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Episode 38 – UCLA: Nation’s Largest Applicant Pool 11.21.18

Dr. Cynthia Colon With Guest Gary Clark UClA Director Of Admissions

UCLA Applications Podcast With Guest Gary Clark UCLA Director Of Admissions

“Think less about what you think we want to hear, and more about what you want to say.”

Gary Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission at UCLA.

The University of California receives more applications than any other public or private institution in the country. UCLA ranks number one as the leader of the board, having received with over 135 thousand applicants in each of the last two years. 

 

If you ever wanted to get in the brain of the Director of Admission at a highly selective institution, you will not be disappointed. I traveled to visit Gary live on the UCLA campus and we did the show from his office. 

The interview is broken up into three parts. Here are a few key highlights of what Gary Clark shared in each section of the interview:

Part 1: Gary Clark’s Describes UCLA and His Personal Journey 

  • UCLA “One of the most attractive campuses I’ve ever set foot on.”
  • Has been at UCLA for about 6 years
  • Grew up in Virginia with two older brothers and supportive family.
  • Gary would be the first in his family to attend college.
  • Where did Gary apply and how did he choose?
  • Gary made the most of his college experience and left with no debt.
  • How leadership roles in college shaped Gary and set a pathway to his career.
  • Gary talks about finding a way to pay for college, including having a job and becoming a Resident Assistant.

Best Gary Clark “Golden Nuggets” from Part 1:

If you picture a college diploma hanging on a wall, the name of that institution is in script along the top. We focus so much attention on that, that we forget about the name in the middle of the diploma which is your name.”

Part 2: Gary Clark Describes College Admissions And What It Means To Craft A Class

  • Being a tour guide and a student ambassador, Gary found a way to help families navigate the college admission process.
  • Gary enjoyed being able to “pull back the curtain” and help demystify the process for others.
  • College admissions appeals to “both my head and my heart.”
  • Gary discusses why colleges ask for so much information from applicants.
  • The admission process is not just about the numbers.
  • Gary describes what they look for in an application, the qualities of a student that stand out.
  • Why it’s important to be yourself in your college application.
  • Gary and Dr. C discuss what to do when students don’t feel they have much to say or talk about in their application. Tips on how to describe your own home life experience in an application.
  • At UCLA every single application is read at least twice.
  • Why it’s important for the student to be their best advocate.

Best Gary Clark “Golden Nuggets” from Part 2:

“The work of college admission appeals to both my head and my heart. It gives me that intellectual challenge of trying to meet layers and layers of [institutional] priorities … but also that real emotional connection with families, students and counselors and helping them to understand the what and the why behind the work that we do.”

 

“[College Admissions] It’s a human process, so it is imperfect and flawed, there’s no way to get around that. But it is also a process that is a human process and that we’re not just crunching numbers here.”

 

“It’s really not about aspiring to be like somebody else who was successful in this process, it’s about really aspiring to represent yourself as fully and as authentically as possible in any college application.” 

 

“The UC application doesn’t have a lot of safety nets … you have to be a strong self-advocate. You have to be somebody who’s willing to tell your story and to hit all the points that you really need us to know because there isn’t a counselor or a teacher that’s going to cover those details or isn’t an interview that you can count on that’s going to cover those details.”

Part 3: Gary Clark Discusses The UC System And Tips On The UC Application

  • All 9 University of California campuses offer top notch education.
  • University of California has increased the number of California residents over the past several years.
  • The activity section is about quality over quantity.
  • UCLA v. USC rivalry. Gary also worked at USC.
  • Number of UCLA NCAA national titles.
  • UCLA athletic highlights.
  • Gary discusses which sport his son plays and why he is now a fan.
  • Wherever you attend high school, someone on Gary’s staff is assigned to your high school. “I want every student out there to know that there's a person on staff that they could connect with if they have questions.”

Best Gary Clark “Golden Nuggets” from Part 3:

“The UC actually limits the number of things that you can list in the application in terms of involvement outside of class and part of the philosophy behind that is, you know, we don’t want students to feel like it’s a question of volume. We want them to understand it’s a real assessment of the quality of commitment to what you’re doing outside of the classroom.”

 

“[UCLA applicant pool] It’s a very self-selective applicant pool and there are not a lot of bad students that apply here, and so we are choosing amongst very, very talented students. I think we’re all humbled by that and proud of the fact that those students are considering UCLA and honor us with an application. But what it means is that the quality of students that we admit are extraordinary and the quality of students that are often not admitted here is also extraordinary.”

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