Frequently Asked Questions
Your student is undoubtedly high-achieving, motivated, and academically talented. The rigor of the quarter system and the search for academic interests can be both challenging and rewarding. Coupled with the right resources, your student can get the most out of his or her UCLA experience by confronting challenges, connecting with students and faculty, and achieving academic success.
See below for some of the most common questions we receive from Bruin parents and families:
How much time will my student spend in class? How much time will they spend studying?
A full-time student will take at least 12 or 13 units per quarter, which translates to at least three courses per quarter. Students in the College of Letters & Science may take up to 19 units per quarter, but this is not recommended – especially in the first year.
Generally, one unit corresponds to an hour in class per week, and a student will spend three-four hours studying for each hour spent in class.
Choosing a major: How can I assist my student in choosing a major? What are the most common majors? Is it a problem if my student is undeclared?
Choosing a major is one of the most important decisions a student will make at UCLA, but it often takes a bit of time to make the right decision. In fact, the average Bruin changes their major 2.5 times! Some of the more common majors are psychology, political science, business economics/economics, biology, and English.
An undeclared student is by no means disadvantaged as a UCLA student. However, these students should be attentive, especially by their second year, of what major they want to eventually declare. Students can identify what majors they are interested in by exploring classes and academic areas of interest, speaking to academic counselors, and using the resources at the Career Center. Students who study subjects they are interested in are much more likely to succeed!
How large are classes?
Classes at UCLA vary in size. Many of the lower division classes and introductory classes will have 300 students in one lecture. These classes tend to be filled with first- or second-year students who need to take these classes to fulfill major prerequisites. All large classes also have a mandatory discussion session, with 15-25 students enrolled, to provide an opportunity to discuss the material in a more intimate setting and ask questions of a graduate student to aid with comprehension of the course.
Once students begin to take the upper division classes of their major during the third or fourth year of study, class sizes decrease to anywhere from 40-50 students to seminars with 10-15 students.
What is “the quarter system?”
A quarter is a 10-week term; the UCLA academic year is divided into three academic quarters: fall, winter and spring. Summer is also considered a “quarter,” but is not part of the academic year, and is not mandatory.
Students typically enroll in three or four courses per quarter. Three classes per quarter is recommended for incoming freshmen so they can acclimate to the rigor of the quarter system.
Most students find the quarter system to be very fast paced. However, there are many programs to assist students with their transition, including workshops in tutoring, time-management, and study skills.
What resources can my student utilize for academic counseling?
At New Student Orientation, students are paired with highly-trained peer counselors to give them the necessities to begin an academic career at UCLA. New Student Advisors can answer questions throughout your Bruin’s academic career, particularly during New Student Orientation. However, there are several other resources to help your student beyond his or her orientation session.
Those studying engineering, nursing or the arts (including the School of the Arts and Architecture and the School of Theater, Film and Television) are assigned an individual counselor or small group of counselors. These programs are more narrowly focused, and therefore require a narrower academic focus. Also, many of these departments require students to follow a specific set curriculum throughout their time at UCLA.
Students who fall under the College of Letters and Science – which includes social sciences, humanities, and life and physical sciences – make up most of UCLA’s student population, and have a variety of academic advising options. Academic Advancement Program(AAP) students are assigned an adviser within AAP, Honors students within Honors Programs, and athletes within Athletics. Students who do not fall under any of these categories will pursue guidance from the College Academic Counseling office.
How often should my Bruin visit an academic adviser?
We recommend visiting an adviser once per quarter, particularly in the beginning. It can be helpful to seek academic counseling to catch problems early on and set your student up for success. Students can gain valuable information about course suggestions, scholarship opportunities, and graduate school advice.
Additionally, for the most general academic questions, there are undergraduate ASK Peer Counselors and graduate Counseling Assistants readily available throughout campus. Counseling Assistants are UCLA graduate students from a variety of disciplines specially trained to work with first- and second-year students.
The quarter system moves quickly. By the time your student hits mid-quarter, it is already time to select courses for the next quarter. Academic advisers are invaluable in partnering with students to make the most of their careers at UCLA.
What if my student is struggling academically?
Students at UCLA have many opportunities to seek out assistance when they feel that they are struggling. Professors and Teaching Assistants are frequently available to assist with specific course-related questions or concerns. Academic advisers can help students make the best use of their time at UCLA by advising course choices and degree planning.
Additionally, academic departments often have lists of private tutors, often recent graduates or graduate students, who they can recommend. Please call UCLA Parent & Family Programs to be connected with the appropriate department.
Is it difficult to get in classes? Will my student get the classes they need?
Though UCLA has a large student population, there are many ways for students to get the classes they need. For example, many departments place restrictions on certain classes so that students with certain majors will be able to enroll in those classes first. As students progress in their academic career at UCLA, they will be able to sign up for classes earlier than newer students.
Are professors easily accessible?
Yes. All professors offer office hours especially set aside for students to come and ask questions. This gives students a chance to have one-on-one interaction with the professor to discuss class material, difficulties with coursework, or have friendly conversation. Professors also allow students to make appointments with them ahead of time if students cannot make the set office hours. The student-faculty ratio at UCLA is 17:1.
What are the best places for Bruins to study?
Studies show that changing the environment in which a student studies actually increases retention of material. Some students prefer to study in their rooms. Others enjoy the quiet of the residence hall study lounges – there is at least one on every floor. The beautiful campus itself provides an ideal study ground, with wireless internet access abound, rolling hills, and plenty of benches and tables to spread out.
For students that like the bustle of the city, West Los Angeles is filled with coffee shops and cafés, museums with beautiful courtyards, and natural environments such as the beach and public parks. Encourage your Bruin to step away from campus and enjoy the California sun to do some reading or other schoolwork.
