Diego from Mexico chose American Collegiate, Los Angeles at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Extension for his first year of university studies — and was accepted to the University of Southern California (USC) as a transfer student! He plans to major in environmental studies for his bachelor’s degree. Read on for Diego’s story and learn how hard work, determination, and his advisor’s ongoing support helped him achieve his dream.
Diego’s American Collegiate, LA Experience
When Diego researched universities last year, he was looking for a place that offered a major in environmental studies, a US West Coast location, and career development opportunities. The University of Southern California (USC) was a good match, but he also knew an introductory transfer program would make more sense to start his study abroad journey. When he discovered American Collegiate, LA, Diego decided to begin his studies there.
Located in Los Angeles’ Westwood Village, American Collegiate, LA gives students the chance to complete up to two years of introductory college classes through UCLA Extension.
By taking courses across multiple disciplines, American Collegiate, LA students can build knowledge in different fields, while also earning university credits eligible for transfer to many universities in the US.
“When I heard about the ACLA program at UCLA Extension, I thought it was a great opportunity to have a second chance at the application process,” Diego said.
He also appreciated ongoing support from Amy Cruz, his counselor. “Amy was the biggest part of my process in guiding and helping me because I attended almost all of the transfer workshops throughout the year,” he said. “I think that her insights and information was very helpful for everybody.”
At American Collegiate, LA, students never have to navigate the transfer process alone. Counselors encourage students to learn from case studies and to practice writing essays, and they also support students in identifying the best-fit schools for their career plans. Advisors go out of their way to provide social and emotional support, too.
“Whenever I had a question or anything personal that I wanted to talk about with Amy, she was always super quick with helpful responses,” he said. “I really appreciated everything that she did for me because any questions I had or anything that I found difficult or hard to understand, she clarified very well and very quickly.”
UCLA Extension also offers extensive resources for international students at American Collegiate, LA, including access to multiple alumni networks and career development resources such as the UCLA Career Center’s online job board, internship postings, career coaching workshops, and more.
How American Collegiate, LA Prepared Diego for the University of Southern California
At American Collegiate, LA, students can opt for elective classes each quarter. Diego chose subjects closely related to environmental studies to add value to his transfer application.
“I chose [subjects] like geology, sustainability, and courses that were more tied to my major,” he said. “I also had to look at different schools and their requirements; some schools required me to take chemistry, so I had to take that as an elective and also calculus. I took a lot of my courses that I found interesting, but also I [was] guide[d] by the requirements of other schools.”
Diego also shared that UCLA’s extensive extracurricular programs encourage students to develop their networking, teamwork, and leadership skills. Through arts and culture clubs, business and entrepreneurship organizations, and sports events, students can improve their communication skills and build valuable experiences learning how to work together in multicultural and diverse teams.
Of course, it’s important to strike a balance between studying and participating in extracurricular events and volunteering.
“Schools are not only looking for the grades, they are also looking for somebody [who] is going to come in and make an impact on the community,” he said. “By joining extracurricular activities, maybe taking on some leadership positions, and working your way up to those positions, you can showcase very important characteristics that a lot of schools are looking for [in students].”
After taking core courses and electives, as well as pursuing extracurriculars and professional development activities outside of class, Diego felt ready to apply to USC and pursue his major in environmental studies.
Environmental Studies at the University of Southern California
Ranked #25 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Southern California is a globally recognized, high-impact research university providing an advanced environmental studies curriculum. Covering both the basics and advanced concepts of what are environmental studies, the degree program includes classes focusing on pollution management, agriculture, current environmental challenges, and the importance of environmental studies for the future.
Diego plans to begin his studies at USC in Spring 2024 and is currently working toward earning more American Collegiate, LA credits to stay on track with the class of 2026.
“I want to rest, but I also want to stay focused because I know that USC is a very difficult school and very rigorous,” he added. “I don’t want to lose any of the momentum I have going into USC.”
By leveraging USC’s state-of-the-art facilities, working with expert faculty, and attending environmental conferences and competitions, environmental studies students can learn how to develop sustainable solutions to address climate change. The Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability at USC also provides internship and fellowship programs where students learn to think critically and analyze challenging concepts in a real-world setting. With the well-rounded experiences he had through the American Collegiate, LA program, Diego is prepared to continue his academic journey and make the most of his time at USC.
Diego’s Advice for International Students
Diego believes American Collegiate students have all the guidance and resources they need to apply to their dream schools.
“[Amy] was very helpful in guiding me [to] classes [that] were best for me to choose for my major and which classes would not only transfer, but also help me advance my knowledge in the field that I wanted to study,” he said. “Whatever questions I had, both for academics and transfer advice, I could go to her and she would provide great help.”
His advice to international students is to stay focused, set achievable goals, and build a plan.
“For me, the most important thing was focusing on my goals,” he said. “I wanted to go to ACLA and transfer to a good school, so I didn’t want to settle for anything less. The whole goal of going to ACLA was to have a smooth transition.”
No matter which program you choose, Diego recommends that you be sure to balance your studies with enjoying life in the US, paying attention to mental health and keeping your grades up.
“I wanted to enjoy some time in a city like LA, make some new friends, and also be very focused on my studies and getting that high GPA that would allow me to be competitive in some of the most competitive schools in the country,” he said.
For me, it was knowing my priorities, which [were] my studies before anything else, but also trying to have some fun, make some new friends, and [make] my experience one to remember.” — Diego, American Collegiate, LA at UCLA Extension student, accepted at USC
Like Diego, you too can start your studies with American Collegiate, LA, then transfer to your top-choice university to complete your degree. Get in touch with a Shorelight advisor for dedicated support with identifying your ideal university, writing personal essays, submitting your university application, building career development plans, and more. Your dream university is waiting for you!
See how American Collegiate, LA can help you transfer to your dream university >