2017 Best Colleges in California

The Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares more than 1,000 top colleges and universities in the U.S.
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Viewing 1-25 of 99
  1. 1

    Stanford University

    • Stanford, CA
    • 1,085 reviews
    College Sophomore:Stanford is truly the most amazing place in the world. Before my freshman year I never felt like a really had a home, but I have finally found one at the Farm. The academics are amazing and the people are even better. While I wish that the financial aid was better I still stand by my decision to attend because the experience I am having is priceless.
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  2. 2

    Pomona College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 343 reviews
    College Junior:Pomona College is extremely special. It's honestly the people here that make the school, but the good weather doesn't hurt. :) A large majority of the students here are open-minded, extremely intelligent, fun, laid-back, and passionate. There are tons of opportunities to get active on campus and it's really hard to be bored here. One of my favorite parts about Pomona is that there's pretty much a community for everyone here.. and if there isn't, you can start one. When I say "community" I mean the various mentor groups on campus, sports groups, music groups, art groups... and its really easy to be fluid in them, too. The food is pretty good too. And the dorms are huge. I'm going into my junior year and I have yet to have a roommate. :)
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  3. 3

    California Institute of Technology

    • Pasadena, CA
    • 105 reviews
    College Sophomore:Caltech is probably the best place for geology in the country. There are lots of field trips, brilliant professors (the tops in their fields), and it's easy even for freshman to find research opportunities.
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  4. 4

    University of Southern California

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 3,309 reviews
    College Sophomore:It feels extremely personal. There are opportunities everywhere and especially as an engineer we're encouraged to mix and match the parts of USC that matter to us. For me, I work on campus doing research, I'm head of a club, I'm a student ambassador, I'm in a design club and that's my life within the school. But someone else in my major is on the varsity hocket team, in totally different clubs etc. So life here feels extremely personalized and I like that. The school also has a ridiculous amount of resources for its students, at least within engineering. There is so much energy put into the well-being of the students that it always feels like you have a strong support network.

    Fight on!
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  5. 5

    University of California - Los Angeles

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 4,393 reviews
    College Sophomore:UCLA's historical reputation for research contributes to an extremely positive aura around the school. The job opportunities are many; and so is the alumni network.
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  6. 6

    Harvey Mudd College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 122 reviews
    College Junior:Great academics. Very tough load. It is possible to do the work, but the reason why it is so hard is that it is hard to consistently keep up the studying for the entire semester when u will likely be sleeping late every week.
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  7. 7

    Claremont McKenna College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 402 reviews
    College Sophomore:People call it Camp Claremont because it literally is like a camp. You will have the best time of your life here. You get the state school party scene (seriously, we love to party :D) with the prestige and academics of one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation.
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  8. 8

    University of California - Berkeley

    • Berkeley, CA
    • 3,618 reviews
    College Junior:I love my school, it may not be perfect but nothing in this world is. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a cal bear. The professors are top notch! They want to see their students be successful, although they don’t go easy on us they challenge us, and thats the entire purpose of this university.
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  9. 9

    Scripps College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 425 reviews
    College Sophomore:The academics are challenging, thought-provoking, and high-quality. Small class sizes, dedicated professors. It's a good set-up. We can also take classes at the other 5Cs (Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Pomona).
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  10. 10

    University of California - Santa Barbara

    • Santa Barbara, CA
    • 4,049 reviews
    College Sophomore:I absolutely love UCSB. I know I'm a little biased but I think the atmosphere is amazing and the people there are incredibly easy-going. The beach is ridiculously close and I met my boyfriend here :)
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  11. 11

    Pitzer College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 594 reviews
    College Senior:The students at Pitzer are what make the environment so great. I have made my best friends here and that is what has made my college experience so successful.
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  12. 12

    Santa Clara University

    • Santa Clara, CA
    • 1,256 reviews
    Recent Alumnus:I would choose SCU again in a heartbeat. I'm probably pretty biased though, because I was in a very small department, Classics, and as such I knew all of the professors and could wander in to the office and just spend an hour or two talking with any professor about basically anything. If I needed ideas for a paper in one class, I could wander into a random professors office, and bounce ideas off of him or her, and it was always a fun and lively conversation. These people with PHDs would happily entertain my random questions and/or argue with me for hours at a time. The quality of professors is not limited to the classics department. I had an Archaeology Professor with whom I had extensive email correspondence. While I took few theater classes, I do work in theater, and the professors in the Theater department have been valuable sources of information .
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  13. 13

    University of California - Davis

    • Davis, CA
    • 4,035 reviews
    College Sophomore:The community, diversity, opportunities, and people are truly amazing. While maintaining the academic rigor, students are happy and friendly with plenty of interesting activities to do around the campus
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  14. 14

