California College Information

If you find yourself questioning whether a college education is worth all the time and money, consider this:

  • a college educated student receives a greater salary than a non-college graduate
  • college graduates tend to receive better health care and retirement plans
  • you choose and receive more options instead of someone else giving them to you
  • you serve as a role model for your family and your community

College is for you because in life you will always be a student! California's four major college systems are: Community Colleges, California State Universities, University of California, and Independent/Private Colleges.

California Community Colleges

There are over 100 community colleges in California that offer a two-year associate degrees and certificate programs. Many students attend a community college first to take their prerequisites and then transfer to receive a bachelors. Students at a community college have the opportunity to meet with an advisor for a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG), or an Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). IGETC is a series of courses transfer students take at a community college to satisfy the lower division general education requirements for both UC and CSU. It is best to consult with an admissions representative at the campus you wish to attend.

For more information, visit ASSIST which describes more in detail the TAG and the IGETC. You can also look at UC Answers for Transfers. Learn more about community college transfers to UC Davis

California State University (CSU) System

The CSU system is considered to be the nation's largest system of higher education with 23 campuses. Degrees available are bachelor's, master's, and a limited number of doctoral degrees are offered jointly with the University of California (UC) and with private institutions in California. Additionally, the CSU offers Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree programs for educational administrators.

A great resource is the CSU Mentor web page which provides an excellent overview of all CSU and the degrees/majors available for students. You can also create a personal email account. This email account allows you to email university advisors about anything you wish to know. Before registering for fall quarter or semester classes as CSU you must take the English and math placement tests, known as the EPT/ELM exams. Students who applied and are admitted to a CSU should receive information in the mail about these exams.

English Placement Test assesses the reading and writing levels of entering students to place them in the appropriate classes. You do not have to take the EPT if you present proof of one of the following:

  • A score of 500 or above on the critical reading section of the SAT Reasoning Test
  • A score of 22 or above on the ACT English Test
  • A score of 3 or above on either the Language and Composition or Composition and Literature examination of the AP test
  • Completion and transfer to CSU of the credits for a college course that satisfies the CSU General Education requirement in English Composition, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better
  • A score of "Exempt" or "Ready for college-level English courses" on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP) taken along with the English Language Arts California Standard Test in grade 11

Entry Level Mathematics Test must also be taken before students register for classes; students may not enroll in any required GE or math course if they do not pass the ELM test. You do not have to take the ELM if you present proof of one of the following:

  • A score of 550 or above on the mathematics section of the SAT Reasoning Test
  • A score of 550 or above on a SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)
  • A score of 23 or above on the ACT Mathematics Test
  • A score of 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB or Calculus BC exam
  • A score of 3 or above on the AP Statistics examination
  • Completion and transfer to CSU of a college course that satisfies the requirement in Quantitative Reasoning, provided such a course was completed with a grade of C or better
  • A score of "Exempt" or "Ready for college-level Mathematics courses" on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP), taken in grade 11 in conjunction with the CST in Summative High School Mathematics or Algebra II
  • A score of "Conditionally ready for college-level Mathematics courses" or "Conditional" on the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP) taken in grade 11 along with the California Standards Test in Summative High School Mathematics or Algebra II, provided you successfully complete a CSU-approved 12th grade math course that requires Algebra II as a prerequisite

Exemptions may vary for each institution, so you should check with each testing office at the university. You must take either the SAT I or the ACT exam, but you are not required to take the SAT II exam for admission to CSU. However, if you plan to apply to both CSU and UC, you must take the SAT II to be eligible for UC admission.

University of California (UC) System

Considered to be one of the nation's most prestigious systems of higher education, the UC system offers bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. Undergraduate education, graduate work and cutting-edge research are all emphasized. There are currently nine general campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside, Merced, and San Diego) and one which only offers professional programs in health science (UC San Francisco).

All students who are admitted to the UC system as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing Requirement (formerly known as Subject A requirement).

Students can meet this requirement by scoring:

  • 30 or better on the ACT Combined English/Writing test; or
  • 680 or better on the College Board SAT Reasoning Test, Writing section; or
  • 3 or above on either Advanced Placement Examination in English; or
  • 5 or above on an International Baccalaureate High Level English A exam
  • 6 or above on an International Baccalaureate Standard Level English A exam

Students who have not met the Entry Level Writing Requirement must take the UC Analytical Writing Placement Examination. During the examination, students will be required to read a passage and then write an essay responding to a single topic based on the content.

Those students who do not pass the examination can still satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement before enrolling in the University by achieving a satisfactory score on one of the tests listed above or by completing an acceptable college course in English composition with a grade of C or better. Students who have not satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement at the time they enroll in their classes must take a writing course designated by their campus.

There is a $110 fee for Analytical Writing Placement Examination. This fee will be waived if you have already received a waiver of your UC application fees.

California Independent Colleges

Independent Colleges, known as private colleges, are very popular among many students for several reasons. Their smaller student population may mean that classes are smaller and more intimate so that you can get to know your professor. Second, although independent universities may cost more to attend, they may offer a very good financial aid package for students who cannot pay for all their college expenses.

California's independent universities offer tremendous diversity and specialized support for students. To find out more about a specific independent university, contact the office of admissions about application deadlines, how to obtain an application, and fee waiver information.

With all these opportunities to attain a post-secondary education, you should really consider the value of an education for life.