Two years ago, I was in your same position reading the same blog and deciding whether to attend UCLA. I still clearly remember reading this post by our director of Undergraduate Admissions the day after I got in. These words stuck out to me then and have proven to be true:
“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!”
I could not have said it better myself! If I had to name one reason I chose UCLA, it would be the endless opportunities just waiting for students. Every type of person can thrive on this campus if you can be a self-starter. Over the last two years, every person I’ve met is passionate about something and has the motivation to go after it. And if you don’t know what that passion is yet, UCLA is the perfect place to find it.
When I was a senior in high school, I wasn’t sure about my major, didn’t know what a minor was, and had barely started thinking about my career. When thinking about colleges, I knew that I wanted something new and that wherever I ended up choosing, I wanted dedicated professors, fascinating classes, and relevant clubs waiting for me. The need for freedom and exploration was so exciting to me after taking the same subjects and going to school in the same town for 12 years. At the same time, I found huge schools lacking a sense of community that I grew to love from my high school. Although I wanted to have all the opportunities and adventures associated with living in a big city, I also wanted a shared identity and space with other students. The fear of not having a tight knit community on campus made UCLA a tough sell for me, but I applied anyway and ended up being admitted.
I went to Bruin Day two years ago and absolutely loved it! I ended up signing my Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) on Bruin Day because I saw the positive school spirit on campus. Every third person was repping blue and gold, and students and professors alike genuinely wanted to talk to me about their experiences. My tour guides would run into multiple people they knew and point out that campus was our home within a large city. Now, one of my favorite parts of our campus is that I run into friendly faces on a daily basis while walking around or studying. I often don’t even realize how large our student body is because I know that a helping hand or familiar face is never far away.
UCLA has lived up to those adventures I imagined – both inside and outside the classroom. I’ve chosen to be in a 15 person seminar and a 300 person lecture. I’m a Political Science major and I’ve still been able to take classes in dance, psychiatry, and health sciences departments just because I’m interested in those disciplines. I am a part of Dance Marathon and I write and photograph for the Daily Bruin. I’ve attended a movie premiere right here in Westwood, gone to concerts and basketball games, and spent more time exploring beaches and nature than I did living in New Jersey for 14 years!
Of course, freedom can be a double-edged sword. I’ve run into bumps and obstacles, and I’ve made choices that weren’t right for me. But that is accepted and understood on this campus. I love that people are open to talking about their failures and what they’ve learned. I call failure growing pains – they are part of the territory in college. I can honestly say that each time something has frustrated me or not worked out, I’ve turned around and found another open door that was waiting for me. In the end, I came out of these growing pains knowing myself even better.
I encourage all of you to challenge yourself wherever you choose to attend school. Here at UCLA, there are so many people to help guide you through all of this new territory, whether that is the friends you will find here, your professors and teaching assistants, or Resident Assistants. At the same time, everyone at UCLA is pursuing diverse interests, and the choices are ultimately up to you. I’m so glad I chose a campus community that challenges me. I think college is the perfect time to push yourself and I can’t think of a better support system than your fellow Bruins right here at UCLA!