To Our Applicants

I’ve been in college admission for nearly 20 years, which is likely longer than most incoming freshman have been alive. Yet each year, I look forward to the opportunity to meet with newly admitted students and their families as they consider which campus community they’ll call home this fall. With all of the stress that can sometimes accompany the college search process, it’s nice to take a breath and focus on the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

The fact that we received over 102,000 apps, more than any other university in the country, is often what attracts attention and questions. Each of these applications are read multiple times (every app is read at least twice…many more often than that), so we feel as though we’ve come to know our potential new Bruins quite well. Our larger challenge, however, lies in the amazing quality of applicants in our pool. UCLA attracts the best and brightest students from throughout the state of California, around the U.S., and throughout the world. And now it’s that time of year again – we’re finally set to release admission decisions.

But this is also a very emotional time of year for the students and families that won’t receive good news. I can speak on behalf of my admission colleagues here at UCLA and say that this is both an exhilarating and excruciating process for us. Nothing in our work in college admission is more challenging than saying no to good students. Ultimately, we are able to admit fewer than one in six of our applicants. This is a profound responsibility and one we take very seriously. For those students that did not receive the decision they were hoping for, know that these were very tough decisions for us.  It is, however, unavoidable in highly selective admission processes. I’m also reminded of the pendulum that is the college admission process. Each fall, as admission deadlines approach, colleges and universities wait in anticipation of who will choose to apply for admission. The pendulum then swings to students and parents/families as they eagerly await news of the admission decisions. Now, it’s our turn, once again, to wait and see where you will enroll.

Regardless of which colleges and universities you’re considering this fall, enjoy being back in the driver’s seat. Visit college campuses, ask financial aid questions, meet current students, and get to know our universities beyond the brochures and websites that make us all look so good. You will grow, both in and outside of the classroom. You will learn from incredible faculty and engage in groundbreaking research. You will study abroad. You will make lifelong friends. You will continue on your own journey of becoming the amazing individual your family, friends, counselors, and community know you will be. And you will make whatever university you attend better. Take the time to celebrate and to be proud of what you have accomplished and look forward to the college experience. It’s a big deal.

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!

To our applicants, thank you for allowing us a brief glimpse into your life. We wish each and every one of you the very best, wherever you choose to enroll this fall. And for those of you who choose to make the halls of Westwood your home, we say…

Go Bruins!

Gary Clark

Gary Clark is the Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA.

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!

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

UCLA #1 in number of applications… again!


It was recently revealed that we are again the most-applied-to four-year university in the United States, with our record-breaking 91,512 applications this past fall.  This is a 12.7% increase from last year’s 81,235, and the largest increase came from traditionally underrepresented ethnic groups, signifying that we are diversifying and bringing in new perspectives and cultures more than ever before.  Such a diverse environment is surely beneficial for Bruins who are being prepared by UCLA, for the real world that is full of differing opinions and opposing views.  The increase of out-of-state and international freshman applications (by 57.8%) promises the potential for plenty of cultural exchange.  It’s not surprising that so many students want to be a part of this great opportunity!

Go Bruins!

Bringing UCLA to Future Bruins

Today I was fortunate enough to do a presentation with my supervisor for high school students on the UC Personal Statement.  As a Bruin Ambassador, I’m responsible for talking to prospective students and future Bruins about UCLA, applying to UCLA, and what it’s like to be a student at the best school in the world.  Today, I watched my supervisor for Bruin Ambassadors speak to the kids about what UCLA looks for in the Personal Statement and what role it plays in the admission decision-making process. We provided them many tips and tricks to writing the prompts and many do’s and don’t’s to help avoid the mistakes students can make.

This presentation only solidified my awareness of the competitive nature of UCLA Admissions and reinforced my knowledge that UCLA is an amazing institution that is world-renowned.  It makes me happy that I can help high school students gain some advantage over this competitive system and help them hone their application to really showcase their individual, unique qualities.  I was also reminded that this is what makes UCLA so unique: there is a wide  breadth of students at UCLA that come from many different backgrounds with different strengths and abilities.  We all bring something to the table as Bruins.  I try to help these students highlight these special strengths.

I was proud to stand in front of these students as a representative of UCLA and show them what it means to be a True Bruin.  UCLA is about more than just high quality education; there’s opportunities for every student that extend beyond the classroom and beyond the boundaries of our character.  UCLA is a place to grow and I’m happy to convey this to future Bruins.  Good luck to these students on their applications and Go Bruins!!