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Is Cal REALLY that tough?

RedSoldierRedSoldier 54 replies23 threads Junior Member
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 :)
edited January 2010
14 replies
Post edited by RedSoldier on
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Replies to: Is Cal REALLY that tough?

  • lolololollolololol 96 replies38 threads Junior Member
    yes. 10char
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  • LiquidusLiquidus 752 replies58 threads Member
    Workloads and class difficulty vary by major, so assuming your friend at Caltech is in Engineering, that should not be surprising. However, you're going to have a tougher time getting into med school than he will getting a job.
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  • FirapiraFirapira 285 replies28 threads Member
    It's like slogging through knee high mud that's super tough to wade through. The semesters are constant and grueling so you have to keep trudging on or else you'll sink and die. At the end, you're relieved but now you have to find a shower. It's just a constant barrage of things you have to do. Doable but annoying.
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  • CollegeHopeful18CollegeHopeful18 153 replies7 threads Junior Member
    I'm an Econ transfer student and I'm finding the same thing. If you study and keep focus, the courses seem pretty doable. If you're diligent enough and keep pace with the material it seems like you wouldn't have any trouble, at least in the courses I took.
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  • RedSoldierRedSoldier 54 replies23 threads Junior Member
    @ Liquidus: Yes, I think you may be right. Medical school complicates things -sigh-

    @ CollegeHopeful: Do you mind telling me what classes you took and how they were for you? I'm interested in Econ as well.
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  • ilovemuffinsilovemuffins 44 replies26 threads Junior Member
    hell yes!!!!!!!!
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  • UpMagicUpMagic 1434 replies1 threads Senior Member
    Chem 4A was pretty darn tough. I'm pretty sure the material itself isn't bad when I look back at it years later, but I'm sure the stuffs I covered (detailed MO theory, particle-in-a-box, etc.) are not seen in any other introductory chem course in other universities.
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  • YellowCocoPuffsYellowCocoPuffs 63 replies72 threads Junior Member
    I am MCB, 3rd year. My first semester was EASY. Second semester was doable. Third was ok. Fourth was KILLER. But I took a heavy courseload (~19units). My fourth semester, I took: Bio 1A, Bio 1AL, Physics 8B, IB 132, IB 132L, NST 11, MCB 199. Hardest semester to get good grades. Classes were easy, but I just found it difficult to ace all my classes. But fifth semester for me was easy (what I just finished). I took 20 units, 6 courses, and came out with perfect grades. So, in my opinion, second year is toughest. Don't overload like I did.
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  • MechRocketMechRocket - 1759 replies216 threads Senior Member
    i don't take very units per semester so it's not that bad

    i figure, what's the point of taking so many units if i can't learn the stuff well? might as well take less and get good grades in them.
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  • gilmorelove4lifegilmorelove4life 317 replies49 threads Member
    the competition makes everything seem tough when it really shouldn't be. i thought I was failing all my classes and did very good actually. I think it's also how your study habits are, how easy/hard classes are, courseload, etc. i came in with major senioritis that was still plaguing me this semester. i've learned since :)
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  • HunterbenderHunterbender 139 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Depends on your high school. Personally (and almost everyone from my high school agrees), it's been pretty chill.
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  • fireprincess90fireprincess90 55 replies7 threads Junior Member
    yeah it depends on your high school but also the things that you are involved with on campus. Just doing well in school isnt enough for med school, you need to be doing internships, volunteer, work, etc and i think its about how well u can balance everything as well as your school work that makes the semesters hard.
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  • mathboy98mathboy98 3740 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Comparing with a Caltech first semester schedule is a little silly, because they force you to go through a core. At Cal, it's all self-determined. You do what you need to do.
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  • MrPropapandaMrPropapanda 895 replies45 threads Member
    Caltech is impossible for most international applicants unless...

    MIT sounds cooler than Caltech, but Caltech is much more competitive. Perhaps it's their webpage design that deter me from applying to Cal.
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