A Student Perspective on the University of California, Los Angeles

Devin earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She specializes in Algebra 2 tutoring, earth science tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, she shares her experience at the University of California, Los Angeles:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Devin: The campus is very busy and crowded. The majority of people walk to class, since most housing is within walking distance. The campus is not very bike friendly due to a lot of hills. I didn’t have a car during my four years there, because parking is expensive and there is public transportation if needed. Everything you need is within walking distance, including grocery stores, restaurants, doctor's offices, and clothing stores.

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Devin: It truly depends on the professor. Some professors make an effort to be accessible and some do not. Teaching assistants and academic advisers are always accessible. Most professors, teaching assistants, and academic advisers, however, don’t seek out students. If a student needs help, they have to make the effort to reach out to the professors, advisers, and assistants.

How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Devin: Almost all students live on campus their first year, and many live on campus for more than one year. There’s now available housing for students for all four years if desired. The rooms are very small, but living in the dorms the first year is a lot of fun. There are different types of dorms, and some are more social than others. All students that live in the dorms are required to have a meal plan, and the dining halls are amazing. There are five dining halls and a few restaurants that the meal plan works with. Many students involved in Greek life also live in their fraternity or sorority housing.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? 

Devin: Since UCLA is a research university, the sciences are best represented, but many other majors are also great. I studied environmental science and minored in environmental engineering. The environmental science major is part of the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA and is a very well-rounded field of study. The major focuses on the environment, public leadership, geography, sustainable development, and much more. I had many friends who majored in the social sciences—including political science, communications, and economics—and enjoyed their classes.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Devin: There are about 6,000 students per undergrad class and many opportunities to meet others. There are tons of clubs and social outings for freshmen to meet classmates. Greek life has about 1,200 undergrads and is a great way to meet people, however it doesn’t play a significant role in the campus social life. I was in a sorority and loved it. Many of my friends were in Greek life and I would encourage any incoming freshmen to try recruitment if they have an interest in it. There were many opportunities to volunteer for local charities, as well. Many people associated with Greek life live in Greek housing. The sorority houses are beautiful, and living in the house is the most affordable option at UCLA.

How helpful are the Career Center and other student support services? 

Devin: Since UCLA is a public school and has a large amount of undergraduate students, many students will wish to seek support services, similar to the academic counselors. Many employers recruit at UCLA for entry level positions. There are also many student alumni events and career fairs for networking.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?

Devin: There are multiple libraries on campus that are easily accessible. There are also many cafes and dorm lounges for studying. During finals week there is a 24-hour silence rule in the dorms. Students and employees take academics and studying very seriously at UCLA. UCLA is on the quarter system (10-week quarters), so there’s always a test or quiz to study for. It’s a very fast-paced system and students need to be organized and focused to succeed. It’s difficult to stay on top of the workload, but manageable if the student is motivated.  

Describe the surrounding town.

Devin: UCLA is in an amazing part of Los Angeles. The university is surrounded by some of the nicest neighborhoods in LA, including Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and Santa Monica. UCLA is a bus ride away from the most iconic spots in Los Angeles, including Santa Monica beach, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, and the Venice Boardwalk. Los Angeles is an amazing city with lots of opportunities.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Devin: The student body is huge. As a freshman, you’ll have some classes with as many as 300 students. By senior year, however, some classes will have less than 10 students. If a student is seeking a one-on-one experience with a professor, UCLA may not be a perfect fit, but, I was never overwhelmed by the large student body. A large student body creates a great spirit on campus and an everlasting pride amongst the students.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Devin: My favorite class was at the end of my junior year. It was a mixture of undergrad and graduate students and there were only about eight students in it. It was an environmental health safety class focusing on fate transport, and the professor was great. I learned so much in that class and I realized that I was passionate about environmental health. I felt like I knew my professor personally. My professor believed in me, which encouraged and motivated me to work hard and learn as much as I could.


Check out Devin’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.