Last year, Brandon Howard hosted 15 newly admitted students in a cramped Sproul Hall lounge as part of the Bruin Overnight Experience.
Howard’s guests were among thousands of students who travel to UCLA each year for Bruin Day, an event that allows newly admitted students and their families a chance to find out more about UCLA’s campus, academic opportunities and residential life.
Howard, a third-year neuroscience student, said he has volunteered to host new admits for the past three years. The Bruin Overnight Experience program allows out-of-state students to stay in on-campus housing so they can attend Bruin Day.
About 15,000 students and family members attended this year, up from last year’s 13,500 visitors, said Brian MacDonald, director of residential education for Residential Life, in an email statement. He added about 1,000 potential students stayed overnight on the Hill this year.
Every year, about 150 hosts devote two days to train in order to host prospective students for 12 hours for one night, Howard said.
Howard, who participated in the program when he was a newly admitted student, said he was able to explore LA and spend the day at the beach before returning to campus for the overnight stay.
He added he was most impressed with how much students seemed to love the school, and their enthusiasm cemented his decision to attend UCLA.
“At other schools, they only referenced official statistics, but here, people really focused on what they loved about the school,” Howard said.
Melissa Chimwaza, a prospective student from Rancho Cucamonga, California, said UCLA has always been her dream school, but Bruin Day made her comfortable committing to UCLA.
“Bruin Day has showed me all of the different opportunities available at UCLA and has erased any doubt in my heart about the school,” said Chimwaza, who submitted her Statement of Intent to Register later that day.
Prospective students can find out what UCLA life is really like from students themselves, instead of getting answers from the Undergraduate Admissions Office, Howard said.
“A one-on-one explanation of a school is much more impactful than the Chancellor’s speech at a welcome event – that’s more for the parents,” Howard said. “Kids can better connect with someone their own age.”
Justin Mitchell, a prospective student from Corona, California, said the overnight program and the welcoming campus were some of the reasons he plans to commit to UCLA.
Howard said he stays in contact with many of the students he has hosted.
“We end up being a very good resource for these kids over the summer because we can ease fears and answer questions before they get to campus,” Howard said.