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California Institute of Technology | Caltech

Pasadena, CaliforniaPrivate

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California Institute of Technology | Caltech’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Additional Info Short Response

Not Required
150 Words

Have you had any extenuating circumstances (such as limited course selection, inconsistent grades, or disruptions), that have affected your coursework, but that are not described elsewhere in your application? If so, tell us about them here.

STEM Awards Short Response

Not Required
200 Words

Some Caltech applicants engage in STEM competitions locally, nationally, or internationally (e.g., AIME, Science Olympiad, International Science Olympiads). If you have received any STEM honors or awards, list them here (with scores, if applicable).

Creativity Short Response

250 Words

The creativity, inventiveness, and innovation of Caltech‘s students, faculty, and researchers have won Nobel Prizes and put rovers on Mars. But Techers also imagine smaller scale innovations every day, from new ways to design solar cells to how to 3D print dorm decor. How have you been a creator, inventor, or innovator in your own life?

Caltech Mission Short Response

400 Words

Caltech‘s mission – to cultivate learning, discovery, and innovation for the benefit of humanity – relies on its community members embracing our Mission-Based Values, which include:

1. Openness and enthusiasm for having preconceptions challenged

2. Respect and appreciation for the idea that, while we are all members of the same community, the opportunities we‘ve had to develop, showcase, and apply our talents have not been equal

3. Passion for the ideal that science can and should meaningfully improve the lives of others

Share what one or more of these values evokes for you.

Additional Info Short Response

Not Required
150 Words

If there are aspects of your life or social or personal identity that you feel are not captured elsewhere in this application, please tell us about them below.

Interest/Hobby Short Response 1

Not Required
100 Words

When not surveying the stars, peering through microscopes, or running through marathons of coding, Caltech students pursue an eclectic array of interests that range from speed-cubing to participating in varsity athletics to reading romance novels. What is a favorite interest or hobby, and why does it bring you joy?

Interest/Hobby Short Response 2

Not Required
50 Words

Did you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one interest or hobby? We understand – Caltech students like to stay busy, too – tell us about another hobby or interest!

Why This Major Short Response

200 Words

Please indicate your proposed area of interest at Caltech. If you have one, please indicate your second area of interest at Caltech. Why did you choose that area of interest?

Select-A-Prompt Short Response

200 Words

At Caltech, we investigate some of the most challenging, fundamental problems in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Identify and describe two STEM-related experiences from your high school years, either in or out of the classroom, and tell us how and why they activated your curiosity. What about them made you want to learn more and explore further?

Option 1

STEM experience/activity #1

Option 2

STEM experience/activity #2

Common App Personal Essay

650 words

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Option 1

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Option 2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Option 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Option 4

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Option 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Option 6

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Option 7

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you‘ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

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