From community colleges in the Bay Area to two-year universities nestled in the low inland hills of Southern California, there is a wide variety of state campuses that can propel your education and subsequently your earning potential in the career of your choice.

A list of community colleges in California can be help you whittle down the variety of choices to the one that works best for your intended interests. You must consider cost and location to places where you hope to work and begin to build your life. There are 114 schools in the California Community College System.

Reasons to Attend a Community College

A community college can be a great stepping stone to a better profession or a four-year college. California is stocked with stellar community colleges that provide students with a quality education.

There are a few reasons for attending one of the premier community colleges in the Bay Area, inland or southern cities of California, including:

  • Transfer centers and guidance counselors help wavering students to determine their best course of study once they begin to take classes.
  • You can earn college credit for basic college classes such as math and English at a less expensive but esteemed school that will assist you in preparing for and transferring to a four-year university.
  • While a four-year college can cost $5,000 to $10,000 annually for tuition, a community college can offer the same courses for $1,000 for students just entering the university system.
  • A community college course load is somewhat lighter and can bolster a shy student’s confidence or a poor student’s GPA before they are tasked with tackling more challenging course work in their chosen major.
  • Students with family or career obligations can feel at home with a diverse and vibrant student body that is more supportive of the non-traditional, part-time student.
  • A community college with an admission agreement with a college that caters to your major, specifically pre-med or science-based degrees, can ease your transfer into the school of your choice based on your stellar course work and grades.

Why Community Colleges Work Financially

Attending a community college in California is an affordable way to earn certifications to increase your earning potential for a current employer or apply to higher positions within an industry you have already achieved experience in.

A community college can cost much less than a private or state four-year college. There is a wide variety of financial aid programs for community colleges. A student may attend a community college to defer the cost of a four-year degree.

Taking all the basic college courses that are required, such as algebra, English and humanities, and then transferring them to a four-year college that is more expensive can save the student from exiting college with serious student loan debt.

Community College Before a Bachelor’s

If you are planning on attending a community college in order to later apply to a four-year school, there are a few things to know before you plant yourself in a classroom seat.

Each community college in California has its own graduation and transfer rate. Consider these when choosing a community college for your best chances of transferring credits to a four-year college.

Some colleges have relationships with four-year sister schools. If you know where you hope to get your bachelor’s degree from, check that they accept credits from your school or have any restrictions for transferring from a community college in California.

Round Out Your Education

When you volunteer at community organizations that fall within your school interests you can pad your resume, network with potential employers and possibly gain college credit. Give your time to a variety of charities, attend small business event and job fairs while you take courses at one of the two-year colleges in California. This can expand your resume and open doors to areas within your major that you may not have known before.

Community Colleges in California

Mt. San Antonio College

A gem in the California Community College System, Mt. San Antonia College in Walnut, California, offers more than 240 academic programs. The college has a wealth of resources that it offers to its more than 35,000 students in its many associate degree programs and certification and training curricula.

The admissions staff assists students in transferring to four-year California colleges as well as national and international universities. Mt. San Antonio College’s transfer rate is healthy at 9 percent. It has a retention rate of nearly 80 percent.

Associate degrees offered at Mt. San Antonio College:

  • Associate in Science for Transfer
  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate in Arts for Transfer
  • Associate of Science
  • Art History
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Administration of Justice
  • Agriculture Plant Sciences
  • Business Administration
  • Theater Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Geography
  • History
  • Studio Arts
  • Communication Studies
  • Political Science
  • Journalism
  • Philosophy
  • English
  • Psychology

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College has a wide variety of degrees and certifications for students attempting to launch a career or bone up on the latest changes in their industry. The school has a graduation and transfer rate of around 55 percent.

Students at Orange Coast College tend to do well and stick with the college as freshman, with a retention rate of a little more than 90 percent. Students can easily transfer to four-year colleges across the country upon graduation from this school as well as the University of California and other major California state schools.

Cuesta College

Through its many local and international connections, this public college close to the beach offers opportunities in many areas for ambitious students. Located in San Luis Obispo, California, this sprawling campus has more than 70 associate degree programs and nearly 100 certificate programs in a wide range of fields.

