Getting Into UCLA: Admissions Secrets

So your GPA is 3.9, your SATs are over 1800 and you want to go to UCLA. Easy, right? Not exactly. Unfortunately, you are similar to almost half of UCLA’s 57,000 plus applicants this year. So how do you distinguish yourself from the multitude? According to UCLA admissions department, one way to stand out is in the personal essay.

On a recent tour of UCLA’s campus, I learned firsthand from admissions what they’re looking for in an essay. It all boils down to the L.I.D. In this third and final blog in a series we’ll be talking about the importance of L.I.D. in the UCLA essays.

First up is the L word (not what you think!). L is for LEADERSHIP. UCLA wants to see that you’ve held leadership position(s) and they want you to talk about them. This pertains to more than just the class presidents. Leadership can involve Sports, Scouting, Clubs – even jobs. Any place in which you were organizing others. A note of warning though: be honest about your leadership positions. Don’t pretend that you were president when you weren’t. That could cost you.

Next is the I word. I is for IMPROVEMENT. Just like your parents a nd teachers, UCLA likes to see improvement. Whether it’s improving a tennis game or a swim time. It can also be improving your grades or improving the lives of someone less fortunate through your community service work.

D is DEDICATION. This is where you let UCLA know how you weren’t a fly by night soccer player. You stuck with the team even when you got injured. Or you worked with the drama department for four years even when you weren’t the lead. Or you’ve dedicated yourself to a cause. You don’t have to save the world but it couldn’t hurt!

UCLA admissions stresses the importance of having more than one person read your essay. Why not let that person be us? Give us a call today.

Juliet Giglio
Educational Consultant in California

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

Join the Conversation


  1. My dream college is to go to UCLA! If I follow L.I.D. but don’t have the best grades, do you believe I have a high chance of being a UCLA student? By bad grades I mean about B+ average from all my classes. C in math but A’s in all other classes. Thanks!

  2. Hi, Jenny. I really wish I had a crystal ball. I don’t really have enough information to make any sort of prediction about your chances at UCLA or anywhere else. So many other factors come into play. All I can say is that it’s a competitive process, and that you’re doing the right thing to think about your grades and how they fit into the puzzle. Best of luck to you as you continue your path toward your dream college!

  3. what classes would you recommend me take in high school (all four years). I’m a freshman at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, CA. I’m currently taking
    -Math 1 (working hard to get into math 2 next year)
    -English1 (all fresh have to take regular english)
    -World History
    -Spanish spkr
    -Basketball (freahmen team)
    – i’m in a club called key club
    also what are things I could do that involve helping my community that attracts colleges like UCLA

  4. I have all A’s in my classes, but every time I have a test or quiz, it would always bring down my grades, even though i study. But do you think i have a chance of going into UCLA? I really want to make my parents proud and I really want to have a better future. Hopefully I get a good score on my SAT test!!

  5. Hi, I’m Alexis and I’m currently a freshman in high school in Indiana. I really want to go to UCLA and I’ve been looking into it a lot. What do you suggest doing now to start saving to help pick up the tuition a bit for the slight extension in price for out-of-state students? Also, what are some suggested extracurricular activities that look good on college applications?

  6. Hi my name is Daniela Bermudez, I am a junior in high school in Texas. I have good grades, mostly A’s and maybe two high B’s. I am involved in Upward Bound at St.Mary’s , I do mariachi, and I’m part of the soccer team at my school. I would absolutely love to study a branch in medicine at UCLA!I try my best to believe that I am not far away with all the books I carry. I know that the best education you get is from where your heart desires. UCLA, I desire you.

  7. Hi, my name is Jimmy Jin and I am currently a junior in high school. I have a 4.5 cumulative GPA and got 1490 on my SAT. I also play on varsity volleyball at my school. How could I set myself apart from the many people applying with the same or better grades than me.

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