I have no idea why I'm creating this thread......but disillusionment is a powerful motivator.
Everyone, who has a desire to delve into the world of scientific or mathematical endeavor, wants to be the next Newton or Einstein- revolutionize human knowledge.
However limited my intelligence might be, I too dream of the same. This is perhaps demonstrated by my unhindered 'mathematical research' in high school- when most of my peers were struggling with embarrassingly easy concepts.
I've studied Caltech's course curriculum in much detail over the past few days. It seems to have just one thing in mind- cram as much as you can into the students' minds, so that they just MIGHT be able to use some of that knowledge for future scientific research. With the immensely heavy course load [lizzardfire says he spends 30 hours doing single problem sets], students perhaps spend most of their time doing homework, with little time or inclination left of independent thinking- or what the heck just ruminating!
It is perhaps someone's correct observation that the best years of undergraduate study are spent absorbing books and concepts. Only in graduate study should one start thinking about serious research. However, creative thinking perhaps is a result of continuous rumination and passion, and not an indulgence to be engaged in, in between hours of solving problem sets.
Although Caltech does have the SURF program, I do not immediately see the benefits of telling students to solve sums for the better part of the year, and then ask them to 'CREATE'.
As far as my limited intelligence allows me to think, I think the Caltech course is too streamlined and rigid, to allow any fair amount of creativity.
Most modern researchers, who are mostly products of tech universities like Caltech and MIT, study for the better part of their lives- until the post-doctoral level, only to try and tweak an enzyme in a stupid potato for the remainder of their lives. Although they might be awarded Nobel prizes at the end of such an endeavor, I definitely do not envy them.
Maybe I'm too immature. Maybe I have no idea what research really is. Chances are, I won't be the next Newton. But I really don't want to be a bin into which facts are discarded in large volumes for four years, in the hope that I might be able to do something with them. Please do enlighten me with comments, suggestions [rude?], etc
PS: I'm a Caltech applicant, who's only just stating his opinion of Caltech based on what he got on the website. I do not have any insider's knowledge. Moreover, chances are I won't get into Caltech anyway; so this just might be a pre-mature and unjustified attempt at rectification.