I’ve been in college admission for nearly 20 years, which is likely longer than most incoming freshman have been alive. Yet each year, I look forward to the opportunity to meet with newly admitted students and their families as they consider which campus community they’ll call home this fall. With all of the stress that can sometimes accompany the college search process, it’s nice to take a breath and focus on the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

The fact that we received over 102,000 apps, more than any other university in the country, is often what attracts attention and questions. Each of these applications are read multiple times (every app is read at least twice…many more often than that), so we feel as though we’ve come to know our potential new Bruins quite well. Our larger challenge, however, lies in the amazing quality of applicants in our pool. UCLA attracts the best and brightest students from throughout the state of California, around the U.S., and throughout the world. And now it’s that time of year again – we’re finally set to release admission decisions.

But this is also a very emotional time of year for the students and families that won’t receive good news. I can speak on behalf of my admission colleagues here at UCLA and say that this is both an exhilarating and excruciating process for us. Nothing in our work in college admission is more challenging than saying no to good students. Ultimately, we are able to admit fewer than one in six of our applicants. This is a profound responsibility and one we take very seriously. For those students that did not receive the decision they were hoping for, know that these were very tough decisions for us.  It is, however, unavoidable in highly selective admission processes. I’m also reminded of the pendulum that is the college admission process. Each fall, as admission deadlines approach, colleges and universities wait in anticipation of who will choose to apply for admission. The pendulum then swings to students and parents/families as they eagerly await news of the admission decisions. Now, it’s our turn, once again, to wait and see where you will enroll.

Regardless of which colleges and universities you’re considering this fall, enjoy being back in the driver’s seat. Visit college campuses, ask financial aid questions, meet current students, and get to know our universities beyond the brochures and websites that make us all look so good. You will grow, both in and outside of the classroom. You will learn from incredible faculty and engage in groundbreaking research. You will study abroad. You will make lifelong friends. You will continue on your own journey of becoming the amazing individual your family, friends, counselors, and community know you will be. And you will make whatever university you attend better. Take the time to celebrate and to be proud of what you have accomplished and look forward to the college experience. It’s a big deal.

Remember that there are two names on every diploma…the university’s name and your own. At UCLA, our faculty, current students and alumni will ensure that every opportunity is made available to you. But you have to walk through that door and take advantage of those opportunities. The experience we offer at UCLA is second to none, but it can’t be amazing unless you come here and continue to MAKE it amazing!

To our applicants, thank you for allowing us a brief glimpse into your life. We wish each and every one of you the very best, wherever you choose to enroll this fall. And for those of you who choose to make the halls of Westwood your home, we say…

Go Bruins!

Gary Clark

Gary Clark is the Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA.

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