Academic success is crucial but combining different experiences and a global perspective is equally important.


In 2020, when Matthew Pols (Matric 2019) was admitted to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), the University received 108,877 applicants, out of which only 15,602 were admitted and 6,387 enrolled. Matthew Pols’s journey to being admitted to UCLA, ranked the No 1 public University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, demonstrates that: “while academic success is crucial, combining different experiences and a global perspective is equally important in today’s interconnected world.”

Not only did Matthew achieve 7 Distinctions in Matric and come in the top 1% nationally in Economics, but he was also a member of the SLC Executive. Matthew was Junior and Senior Swimming Victor Ludorum and took part in a wide variety of sport. He achieved a Gold President’s Award and engaged fully in Round Square, going on exchange and attending an International Service Project in Equador.

“As a proud alumnus of Bridge House, it is with great pleasure that I reflect on my academic journey, particularly my time at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). This experience, unique among our alumni, has offered me invaluable insights into the challenges and rewards of studying at a distinguished American university. My acceptance into UCLA was the result of a consistent commitment to academic excellence, a quality nurtured during my time at Bridge House. Key to my application to UCLA were my achievements, notably receiving the Gold President’s Award, attending a three-week summer school program at Columbia University during my Grade 12 year, and my active involvement in Round Square activities.

The Gold Presidents Award, a testament to hard work and resilience, involved a comprehensive approach to personal development, community service, and adventure. The summer program at Columbia University was a pivotal experience, offering me a glimpse into the academic challenges and cultural diversity of an Ivy League institution. Similarly, my involvement with Round Square was not just participation but a deep engagement. It included an enriching exchange program to England and a meaningful international service project in Ecuador. These experiences not only enriched my academic profile but also taught me invaluable lessons in leadership, cultural understanding, and global responsibility.

These achievements, while significant, were part of a larger story of commitment and perseverance. They highlight the importance of well-rounded development – a combination of academic rigor, extracurricular involvement, and personal growth. My journey to UCLA demonstrates that while academic success is crucial, combining different experiences and a global perspective is equally important in today’s interconnected world.

I hope my experience can serve as an example to current and future Bridge House students that the path to prestigious institutions like UCLA, though challenging, is reachable with hard work and a comprehensive approach. I believe that the foundations laid at Bridge House are more than capable of supporting such ambitions. As I continue my educational journey, I carry with me not only the knowledge and skills learned at my alma mater but also the principle of striving for excellence in all endeavours.

I extend my best wishes to the Bridge House community and encourage every student to pursue their goals with energy and determination. May this account of my journey to UCLA serve as an inspiration and a reminder that striving for excellence, supported by a range of experiences, can lead to exceptional opportunities.” – Matthew Pols (Matric 2019)

Parents or students who would like to find out more about applications to UCLA, may contact Matthew via email: