UCLA: Am I Meant to be Here?

Hello everyone! My name is David Franco (they/them). I am a first generation, third year Sociology major from Bellflower, CA. Once again, a huge congratulations on your acceptance to UCLA! You have just accomplished something so wonderful and you should be so proud of yourself!

When I learned that I had gotten accepted into UCLA, I was beyond ecstatic. I knew from the moment I opened my portal and read the word “Congratulations” that I wanted to be a Bruin (I had even SIR’d before ever visiting the campus). About a month after my acceptance, I attended Bruin Day and fell even more in love. I could not wait to start classes in the fall and officially start my journey at UCLA. However, before moving to Westwood and officially starting my courses, I would visit UCLA one more time during the summer to attend a very important program: New Student Orientation.

I was just as, if not more, excited to attend New Student Orientation as I was to attend Bruin Day. From my understanding, orientation would allow me to choose my classes, learn more about the campus, and meet other new students just like me! However, though I had received all of these positive experiences at New Student Orientation, and many more, there was also one, not-so-positive experience that would occur: imposter syndrome. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this phrase, imposter syndrome is defined as “a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments.” Before my experience at New Student Orientation, I had never felt like I didn’t belong at UCLA. Though I was very surprised to have gotten accepted, I still had always thought that I had made the right choice when I decided to attend UCLA.

Unfortunately though, this confidence became shaken once I met my orientation group. Don’t get me wrong, everyone in my orientation was super kind, and seemed just as excited as me to attend UCLA. However, a conversation over lunch on the first day had left me a little unsettled. Everyone had begun talking about the scores they had received on their standardized tests. They had all done super amazing, and though I was proud of my own work, my own scores did not seem to match up. Fast forward to day two of orientation, and I am in a department meeting getting a lecture from the department counselor. The counselor informed us that we could expect to take a few coding classes in the future, which was something I had never even heard of. Yet, there were so many students around me who not only had experience with this type of technology, but were also excelling in this work. I started to become insecure in my abilities.

All of these experiences made me very unsure whether I would be able to work alongside such brilliant minds. “Sure, I had gotten chosen for this wonderful institution, but would I be able to do more than just get accepted?” “Would I be able to hold my own while surrounded by others who seem so much smarter?” And most importantly, “would I always feel like this?” All of these questions were running through my head for the rest of the day, and I became nervous about my future at UCLA. However, it was not until I spoke to my New Student Advisor that night that I understood that I did belong at UCLA. I explained my feelings to my New Student Advisor, and her advice, though very simple, reminded me that I earned my place on this campus. She explained that everyone is on their own journey here at UCLA, and though it may seem like you are competing with one another, you really are not. The only thing that matters is that you earned your right to be at UCLA, and that you accomplish everything you need to, regardless of who you are surrounded by.

I realized that my peers at UCLA are just that: peers. Though high school may have sometimes felt like a competition, UCLA would be completely different. The school would be full of students attempting to accomplish the same thing as you with plenty of room to share the success at the top. There would not be a need to compare yourself to others, because you will get your degree in your own time and in your own way. The next day of orientation, I enrolled in classes, saw a presentation, went on a tour, and the rest is history.

There may be times while you are at UCLA where you feel like an imposter. However, I want to tell you that this is a completely valid feeling. You may sometimes feel like you don’t belong, but I want to tell you to always remember that you were chosen out of hundreds of thousands of applicants to become a Bruin. UCLA knows that you are special, and your decision was not an accident, or some stroke of luck. You have worked hard and shown dedication, and UCLA knows that you have what it takes to graduate from this amazing institution. So let the not-so-positive experiences come, and then let them roll off your shoulders, because these not-so-positive experiences definitely will not outweigh the great ones.

Once again, congratulations on your acceptance to UCLA, you have earned it!