UCLA is one of the top universities in the world; to be able to say that I am a part of that is amazing! It still takes my breath away to see the UCLA seal on my diploma, just like it took my breath away making my daily commute to campus. I had to walk 15-25 minutes to and from our hilly campus (the norm), and sometimes I would just stop, well first to catch my breath, but also to admire the beautiful campus and to appreciate the fact that I had made it there. I'll never forget the epiphany that my roommate from Northern California had (Note: apparently there IS a rivalry between "NorCal" and "SoCal") that our campus looks like "what college should look like." This is because many movies---such as the Van Wilder movies, Legally Blonde, and even the Lifetime William and Kate made-for-t.v. movie---were filmed on our campus. Additionally, being in a whole different country and seeing UCLA gear is a surreal experience: while studying abroad in England (in my eyes, studying Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon and London was the absolute best UC travel study program), not only did I see UCLA merchandise being sold at a store in Bath, but I also encountered a French boy proudly wearing a UCLA shirt at a club! You are definitely part of something bigger when you attend UCLA.
Aside from positive external perceptions, I have to say that my four years of study at UCLA were remarkable because of the people and experiences to which I was exposed. UCLA is a public research university; it is not uncommon to be taught by a Nobel Prize winner or to be assigned books that UCLA professors researched and wrote themselves. In fact, I remember once I went to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation, and it just so happened that his friend, Mario Vargas Llosa, had just been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, and so he asked me which picture of them he should turn in for a newsmagazine to publish. You can just imagine how giddy this English/Spanish double major was after that encounter! Also, I can't ignore the sports legacy we have, especially as it is a major point of pride for Bruins: first to 100 NCAA championships, Coach John Wooden the wizard of Westwood, and, of course, the UCLA-USC rivalry. Like I said, attending UCLA has been an awesome experience---and I mean that in every sense of the word, I feel like I was in a constant state of awe. There are countless awesome opportunities at UCLA, such as interacting with these professors, joining the numerous clubs and organizations on campus, going to once-in-a-lifetime shows at Royce Hall, internships, networking with alumni, etc.; you just have to find them!
UCLA has over 25,000 students; unfortunately, this large size tends to be more of a con than a pro. Unlike smaller universities, you really have to go out of your way to get one-on-one time with professors. There is not a lot of individual attention, and it is easy to feel like just a number---after all, your UID (university ID number consisting of 9 digits) IS your identity at UCLA. In fact, I remember a friend of mine, who was a newly-admitted student, once said, "Why would I even know my student ID number by heart?" and was greeted by an adamant chorus of, "No, trust me, you're going to NEED that!"
On the plus side, this system makes it so that you really need to apply yourself to succeed and make yourself stand out. Office hours with professors---your only one-on-one time---are precious and necessary. There is no hand-holding; if you don't turn in an assignment or don't show up to class, no one is going to call you out on it because, in the end, you are only hurting yourself. Your success really depends on your personality. For example, I came from a school 500 times smaller than UCLA (my high school graduating class only had 124 students, including myself), and I had to actively decide to go to class, turn in work, and attend office hours; there was no one else to make that decision for me. As such, I grew out of my shell and learned to be an independent and self-sufficient person. On the other hand, however, classmates tend to be very competitive, especially in the math and science fields. As aforementioned, you only have yourself to depend on---this can be very a lonely, or a very empowering experience.
Yes, I would do it all again in a heartbeat! Of course UCLA is not a perfect school, and of course I have my regrets (I definitely would have reached out even more to my professors, and really sought to have more of a personal relationship with these remarkable people), but at the end of the day---or at the end of four years, rather---it was my experience at UCLA that made me the person I am now. I am not afraid to stand out, to ask for help, or to attempt the impossible; it was by doing these things, after all, that I was successful in college. Also, on a more personal note, it was at UCLA that I found my best friends in the world. We found each other because of their wonderful programs: the Freshman Summer Program through the Academic Advancement Program, which created a much-needed bridge between high school and college; study abroad programs (I participated in a total of three programs, including a year-long immersion program in Madrid); and even the Honors program, which helped to stimulate pride in our school and in being Bruins. We were able to further cultivate our friendships because UCLA is basically located in a college town. Westwood caters to UCLA students, offering discounts and Bruin-related activities. Moreover, everything is within walking distance; though it is absolutely necessary to have a car in L.A., Westwood is the one area where having a car is actually a nuisance (parking is pricey and nearly impossible to find). All in all, I had an amazing experience at UCLA, and I look forward to being a very proud and involved alum.
Biggest influence when choosing this school Reputation
The financial aid process is still ongoing and I am currently dealing with it.
Professors are generally Experts
The night life is Memorable
Every student at this school needs ambition
Most students spend their Saturday nights in Westwood, though the actual "party night" is on Thursday
Went to Immaculate Heart High School
Favorite class is Spanish 127: Don Quijote
Favorite professor is Efrain Kristal
Favorite activity is Spring Sing
Another awesome thing is the UCLA-USC rivalry (when not taken too seriously)
Study Hard? Pray? Donate Money? participate and be devoted to an extracurricular activity, and write a really good essay/personal statement
I wish I knew the number of scholarship opportunities available
Time needed to find a job post-graduation 1-6 months