In light of upcoming college decision season for the class of 2021, UCLA is pulling out all the stops to garner the best and the brightest. In a recent admitted-student tour, I went incognito as a “jaded” first-year student to relive the newly admitted hype and see if the proposed glories of our beloved University of California campus hold true.
First, I made a mistake – I unknowingly signed up for the prospective student tour. Even with my foolproof email confirmation, they would not let me on the prospective tour because my name wasn’t listed as “prospective.” Instead, they quickly escorted me to Pauley Pavilion to take the admitted student tour.
The beginning of the tour reminded me why I was so excited to commit to UCLA about a year ago; the bubbly energy and excitement of the tour guides made me feel like I was a new member of a very large family.
The tour guide definitely tried to make the experience as entertaining and unique as possible – even as a student, I wasn’t aware that the Moore 100 lecture auditorium has 466 seats, and every time an outdoor patio has clunky white chairs, that means there’s a coffee shop nearby. The statistics of our school weren’t surprising as much as they were discreet – not impossible to believe but subtle enough that most students wouldn’t point out the details on their own. This added to the allure of the campus tour and emphasized how special our school is. It is clear that adding those pieces of information is a huge recruitment tactic.
One thing that felt off was the statistics about our class size. While it’s probably true that the average size for a lower-division class is 60 people and for an upper-division class 30 people, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a freshman in a lecture hall with 200 other students. Personally, I have never had a lower-division class with less than 100 students, and a similar situation is probably true for students taking upper-division courses for a popular major.
The quarter system is admittedly fast-paced – it is about 15 weeks’ worth of information in 10 weeks. It was refreshing not to hear the “We love the quarter system!” spiel. It’s nice to have the variety of classes and, like the tour guide said, the system has its pros and cons.
The celebrity sightings seemed lofty. I have never seen professional basketball teams practice in Pauley Pavilion or park their buses by campus, but maybe it is just a rarer occurrence. It’s cool that James Franco once flew his students to Tokyo for class because he couldn’t make it back to Los Angeles in time, but these types of things generally don’t happen often. However, the stories made for interesting anecdotes that got admitted students excited about the prospect of a celebrity sighting.
On the other hand, there are definitely opportunities that I was not aware of. For example, Hillary Clinton came to speak at Royce Hall in 2014, and it is cheap for UCLA students to come witness these events in the comfort of our own campus. There are also daily perks that I haven’t taken advantage of: I had no idea that the John Wooden Center has saunas available for use or that UCLA houses 11 million books on campus.
The tour made it clear that as a UCLA student, you will be challenged and motivation is key. UCLA admitted its largest freshman class yet in 2017, and the school is faced with the mountainous task of convincing the brightest students to enroll. UCLA has to employ some serious tactics in order to convince graduating high school seniors to become Bruins. That being said, even though tours can paint an unrealistic picture of the experience, the UCLA tour I went on spoke the truth: There are many qualities that make our UC campus impressive to the outside eye.