5 Tips to Help you Prepare as an International Student

I attended school abroad and knew, all along, that I wanted to study at a university in the United States. When I finally received my university’s letter of acceptance 3 months later, I was ecstatic! But the emotions that settled in after that were confusing: I was going to leave my family and live alone in a foreign place; I was going to say goodbye to my friends; I would have to adapt to a new culture and speak English every day. I was happy, yes, but I also felt this emptiness in my heart because I was not going to live at home anymore.

I know first-hand how scary the university admission process can be. Although decisions for UCLA have not yet been released (they will be released in late March for freshman applicants), here are a few things I learned from my experience that can help in  your transition as an international student:

  1. Check and read your emails: Almost all information that is shared from our admission office is done electronically. Between now and decision release, we may request more information or provide other announcements. Make sure our emails are not going to your spam box, and that you are reading what we send to you carefully. Some emails may be time-sensitive so make sure you read our messages thoroughly.
  2. Understand what documents are needed. UCLA does not request letters of recommendation or transcripts at the time of application. There are some exceptions if you are applying to our School of Theater, Film & Television, School of Arts & Architecture, School of Music and our School of Nursing, but for the most part, our decisions are based on information you have provided in your application You or your school do not need to mail or email us any documents unless we request it directly from you. We understand that you are a stellar applicant and you want to mail us all your certificates or email us all your projects; trust that you have done a great job in completing the University of California (UC) application and allow us to carefully read through it.
  3. Send your official test scores. If you have not done so by now, you must send your official SAT or ACT and if required, TOEFL or IELTS scores to us. Official scores are sent directly from the testing agency to us. Paper copies or copies that are transmitted outside of the testing agencies are not considered official scores. And remember: if you have applied to more than one UC campus, send your score to one of our campuses and we will share it with the rest of the campuses to which you applied. The only exception is the IELTS exam; you will need to send it to each individual campus.If your name on your UC application is different from the name you used on your tests, please let us know! We want to make sure your scores are matched correctly to your UC application.
  1. Applying for a Student Visa. As an international (non-U.S.) student, you are required to obtain a student visa in order to study in the United States. All universities will ask students to provide proof of financial support (in the form of bank statements, financial documents, etc.), and the amount of this proof will vary by university. Once a proof of financial support is received and verified, the university will mail/issue you a Form I-20. This document makes you eligible to apply for a U.S. student visa (typically an F-1 visa), and you will use data in this document to schedule your visa appointment at your local U.S. Consulate or Embassy.At UCLA, once you are admitted and decide to commit to us, you will receive instructions on how to submit your proof of financial support from our Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars. You do not need to send any of these documents to us until after you decide to commit to UCLA. Don’t worry, our Dashew Center will give you details and guidance on how to apply for a student visa.
  1. Don’t contract “senioritis”. Your final year of high school is also known in the U.S. as your senior year. Just because you are done with university applications does not mean it is time to party! If you are admitted to UCLA, we will still require you to perform at the same level (or better) as when you applied to us. We do check your final year grades so make sure you continue to do well.

130514_UCLA_1283.jpgWaiting for decisions is a very exciting yet nervous time for everyone. And as an international student, you certainly need extra time to make sure documents and other things are done properly. We completely understand, and have consciously built in enough time in between decision release and start of school to allow you to do all of that. In the meantime, keep these 5 tips in mind as you hear back from all your universities (and from UCLA). And once you receive your decisions, don’t forget to congratulate yourself on all the hard work you have put in!

This post was written by Olivia Loo, Senior Assistant Director, International Recruitment
UCLA Undergraduate Admission

Read Season from a Readers Point of View

College admission is an annual cycle. As admission professionals, many of us spend most of our time on the road during Fall. We visit as many high schools and community colleges that time allows, participate in college fairs, and speak with countless students and counselors! While we love the fall, we look forward to putting away our suitcases and beginning the application review season following the application deadline.

