Opinion: Caltech Needs More Humanities, Higher Tuition

The numbers are in, and they don’t lie. According to recently released data from surveys of the outgoing Class of 2017, Caltech shamefully continues to lag behind its peer institutions in both humanities offerings and cost of tuition.

It’s a common complaint, heard in houses on both sides of the Olive Walk—Caltech has long lost sight of what should be its most defining characteristics. For years we’ve maintained a lopsided focus on science and engineering, at the expense of the founding principle of Caltech: liberal arts education for the very wealthy.

This publication applauds efforts to close this gap. The undergraduate deans have successfully implemented a new policy requiring students to pay for a full four years of classes regardless of the number of years taken to graduate, but Caltech still has a long way to go. According to collegedata.com, Harvey Mudd’s cost of attendance is $71,917 per year—compare that to our measly $64,974. It really makes one wonder whether going to this school is at all worthwhile.

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Worse still, the institute has a mere 203 courses listed across the departments of Art, English, Film, History, HPS, Philosophy, Humanities, Language, and Writing. This is barely a one-to-five course-to-student ratio. Each student is only required to take 12 humanities or social science courses, so it is still possible for students to skip out on most of these offerings!

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Students have submitted their complaints to us in large numbers. As one Booty House reader writes: “I came here to broaden my knowledge about the things that really matter in the world. Caltech can teach us what an electron does, but can it teach us the ethics of an electron? Can it teach us how to deconstruct a literary treatise on the electron? These are the things that make good scientists.”

These shortcomings mean students still can’t enjoy the bragging rights which have been the mainstay of Ivy League schools for centuries. How embarrassing it is when your yachting buddies from high school realize you attend a “budget school,” while they are enjoying the most expensive education money can buy.

You might as well turn over your country club membership card and say goodbye to those hedonistic, Greek classics-inspired sex parties. You probably wouldn’t even get the references.

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If we ever want to broadcast Caltech as a leading, important institute, we absolutely have to go back to the basics. If we can’t project an image of ourselves as overpriced and focusing on the wrong problems, who will?


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