Wondering how to get into UCLA? Improve your admissions chances as an international student

With its vibrant campus, diverse community, and outstanding faculty, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a dream destination for many aspiring international students.

Like all top-tier universities, applying to UCLA can be a daunting task. Especially if you’re an international student. In this blog post, we will discuss strategies to improve your chances of gaining admission to UCLA.

1. Research and Preparation – Know Your School: 

Why do you want to study at UCLA? You may have heard it’s one of the best universities for undergraduate studies. But why UCLA and not a different school? 

If you are well-versed on UCLA’s academics and culture it will help you to articulate why you are a good fit with the university. Learning that you really do like what UCLA has to offer can also keep you motivated throughout the journey of applying.

a. Speak with alumni and current students: Approach them and ask what it’s like to study at UCLA. This will bring you much closer to UCLA.  UCLA has a huge alumni base with associations all over the world. There’s probably one in your country!  You could also do a LinkedIn search for graduates of UCLA – you may find that some of your contacts know UCLA graduates. If you explain that you’re considering applying to UCLA and would like their advice, many people will be willing to set aside some time for you.

b. Decide on your major: What are you going to study at UCLA? Identify and research the majors or programs that interest you and align with your goals. Of course, if you have the chance to speak to current students or graduates familiar with your major, take it!

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2. Academic Greatness:

Many prospective students want to gain admission into UCLA. Which means that admissions officers at UCLA have their pick of top-quality students. Good academic performance will not get you admitted all by itself, but it’s an important factor.

a. Strong academic record: Focus on achieving exceptional grades throughout high school and consider taking advanced or honors-level courses. An annual study, by the National Association for College Admission Consulting, of admissions officers at thousands of US universities shows year in and year out that the most important piece of the admissions puzzle is good grades in challenging high school courses. Anyone can take the easy courses for a good grade—to impress the admissions department you’ll need good grades in tough courses. 

b. English proficiency: Even if you have been educated in English, you may be considered a non-native English speaker. Take exams like the TOEFL or IELTS to demonstrate proficiency in English. Since the pandemic, many schools have also added Duolingo to their approved list of English courses. This test can be taken online at home.

3. Extracurricular Involvement:

We’ve already covered the fact that good academic performance alone is usually not enough to gain admission to UCLA. The extracurricular activities you undertake can showcase your leadership skills and other talents.

a. Pursue leadership roles: Engage in extracurricular activities and take on leadership positions to demonstrate your ability to contribute and make a difference. 

b. Community service: Dedicate time to community service and highlight the impact of your volunteer work. 

c. Sports and arts: Showcase your talents and achievements in sports, music, visual arts, or other creative pursuits. 

d. Internships and research: Seek out opportunities for internships or research projects related to your field of interest.e. Deep or broad? Take time to think through if you prefer to focus on one or two tasks and go deep or if you want to give your time to numerous causes. Some top schools prefer that students do just one or two activities but go deep with their commitment to those.

4. Personal Insight Questions:

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Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase who you are as a person, and how you will fit in as a student at UCLA.

a. Reflect on your experiences: Craft a compelling personal statement that highlights your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. 

b. Show fit with UCLA: Tailor your essay to demonstrate why UCLA is the perfect fit for your academic and personal growth. If you’ve done your research like in part one of this discussion, this should be simple.

c. Seek feedback: Share your essays with mentors, teachers, or experienced individuals who can provide constructive feedback and help refine your writing.

Improving your admissions chances at UCLA as an international student requires dedication, thorough preparation, and a holistic approach. By focusing on promoting your academic excellence, engaging in extracurricular activities, and crafting compelling essays, you can present a well-rounded application that stands out. The journey towards UCLA is not just about the destination but also about personal growth and self-discovery.

Now, what about if you don’t think you have the grades or English scores to be a part of the approximately 5% of international students who are accepted into UCLA as freshmen?  

There is another proven path: transfer admissions. University Bridge is a 2+2 transfer program specifically created for the needs of international schools. For well over a decade we have helped countless students successfully transfer into the UC system, including UCLA. 

In the 2022/23 admissions cycle, 45% of UBridge students who applied to UCLA for transfer were accepted. That’s a 10x greater chance than applying directly as a freshman! 

This is Natalia Quintanilla from Mexico

Natalia Quintanilla

She spent 2 years at UBridge @ Santa Monica College and obtained a GPA of 3.52Subsequently, she was accepted to UCLA, Berkeley, UC San Diego and others

Wonder if University Bridge would be a suitable pathway to UCLA for you? Feel free to explore this website and send us a message if you have any questions at all. We’ll be happy to help.