During the summer after my freshman year I did a 3-week stay at UCLA for a summer program related to the major that I want to do in college. The program wasn't application based, however, and all that was required to get in was to pay. Would this still be helpful in showing I'm interested in UCLA or would it be helpful in general on my college apps?
They are definitely less prestigious than free summer programs, just based on the premise. Especially since the program wasn't application-based, by pay to play. But, since it's at the school you're applying to, maybe you can reframe it if you end up with some cool outcome, like a research project or a useful experience you can write in your essays! For example, if you learned a lot more about UCLA you could probably write about that in your essays, especially since this is related to a major you want to do. Otherwise, it's probably not going to count positively for you.
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