    University of California - San Diego

    • La Jolla, CA
    • 3,078 reviews
    College Junior:The professors here are, for the most part, great and friendly. The courses range from easy to difficult and time-consuming. There is a variety of classes for all sorts of different majors.
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  15. 15

    Loyola Marymount University

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 1,480 reviews
    College Sophomore:I think it was meant to be that I end up at LMU. I had no idea what it was before I applied, but now that I am here, I know it is probably the best school for me. The relationships that you are able to build with other students, professors, and staff members are incredible, and you are able to 100% be yourself, which is hard to come by.
    More about Loyola Marymount University
  16. 16
    College Sophomore:Almost all of my professors have been great. Although I wish I would take more advantage of office hours, nearly all of my professors have been very approachable, knowledgable, and interested in helping me learn. Especially in my labs, it has been easy for me to get one-on-one help with projects or answers to quick questions. I have even worked with the head of my department, and feel comfortable talking to him and almost any other staff member of the department.
    More about California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
  17. 17

    Pepperdine University

    • Malibu, CA
    • 1,127 reviews
    College Senior:The professors grade too harshly and don't give students enough credit for their hard work. Each professor believes his/her class is the most important one.
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  18. 18

    University of California - Irvine

    • Irvine, CA
    • 3,290 reviews
    College Senior:I would choose Irvine because it's a beautiful school with great professors. One of my favorite professors is in the Social Ecology program because she really cares about her students. In my opinion, I think having a class with a professor who actually cares about you goes along way in your education. It makes you want to give back and do the same for your students(if you decide to teach).
    More about University of California - Irvine
  19. 19

    University of San Francisco

    • San Francisco, CA
    • 1,939 reviews
    College Sophomore:I absolutely love the location of the school, the fact that its a private Catholic institution, and that all of its faculty/staff have a sincere concern for the success of their students
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  20. 20

    Occidental College

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 416 reviews
    College Junior:The workload is more reflective of the work we do - rather than writing tons of papers, our work tends toward creating films, writing screenplays, etc. As a film major we have a selection of equipment (cameras, sound, lighting, etc.) for students to check out for free when they are enrolled in production courses. There is a computer lab specifically for film students with editing software. As a Media Arts & Culture major, you either choose a Production path or Critical Theory, or you can minor in Interdisciplinary Writing if you would like to do more screenwriting and things like that.
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  21. 21

    University of San Diego

    • San Diego, CA
    • 1,703 reviews
    Recent Alumnus:I loved attending USD. The campus is hard to beat, you literally feel like you're on a four year vacation at a country club. And it's definitely easy to feel like you're on spring break year round, too. The food is probably the best on a college campus. The dorms are huge. Off campus housing at the beach is even better. There are so many things to get involved with and the amount of options for studying abroad are UNREAL. The professors are all extremely nice and helpful, with small classes you really get that 1-1 attention. All of my professors know their students by name and are always accessible to their students. I'd say the school is a bit competitive, the student body is very ambitious and everyone is always doing something big. Although it is a Catholic school, it's super liberal and focuses more on social justice issues. Everyone, for the most part, is extremely open-minded. Take advantage of everything, you'll have the best four years here.
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  22. 22

    Chapman University

    • Orange, CA
    • 1,951 reviews
    College Junior:Overall my experience at Chapman has been pretty great. The only thing I didn't realize all that much when I visited was how much they lack diversity.
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  23. 23

    Biola University

    • La Mirada, CA
    • 2,020 reviews
    College Sophomore:Biola University is my favorite place to be, and there is no other school I would rather be at. We have professors and faculty that truly care about their students, and a great community. Biola is special because the students are so full of love, and everyone wants to make an impact for Christ with the career they are majoring in.
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  24. 24

    University of the Pacific

    • Stockton, CA
    • 1,104 reviews
    College Junior:University of the Pacific has provided me with the resources that I never knew one could have access to. Being a Division One athlete, there are some setbacks and challenges-making us work harder than we would have ever imagined. I am thankful for those who help me here, whether it is with tutoring, advising, career planning, or time management, every person has put their full effort into making my experience better.
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  25. 25

    Westmont College

    • Santa Barbara, CA
    • 448 reviews
    College Junior:I was very concerned about how I would feel in college and how people would treat me. I have been bullied my whole life because of who I am and I feared that college would be the same. Westmont blew my mind in the best way! Everyone that works there and attends are all so loving and accepting of everyone! I have made friends that I know we'll be friends far past graduation and the teachers are always there for you! I would defiantly pick Westmont again, I highly recommend to anyone looking for a Christian based private college (that accepts all denominations of Christianity as well as non-Christians) full of wonderful and loving faculty, staff and students!!!
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