Personal FYI’s (●’◡’●)
Hi guys! I’m Esther and I’m a civil engineering student in my third year. Admission has changed a little since I applied, mostly that UCLA is test blind, meaning they don’t look at your SAT or ACT, so my acceptance process was probably different than what they do now. With that being said, here’s a little more about me. I’m from California, and I knew that I wanted to stay in-state, so I almost exclusively applied to UCs and CSUs.
School & Grades (. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)
I went to a pretty run-of-the-mill public high school. I think what stood out to me about my school was the care my teachers gave to students. There was a very safe learning space in my classrooms that allowed me to grow as a student.
With that being said my GPA was 4.0 unweighted and around 4.7 weighted. Since my school looked solely on GPA, I was salutatorian. I took 13 AP classes (but I’m not crazy I didn’t take all of the tests) and around 4 honors classes. I also took two community college classes over the summer, since they’re offered free of charge to high school students (dance and drawing composition). I basically took every AP or honors class I could, not really to stress myself out or anything, but because the teachers I had really encouraged us to challenge ourselves and in all honesty, a lot of my friends were taking the same classes.
Tests ┌( ಠ_ಠ)┘
Just a reminder that UCLA is test blind so don’t dwell too heavily on these scores! For the SAT I took it multiple times, scoring 1360 ( with 710 in math and 650 in Reading/Writing) my senior year and 1420 (750 in math and 670 in Reading/Writing) my junior year. I also took Math II (680) and Physics (630). As you can tell my SATs weren’t super good.
For the ACT I got a 32 composite with 32 in math, 29 in science, 34 in English, 31 in reading, and an 8 in writing. Not to state the obvious, but if you want to do well on the SAT or ACT it would be best to study beforehand, unlike me who took a couple hours the day before to prepare.
As I said before I didn’t take all the tests for the AP classes I took. The tests I forwent were Music Theory, Physics II, and English Literature and Composition. I got a 3 on Calculus BC (and 4 on the AB subsection). I got 4s on World History: Modern, Chemistry, Physics I, US Government and Politics, and Comparative Government and Politics. I got 5s in US History, Psychology, English Language and Composition, Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Biology. Listing it out, it seems like a crazy amount of AP tests, but I really don’t think you need these to get into UCLA. I definitely have friends who didn’t take that many APs and had SAT scores in the 1200s attending.
Fun Things! ヽ(✿ﾟ▽ﾟ)ノ
I think the best part of high school is doing clubs and extracurriculars. Yes, studying is a big part, but if you put in the work it’ll get done. Extracurriculars allowed me to meet a bunch of other students that were different from me and give me a better perspective on school and friendships. Here are some major clubs/activities that I was dedicated to doing. From freshman to junior year I was in marching band (we only did field marching) in the fall and varsity swim in the spring. I also joined Tinikling, a Filipino cultural dance, and NHS, a community service club, my sophomore through senior year. I was also a part of the California Scholarship Federation, where we did peer tutoring and college campus touring my sophomore to senior year.
Outside of school, I went through the Certificate of Merit for the piano finishing up to Level 10. However, I don’t enjoy playing the piano and don’t have much to show for it now. Besides piano, I took art lessons in middle school and took a community college course on drawing and composition, outside of drawing and painting on my own time.
Another major part of my application and high school life was church activities, even now I’m part of a student fellowship called Grace on Campus. In high school, I led the Vacation Bible School: Sing and Dance Station and was a 1st/2nd grade Sunday school teacher. On Fridays, I was also a discussion leader that helped facilitate discussion on messages preached at our youth group. Lastly, I went on missions trips with my church to skid row in LA and a Native American reservation in Arizona. I wouldn’t say church-related activities helped boost my application by much, but I was the substance of one of my application essays.
Essays ( •̀ .̫ •́ )✧
All the UC applications are the same, and they require you to write about 4 of 8 essay prompts. I really like these short essays since they were about 2 paragraphs long and touched on different facets of my life. When you apply, these essays can really help showcase how you’re a multidimensional person and not limited to a single defining thing/instance in your life. My prompts weren’t super impressive, I didn’t talk about how I did these awesome internships/research/community service like my peers. Instead I wrote about how taking AP English Language and Composition was hard (academic struggle), drawing in a notebook instead of getting in trouble in class (creativity), my youth group’s dynamics (leadership), and how I was an outspoken person that learned to care and speak for more shy friends (greatest talent).
For all of my essays, I wrote about personal growth and a gained skill. For example, I was a pretty talkative/rowdy kid that got called out by my teachers for disrupting the class, so I not only listened to my teachers, but expanded my personal education in the classroom through the simple means of a notebook that sated my need for stimulation. Obviously, I didn’t go through some drastic change in fundamental character but I in the natural course of life strived to become a better person.
That was the TL;DR but here’s the full essay:
Teachers used to tell me to pay attention, to stop walking around, and to stop talking to my neighbors. But how could I when my mind wandered beyond the lessons and the repetition of examples for concept I already understood; or vice versa when I couldn’t grasp ideas and needed a way visualize concepts beyond my teacher’s oral explanation. I needed to find a solution before I got in more trouble, so I got creative.
I always loved to draw but obviously I couldn’t bring out a whole sketchbook or watercolor set in the middle of class to draw something completely random. Then I remembered this notebook that I had. It wasn’t high quality or expensive, just a plain brown pocket-sized notebook that I would practice calligraphy in and carry around during summer to journal. I realized that this could be the answer to my wandering mind and the solution to my misbehavior in class. Instead of rambling off with my classmates, I started drawing the stories my teachers told. The pictures they painted with their words all came to life in my journal. In English, I drew my interpretation of works of literature. In physics, I drew conceptual ideas of electron fields. In history, I drew the sunken USS Maine and Theodore Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill . In biology, I drew flora and displays of their biological niches.
These drawings were a way I could explore thoughts I had in class and pinpointed ideas that I didn’t understand. The things I couldn’t envision or draw were the things I needed to learn more. I could take notes in ways that reflected my learning process.
Now my notebook is something I carry around with me everywhere. I fill it with ideas and memories that I refuse to forget; stickers from hip coffee shops and wrappers from old clothing, even receipts from adventures with friends. It’s filled with inside jokes and designs I want on clothing.I draw places I’ve traveled to remember the feeling of different cities. In short my notebook contains miscellaneous life notes.
Ending Thoughts ╮(╯▽╰)╭
There’s really no perfect formula for getting into a college, so I wouldn’t stress if your application wasn’t “perfect” or if you got Bs or Cs in your classes. High school is a transitional period, so if your grades or essays reflect someone who’s motivated and passionate (about anything honestly) I’d say you have a pretty good shot. I have friends who wrote their UC apps the day they were due so first don’t do that, but secondly, I think these college applications shouldn’t be something you stress hard over. In the end, I’m sure it’ll all work out and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get in!