Academic Advising at UCLA

To all with this decision to make,

Since my very first day as a UCLA student, I’ve spent most nights furiously detailing the day’s events – course content I can’t seem to get off of my mind, embarrassing moments I have at a surprisingly high rate, or simply cataloging the amount of junk food me and my roommates can consume in one sitting – into a now overcrowded section of my Notes app. I rarely reread the words after they’ve been written, but I recently stumbled upon an entry that I’d like to share with each of you.

On March 16, 2018, I wrote: “Exactly one year ago, you got into UCLA. Best day FOR your life.” To open my admission decision, I situated myself at the dining room table in my lucky chair, refreshing the admission portal for what felt like an eternity. “Congratulations!” suddenly popped up on the screen, and I found myself shedding tears of both joy and uncertainty. After all, becoming a UCLA student is a daunting task for anyone – 32,000 undergraduate students, 419 acres, and only a few years to figure out how to navigate it all. Coming from a high school where I could usually count my classmates on two hands made these numbers sound even more daunting. Plus, as a Political Science major, Education Studies and Community Engagement & Social Change double minor (a mouthful, I know) I wasn’t sure if such a huge university would be able to provide me with the advising I needed to succeed.

However, almost immediately after arriving on campus, my worries were put to rest.

The advising and course planning assistance you receive during New Student
Orientation the Summer before your first year as a Bruin is just the beginning. Throughout your entire career at UCLA, you have access to an advisor in your designated academic advising office. Students in the College of Letters & Science will see advisors in the College Academic Counseling (CAC) office unless they are a part of the College Honors Program, Academic Advancement Program (AAP), or Student Athletics. In addition, all 7 of our specialty schools have academic advising units for their students as well. I was comforted to learn that these advisors are available every weekday to help students navigate everything from understanding how enrollment works to creating an in-depth plan to ensure that they fulfill all of their requirements on time. Similarly, every major and minor department has their own set of undergraduate advisors that can provide you with answers to more nuanced questions about their programs and help you determine if you would be a good fit. Within my first quarter at UCLA, I went from being worried that I wouldn’t have enough advising opportunities to being happily inundated with emails from the different offices about their open Office Hours and workshops like “Cake and Counseling” or “Crafting Your UCLA Journey.”

The aforementioned formal academic counseling resources were invaluable in
navigating my first few months at UCLA; however, once I felt more comfortable and found my place on campus, I realized the tremendous value in the informal advising opportunities. The fellow members of the clubs and organizations you join will be your go-to when you can’t decide if it is worth it to take Education 11 at 8:00 a.m. because you’ll need to sacrifice your beauty sleep (you should!) or if taking a service-learning course is really worth it (it is!). And the final component of your academic advising experience that you must take advantage of is your professors. They may not know how to explain how to fulfill requirements to you, but they can aid you in discovering what steps to take to fulfill your passions.

I have to admit, I initially underestimated both UCLA’s capacity to provide academic advising resources, but also their commitment to ensuring all students have access to them.

I think ‘past-Jessica’ said it best. Attending UCLA will be the “best decision FOR your life” because the community you become a part of, the knowledge you gain, and the experiences you have will change your life for the better, much like it has mine.

From someone who has made the decision,
Jessica Bushman