It’s a chance to add depth to something that is important to you and tell the admissions committee more about your background or goals. Test scores only tell part of your story, and we want to know more than just how well you work. We want to see how you actually think.
The essays can be the most important components of your application.
In addition to the personal essay in the Common Application or the Coalition Application, applicants for first-year admission to Caltech must complete required supplemental short-answer essays. These are questions that the Admissions Committee has devised to get to know you better as a student, scientist, and person, and ascertain who you’ll be on our campus. Below are the essay prompts for Caltech’s application for first-year admission.
- Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field. (Your response for each experience/activity should range between 10–120 words.)
- Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a “Techer” relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
- Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
- The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
They follow a particular structure: you will set out your argument in the introduction, build and present your argument in the main body, and should end with your overall key message or argument in the conclusion.
Essays take time to complete. You will need to set aside time for the following stages of writing:
This is a fresh and approachable guide helping students to write better essays at university. It addresses students directly and is packed with practical information. Examples from real essays are included to make the text more approachable. This book is an attempt to help students write better essays, because so many deserve better than they actually do. Different academic conventions are discussed, and where applicable explained. By following the advice in this book, students should improve their essay writing skills, and be rewarded with higher marks.
The subject matter of the book makes it suitable to all levels of university students, both undergraduate and taught postgraduate students.
Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
While there is no perfect length for an essay, we recommend that you aim for 500 to 650 words. For more information on specific application requirements, please consult the website for each institution to which you are applying, as requirements often vary.