After our annual training to kick off reading season, our staff dives into the hefty supply of UCLA applications. And wouldn’t you know it, this year we received over 100,000 applications  from high school students. As a UCLA alumnus, many of my former peers and colleagues share and repost the headlines from different news sources stating, “UCLA breaks 100,000 applicant mark” with captions or comments like, “Go UCLA” or “Proud to be a Bruin!” All I can think to myself when I see those posts are, ”now we get to read them all…twice!”

Heading into my third year of application review, I’m happy to report that read season doesn’t intimidate me anymore. Years prior, I became anxious of review season due the responsibility and number of applications our office receives. Nowadays, the work is manageable and enjoyable as I read about students from across California, the United States, and the world. I am able to get a quick look into the lives of students and learn about who they are and what they have experienced as well as help select them as future Bruins!

After three years of going through this process, the one thing that continues to amaze me is how the quality of our applicants continue to rise. I’m convinced that students who apply to UCLA today no longer have time to sleep! The vast majority of our applicants are doing incredibly well in the classroom, and at the same time doing more outside the classroom than you would expect: learning instruments, playing sports, overseeing organizations, conducting research, building businesses, working part-time, taking care of family members, writing books; I mean you name it, and there is a student out in the world doing it (probably more than you think). These young minds are inspirational and tireless and always make me question whether or not I’m doing enough each day! Which only makes reviewing their applications even more rewarding.

Like many universities, we use holistic review at UCLA. This means that we take every part of a student’s application into consideration . Every application is reviewed at least twice by two different admission readers. We consider the quality of academic work, where and how the student spent his/her time by making an impact outside of the classroom with respect to extracurricular activities or responsibilities, and who they are through their responses to the Personal Insight Questions.

By the end of this month, most Undergraduate Admission office staff will be deep into the read cycle and some of us will be exclaiming, “I’m ready to hit the road again!” However, we remain glued to our reading location of choice, often with caffeinated beverage in hand, as we review every application, one–by-one, until we reach our admission decision release date. For you prospective students awaiting your decision from UCLA, I wish you the best of luck, and Go Bruins!

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Joel Ontiveros is an Assistant Director at UCLA Undergraduate Admission and regionally based in San Francisco, CA.

How UCLA helped me decide my post-grad plans

After four of the best years of my life, I cannot believe the time has almost come for me to graduate. The days and the weeks just keep getting shorter and shorter as everyone tries to squeeze in as much social time as possible before mid-June. Talk has become much more about the future. Many people have been excitedly announcing which graduate programs they will be attending or which companies they will be working for, and many more people still have no clue what they’re going to do or even where they will live come July (and that is totally normal and okay!).

One thing my UCLA education has really highlighted for me and taught me about is about is educational inequity and the educational achievement gap in the United States. Although I come from a middle-income household, I grew up in a low-income community and I attended schools in that community until I graduated high school. I did not notice the difference in education I had received until I came to UCLA. Here I realized that many of my peers from higher-income communities received much more preparation for college than I had had. Likewise, many of my peers from lower-income communities and families than mine had received much less preparation for college. I learned that I am very lucky to have grown up in a middle-income household that could support me throughout college.

This sparked an interest in me and I decided to take on a minor in education. I also volunteered for campus organizations like Jumpstart and UniCamp that serve low-income populations in an effort to close the achievement gap. Now, I am proud to continue my work in education and low-income communities upon graduation through Teach For America as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut. Teach For America takes leaders on college campuses and trains them to become successful and impactful teachers in low-income classrooms.  I first took on an interest for TFA when I saw someone who graduated from my own very small high school recruiting for them on campus when I was a freshman (when you come from a very small home town, you notice right away when you see someone from there on campus!). We talked about the problems we faced transitioning from our small under-funded high school to UCLA and agreed that it was rough. We talked about how many of our friends from high school probably would not attend college like we were. We agreed that change is needed in many low-income communities in order to ensure all students are able to make it to higher education. He explained to me that this was TFA’s mission.

