Finding Your Way At UCLA

Hi, new and prospective Bruins! Congratulations on your acceptance into UCLA! I’m Sara, a third-year Communication major and Professional Writing minor. I was born and raised in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, which made me initially hesitant to attend a university so close to home. But from my classes to the beautiful campus to the student organizations I joined, I quickly learned that there is no university I would rather attend! Some of my campus involvements are with the Student Alumni Association, Honors Fellows, Student Wellness Commission, and UCLA Undergraduate Admission.

I hope that as you go through your UCLA journey, you find your place and what makes you happy—I know from experience, however, that it’s easier said than done. Navigating new environments and experiences can be daunting and even isolating, especially at such a large university. There is no right way to find your way at UCLA, but here are a couple of tips that helped me and might help you too.

Get to know campus

Familiarizing yourself with campus is essential, not only so you don’t get lost while looking for your classes but also so you can enjoy all that UCLA has to offer. My freshman year was completely online due to the pandemic, but the summer before my sophomore year, I took a walk around campus with my soon-to-be roommate in preparation for our first year in person. We got to know the location of various buildings while also discovering areas we didn’t even know existed. When I arrived on campus for my sophomore year, I felt comfortable navigating campus rather than feeling like a fish out of water.

I suggest that you take the time to go on similar exploratory walks—you never know what hidden gems you might find like your new go-to study spot! Part of the fun of attending UCLA is getting to know the gorgeous campus. And once you find the places that you most enjoy being at, UCLA starts to feel a lot more like home. Some of my favorite spots on campus are Rosenfeld Library, the Sculpture Garden, and the Music Café for their yummy matcha lattes. By getting to know the campus, you can also discover upcoming campus events, from film screenings to concerts.

Explore and get involved

One of the best ways to find your place at UCLA is by putting yourself out there and trying new things. There are countless ways to get involved on campus which you can discover such as by attending the Enormous Activities Fair and talking to other students. My advice is to explore as many student clubs and organizations as you can—they are a great way to meet new people, explore interests, contribute to campus, and find a community. You can also develop new life and career skills. Entering my freshman year, I joined UCLA’s Student Alumni Association, which enabled me to accomplish all of those things. Being a freshman online was isolating at times, but having a community of peers through that organization helped make my first year as a Bruin special. 

If you don’t find the right fit with a club or organization immediately, don’t worry. You can always try something new. And if you want to take it slow and spread this exploration out across your time at UCLA,  that’s also okay. I’m almost a senior and am still trying and applying to new things. It’s never too late to explore and find your place. So start exploring and see what you discover!

Picture of Sara outside of Royce Hall wearing a blue shirt.
Photo of Sara standing outside of Royce Hall and wearing a blue shirt.