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

* Highlighted schools are featured

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 Saint Mary's University (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.
    Yes, connect me!
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Yes, connect me!
  • Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, CA): This residential college within an hour of San Francisco has excellent teachers and many new facilities.
  • 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.
  • University of La Verne (La Verne, CA): This school could be good for first-generation college students in need of individual attention.
  • 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.
    Yes, connect me!
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