So I've completed my first semester at Cal and, despite all that I've heard about how competitive, twisted, unfair, depressing, etc the school is, I found it to be pretty doable. Granted, I had a fairly light courseload (standard MCB) compared to, say, someone in COE, but I feel like it wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. Maybe I overreacted a little to the countless warnings, who knows.
Anyways, my main concern isn't about how tough Cal is to each of you, since persistence, ambition, and intelligence vary greatly from person to person. I'm interested in knowing, from anyone who has any knowledge at all, how tough Cal is in comparison to similarly ranked or higher ranked schools. Obviously, I don't expect many of you to have firsthand experience with another university but I'd still like to hear your thoughts. For example, I have a pretty good idea of how tough Caltech is because my close friend goes there and we talk about it frequently - his first term made mine seem like Disneyland. I'd love to know if any of you have similar information to share