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Public and Private Colleges in California

California is home to more college students than any other state in the U.S. In 2021, 2.71 million students were enrolled in California’s 339 colleges and universities.

Public colleges in California

There are 158 public colleges in California. California is known for its strong state school system. Cal State has 23 campuses, including UCLA in Los Angeles.

The University of California system has nine campuses, including the highly-competitive UC-Berkeley.

Community colleges in California

There are 116 community colleges in California. Fifty-one percent of Cal State grads and 29 percent of UC grads started at a community college.

Private colleges in California

There are 119 private colleges in California.

California's private schools include the prestigious Stanford University, which is often thought of as the Ivy of the West Coast, and several top liberal arts schools, including Pomona College and Pepperdine University.

Is California a good place to go to college?

Students may be drawn to California because of its natural beauty, pleasant weather, and reputation as a top destination for tourism, entertainment, and tech. But there are pros and cons to choosing California for college.

Pros of college in California

  • Temperate weather
  • Access to beautiful beaches and natural wonders
  • Networking and internship opportunities in top industries
  • Steep tuition discounts for in-state students at public universities

Cons of college in California

  • Third highest cost of living in the U.S
  • Reliance on a car
  • Wildfires are becoming more regular
  • High tuition for out-of-state students

California Climate and Geography

California is known for its majestic landscapes and dazzling views. Throughout the state, there are a variety climates and ecosystems. The Western edge of the Golden State stretches for 840 miles along the Pacific coast, offering sweeping views of glittering ocean and access to California’s 1500 public beaches.?

The Eastern border of the state is dotted with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains. The High Sierra contains several notable landmarks, including Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine Lake in North America, General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume, and Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.?

Northern California is misty and cool, shaded by towering redwood trees. Southern California contains the stark landscape of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park, as well as some of the best surfing destinations in the world.?

While the climate is usually good, wildfires are becoming increasingly common, making it more difficult to enjoy the many wonders the state offers during certain times of the year.???

California Major Industries

The largest industries in California are government, agriculture, healthcare, and tourism.

California is best known for its two highest-profile industries: entertainment and technology. Los Angeles and Hollywood are the epicenter of the film industry, and home base for many entertainers and filmmakers. Silicon Valley houses tech giants Apple, Facebook and Google as well as a slew of other tech start-ups and giants.?

Students interested in film or entertainment, tech, agriculture, or tourism may find plentiful networking and internship opportunities.

Cost of Living in California

The cost of living in California is high, especially in major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Housing costs Even most areas require a car to get around, so students may want to include a car, insurance, and gas in their budget, in addition to housing and travel.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition

For in-state students, Cal State and UC's vast network of public schools offer a top-notch education at a steep tuition discount.?In 2021, all UC undergraduates pay the same $12,570 in systemwide tuition and fees. The average tuition for an in-state student living on a UC campus is $36,700

Out-of-state undergraduates pay an extra $29,754 in nonresident supplemental tuition. The average tuition for an out-of-state student living on a UC campus is $66,500.

Thinking About Going to College in California?

Search for public and private California colleges by campus types and admissions requirements below.

Visit the CC California forums for real talk advice like "Don’t expect to find a cheap apartment anywhere near a large city," Chance Me's for California schools, and more.


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