Cuesta is part of the larger San Luis Obispo County Community College District within the California Community Colleges System and builds on relationships with other universities to enrich its students. It has a high transfer rate of students to area schools such as California State University and University of California as well as international private universities, particularly in its tech programs.

Last year it opened a $32 million student center in Paso Robles. This welcoming student center provides a hub for Cuesta College’s expanding student body. It provides health and wellness services as well a financial aid and guidance for transfers to four-year colleges.

Taft College

Small and affordable, Taft College in the California city of the same name prides itself on providing a complete education for students seeking a semester-based associate degree. The small student body of around 6,000 allows time with faculty for students who are intending to use their credits at the community college to further their schooling for a medical, education, business or other demanding degree at a four-year college.

It has a remarkable retention rate of around 65 percent. The student-to-faculty ratio is 33-1. Taft’s transfer out rate is 11 percent. The experienced faculty train students in associate degrees in the following subjects:

  • Business Administration
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Administration of Justice
  • Studio Arts
  • Art History
  • Biology
  • Kinesiology
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Sociology
  • English
  • Psychology

Pasadena City College

International with a community focus, Pasadena City College offers a wealth of opportunities for a wide range of students. A diverse student body and faculty from around the world make this California higher education institution a prime place for students hoping to further their education or professional training. The student body is less than 30,000 with the largest demographic identifying as Hispanic, followed by Asian or Pacific Islander.

The International Student office faculty assist students who are transferring into the California community college as well as onto four-year colleges. The college has an extensive athletic program with teams in cross country, basketball, swimming, volleyball, baseball, football, soccer, track and field, tennis and softball.

Pasadena City College academic programs include:

  • Ethnic Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Languages
  • Music
  • Health Care
  • Graphic Communications Technology
  • Product Design
  • Television and Radio
  • Publishing
  • Visual Arts

Community Colleges in the Bay Area of Northern California

West Valley College

Located in northern California, West Valley College supports students in their hopes to gain transfer credits to move on to a four-year college as well as pursue career goals by completing a two-year degree. It has an 81 percent rate of students who applied to and were accepted to a UC. It offers 26 associate degrees for transfer to a Bay Area college.

West Valley has an average of 20 students per class, which leads to more interaction with the experienced faculty. It offers more than 60 degrees and nearly 100 certification programs, including accounting, anthropology, unmanned aircraft systems technology, administration of justice and engineering

The Cilker School of Art and Design has an extensive program ranging from architecture to theater. Those seeking a pre-med education can take advantage of the wide-ranging Health and Human Development program that primes a student for working in the expanding heath care industry.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Consistently rated as one of the top community colleges in the Bay Area, ambitious students attend Santa Rosa for its ease of access to experienced faculty and its rich academic environment. Santa Rosa has a full-time student retention rate of around 75 percent. It has a healthy graduation rate that hovers at more than 30 percent every year.

The robust student body is made up of more than 90 percent of full-time students working toward a two-year degree that can springboard their education into a higher learning institute. Santa Rosa Junior College’s Transfer Center is committed to helping students find their footing once they transfer into the school as well as help students transfer to schools to advance their academic careers. It has a transfer-out rate of nearly 10 percent.

Santa Rosa offers more than 100 majors and 160 certificates to its student body of roughly 7,000 people. The top transfer destinations for students of Santa Rosa are UCLA, Cornell University, Harvard University and UC Berkley among other Top 10 national colleges.

De Anza College

This large community college in Cupertino, California, consistently has one of the best graduation and transfer rates in the state. The University of California and other higher education institutions readily snap up students transferring from De Anza College after a successful semester or more. It has a transfer rate of more than 10 percent and a graduation rate of 60 percent.

The school has an esteemed animation program that is recognized by larger colleges such as New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

College of San Mateo

The College of San Mateo has admission agreements with quite a few four-year California colleges, including California State University and the University of California. It offers more than 75 associate degrees and certificate programs as well as roughly 100 transfer areas of interest and majors for ambitious students.

It has a relatively standard full-time retention rate of around 70 percent. The graduation rate from San Mateo is 14 percent with a transfer-out rate of 21 percent. The transfer services administrators offer workshops and extensive samples and information for students who plan to use the College of San Mateo as a launching point for their academic career.

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