Westwood, CA: For someone who lives on the East Coast, often the colleges and universities in California are considered too far away, too foreign, and just too darn scary to be a viable choice for four years of your life. As the sister of a student at the University of California at Los Angeles, however, I have had a great opportunity to see UCLA’s beautiful campus, its students, and some of its classes firsthand.

The part of UCLA that makes the greatest impression on the visitor is the campus and surrounding area. If LA scares you, fear not, for the sprawling campus is set in Westwood, a neighborhood that just happens to have great attractions for college students like world-renowned movie theaters (often with sneak previews and opening nights complete with famous actors and actresses), In-and-Out, a cheap burger joint straight out of the ’50s (and much better than McDonald’s) and the “twenty-five cent cookie place,” as it’s called by students, where you can get cookies just like Mom used to make, and great ice cream, too. Of course, there are other attractions: a Swatch Museum, clothing stores, music stores, everything a student needs (plus a short drive to the beach).

The campus itself is beautiful – complete with classic architecture, a newly renovated library, green lawns, trees, cafes, and hills perfect for viewing the sunset. It makes quite an impression.

The UCLA classes are, of course, comprehensive, interesting, and packed for freshmen level-classes. The courses required for freshmen are held in lecture halls, but as the classes become more specified, the numbers become much smaller. Students are friendly and open, and seemed willing to help with any questions I had.

The University of California is a world-renowned consortium of schools that is actually a great bargain. When you compare its quality education and prices to Ivy League schools, you’ll find equal education at UCLA for about half the price, not to mention a warmer climate. For those of you who are seniors, sorry, you’ve already missed the November 30th application deadline. But for all you underclassmen out there, take it from someone who knows: UCLA is a great investment for the future. f

Reviewed in 1998