Danielle - UCLA - Class of 2010
Hometown: Fresno CA
High School: Private
GPA: 3.87 / 4.38 (weighted)
Goal: Explore my interests
Freshman Year Update
Academically, it's an amazing experience, getting to choose your curriculum based on what topics interest you rather than choosing from a few options like in high school. Surprisingly, I love the huge lectures. I like coming to class and listening to the professors and their ideas and then discussing those ideas in my discussion sections, usually filled with no more than 20 people. This approach really helps to nail down concepts and ideas presented in class.
Living in the dorms has been incredibly positive. Living "on the hill" as it is called here, has made the campus feel smaller. Not a day goes by that I don't recognize someone from my dorm, a mutual friend, or a sorority sister on campus.
I couldn't be happier with my choice to come here, and I can't believe I almost wrote it off because the size of the student body intimidated me on paper. Go Bruins!
Junior Year Update
I'm not sure what my post-college future entails, but ideally I would like to work in communications or marketing for a media production company. I just finished a year-long editorial internship at a celebrity news magazine. I will finish up my major requirements for my history degree this quarter and work toward completing my minor in film studies next year. On a lighter note, going to school in Los Angeles has certainly not disappointed me in the slightest. I have been an extra in a movie, attended movie premieres, and more! I can't believe my third year in college is almost over! I know it's a cliché, but time really has flown by.
I grew up on a farm and drove 30 minutes to high school every morning. But I found time to be very involved in my school. I was on the cheer squad for four years and was the captain my senior year. I also held board positions for my school's service club. I still love the quiet and the diversity of countryside, but I am ready for college, big time.
Looking for the perfect small collegeor not
When my college search began, I figured I would go to a small private school with a climate like my high school's, a nurturing community where I would see the same people every day. But when I toured these sorts of campuses, they didn't feel right for me. They were beautiful but had limits, such as dorm curfews. They were not as diverse as I wanted. I was ready to grow up, but at those schools I felt like I was going to be babysat.
When I toured UCLA (due to my parents' insistence), I loved the big university feel. It was more my style. I decided that UCLA's size, athletics, diversity, and academic reputation would give me endless opportunities to experience something new every day. I visited other campuses, but no place felt as right as UCLA.
I did not assume I would get in. My stats were good but certainly not perfect. UCLA gets more applications than any university in the country! So I chose a few other campuses ranging from moderate to large: Santa Clara, USC, and a number of other University of California campuses. I added a few California State Universities as backup safeties.
Beating the odds
I was extremely relieved when I logged onto the UCLA admission page and saw the big "Congratulations!" banner. I visited a couple times more just to be sure that it was the right college for me, and I was grateful that my initial feelings stuck.
As for the others on my accepted list, I know people who love these colleges. But Santa Clara was too small for me. I was tempted by USC, but its urban surroundings and atmosphere were intimidating. My other accepted UC campuses (Riverside, San Diego, Irvine, and Santa Barbara) just did not have the combination of features that UCLA did.
My ups and downs
Once I got my essays out of the way, the rest of the application process was a piece of cake. I guess filling out forms must be one of my secret pleasures!
It was very hard waiting from November 30 (when UC apps are due) until the acceptances came in March. But I stayed busy and held on to my confidence.
What I learned
I really focused on my essays in my applications. Grades and SAT scores can only take you so far, but an essay can show an admissions officer a whole other side of who you are and what you have to offer to their university.
Visiting campuses had the biggest influence on my choices. I would picture myself at each campus and see how I felt. Could I be happy here? This may not be scientific, but I paid attention to how well-prepared and enthusiastic the tour guide was. My UCLA guide was phenomenal, and that tour really sold me on the school.
I applied to 12 schools, which was not necessary. Eight schools would have been plenty.
The money factor
UCLA is a public school, and since I am a California resident, it is quite a steal. UCLA also offered me a very generous financial aid package. It was quite a relief that my parents wouldn't be burdened with my housing and tuition costs.
ROAD TO COLLEGE
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Student Stories - 2010
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