2018 Best Value Colleges in CaliforniaAbout this List

Explore the colleges that are the best value for your money based on net price, alumni earnings, graduation rates, and student debt using data from the U.S. Department of Education and millions of reviews. The ranking compares the most affordable colleges with the best return on investment. Read more on how this ranking was calculated.

  1. Claremont McKenna College

    • 4 Year
    • Claremont, CA
    • 406
    4 Best Value Colleges in California

    College Senior: I've had some great classes and experiences at CMC, and a few that weren't so great. Anyone coming to CMC should be aware that the social scene is pretty centered on alcohol and partying (though there is a substance free dorm with a strong culture, and a surprisingly high number of people who don't drink/go out). Thankfully, the parties are on campus, hosted by the student government, and open to everyone. There isn't a whole lot of the sketchiness or exclusivity that usually comes with frat parties at larger schools, since parties are open to everyone. I see this as a huge benefit of the school, though I no longer regularly attend parties.

    It's really easy to get involved in things you're interested in, whether that's student government, a club, or research. Research opportunities are probably more available for Econ majors than others, and in the sciences/engineering you won't have the same kind of research experiences you would at a school that has real researchers.

    We have some great professors here. Philosophy is by far the best, and there are some excellent professors in probably all of our other departments as well. In my opinion as someone majoring in both, our government and economics departments aren't deserving of the reputations they have. I wouldn't come here looking to study science, engineering, or pre-med, unless I'm also really interested in studying the humanities/social sciences. Classwork is generally reasonable, though challenging. People are motivated, but not super competitive with each other or stressed out, which is great.

    Many CMC students are smart, motivated, and interested in their academic subjects. Others are more interested in partying. Many are a mix of both. People are not particularly artsy or creative; if you are, you might feel that side of yourself slipping away over your four years here (though we're getting better and now have a dedicated music space on campus). It can feel small after 4 years, but overall great!
    Read 406 Reviews

    • A+
      Overall Niche Grade
    • A+
      Value
    • 9% Acceptance Rate
    • $30,527 Net Price
    • 1320-1490 SAT Range
  2. University of the Pacific

    • 4 Year
    • Stockton, CA
    • 1,116
    17 Best Value Colleges in California

    College Sophomore: I love Pacific! I'm from SoCal so I love the weather. It's really hot around August/September because it's the end of summer, but it cools down for the rest of the year. I'm an engineering major and the classes are challenging enough that you can do well, but at the same time they really make you think. Most professors are very helpful; however, I've heard that there are some bad ones. Dorming is great everywhere except the quads (I heard it's really quiet so unless you like that you might wanna live somewhere else.) The food in the UC gets old fast because they offer the same things every week so you might go off campus on the weekends a lot to eat. The diversity of people on campus is why I chose Pacific. Yeah there's about 30% asians, but it is way different from my mostly white high school. People that I have met and interacted with are very friendly and willing to help out new freshmen. I've heard that some people act high-schoolish and that is true, but that's a small amount of people compared to the 3000 that are on campus. Sororities are cliquey and exclusive, but you can still be friends with individual girls. My RA was in one and she said that it's not the sisterly lifestyle that they say it will be because there's a head bitch in every house even tridelta... I would stay away from social greek life.
    Read 1,116 Reviews

    • A-
      Overall Niche Grade
    • A
      Value
    • 66% Acceptance Rate
    • $33,794 Net Price
    • 1030-1300 SAT Range
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2018 Best Value Colleges in California
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