Caltech vs MIT

I’m a high school senior and decision day is coming really close with me still torn between Caltech and MIT. I love everything STEM and plan on majoring in mathematics or possibly physics, which is why these are my top two schools. I originally had my mind set on Caltech and even applied Early Action because of the small class sizes and the location, which is less than a 30-minute car ride away. However, my cousins who have graduated from college themselves are suggesting that I go to MIT for the prestige that could help me land a job in the future and for the experience of living on the East coast. If anyone has experience with these schools or suggestions on what to consider for my final decision it would be much appreciated.

It’s a very tough call either way. They’re two of the very best schools. If you want to study math, I’d probably pick MIT. But if physics is your choice, I’d choose Caltech. If you want to work in finance after you graduate, MIT may have an edge, even though all top quant hedge funds now also recruit from Caltech. Caltech, being much smaller, offers even better treatment to its students than MIT. Recent events such as COVID-19 showed some of those differences. Caltech also offers guaranteed campus living for all four years. Caltech is more likely to bring students back on campus in the fall than MIT, if that’s important to you. In terms academics, the two schools are very similar. MIT is on semester system and Caltech is on quarter system. MIT offers more options and takes a more practical approach while Caltech offers more rigors and emphasizes a more fundamental approach. Congratulations!

I think for math MIT might have the edge because of its rep with finance. If you plan on trying to get into hedge funds or finance or something like that, MIT probably the move. If you plan on staying in STEM/academia, both schools are probably equal and you should choose based on fit

Chose the one you like better. You can’t go wrong in terms of your education. Caltech students are equally successful in getting into grad schools, industry jobs, start-up jobs and the financial sector. Whether you major in math or physics, no employer is going to look at you as a perspective employee in better light because you went to MIT over Caltech (if you think you want to study architecture that is a different matter - go to MIT). The employers with whom you want to work, they will understand the very strong education you will get at both schools. Top employees / academics do not consider MIT to be more prestigious.

It comes down to which you like better - do you want better weather, a more centralized campus, do you like the house system, or do you want to be in a colder climate, close to a larger city, a Greek system, across the country, and on a more spread out campus (with many of the students living off campus b/c of the Greek system primarily).

I will say that Caltech, both the Administration and the faculty, is very devoted to the UG population and takes a very active roll in helping students get internships and jobs (in every field - from start ups, to large industry, to financial sector, to university research). INJParent also pointed out some differences.

Good luck. I would simply advise you to listen to your gut over your cousins.

@gilbertmc17 --Wondering if you’ve made a decision. If you have, could you share? Having MIT and CalTech to choose between is a dream for many. Could you share your stats to help future applicants? Much thanks and Congratulations!!

I ended up deciding to go to CalTech and I’m looking forward to it. I feel like my essays and ECs helped a lot in my admissions, but I’ll share my stats anyways.
SAT: 1530 ELA: 780 Math: 750
Bio(M): 760
Math II: 760
GPA(W): 4.7ish
GPA(UW): 4.0

Thank you for posting your stats @gilbertmc17 and congratulations again on your spectacular achievements! Stay in touch. After your first semester let us know about your experiences at CalTech. I am specifically interested in the social aspects–are the other students competitive or collaborative? Have you found your “people” or are most people “lone wolves?” Even though, as I understand it, everything is online, It would be great to get the perspective of a current student!

The OP has not been on CC since May. Closing thread.