area. I guess we can change the focus to social, since everyone is telling me they are equivalent in the academic standpoint.
  • daughterofpearldaughterofpearl Posts: 8Registered User New Member
    I would think of in terms of where they are.
    What opportunities (career-wise) can Pasadena offer you? It's not really that close to Stanford, which is located in the heart of Silicon Valley (and would be a definite boon to you as a student and future researcher, I suppose). Although, admittedly, wherever there is a major research university there will be opportunities. IDK anything about Pasadena honestly.
    MIT is right in Boston and near Harvard, which would be great for networking and collaborating (or, as my parents say, finding a nice little boy to get married to and settle down with).
    Still, I'd probably go to Caltech. This is very clich
  • TippuSultanTippuSultan Posts: 3,174- Senior Member
    I have visited both campuses and I liked CalTech campus and location better. I prefer warmer climate and fewer people. However, the dorm rooms we were shown during campus tour were very ugly. I understand that not all houses are alike and perhaps we visited the worst house. It was dark and dingy and grafiti all over the place. Rooms were tiny. Very very unattractive. Ugh!
  • nwoodwardnwoodward Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    It really looks like I need to visit... Do you know if CalTech has a reimbursement program for CPW? I do not know how I will afford plane tickets from Tampa -> Boston -> Pasadena -> Tampa Becaause their CPW's are the week after each other
  • Geomaniac91Geomaniac91 Posts: 29Registered User New Member
    "My basic concern is not averages of students or anything, I truly want to know where I could get the best Math/Physics education. Who has better competitive teams, who has tougher curriculum, better professors, better research, more research opportunities, etc."

    CC Rumors I've read:
    Caltech is slightly harder, although the two universities are basically the same.
    Caltech is unbeatable research opportunities (SURF, etc.), and I bet the 3-1 student-faculty ratio at Caltech is helpful in this regard. I imagine research opportunities are very similar at MIT though.
    Caltech has a theoretical edge; MIT has a practical edge. Both are tops at both though, of course.

    Fact:
    Caltech core requires 5 terms of both physics and math, whereas MIT requires much less math and physics in their core.



    William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    That's the only competition I can think of off the top of my head.

    Hope that stuff helps.

    Honestly, though, math and physics are tops at both, so you should probably consider the feel of the campuses for your main decision. From what I hear, the schools are very different in many regards. You may find that one school approaches academics in a way that you prefer or that you like people or things about one school better. The decision may come down to whether you want a large-ish university or a tiny one.
  • Geomaniac91Geomaniac91 Posts: 29Registered User New Member
    "However, the dorm rooms we were shown during campus tour were very ugly. I understand that not all houses are alike and perhaps we visited the worst house. It was dark and dingy and grafiti all over the place. Rooms were tiny. Very very unattractive. Ugh!"

    This may be your opinion, but it's not a common complaint as far as I can tell, and it's not one that I hold. We usually refer to the "graffiti" as "murals."
  • lizzardfirelizzardfire Posts: 1,576Registered User Senior Member
    I dunno, the north houses look pretty crappy. The south houses and avery are fine I guess though.
  • TippuSultanTippuSultan Posts: 3,174- Senior Member
    Sorry if I offended some Techies with my characterization of their mural. I am sure the dorm we visted was not one the four behind the cannon (Fleming, Ricketts, Blacker, Dabney?). I think it was either building #54 or 55 (Ruddock?). I think one the of the "mural"s was Abbey Road Crossing. What really bothered me about the room we visited was that it felt like it had no window. It felt like a basement room and the little opening near the low ceiling was blocked by a bunk bed.
  • mamaramamamarama Posts: 9Registered User New Member
    My son is a student there and his rooms have been fine. Since it's sunny southern California, they spend a lot of time outside in the courtyards or on the balconies. They even have a hot tub. The weather is so amazing, they don't need to stay cooped up in a room. Pasadena is a gorgeous, walkable town and there is plenty to do off and on campus. You can go surfing in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon. Try that in Boston!
  • nwoodwardnwoodward Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    I like the idea of graffiti on the walls...
    I actually have a robot painted on my wall with dryer tube arms coming off of it.

    I am also very tired with sun all of the time (living in FL), I like cold weather and snow...
  • lizzardfirelizzardfire Posts: 1,576Registered User Senior Member
    Florida is way more rainy than SoCal. Also, you're not going to get tired of the weather here, I assure you.
  • KamikazewaveKamikazewave Posts: 874Registered User Member
    I'm from FL too, and I couldn't imagine living somewhere that's cold. I need perfect 78 degree weather.
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