“Choices…Choices…”

Colleges come in all different shapes and sizes. When considering the different choices available, students and families should consider a variety of factors including: size, cost, location, student life and program offerings. Below you will find information and examples of various options available to San Francisco students.

Local Colleges and Universities

There are many local public and private colleges and universities to choose from. Public universities offer students the same opportunities as private, yet at a reduced cost for state residents.

California public universities

California public universities are some of the most popular choices for Bay Area

high school graduates. They include University of California schools or “UCs”, and schools in the California State University system or “CSUs” as they are commonly called. UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis are local favorites for Bay Area residents, out of a total of 10 UC schools throughout the state. San Francisco State is the closest of 23 CSU schools. CSU East Bay, and San José State University are also local choices.

Colleges

There are many private colleges in the Bay Area. The New College in San Francisco, and Mills and Saint Mary’s colleges in Oakland are examples of small local colleges, offering students a more personalized college experience. Local universities include Golden Gate University and University of San Francisco, in San Francisco. Finally, Stanford University, is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country.

 

What About Other Options?

Vocational or Technical Colleges

For high school graduates who want to work right away, vocational or technical colleges can be a great option. Community Colleges, like City College of San Francisco (CCSF) , and technical colleges like Heald College offer students a variety of options to pursue career goals through professional training programs. Students can attend day or evening classes to earn certificates of study in fields like nursing, computer technology or auto repair.

 

Community Colleges

Unlike four-year colleges and universities, it can be much easier to enroll in a community college or vocational school. In many cases, applicants are not required to take college entrance exams, and GPA requirements are lower. At CCSF for example, students are only expected to hold high school
diplomas or its equivalent.

 

Don’t Let Money Be a Barrier!

A lack of money is no reason to give up on dreams of college. Four-year colleges and universities all offer a variety of financial aid packages.

Though private universities may at first seem more expensive than public universities, many can actually prove to be cheaper. Private institutions have many wealthy donors, and often have more money to give. Financial aid and scholarships may also be easier to get because there are fewer applications for them as compared to public universities. Students who show “merit” (good grades and high test scores) or financial need may even qualify for a full-scholarship!

Community colleges are also a popular option for high school graduates concerned about costs. Tuition for CA residents is the lowest of any other college or university option, and students can work and attend school part-time.

What Does All This Mean for You and Your Teen?

Now that you know about the different choices available, take the time to get informed and do your best to help your child plan accordingly. Talk to teachers and counselors about preparing for college. Do Internet research to find five to eight schools that are interesting to you. Make sure your list includes some easy and more difficult targets.

Though helping your child to apply for college may feel overwhelming at times, the good news is there are so many colleges out there, there are bound to be several great options for everyone. Educate yourself about the choices available, so you can find the perfect college for your teen!


This is the second in a series on Choosing College. Click the links to see an introduction and overview of the series and the list of resources it contains.

Resources and Links in this Series:

  • Introduction
  • Postsecondary Options
  • How to Choose a College
  • Public vs. Private?
  • College Searches and Wizards
  • Virtual College Tours
  • Putting it all Together

 

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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College Prep, Social Emotional