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Fact or Fiction: What UCLA Stereotypes Are Accurate?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

While going through the college application process, it’s no secret that each university is known for certain attributes, characteristics, and cultures that define it as different. When I was applying to UCLA, I heard a plethora of different preconceived notions about the school. Which of these stereotypes are actually real? Since I’ve begun my journey at UCLA as a freshman, it’s time to debunk some rumors and confirm some truths based on my experience so far.

1. University of Calves, Legs, and A**: Fact!

One strong statement I heard before coming to UCLA was that walking there is no joke. This, for the most part, is the hard truth. All dorms are located on the Hill, a long uphill walk from both North and South campus, making it a trek for freshmen and others living in dorms to get back home. The highest dorms on the Hill also require a trek up the infamous “Death Stairs”, which are a definite hassle (but not the end of the world). The way to class also entails a walk up an opposite hill where mostly all classes are located, making it an uphill walk wherever you go – albeit never longer than about 20 minutes as the campus itself is not abnormally large. At UCLA, you get your education AND your steps in! For me, that’s a win-win!

2. It’s huge, so it’s easy to get lost in the crowd: Both fact and fiction

A common thing people say about UCLA in comparison to other colleges is that its size of about 32,000 undergraduate students makes it easy to feel alone in the ginormous space. I think part of this notion is undeniably true; going to a big school means you have less personal support and more independence, making it overwhelming at times. Bruinwalk, the pathway to classes, gets pretty crowded in the mornings, and lectures can hold up to about 300 people. However, my experience thus far has shown that UCLA can actually feel like a small community – no matter where I go I see someone I know or recognize, and there are numerous clubs and groups to join to find your place. Lectures also all come with separate discussion classes with typically around 20 or less people, making it easier to connect with other students and digest the material. Academic support is available too, you just have to look for it! As long as you utilize the various resources and opportunities at UCLA, you won’t get lost in the crowd.

3. Obsession with fitness and health: Not completely fiction!

No, everyone at UCLA does not live off of only organic food and Pilates everyday. But it’s true that the L.A. and general California nature of finding ways to stay healthy has rubbed off on the UCLA community. There are a plethora of fitness classes you can take at our large gym, including spin, dance cardio, yoga, Pilates, and even more specific fitness classes like martial arts, gymnastics, Irish dancing, Olympic weightlifting, and more. The popular, healthier B-plate dining hall and crowded gyms speak to students’ commitment to fitness, but also just healthy, normal behavior. Don’t worry, there is no shortage of classic college foods and desserts to be found on campus – the food is incredible. In the end, UCLA just has a lot of great opportunities to stay healthy, with a surrounding L.A. area that has more than enough yoga, Pilates, and fitness classes one could need!

4. UCLA is not diverse: Fiction (except geographically)

A group of girls have a picnic outside and laugh.
Original photo by Kate Green

Having a large Caucasian and Asian population leads to a big stereotype about what type of person is at UCLA. However, I think the idea that UCLA is not diverse is impossible, considering the amount of students. There is a large community of every social identity, and a greater mix of diverse minds and identities than I think many other colleges can currently boast of. There is not one singular type of person at the school – everyone is well-rounded yet different in their own way. However, there is one area where UCLA is simply not very diverse – and that’s geographically. As a public state school, it’s no surprise that almost 80% of undergraduates are from California. Ask around and it will feel like everyone is from the Bay Area or SoCal. Despite this, since being here I have met people from all over the world, so don’t worry! People from all over are represented at UCLA.

5. We work hard and play hard: Fact! 

One of the best truths about UCLA for me is that the culture here is about both studying and prioritizing academics while also having a good time. There is Greek life on campus and no shortage of parties starting from Thursday to Sunday. Students seem to always make it to Friday morning classes against all odds! When classes get busy and libraries stay packed through the night during finals week with students hard at work, everyone still finds the time to go to the esteemed undie run. There is also a plethora of opportunities to go out and have fun in the greater city of L.A, with concerts and other events always available. Despite the easy access to functions and fun, UCLA remains the #1 Public University in the U.S. and the hardworking students definitely respect that academic grind. UCLA students do it all!

6. UCLA is better than usc: fact!

There’s no debate about this indisputable truth and no need to even elaborate, but just remember the cost, location, opportunities, and community here at UCLA are undeniably superior to our L.A. rival. Go Bruins!

Maile Smith is a first-year Global Studies major from Palo Alto, California. She loves horseback riding, traveling the world, painting, reading on the beach, and her dogs!