How to Transfer to UCLA

How to Transfer to UCLA

Happy transfer season!

To support my followers, I’m releasing articles on how to get admitted into some of the most popular schools. I’m specifically covering their unique cultures and what you can do to stand out against your competition.

Use this information to help you curate the perfect, school-specific application.

Today’s school: UCLA

Unfortunately, the application deadline has passed for the University of California for fall 2020, but spring 2021 is still open. It closes May 31, 2020.

As part of the University of California system, which is required by the state of California to accept one-third of their incoming classes as transfers, UCLA has a strong reputation for admitting transfer students. In fact, 2 out of 3 transfer students are admitted to UC, and in 2019, 24% of applicants were admitted to UCLA - one of the highest transfer rates among the T-20.

UC has put together a comprehensive guide for transfer students, detailing requirements and highlighting different school and college resources. You can access the transfer guide here.

Additionally, admissions statistics can provide you with important information to guide your applications. By law, all universities must make this information publicly available; however, sorting through it all can be difficult. To help, I’ve identified the important information from the Common Data Set for UCLA 2018-2019.

Quick Facts

  • Public vs. Private: Public
  • Geographic Region: Far West
  • State: California
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Full Time Undergraduate students: 31,535
  • Transfer students: 5,770

Important Factors Considered for Admission

Academic

  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • Academic GPA
  • Standardized test scores
  • Application essay

Non-academic

  • N/A

Student Diversity

  • Percentage of nonresident aliens: 11.29%
  • Percentage of Hispanic/Latino: 22.38%
  • Percentage of Black or African American, non-Hispanic: 3.35%
  • Percentage of White, non-Hispanic: 26.35%
  • Percentage of American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic: 0.22%
  • Percentage of Asian, non-Hispanic: 27.69%
  • Percentage of Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic: 0.23%
  • Percentage of two or more races, non-Hispanic: 5.98%
  • Percentage of unknown race and/or ethnicity: 2.52%

How do you apply to UCLA, and how do you maximize your chances of admission?

If you are determined to attend UCLA but were not  accepted as a freshman applicant, your best chances of transfer admission come from attending a California Community College (CCC). As I said above, one-third of every UC admit must be a transfer student. And a whopping 92% of those transfers come from CCC. Attending a select community college will greatly improve your chances of admission into UCLA.

First, you must show that you meet the minimum requirements. Namely, you cannot apply without a minimum of 60 UC-transferable credits, which means you cannot apply before you reach Junior standing.

From there, you must align your application and application materials with UCLA’s expectations: You need to highlight elements of your background that UCLA wants in an applicant. Admissions counselors spend a lot of time looking for “fit” between applicants and the institution, so it must be clear that you and UCLA are a perfect match. The easiest way to do this is through your application essays, so let’s look at each one separately.

Required Transfer Applicant Question

Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.


To properly address this prompt, you should begin by explaining what first attracted you to your major. In other words, how did your interest in your major evolve? Then include specific details exemplifying the development of your interest, including how the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired will help you be successful in your major.

TIP: Rather than listing each of your unique skills and qualities will aid you in your major, use short anecdotes (specific moments) to demonstrate them instead. By showing rather than telling, you: 1) Engage the reader, and 2) Add focus to your writing.

Additional Questions - The Personal Insight Questions

You must complete three of the following eight prompts:

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

6. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

7. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

What the admissions committees DON’T want to read are formal, school-like essays. These prompts were not created to assess your academic writing but to get to know you - the applicant. (After all, they are called “Personal Insight Questions” for a reason.) So think carefully about what you need to show (see below) and what you can write about in an engaging way.

The University of California publishes 6 personal factors they use when evaluating an application, which should be taken into account as you consider the three questions you want to respond to:

  1. Employment while attending school
  2. Family responsibilities
  3. A return to school where early grades are not indicative of strong academic performance
  4. Involvement in campus organizations and community service
  5. Military service
  6. Other opportunities or challenges that may have shaped your educational experiences.

UC applications are reviewed holistically, so no single factor determines whether or not you are admitted. However, each of the eight personal insight questions is directly connected to one or more of these factors, which means your responses should connect to them as well.

To begin, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Title one side “Personal Factors” and the other side “8 Personal Insight Questions”.

Start by thinking of anecdotes (short stories from your life) that demonstrate the aforementioned factors. For example, to address factors 3 and/or 6, you might consider challenges you’ve faced and overcome, such as how your grades have improved because you’ve matured as a student or you excelled in school despite an illness in the family.

When you are done brainstorming the personal factors, do the same for the eight personal insight questions. Then, make connections between the two halves of your paper. Where do your stories overlap? Which of your stories are the strongest, most interesting, or address the most points? This will help you identify the three best stories and prompts to use in your UC transfer application.

❤❤❤  Here are some overarching tips to help you with your transfer application as a whole:

TIP ONE to answering each of the transfer application questions - make sure they work as a collective whole to tell a single story. In other words, you want each of your application materials to tell a little bit more of the story of you. Your responses should not repeat but compliment each other.

TIP TWO is to add school fit into your responses. UCLA wants to admit students who compliment their campus culture, so the more you can show that you are the “type of student” who attends UCLA the better.

UCLA’s core mission can be summed up in three words: Education, Research, Service.

Think about the things you have accomplished or experienced that align with the school’s stated mission, and infuse those experiences or personal characteristics into your essays. As UCLA clearly states, three important things to demonstrate in your application are:

  • A passion for learning - You will want to show that you have a passion for learning and have challenged yourself intellectually, whether that be through the classes you have chosen to take, the research you have done (either under a mentor or independently) or learning you have pursued in non-traditional ways.
  • An interest in applying your learning - Demonstrate that, for you, learning goes beyond satisfying your intellectual curiosity to include making an impact in some positive way. This could be through research, community outreach, or through your prospective career path. In other words, show how you plan to apply your education in the real world.
  • Community service - Show that you are interested in the world around you by discussing how you’ve engaged with your community through activities like volunteer work, conservation efforts, or civic participation.  A record of community service will go a long way with UCLA.

Do you need help putting together your UCLA transfer application? Contact me for information on my transfer application packages. I have the perfect plan for you - whether you plan to apply to one school, multiple schools, or only require help with the written application materials.

Best of luck, transfer applicants!!