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Selective admissions processes for competitive clubs create challenges for Bruins

(Maleeha Zaman/Daily Bruin)

By Gabrielle Siegel

Oct. 19, 2023 4:17 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 19 at 10:44 p.m. 

With over 1,200 clubs and student organizations at UCLA, many students can find a space that satisfies their interests or desire for a community. Some clubs, however, have far more applicants than spots available.

Many UCLA clubs use selective admission to determine which potential new members get accepted to the club, considering factors including the applicant’s past experience, reason for interest in the club and career goals. As part of the process, some organizations invite applicants to as many as five rounds of recruitment, including written applications, informational open houses, resume drops, coffee chats, invite-only sessions and case study interviews.

Pre-professional clubs such as those oriented toward consulting and business have some of the lowest acceptance rates, with some being below UCLA’s freshman class rate, which was 9% in fall 2022.

Avantika Rozario, president of Bruin Consulting, said the club’s acceptance rate hovers around 2% to 3% because the club wants to ensure the organization’s resources, such as opportunities to work on projects, do not get oversaturated.

Rozario, a fourth-year business economics student, also said the club’s work, which includes taking on consulting clients, limits how many members Bruin Consulting can accept. She added that the organization wants to ensure that every member of the club gets meaningful time on projects.

“It’s also in terms of the number of clients we’re getting and how many people we actually need on projects,” Rozario said. “We don’t want to have a ton of extra members, and then you get everyone half doing a job, half not. So, we want to make sure they get the full experience.”

Bruin Consulting also limits its acceptance to students in their first or second year. Rozario said that in order to fulfill the club’s track for members to gain leadership positions, becoming a member necessitates joining early.

The competitive nature of some clubs and the narrow recruitment cycles can create entry barriers for some transfer students, said Emily Otero, the social media coordinator for the Transfer Student Center.

“I think the competitiveness, in a way, makes it a bit more intimidating to want to apply,” Otero said. “Coming into UCLA wanting to be part of these pre-professional business clubs, it makes it seem like you’d have to already created your own startup or worked for a big company or intern for one to be part of a club like that.”

Otero, a fourth-year cognitive science student, also said having multiple recruitment cycles in different quarters and less restrictive deadlines could make UCLA’s competitive clubs more accessible to transfer students. She added that her own experience of adjusting to UCLA as a transfer student made it difficult to apply to clubs in her first fall quarter, when clubs often host recruitment.

Mike Cohn, the director of Student Organizations, Leadership & Engagement, said in an emailed statement that his organization does not enforce any rules to ensure equitable recruitment.

“SOLE does not get involved in the recruitment of organization members,” Cohn said in the statement. “Our advisors work with organizations on these issues if there is a need for them to be addressed.”

Rozario said she believes Bruin Consulting’s reputation for pushing its members into successful careers is what creates such a competitive atmosphere around the club.

“Pretty much 100% of our students will go to top jobs, top companies, so I think that kind of promise and path that people get to see is what kind of drives people to want to apply,” Rozario said.

Jonny Nourafshan, co-president of TAMID Group at UCLA – an investing and consulting club that partners with startups in Israel – said his club conducts both fall and winter quarter recruitment. He added that the acceptance rate typically falls at around 10%.

Nourafshan, a fourth-year business economics student, said recruitment for his club is a two-week process, beginning with an informational session and office hours for one-on-one conversations. Following the submission of applications and a period of an initial review, applicants may be invited to a coffee chat in which they answer informal questions in a group of about five or six people, he said.

He added that applicants may then be invited to a one-on-one interview, after which acceptance will be determined. There are no specific limitations on who can apply to the club, he said.

Nourafshan said he was not accepted to TAMID the first time he went through recruitment.

“I actually got rejected the first time I ended up applying, which was humbling,” he said. “The second time around, it was still a little bit nerve-wracking.”

Nourafshan said he believes the opportunities provided outside of classes are what make business-related clubs so competitive at UCLA.

Declan Foley, a second-year political science student, said he had hoped to join a pre-professional club to get networking opportunities and help obtaining internships. He said although he doesn’t recommend students take rejection too seriously, it is difficult to achieve memberships in many clubs.

“It’s hard enough to get into here (UCLA). You get in and find out the clubs have very low acceptance rates,” Foley said. “It’s kind of disheartening.”

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Gabrielle Siegel
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News and Prime. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
Siegel is a 2023-2024 slot editor. She was previously a 2022-2023 Copy staff member and has contributed to News and Prime. She is also a fourth-year communication and Spanish student from Lincolnshire, Illinois.
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