How “x” does academics: x = UCLA

March 31, 2007 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

Posted by Rotem 

At first I was intimidated to come to such a large school like UCLA, but I have found that classes are not as daunting as I expected.

UCLA runs on a quarter system. Fall, winter, and spring quarters are each ten weeks long with one week for finals. Fall quarter begins in late September, and Spring quarter ends in mid-June. There are also two summer sessions that are each six weeks long. The quarter system is a great way to try out many classes you are interested in. And if you dislike a class, it goes by fast anyways!

Students need a minimum of 180 units to graduate. Unfortunately, there is also a maximum number of units at UCLA. You cannot take more than 216 units, though there are exceptions for double majors and other special programs, and you can petition. AP classes can count toward your minimum number of units, but do not count toward your maximum. Each class is between four and five units. Most people take roughly fifteen units per quarter. The minimum number of units for each quarter is thirteen and the maximum is nineteen for all schools except the School of Engineering, for which twenty units is the max.

In the College of Letters and Sciences, the college most students are in, undergrads are required to take ten general education classes: three Arts and Humanities classes, three in the Foundations of Society and Culture, and four Science classes — two in life sciences and two in physical sciences, and in each pair at least one of the two classes has to have a lab component. In other colleges at UCLA, like engineering, the requirements are slightly less, but there are many classes that fulfill each requirement though, so most students can find something they are interested in.

AP credit can’t count for any GE requirements by the way, but many classes required for majors can count, and overall, GEs are a good way for undecided students to explore classes they are interested in.

Additionally, there are university requirements, which include proficiency in a foreign language, writing requirements, and a quantitative reasoning requirement. Many of these requirements can be fulfilled with AP credits.

Also, there are GE clusters open only to freshmen — these are year-long classes that fulfill three GE requirements and a writing requirement. The courses are interdisciplinary and are taught by four professors from different departments. During spring quarter students take a seminar that goes in-depth into a specific subject, and usually culminates in a ten to twenty page research paper. Some cluster topics include… The Science of Aging, History of Modern Thought, Biotechnology and Society, an Interdisciplinary Look at the Performing Arts, etc. The professors are all very passionate about their subjects, since they come up with the class’s content themselves and the classes are also a great way to meet other freshmen.

Furthermore, there are small one unit, pass/no pass seminars that are open to all students but are given priority to freshmen. These classes, called fiat lux classes, are limited to less than twenty students and are fun classes meant to give students another outlet to pursue a subject they’re interested in, without worrying about a grade. The types of fiat luxes differ every quarter but some include topics include… The Theme of Love in Poetry, Student Activism in the 1960s, Ecology of Crime, etc.

Most students finish their university and GE requirements in the first two years, though some leave requirements for later, to break up major classes. When looking for classes, a useful Web site is bruinwalk, a site where only UCLA students post reviews of classes and professors.

A concern most students have when coming to a large school like UCLA is class size. Though there are lower division classes with several hundred students, each class is broken into a discussion section of between twenty and thirty students that meets at least once a week with a teaching assistant. Language and English classes are small, consisting of about twenty students. As students take classes specific to their major, class size tends to decrease too. So far, in my first two quarters at UCLA, I have not had a class larger than 120 students, and my smallest class consisted of 20 students.

Professors are also very approachable; you just have to make an effort to get to know them. Each professor and TA is required to have office hours for a couple of hours a week. If you are unavailable during their office hours, most will be happy to set up another time to meet with you. Most of my professors offer more office hours than are required actually, and encourage students to come by their office any time during the day to ask a question or just chat.

Students must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year. UCLA offers 129 majors and 73 minors. The number of units per major differs, though engineering majors have more requirements. Many students have a major as well as a minor, and some double major, though it is more difficult. There are department as well as college counselors, and peer advisors to help you plan out your courses.

There are many resources available to undergraduates, students just have to make the effort to go and use them. Because there are so many classes and majors to choose from, all students can easily find something they are interested in.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Advisor, AP, Art, Biotechnology, Classes, Counselor, Credit, Crime, Culture, Department, Double major, Engineering, Fiat lux, Final, Freshman, GE, Graduation, Guideline, History, Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Lab, Letters and Science, Literature, Los Angeles, Love, Major, Minor, Motivation, Pass/no pass, Performing arts, Poetry, Professor, Quarter, Research, Science, Seminar, Summer, Tips/Tricks, UCLA, Units, Website, Writing.

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