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Caltech Implements Three New Admissions Policy Changes

Aug 5, 2022

California Institute of Technology, ranked the #9th National University (tied with Duke, JHU and Northwestern) on US News, is a private institution located in Pasadena, California, home to approximately 900 undergraduates. Known for its STEM programs in biological sciences, engineering, and mathematics, the Institute is one of the leading tech universities in the world. For the Class of 2025, the school received 13,026 applications and had an acceptance rate of 3.9%.

Caltech has announced three new policy changes for admissions.

Here are the 3 admissions policy changes:

1. The first policy change is the extension of the test-blind policy for two more years.

This means that the school will not be looking at SAT or ACT scores for admission even if applicants submit them.

The original test-blind policy originates from June 2020, which was announced as a response to COVID. Caltech is known to require students to take first-term mathematics and physics as a part of their core curriculum. According to a study conducted by the Caltech faculty, standardized test scores have come to show almost no effect in predicting first-year performance for undergraduates in these courses. In light of these findings, Caltech reasons that prolonging the test-blind policy will allow the Institute “to assess the value of these metrics in the admissions process and to determine whether standardized test scores are informative of students’ long-term success at Caltech.” They now hope to continue relying on other materials for a better understanding of their candidates, even labeling standardized tests as “a financial and logistical barrier to applying to Caltech.”

This is in stark contrast to MIT, one of Caltech’s most closely matched peer institutions. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be requiring standardized testing scores starting in fall 2022. Interestingly enough, MIT has argued that the Institute “cannot reliably predict students will do well at MIT unless we consider standardized test results alongside grades, coursework, and other factors.”

2. CalTech is changing its Early Action policy to Restrictive Early Action (REA).

Restrictive Early Action is non-binding, and “limits the number of schools to which an applicant may apply during the early period.” The REA deadline is November 1st and students will be notified of their admissions decision by mid-December. Students can wait to accept their offer of admission until they have completed regular decision processes at other schools.

CalTech explained the decision by citing a large increase in applications. However, the school does not want to decrease its admit rate. Ashley Pallie, the director of undergraduate admissions at Caltech, explained, “We believe moving to a restrictive early admissions process is responsive to our applicants’ desire to identify Caltech as their first choice while still giving them the flexibility to consider all financial aid packages.” You can check here for a list of FAQs on the new policy.

3. Finally, international students in need of financial aid can now apply through Restrictive Early Action.

Until this change, international students in need of financial aid could only apply through Regular Decision. Pallie explains the purpose of this change, “Our goal at Caltech is to recruit and enroll the best STEM students from all around the world regardless of their financial circumstances; updating our policy to allow international students who need financial aid to apply during REA allows us to achieve this goal and to work toward more equitable admissions practices.” Additionally, international students can now meet the English proficiency requirement through the TOEFL, the IELTS, or the Duolingo English test.

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