For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jun 23 2017
by Celia Janes

A Freshman's Guide to UCLA

By Celia Janes - Jun 23 2017

The University of California, Los Angeles is a big-name school, and it’s the most applied to school in the nation. There are some facts everyone knows, like the killer basketball team, the Bruin mascot and the proposals to host certain events for the 2024 Olympics on campus. While UCLA is known for its history in the iconic city of Los Angeles and its impressive sports history, what is it like to be a student here?

1. Majors

The first thing you should know is the difference between north and south campus. Many college campuses have a similar division scheme when it comes to classes. You will find most of the humanities and social science classes (i.e. history, theatre, languages, sociology, etc.) on north campus. This includes the iconic Royce Hall, Powell Library and Sculpture Garden. These are the classes you will take if you enjoy reading, writing and the visual arts. To the other side of Bruin Walk (the campus’s main walkway) is south campus, the home of all the STEM classes. UCLA STEM is known for being very good and outrageously competitive. Go into higher level math, chemistry and physics classes with caution. Many joke that the hard work will pay off with your future paycheck. Certain majors, such as psychology or human biology and society span both sides of campus and can’t be put in a specific category.

2. Study Spaces

Once you have your major sorted out, it’s time to learn the best study spaces. Most underclassmen prefer to study on The Hill, where the dorms are located (side note: I wrote about residence halls at UCLA previously, which you can read here). You can do homework while eating fancy food in the Hedrick Study, if you’re willing to take the hike. Or you can study in the study room in Sproul Landing, reserve a small room in Hedrick or Rieber, look for the library on the hill (near Saxon Suites) or study in your building’s lounge. If you have the time, you can study on campus as well. Take a study break in one of UCLA’s fourteen libraries or grab some coffee at Kerckhoff and read in the large upstairs study room.

3. Getting Involved

Once you’re prepared academically, start looking for clubs to join. As one of my first tour guides once told me two years ago, “the way to make a big school smaller is to join clubs.” Here’s a list of some popular organizations at UCLA, where people really want to get to know everyone else: HOOLIGAN Theatre Company for all majors, Bruin Scouts, Circle K, any club sport, Greek life, pre-professional fraternities, service-oriented clubs, cru.

Of course, there may be many others that I haven’t heard of that are really great! Ultimately, you will find a club where you fit in, although it may take some trial-and-error. Don’t be afraid of dropping a club that doesn’t feel right or does activities that make you uncomfortable. While a club may be great for one person, it may be terrible for another. Find a club that lets you be yourself, as long as it doesn’t distract you too much from classes.

If you don’t feel comfortable joining a club, still try to participate! Find some friends and buy a DEN pass together, which allows you to attend any football or basketball game. Attend other sporting events, such as soccer and baseball, which are free for all students. Your building will probably also host plenty of events (for example, mine hosted a $25 Six Flags trip). Become a Community Representative or ask your RA for more information. Attend the main events like Bruin Bash (a fall concert), the Beat ‘SC Bonfire (before the big football game) and Spring Sing (a huge talent show). And you’re in the heart of Westwood, so be sure to explore LA with friends. Popular spots you can take an Uber to include the Getty Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Santa Monica.

Starting school at UCLA can be overwhelming. Find a close group of friends you can confide in who make you feel confident about yourself. Try to find people you can connect with. Meet people in your classes so you can form a study group. Meet people on your floor. Take advantage of the free psychological services, free yoga classes and awesome events that help you meet people. Someone you meet at a random event may end up becoming your closest friend. Take a step back, don’t stress and prepare to succeed during your time at UCLA.

Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Celia Janes -

Celia Janes is a sophomore at UCLA. She is majoring in Human Biology and Society with a minor in History. She enjoys running, reading, and watching Netflix. Her favorite classes include Journalism in high school and Italian Film in college. She is involved in Bruin Scouts, Honors Fellows, and HOOLIGAN Theatre. She loves trying new food and exploring LA (especially new hikes) in her free time.

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