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a few stories from your past will be good enough. Mention your parents and siblings with regards to those stories to give the adcom a good picture of who they are, what they're like, what education/profession they are, and how your childhood affected you.
Don't go into too much detail about your parents/siblings though. Remember, this essay is about you, not your family members. They are just there to help bring out who you are.
I have a question about the school visit. I'm a submitting my app on the 2nd, but visiting the school (class visit and info session) on the 8th/9th. Is it looked down upon that I didn't visit before I submitted? The reason being is I'm currently in Philadelphia and have been working on a pretty big client proposal that hasn't given me much free time. So this was the earliest I could make it out ot Cali.
Also if I'm lucky enough to get an interview, is it in my best interest to fly back out and have an interview on campus or would an alumni interview be suffice?
as long as you have done a school visit its cool..its doesnt matter if u did it after submitting .. since ur visit gets recorded... the ad-com knows u conducted a school visit...
as for campus interviews, I would recommend either of the 2. Now UCLA being a west coast school, it is possible that an alum may not be located in Philly....
I would vote for an alum interview for 2 reasons.
1. cost - makes no sense to come to LA for campus interview.. it would have made sense if u had not made any campus visits, but since u did that already, the additional visit is not going to add to ur profile
2. new interview strategy.. this is the first time ucla is doing the interview after applications.. since the process is completely new, there is no idea of how the interviews would be like if done by ad-com or current students in the campus... so as a precaution it would make more sense doing it with an alum...
my 2 cents.. i am sure kryzak and red can throw in some valuable comments
avi covered most of the stuff. The only things I would add are:
1. make sure you list the date you are planning on doing a campus visit (and potential things you'll do) on the application.
2. Alum interview should be fine. Mine was very relaxed and informal. I heard red_s4's interview with an adcom was also very relaxed, so either one works. It doesn't seem to matter which one you do, as long as you have at least visited UCLA once.
I think undergraduate work experience could just be listed in your resume if it's significant. Also, your optional essay shouldn't be all spent on explaining your low GPA, otherwise that may start to sound like you're finding excuses.
Was your undergraduate work experience the reason you got a low GPA? Maybe you can talk about it that way?
What are your thoughts on submitting an optional essay to discuss my community activities?
I think it would be a good idea but my sister, a Kellogg grad, thinks I shouldn't submit an optional essay unless I can discuss how I fought guerilla troops in panama or something similar to "Man versus Wild".