TFA’s mission is what inspired me to begin working with them as an intern in my junior year. As a senior this year, I took on a part-time job with TFA’s recruitment team at UCLA. This year UCLA was the school with the most qualified candidates. This means no other school in the nation had more accepted applicants to the TFA 2015 corps of teachers than UCLA did. Having a desire to leave your college-town comfort zone and work as a teacher in a low-income community takes courage. Getting accepted to Teach For America is difficult. I think that this shows UCLA students are a special kind of people who are ready to make change in a humble and meaningful way. Although I’m sure I have no idea how crazy this next part of my life will be, I am super proud to be a part of the group of Bruins who Teach For America upon graduation.

Welcome Baby Bruins

rebecka post 1On April 11th UCLA hosted the 5th annual Bruin Day to greet approximately 14,000 parents, guests, and the newly admitted class of 2019. I was lucky enough to work in the Statement of Intent to Register lounge where 246 students decided to submit their acceptance to UCLA and join the Bruin family. During this time there was so much happening, from staff doing the 8-clap loudly and proudly (approximately 246 times) for every student who accepted their offer to UCLA to families tearfully hugging in commemoration of their child’s big decision. Immediately afterwards families and friends were ecstatic to celebrate the big decision by ringing the victory bell which is given to the winner of our annual rivalry UCLA vs. USC football game. I would also like to note that this is our third year that our baby bruins have had the opportunity to ring this iconic bell.

Being a fourth year and witnessing this process for the fifth time (including my own Bruin Day), it never gets dull. Each year the UCLA staff does their best to make Bruin Day bigger and better for the baby bruins, families, and guests. “We made the Statement of Intent to Register process more than just a mundane task of filling out forms,” said John Talbert, UCLA’s Undergraduate Admission Programmer Analyst Supervisor. “We made it into a memorable and special experience and I am sure the new bruins will remember it for the rest of their lives.”

Go Bruins, and congratulations to our newly admitted students!

UCLA Nursing

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Though I am part of one of our school’s smallest undergraduate majors, I like to think that the students of UCLA School of Nursing have the biggest hearts. I am currently in my third year in the program and am absolutely loving it! Are you also interested in nursing? Here’s some advice and information about the program taken from my experiences:

Getting in: We accept freshman admits as well as junior-level transfers so if you are thinking about changing your major once you get into UCLA to nursing, unfortunately that cannot be done. The school accepts about 40 new freshman per year and 10 transfer students so this is a competitive program but don’t let that discourage you! I would advise to get involved in hospital/health related volunteering and maintain a strong academic record. Make sure to apply to both the general UCLA application due November 30 as well as complete the supplemental School of Nursing application due sometime in mid-January. The supplemental application includes 2 letters of recommendation and a 2-page personal statement.

Congrats, you’re in! The first two years of study focuses on general prerequisites such as life sciences, math, chemistry, psychology, and communications classes. You will still take at least 1-2 lower-division nursing classes each quarter though! You last two years are more focused on clinical work. You will take 2-3 upper-division nursing classes as well as have a clinical rotation requirement per quarter. You will get to work 6-hour shifts initially and gradually work your way up to several 12-hour shifts per week at some of the top hospitals in the Los Angeles area (UCLA Ronald Reagan, UCLA Santa Monica, Cedars Sinai, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Kaiser, etc.). Your rotations include medical surgical, critical care, pediatrics, labor and delivery, public health, among others.

The BS in Nursing program is an amazing, hands-on experience that is truly unlike any other major here at UCLA. It is the most rewarding and enriching experience being able to directly influence the lives of patients and be the future of healthcare 🙂

A Cappella and Dim Sum

RV firecracker run

Random Voices has been one of the most formative components of my experience here at UCLA. Founded in 1999, Random Voices A Cappella is UCLA’s oldest all-female a cappella group. I auditioned for RV during the first week of fall quarter my freshman year. I was immediately blown away by the talent, sass, and incredible kindness of every single girl who I met, all of whom I am now able to call some of my best friends!

