For recently admitted students and their families, walking around campus and seeing the looks-like-a-movie grandeur of Powell Library, checking out the residence halls, hearing a welcome from UCLA leaders and volunteers and picking up some souvenirs from the UCLA Store in Ackerman Union are what make the traditional Bruin Day such a memorable experience, and one that plays a significant role in their decision to enroll at UCLA.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced UCLA to cancel the in-person Bruin Day this year, staff, faculty and students remained committed to giving newly admitted students the best true Bruin welcome they could. Collectively they put in hundreds of hours, said Gary Clark, director of undergraduate admission, transitioning a single Bruin Day into a month-long Bruin Bound, a series of online events that captures the essence of Bruin Day and provides admitted students with the information they need to decide whether to become Bruins. 

“I just want to thank our Bruin Day co-chairs, Mike Drish and Bill Gordon, and the entire Bruin Day committee for their incredible and tireless efforts to transition our programming for admitted students to virtual events,” Clark said. “Their partnership with our current students, faculty, and staff in developing experiences that were exciting, informative and sincere for all of our new Bruins and their families can be seen throughout these events. I really think UCLA led the way in these kinds of events and I couldn’t be more impressed and thankful to the individuals who made that all happen in a few short weeks!”

Since March 28, Bruin Bound events, staff and volunteers have been providing admitted students with several ways to experience all that UCLA has to offer, right from the comfort of their homes. From tours of campus and the Hill, to panels on parent involvement in UCLA, this virtual experience has provided students and families with the tools to finalize their decision to attend UCLA.

UCLA Newsroom spoke with Clark, who highlighted the invaluable leadership from Drish, who is deputy director of undergraduate admission, about what it took to pull off a series of events such as this one.

What was the most important aspect of Bruin Day that you wanted to translate to the series of online events that have been part of Bruin Bound?

Most importantly, we wanted admitted new Bruins to have an opportunity to celebrate their acceptance to UCLA, feel welcomed to the Bruin family, engage with the spirit of Bruin life and acquire the essential information they need to commit to UCLA. Opportunities to engage with our faculty, students, staff and alumni are always impactful!

What challenges did you face while putting this together?

It takes seven months to plan and prepare for two Bruin Day programs — one for freshmen and one for transfer students. One challenge was that, in mid-March, we had to pivot so quickly right before decision release to move everything to a virtual experience.  Another big challenge was rethinking the organization, strategy and marketing of events for admitted students, all while keeping campus stakeholders and admitted students aware of what was happening. This took and extraordinary amount of time and effort from our Bruin Day leads, Bruin Day committee and all of the UCLA faculty, staff and students that make those days so special … but we did it!

What insights into campus life does a virtual Bruin Bound experience offer students and families?

As they do at Bruin Day, through Bruin Bound virtual events, admitted students have the chance to hear insight directly from current students, staff and faculty. The virtual experience allowed admit students and their families to gain valuable perspective from those here in the UCLA campus community on topics such as academics, campus life, student success support and the value of the UCLA experience.

What feedback have you gotten from prospective students and parents about Bruin Bound?

The survey feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 90% of webinar attendees have said the experience increased their interest in joining the UCLA community. One anonymous respondent told us: “These webinars gave a lot of detailed insight into UCLA despite being unable to meet in person, and they helped me make an informed decision about where to commit. UCLA truly has a supportive and engaging atmosphere, which could be felt even through a screen.”

What has been your favorite aspect of this year’s Bruin Bound?

It has reinforced the interest and dedication of the entire Bruin community to playing a prominent role in welcoming admitted students to the Bruin family.  When we had to quickly move to a virtual experience, we were inundated with requests from students, staff and faculty offering help and asking what they could do. The enthusiasm and excitement we see on display at an in-person event like Bruin Day was there for the Bruin Bound virtual experience, and admitted students are seeing that as well. There is no doubt it has had a positive impact on our newest Bruins!

Highlights of this year’s Bruin Bound included:

All other presentations can be found on the UCLA Bruin Bound website.