UCLA also has several libraries on campus. For a complete list of hours and locations, click here. Most students find the library to be quiet, relaxing and conducive to studying. Many bring headphones to accompany them, or even take quick naps in the library between classes. Students can use or rent computers, print assignments, use copy machines, watch films for class in the Instructional Media Lab, work with librarians on research projects, and reserve space for study groups.
For a complete list of services and resources, visit the UCLA Library online.
What is Honors?
UCLA offers several types of honors:
- Honors Programs (College Honors) offers a variety of programs for students enrolled in the College of Letters and Science to pursue more academically rigorous and intellectually challenging coursework while completing their degrees. Honors also offers scholarships, specialized Honors counseling, the individual major program and the opportunity to graduate from UCLA with the distinction of “College Honors.”
- Departmental Honors are awarded to students who pursue theses or specialized research projects and are available to those majoring in specific areas of study (departments should be contacted individually for more information). Students usually decide to pursue a thesis during the end of the third year and complete the research and coursework during their final year.
- Latin Honors are awarded at various levels to graduating students who meet certain standards of academic achievement. The levels of honors are summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude.
- Honors Societies, coordinated by the Office of the Dean of Students, provide high-achieving students an opportunity to join service and excellence organizations on campus.
Do all students graduate in four years?
The average UCLA student remains enrolled at the University for four years and a quarter, but it is not uncommon for students to graduate within four years, often with a double major or minor. Students may decide to stay at UCLA for an extended period of time when they choose to dedicate time to out-of-classroom campus endeavors or take on a heavier academic load.
There are, however, regulations to prevent students from remaining enrolled indefinitely. For more information regarding academic rules and regulations, visit here.
How can I access my student’s grades?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA or the Buckley Amendment) is a United States federal law that protects students rights to access and control their educational records.
According to FERPA, college students are considered responsible adults and are allowed to determine who will receive information about them. While parents understandably have an interest in a student’s academic progress, they are not automatically granted access to a student’s records. Parents are encouraged to consult with the student if academic information is needed.
Your child may give permission for a third party to access his or her records by going to URSA and setting up an authorized user account for you. UCLA does not provide private information or restricted public information (even with consent) over the phone or by email.
To learn more about parent access to student records and accounts and setting up Third-Party Access, click here.
Where can my student go for help with career planning or internships?
The UCLA Career Center is dedicated to offering UCLA students and alumni opportunities to make thoughtful and deliberate career choices. Through the Career Center, students can search for jobs and internships, schedule appointments for career counseling, learn how to build a resume, and prepare for interviews and career fairs. Students can log into Handshake to access hundreds of online job and internship postings, as well as several other more specialized career websites in the field that they are interested in.
What is Handshake?
Handshake is your gateway to online Career Center services and sign ups, exclusively for UCLA students and eligible alumni. Handshake grants one-stop access to hundreds of jobs and internships as well as access to other essential employment, internship, and graduate school resources. Your student can submit their resume to one or more of 14 resume books, RSVP for employer information sessions, and view career fair directories. Log into Handshake here.
What is BruinBill?
All students are assigned a BruinBill account which records all charges and payments associated with registration, housing and transportation charges, as well as other service charges like health insurance assessed to students. Your BruinBill is available to eManage 24/7, just logon through MyUCLA.
Here are ways to pay your student’s BruinBill:
eCheck: This is a free and convenient way to have payments post instantly; avoiding delinquent fees, holds, and dropped classes. All you need is a U.S. checking or savings account to submit an eCheck payment through your BruinBill. Setting up an account with the University Credit Union is a great option for international students in need of a U.S. bank account.
BruinDirect: This is a fast, secure process to deposit finaicial aid refunds directly to a student’s checking or savings account. You’ll get your refund within 2-3 days and avoid waiting for mailed checks. It’s easy, free, and automatic—just sign up through MyUCLA.
BruinPay Plan: enroll in BPP and spread your term tuition into monthly installment payments. Check here to see if you are eligible for the plan.
Where can my student look for scholarships?
UCLA students have access to many scholarships to make college more affordable, both affiliated with UCLA and with outside databases. The UCLA Financial Aid and Scholarships Office is a good place to start your scholarship search and learn more about eligibility and the application process. The Scholarship Resource Center is also a great place to find UCLA scholarships sorted by major or department, as well as external databases for undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Make sure to check back with these offices frequently to stay informed and set your Bruin up for financial success.
Parking and Transportation
What transportation options are available to my student?
Most students walk to and from campus, especially if they live on The Hill or in nearby apartments. Students have several other transportation options, including the complimentary BruinBus shuttle service. BruinBus even runs on the weekends so students can take the shuttle to the grocery store.
How can my student get to the airport quickly and conveniently?
There are many options your student has to navigate from LAX to or from UCLA. UCLA Residential Life periodically offers shuttle services to LAX, usually during the end or start of the quarter. You can find out by visiting their website. For alternative options, visit UCLA Transportation’s website for a full list of resources.
How does parking on campus work?
Student parking on campus can be limited. Parking permits are not guaranteed and are offered through a prioritization process based on class standing and whether a student is a commuter or residence hall tenant. To learn more about applying for parking permits, click here.
Visitors can purchase all-day or hourly parking permits at pay stations in parking structures and lots across campus (exact cash or credit cards only). All-day permits can also be purchased at various Information & Parking Booths around campus (cash only). Parking rates range from $1 for 20 minutes to $12 for the entire day. Accessible parking for individuals with disabilities costs $7 per day. Click here for more information on visitor parking.
How can I send packages to my student?
The mailing address for on campus housing is:
Student’s First & Last Name (as registered at UCLA)
330 De Neve Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024
The central mailroom is located in Sunset Village on the Hill.
What are some of the local hotel accommodations near campus?
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