The Ivy Coach Daily

May 2, 2024

How to Get Into UCLA

UCLA’s Royce Hall is featured under a blue sky.
In recent years, UCLA has received more applications than any school in America (photo credit: Alton).

The University of California, Los Angeles combines the beachy SoCal lifestyle with the amenities of a world-class research university. Tied for 15th place in the 2024 US News & World Report annual college ranking, UCLA is widely considered one of the most prestigious public universities in the nation. With a $6.2 billion dollar endowment, nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs, and a campus famed for its beauty, it is no wonder that UCLA has accumulated the largest application pools ever recorded in recent years among four-year universities in the United States. 

What Is UCLA?

UCLA is located in the gorgeous Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. The 2022-23 UCLA Common Data set indicates that 12,392 men, 19,072 women, and 299 nonbinary students are enrolled as full-time undergraduates on campus, for a total of 31,763 full-time undergraduates in the student body. 50 nations are represented in the 2023 first-year cohort, while 27% of domestic first-years are first-generation college students.  

How to Get Into the University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA Admissions Requirements

Competitive UCLA applicants meet minimum academic and testing requirements, but simply meeting these criteria is not enough to be granted admission. Still, it is helpful for prospective applicants to understand the university’s admissions philosophy and the academic profile of the average admitted student.

UCLA GPA Requirements

UCLA’s admissions office maintain a minimum GPA requirement for in-state (California) applicants set at 3.0, and at 3.4 for out-of-state applicants. However, The Common Data Set reveals a slightly different story. 59.1% of undergraduates admitted in 2023 had a 4.0, 34% had a GPA between 3.75 and 3.99, and 4.9% had a GPA between 3.5 and 3.74. The average high school GPA was 3.93. 

This suggests that the average UCLA enrollee was at the top of their high school graduating class, and that the de facto GPA admissions cut-off is much higher than the official cut-off.

According to UCLA, admissions officers use a “holistic” process that “specifically considers academic grade point average; the quality, quantity, and level of coursework taken; sustained participation in activities that develop academic and intellectual abilities; leadership and initiative; employment and personal responsibilities; and overcoming life challenges related to personal or family situations.” This admissions philosophy evaluates each applicant in the context of their high school situation.

UCLA SAT/ACT Score Requirements

UCLA does not accept or consider SAT or ACT scores for admission.

What High School Courses Does UCLA Require?

UCLA’s admissions office recommends the following high school curriculum:

Applicants “must complete 15 A-G courses with at least 11 courses finished prior to the beginning of your last year of high school. To be competitive in the UCLA admission process, applicants should present an academic profile much stronger than any minimum UC admission requirements. See below for a listing of the A-G requirements:

Despite these recommendations, it is not advisable to take fewer than four years of a core subject class (math, science, history, English, and foreign language classes). All highly selective colleges prize students who excel in their core subjects for four years, and in the case of foreign language study, five years. UCLA is no exception.

What Extracurriculars Does UCLA Look For in Applicants?

The competitive UCLA applicant has not necessarily participated in a specific activity to boost their chances, but they have certainly pursued their chosen activities to the fullest extent possible. As UCLA’s admissions office puts it: “get more involved in extracurriculars that build on your passions, interests and skills. Whether you’re into bass guitar, baseball or baking, colleges will be impressed by your desire to become an expert in the areas that interest you.”

Admissions counselors at any elite institution seek to build classes that are diverse and dynamic. Homogeneity of any sort is not a priority. That is why at Ivy Coach, we have long asserted that the “well-rounded student” myth is just that — a myth. UCLA seeks “experts,” whether you’re a world-class skier, a calculus wiz, or a musical virtuoso. The applicant with the best chance of admission has ensured that the depth of their passion is reflected on their application, and that they haven’t watered down their resume with a bunch of half-hearted fluff.

UCLA Application Requirements

UCLA applicants must complete the UC Application, which is the standard application used for all UC schools, as well as a series of “personal insight questions.” They do not accept recommendations or conduct interviews as part of the process.

What are UCLA’s Supplemental Essay Topics?

Supplemental essay responses are one of the most important components of a college application. UCLA’s personal insight questions are essentially a combined version of the supplemental and personal essays found in the Common Application. The personal insight questions, as well as some helpful advice given by UCLA to accompany these questions, read as follows:

“1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities?

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

Things to consider: If there is a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it.You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you; just to name a few.

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who you are today?

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?

6. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Things to consider: Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can’t get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Things to consider: If there’s anything you want us to know about you but didn’t find a question or place in the application to tell us, now’s your chance. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?

From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little.”

When are UCLA’s Application Deadlines?

UCLA has only one application deadline for all students — November 30th.

UCLA Acceptance Rate and Statistics

Just how hard is it to become a certified Bruin? The UCLA acceptance rate has dwindled to record lows in recent years. A whopping 145,910 students applied for admission to the Class of 2027, but only 12,737 of these, or 9%, were accepted. 

How Much Does UCLA Cost?

Out-of-state tuition costs rise by $34,200 dollars, leaving out-of-state UCLA dorm residents, off-campus apartment dwellers, and commuters paying $76,327, $77,361, and $67,959 respectively.

UCLA is a public university, and as such tuition costs vary depending on a student’s residential status. Total in-state tuition costs for UCLA dorm residents come to $42,127 per academic year. For in-state students living in off-campus apartments, this figure stands at $43,161, and for in-state commuters, the cost is $33,759.

How Ivy Coach Helps Students Get Into UCLA

88% of Ivy Coach’s package clients earned admission to UCLA over the past five years. We understand the specific mix of expertise, rigorous academic performance, and intellectual and cultural vitality valued by UCLA admissions officers. 

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance in optimizing your child’s case for admission to UCLA, fill out our complimentary consultation form, and we’ll be in touch.

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