The Best Community Colleges in Southern California

With increased tuition rates at most four-year institutions of higher learning, high school graduates are opting to enroll in community colleges.

Not only do community colleges offer affordable tuition fees but they also provide the students with the option of transferring to a four-year school after attaining an associate’s degree.

What are the Best Community Colleges in Southern California?

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College is located in Costa Mesa, Orange County. It is ranked first in students who transfer to University of California and California State University schools in Southern California. Graduation and transfer rates stands at 54.2% while first-year retention rate is 91.2%. This translates to high standards of freshmen satisfaction with the school.

Orange Coast College offers more than 50 programs, and its technical courses are offered in state-of-the-art facilities that are equipped with modern technology equipment.  Academic courses are offered through the following departments:

  • Literature and Languages
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Business and Computing
  • Kinesiology and Athletics
  • Consumer and Health Sciences
  • Social and Behavior Sciences
  • Technology
  • OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship

Orange Coast College runs an honors program whose main objective is to prepare students for transfer to four-year schools. Participants in the honors program get exclusive access to conferences, creative works, and scholarship opportunities. They also have library privileges at the University of California Irvine and University of California Los Angeles.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College has been ranked #1 for its first-year student retention rate of 92.1%.  The school’s graduation and transfer rate is 50.2%. Academic programs are a buffet of degrees, transfer programs, occupational skills certification and certificates of achievement.  The college offers 114 associate degree programs, 35 non-credit certificate programs and 80 certificates of achievement. Courses offered include mathematics, visual arts, healthcare, music, ethnic studies, product design and much more.

Pasadena City College run a program dubbed “Pathways”, which helps high school students transition to college as well as provides support during their freshman year. Through Pathways, high school students can access a pre-college program that enables them to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school.

Irvine Valley College

Irvine Valley College is located in Irvine, California. It is a public two-year community college and a member of the South Orange County Community College District.  The school experiences a graduation and transfer rate of 51.1% and its first year retention rate stands at 90.3%.  Irvine Valley College offers over 70 majors in liberal arts and sciences, business studies, social sciences, and technologies. The school is run by experienced faculty who include Fulbright scholars, professional musicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs.

The college runs an honors program which enables its students to have top priority in schools; such as University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine.  The honors program has established transfer agreements with 17 four-year institutions. For a student to gain eligibility for the honors program, they must achieve an overall GPA of 3.25.

Cuesta College

Cuesta College is located at the Northern and Southern California dividing point, in San Luis Obispo.  The college has a student population of 10,399 and boasts the highest transfer rate of students into California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Cuesta College runs the Cuesta College Promise, a scholarship program that enables all high school graduates of San Luis Obispo a free first year of college. The college also hosts summer camps for high school students.

Cuesta College offers 74 degree programs and 62 certificates through its three campuses at San Luis Obispo, North County Campus, and South County Center. Tuition for California residents is charged at $46 per unit while non-residents pay $211-$231 per unit.

The California Community Colleges System consists of 121 schools and is the largest system of higher education worldwide. California College Bound offers prospective college students a tour of the best community colleges in Southern California.

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