In addition to hosting our very own concerts, RV participates in numerous events, gigs, and performances not only at UCLA but throughout the greater Los Angeles community. Awhile back, RV performed at the annual Los Angeles Firecracker Festival, an event surrounding a 5K run that happens in Chinatown every Spring. We all woke up at 6 in the morning, drove East to perform the 7:30 AM National Anthem, sang our complete musical set, and were able to stroll into our favorite Dim Sum restaurant before 9:00 AM. It was an early, hilarious whirlwind of runners, firecrackers, and music. When I made it back to Westwood at 10:30 that morning, both my roommates were still sleeping—go figure!

These awesome LA experiences would not be available to me without my a cappella community. Getting to be a part of RV has been one of the best things that has happened to me at UCLA, and I am so thankful for the creative outlet, fun, and family that RV provides me.

Keeping It ‘K’

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I’m a recent UCLA transfer student from UC Santa Cruz. Amongst the forest and mountainous climate, UC Santa Cruz isn’t as different as UCLA due to their equal pride in community service. At UC Santa Cruz, I along with a group of undergraduate students began the first chapter of Camp Kesem at UC Santa Cruz last year. Camp Kesem is a national non-profit organization that strives to bring a community of children that have been affected by a parent’s cancer together for a week-long summer camp of shared realities and empathy. Working a year to not only raise, but exceed $30,000 (our fundraising goal) as well as meet thirty amazing campers ranging from 6-16 years old is not only humbling but motivating to continue working with this group of dedicated individuals.

Upon arriving at UCLA, I knew that I wanted to get involved with Camp Kesem UCLA because of my amazing summer meeting, working, and loving this community. While I was a member of Camp Kesem UC Santa Cruz, I learned that in the light of despair, disease, and death, hope can still be found with the physical presence of loving friends, family, and community. Therefore, this inspiring mantra has motivated me to find every outlet possible to be involved with Camp Kesem UCLA.

After stalking their Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/campkesemucla), I was invited to UCLA’s Camp Kesem Reunion (once a quarter events for the campers and counselors to catch up), and I found the UCLA community  to be just as magical as my own time at Camp Kesem UC Santa Cruz. For instance, a little girl named Lady Bug reminded me of the initial shyness we all feel when we meet new people, but after bonding about dogs and cookies she ended up introducing me to other counselors and campers! It’s amazing how the bond from one camp to another doesn’t change—they’re still Keeping It ‘K’!

After reunion, I excitedly finished my application to become a UCLA Camp Kesem counselor. After an initial interview, I got a call from Snickefritz, a student coordinator on Camp Kesem UCLA’s committee, congratulating me on becoming a Camp Kesem UCLA counselor! We have already had a few meetings, and I am excited to continue my involvement in this fantastic organization here at UCLA.

Another Openin’, Another Show!

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Bruins Care 2015 was an amazing experience. As someone who is not a theater major, but who has grown up performing, I have been eager to pursue extracurricular theater here at UCLA ever since I arrived as a student.

A few good friends spoke highly of Act III Theater Ensemble, so I checked it out this year and auditioned for Bruins Care. Act III Theater Ensemble is a completely student produced, directed, designed, and cast theater company that is open to all students at UCLA. Every year, one of the shows that they produce is called Bruins Care. Bruins Care is a musical theater revue that draws from students from all grades to perform song and dance numbers from a variety of musicals. Admission for the show is donation-based, and all proceeds go towards Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; an awesome New York-based organization dedicated to providing essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. This is a national organization that draws upon the talents, resources, and generosity of the American theater community, of which UCLA students are proudly a part of!

So not only was I able to participate in an awesome theater production and meet some crazy talented students, but I was able to do so for an amazing cause. We were also able to perform in UCLA’s brand new Northwest Auditorium on the Hill in front of 300 people each night! I missed musical theater so much, and I’m so thankful that UCLA provides me with opportunities like this outside of the realm of academics.

IASA: Cool Club on Campus!

