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Summer 2003
Getting In
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The successful applicant first: High grades and high test scores. Seventeen semesters’ worth of AP and honors classes. Numerous honors and awards, including membership in the National Honor Society, a Kodak Young Leaders Award and a leadership award for managing the school’s computer lab store. Captain of the school volleyball team. Four years on varsity soccer. President of the school’s chapter of the California Scholarship Federation. Participant in AIDS Walk L.A. Volunteer at a convalescent hospital, tutor for underachieving students and a summer’s service with a youth ministry at an orphanage in Romania. In addition, the applicant took a rigorous mix of 12 college-prep courses, including some honors and AP, in the senior year.

The applicant who was not admitted: Again, high grades and test scores. Sixteen semesters’ worth of AP and honors courses. High school honor roll and recognition for achievement on the Golden State Exams. Staff member on the school newspaper. Member of the French club. Participant in the school chapter of the California Scholarship Federation. Player on the softball team. Violinist in the school orchestra. Nine AP, honors and other college-prep courses in the senior year.

Both excellent applicants, the kind of students many colleges would snap up in an instant. What, then, made the difference between getting into UCLA and not getting in?

“We look for distinctive honors, awards and recognitions,” says Tran. “We say distinctive because virtually every student who applies to UCLA has received many honors and awards.”

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