April 24, 2006

Stupid Frosh

It's that time of year again, when the best and brightest young people across the land step cross the threshold of adulthood and embark upon their journey of self-discovery by deciding on the college they will attend. I was naive and lazy so I committed to Early Decision without doing much research. Nowadays kids have this thing called the Internet where they can talk to complete strangers handing out anonymous advice on what they should do with their life for the next four (or five, or six) years.

It's a difficult challenge to decide whether a person is the right fit for a specialized school like Caltech. Luckily, various Techers have been hanging out on the College Confidential discussion boards to offer the pre-frosh sage advice. You have the brilliant genius who cruises through his classes, conducts award-winning research, post long essays on the Internet, and still manages seven hours of sleep per night. Then there's the guy who actually tries to have a life, gets involved in student government and academic committees, possibly at the expense of his grades. But hey, in the end he'll still have a degree from Caltech so why not enjoy it in the meantime?

Then there are the Bitter Ones. They represent the west-side version of the IHTFP spirit. They're usually kept away from the impressionable kids during pre-frosh weekend, but it's probably a good thing the prospective Techers get a splash of cold water via the Internet.

Caltech is not a place for fun. It is a place for work. Yes, you get amazing experience in science and meet wonderful people. But, this place also breaks a lot of people. The number of techers who graduate from here turned off to math and science for the rest of their lives is not an insignificant one. I am fortunately not one of the many people I know who have turned to therapy and anti-depressants to handle the pressure and the pain of a Caltech education...

If I had known what I know now about science and research, I may have gone to another university. However, I could never have gotten this same knowledge and experience anywhere else so despite the pain Caltech has been worthwhile to me. I'm not saying that Caltech can't be worthwhile but you have to be prepared to lose yourself in this pursuit and know that you would not be alone in your struggle to just survive until graduation day.

Three cheers to Bitter Person for a job well done! (Hip-hip-hooray)3!

Posted by mikewang on 04:55 PM