IASA

This week I’d like to highlight one of the awesome clubs we have on campus here at UCLA. The club is called the International Affairs Student Association, run by students from diverse majors and backgrounds including Sociology, Political Science, Global Studies and many more. The clubs mission statement is as follows:

“We seek to grow and learn from each other by providing a space in which students can freely discuss international issues with their peers outside of the classroom. We cover various subjects every week in our current events section and presentation section that seek to provide our members with more information on topics that they may not be familiar with yet.”

Founded in Fall 2013, the club has put on many interesting and informative events on and off campus for students to attend! For example, most recently, IASA curated an event to discuss the current events taking place in Ayotzinapa, Mexico and Mexico’s political state in general. IASA invited UCLA History professor Maria Vazquez to come and speak to students about the missing students in Ayotzinapa and how Mexico’s political structure and apparent corruption is being influenced by the United States. She highlighted the negative influences of the drug cartels and how the US drug market has been affecting Mexico. The students were able to openly discuss this issue in a question and answer session after the event.

It’s great to recognize the intellect and political awareness of students at UCLA! We are a university that values open discussion and freedom of thought. Everyone has a voice at UCLA that is both appreciated and challenged in and outside of the classroom.

Another wonderful week of Woodsey magic

One of the first organizations I joined at UCLA was UCLA’s official student charity: UniCamp. UniCamp gives children from low-income communities around the Los Angeles area the chance to attend an outdoor summer camp for a week at a reduced rate. At camp the kids get to try things many of them have ever done before, like rock climbing, mountain biking, fishing, or simply seeing the stars at night. Children that attend UniCamp are encouraged to aim for a bright future through various character-building activities and the bonds they create with their counselors. UniCamp counselors are all UCLA students or previous UniCamp campers who fundraise and train throughout the school year to send the kids up to camp. At 80 years old, UniCamp is also one of UCLA’s oldest charities which fosters so many traditions and has changed countless lives.

Since I joined as a freshman back in Spring 2012, UniCamp is easily my favorite thing about at UCLA. For two years I was a counselor where I worked with a group of about 10 girls throughout the week and connected with them and formed irreplaceable bonds. This year, I decided to take on a leadership position as Head Counselor Assistant, where I helped to train a group of about 80 student volunteers and helped to plan a week of camp!

Throughout the year, I admit the position took up a vast amount of my time and energy and sometimes I couldn’t wait for the week of camp to be over so I could stop being so tired. However, once the week of camp came, I knew all the efforts of our leadership team were worth it. The kids were adorable and they loved camp. The volunteers and the kids got along so well and so many of our campers talked about how much they wanted to go to UCLA when they graduated high school. Countless amounts of games were played, songs were sang, and kids and counselors got to be kids for a week. Tons of “Woodsey marriages” happened, “prison ball” games between counselors and kids got heated, and so many “shout outs” were read. We hiked in the morning and at night (and one group of older campers and counselors called WALL hiked for multiple days), we swam during the day and once at 6:00 AM for the traditional “polar bear swim” (the water is warmer than the air!), we danced, we laughed, we enjoyed nature, and on the last day we cried saying our goodbyes.

Being back down the mountain makes me miss camp so much, but also feel so proud that we all did it and we got to meet so many amazing children. I can only hope that the kids we played with for a week will one day become UCLA student volunteers, too!

Here’s a few pictures from the week: 

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Some of the girls and counselors from “Unit 4,” our youngest girls unit.

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Campers “Pi” and “Butterfingers” showing off a painting.

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Archery rotation!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

More campers and counselors!

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

Me and the rest of the session’s leadership team in front of the mural we put together at the end of the week. The mural incorporates all of the children’s artwork throughout the week and encompasses our mission statement unique to our session’s week of camp.

“Look around before you take flight.
All that surrounds you can impact your life.
Be confident, take chances, believe in your dreams.
Soar toward your future no matter how far it may seem.
This is your journey, there are no limits to who you can be.”