Why I Passed on Athletics at UCLA ― A Real Student’s Story
This article is a first-person account from Leyla Barkhordar, a UCLA alumna and CollegeVine livestreamer and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Athletics at UCLA
I was offered a spot on the UCLA women’s water polo team, but I turned down the offer. While it was a great opportunity, I wanted to focus on my academics during college. Athletics at an NCAA Division I school are stressful, and I didn’t want that pressure to interfere with my studies. When I declined the offer, UCLA invited me to join the water polo club, but I chose not to do that, either. I declined both the D-I and club offers because I no longer wanted to dedicate substantial time to succeeding in the sport.
Getting Accepted at UCLA
I got into several colleges during my application process. Many different reasons led to my acceptance rate, but the main reason was I had the courage to apply. UCLA is one of the top public universities in the country, but even though it is so competitive, you will only get in if you apply.
One of the main reasons I believe UCLA admitted me was my spike in high school athletics. Even though I had no intention of pursuing D-I water polo, I included my successful athletics career in my college application because it was a huge part of who I was. I’ve been playing water polo since sixth grade and swimming since I was five years old. I did competitive swimming throughout high school and even competed on the United States Junior Olympic Team. My career in swimming was my extracurricular spike, which showed commitment and dedication. While I wasn’t going to attend UCLA as a swimmer, I would be able to apply the skills I learned as a swimmer to my academics.
Social Media and Athletics
One thing that shocks a lot of people is I didn’t mention I competed on the U.S. Junior Olympic Team in my college application. I included that I participated in varsity water polo and was the captain of the team my senior year but omitted the Junior Olympics. My reason for not including this information was very strategic. When you tell people you’ve competed on the Junior Olympic Team, you’ll often end up with a large social media following and unwanted attention. I didn’t want unfamiliar people to get involved in my personal business.
During my senior year at UCLA, I worked on the college reading admissions committee for the school. Checking students’ social media was discussed frequently. Some admissions officers and current students who work in the admissions office review your social media accounts to see if there is anything to be concerned about. This is very common, especially among potential D-I athletes, so I knew if I included my background as a Junior Olympian, I would receive unwanted attention to my personal life.
Looking for College Admissions Guidance?
If you are looking for help through your college process, Leyla is available for one-on-one advising through CollegeVine. The first 30-minute consultation is always free, and the pricing is available on our website. Besides advising, she is also available for any questions through the message board on CollegeVine. If you are a potential college athlete or interested in UCLA, reach out to Leyla and she can help you with any questions you might have!