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Think you know every college out there? Think again. Here are some diamonds in the rough from The Golden Sate.

List produced by the Experts

  • California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA): Although definitely off the beaten path, CalArts is good for the artsy kid. The four-year fully accredited institution offers degrees in art, dance, film/video, music, theater, and critical studies.
  • Marymount California University (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA): A fantastic private two-year college with a 92% transfer rate to four-year colleges, Marymount offers individualized attention and great services for students with learning disabilities.
  • Yes, connect me! Mount St. Mary's College (Los Angeles, CA): This small Catholic women's college (with men in the nursing and music programs) has two campuses and offers admission to a "2+2" program for those not eligible to start in four-year program. It's very diverse, with a strong emphasis on ethics and values, and builds real leadership skills.
  • Yes, connect me! Notre Dame de Namur University (Belmont, CA): Set on a pretty wooded campus in the Bay area, NDNU is nurturing, accessible, and not overwhelmingly Catholic.
  • Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA): Located in Los Angeles, Occidental has fine liberal arts and solid academics, plus the resources of a large city for internships and cultural opportunities.
  • Scripps College (Claremont, CA): This women's college within the coed college consortium of the Claremont Colleges has a beautiful campus and wonderful arts and writing programs.
  • Yes, connect me! Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, CA): This amazing university opened a few years ago. The campus is on several hundred acres in Laguna right near the beach, and the facilities are all brand new. The college is internationally focused and offers a Great Books-style curriculum, plus healthy financial aid packages for international students too.
  • Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, CA): This residential college within an hour of San Francisco has excellent teachers and many new facilities.
  • Yes, connect me! St. Mary's College of California (Moraga, CA): St. Mary's provides personalized attention in the classroom and leadership seminars. An interesting January term offers a blend of opportunities on and off campus.
  • Yes, connect me! University of La Verne (La Verne, CA): This school could be good for first-generation college students in need of individual attention.
  • Yes, connect me! University of Redlands (Redlands, CA): A stunning campus, excellent faculty, and great sense of community are just a few reasons why Redlands has happy students. The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, designed for the highly intellectual, gifted student, is truly outstanding and gives students individual attention.
  • Yes, connect me! University of San Diego (San Diego, CA): Often confused with San Diego State or the University of California, San Diego, this private Catholic university is truly a gem. The campus is incredibly beautiful, with gorgeous views of the ocean. San Diego U has rigorous academics, a good social life on and off campus, very happy students, and a great sense of school spirit and community. Among the many new facilities is the Joan D. Kroc School of Peace Studies, which is amazing.
  • University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA): Pacific boasts a beautiful campus, excellent facilities, strong academics, and a great engineering (that kids can actually get into!). This private college has a helpful financial aid office, a faculty that cares, happy kids, and a great community feel overall. There are lots of opportunities for hands-on learning, and the discussion-based Pacific Seminars provide a great shared intellectual experience.
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* Highlighted schools are featured