Campus Visit: UCLA

UCLA – Why It’s Awesome

I visited the University of California, Los Angeles earlier this year while on a short trip to Los Angeles with my 10th grader. 

The general campus tour was a very organized event. It consisted of a half hour presentation with an UCLA admissions counselor; they touched upon the 120 majors and 90 minors offered, boasted about their undergraduate research positions (10% of undergrads leave UCLA with patents under their belt), touched upon capstone programs, seminars, internship/research opportunities, and study abroad programs. They also gave an overview of their typical freshman class profile and briefly described the transfer student process

What’s the Campus Tour Like?

This presentation was followed by a student led, two hour campus tour. The student guides were incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic, they bled Bruin pride. We toured south campus (primarily for the STEM majors) and north campus (primarily for majors in the humanities), the libraries, the student union, and the picturesque quad area, made famous in many movies and television shows

UCLA Admissions – How Do I Get In?

UCLA is the most selective of the UC campuses. They toggle back and forth with UC Berkeley for the #1 spot of California public institutions. UCLA received over 100K applications in 2019 and they use a holistic review model of the applications. Transcript rigor, test scores, and essays that display leadership, talent/ability, and personal character are very important in the application process. They do not accept letters of recommendation – they explained that students self-advocate when they answer the essay prompts..

UCLA is an enormous institution, 30,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduates. It is located in Westwood, a trendy college town, nestled by Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel Air – some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. UCLA boasts over 1300 clubs and organizations which makes it possible for everyone to find their tribe. Because UCLA is located in a major urban city, it has a wealth of internship opportunities in every field. It is a Research 1 institution, conducting the highest level of research. They are a sports powerhouse in basketball, football, baseball, gymnastics, soccer, water polo, etc. This creates a tremendous opportunity for school spirit and involvement. They have a multicultural and very diverse student body (Caucasian = 27%, Asian = 30%, Latinx 21%, African American = 3%, International 13%). They provide several academic support services, most notably the Academic Advancement Program.

Is UCLA a good fit for me?

However, it may not be a “best fit” for everyone. Its Los Angeles location can be a big turnoff for many, Los Angeles is a beast of a city. It can take two hours to travel 20 miles on the freeway on a Friday afternoon. UCLA is on the quarter system where students typically take three to four classes (if you only take three classes a quarter, you will most definitely not graduate in four years). When asked, “If you had the power to change one thing about UCLA, what would it be?” our student guides answered that the quarter system moves quickly, if you miss a day of class, you fall far, far behind. Many undergraduate, general education classes have over 300 students, if you want individual professor attention during your first couple of years, you’ll have to be a strong advocate for yourself and visit their office hours. Finally, UCLA admits incredible and accomplished students, it may be hard for the student who would feel more comfortable being a “big fish in a small pond.”

What Other Schools are Similar to UCLA?

Other schools with similar profiles to UCLA would be its two rivals, UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California (USC). UC Berkeley is a public institution with a very similar profile as UCLA (15% admission rate), although UC Berkeley has been historically viewed as slightly more academically rigorous and politically liberal school. USC is a private institution, and when compared to UCLA, boasts an even smaller admission rate of 11%. USC is typically seen as being less academically rigorous and more politically conservative than UCLA and UC Berkeley. However, all three institutions enroll California residents at a higher rate than out-of-state or international residents. They all reflect, to varying degrees, the diversity of California. All three campuses use regular decision to admit students. UCLA and UC Berkeley do not take into consideration legacies/alumni relations. USC does consider legacies/alumni relations.


“Sylvia is a phenomenal college counselor. She is patient, kind, organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the college application process." - Susie

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