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California's Best Community Colleges
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California's Best Community Colleges

California's best community colleges are not the more affordable option and a great way to discover what you like at your own pace.

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5 min read

June 27, 2021

Deciding where to go for college is a difficult decision, especially when you’re an indecisive 17-year-old who’s not ready to pick what they want to do for the rest of their life (which is totally fair). So, before you rush to choose between UC or CSU and start visiting college towns to pick your home for the next four years, consider the idea of starting your higher education at a community college.

California's best community colleges are not only the more affordable option but are also a great way to discover what you're passionate about and learn at your own pace. Plus, if you figure out that you’d like to continue your education at a traditional four-year university, you’ll have an easier time transferring and adjusting to school life from a community college.

In 1954, Pasadena Junior College merged with another junior college, John Muir College, to become Pasadena City College.

The Best Community Colleges in Los Angeles

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College is well recognized as one of the top community colleges in Los Angeles. Serving 30,000 plus students through its on-campus and online course offerings, PCC offers classes in over 90 academic areas. The community college provides exciting enrichment opportunities, including study abroad and an honors program.

Whether you want to transfer to a four-year university, looking for a fast-track career, want to earn credits while in high school, or enhance your skills in the workforce, this top community college can help you get there.

Students planning to transfer can select from 29 associate programs such as education, public health, and communication studies. A transfer degree automatically qualifies graduates for admission to a California State University—PCC is ranked among California's top 10 community colleges for transfers to UCLA, UC Berkeley, and more.

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Los Angeles City College

Los Angeles City College has been around for almost a century, offering more than 100 vocational and professional programs including degrees, transfer programs, and certificates to more than 18,000 students. Notable alumni from one of the best community colleges in L.A. include Morgan Freeman, Mark Hamill, Esther Williams, Clint Eastwood, Rosie Perez, and Charles Bukowski. 

There are 23 fields offered overall—popular programs include liberal arts and sciences, humanities, business, management, marketing, and more diverse and multidisciplinary fields.

The 60-acre campus of San Diego City College consists of 40 buildings and is adjacent to Balboa Park.

The Best Community Colleges in San Diego

San Diego City College

Located in the vibrant downtown area of San Diego, one of California’s best community colleges gives students a chance to pave their way to a successful future. San Diego City College is dedicated to student success, inclusivity, and innovative approaches any student would appreciate in a higher education institution.

Serving over ten thousand students, SDCC has plenty of interesting divisions to choose from, including Chicano studies, futures studies, and dance.

Founded in 1969, San Diego Miramar College services 14,000 students annually, offering 70 associate degrees and 90 career education certificates.

San Diego Miramar College

San Diego Miramar College has been around since 1969 and currently delivers quality education to approximately 20,000 students in 164 programs. As one of the best community colleges in San Diego, Miramar offers degrees in a variety of fields spanning from political science to art history. However, thanks to the emphasis on technical education, it’s also an excellent choice for aspiring IT professionals, aviation maintenance technicians, and automotive technicians.

Can’t commit to attending classes in person full-time? Consider enrolling in one of the college’s 150 online sections and you'll have access to quality education 24/7 from your work and home.

Irvine Valley College provides two-year associate of art and science degrees, certificates of achievement, and lower-division transferable courses.

The Best Community Colleges in Orange County

Irvine Valley College

Located on a 60-acre campus in one of California’s best college towns, Irvine Valley College has a dedicated staff, modern facilities, and 70 associate programs. Most learners can earn a degree in two years or less, depending on their prior educational experience—some programs are also available entirely online.

IVC claims to have the highest rate of students transferring to four-year schools out of all the 116 community colleges in California, including to prestigious institutions such as Brown, Columbia, Caltech, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and USC.

Santiago Canyon College

Another one of the best community colleges in Orange County is Santiago Canyon College. As a part of the Rancho Santiago Community College District, SCC offers 45 associate programs for students who wish to continue their studies at a four-year institution or become career-ready after graduation. 

Prospective students can also enter the community college’s honors program, which features small class sizes and peers with similar academic ambitions. So, for a start in higher education that’s accessible, applicable, and engaging, Santiago is definitely one of California's best community colleges.

Las Positas College is an inclusive, learning-centered institution providing educational opportunities that meet the academic goals of its students.

The Best Community Colleges in the Bay Area

Las Positas College

Las Positas College is located 40 miles southeast of San Francisco in the beautiful town of Livermore. Enrolling nearly 8,500 day and evening students seeking career preparation, transfer to a four-year college or university, or personal enrichment, Las Positas is one of the best community colleges in the Bay Area and a fine choice for students.

Choose between 24 occupational associate degrees, 17 transfer associate degrees, and 44 certificate programs offered across a variety of fields, including arts, humanities, business, and technology.

College of San Mateo

College of San Mateo provides classroom and online learning opportunities to roughly 10,000 students. This regionally accredited college offers more than 66 associate degrees including programs in social sciences, businesses, math, technology, creative arts, and more—all of which you need 60 credits in general to complete.

So, if you’re interested in a quality two-year education, a beautiful college campus, a guaranteed transfer admission agreement, and a dedicated staff, consider giving one of the best community colleges in the Bay Area a visit.

Since 1916, Sacramento City College has provided outstanding academic and vocational training to the Sacramento region.

The Best Community Colleges in Sacramento

Sacramento City College

Whatever stage you might’ve reached on your higher education journey, Sacramento City College is a fine option to consider. Choose from the nearly 200 degrees offered covering a variety of general education, transfer, and career education programs. You’ll be among approximately 20,000 other students who chose SCC as their community college of choice.

Not sure what field of study you’d like to pursue? One of the best community colleges in Sacramento offers meta majors which allow for intentional exploration of different career fields. These include arts and communication, people and society, business and industry, science, math and engineering, and health professions. SCC also provides counseling services if you‘re still not sure of the path you want to take.

Cosumnes River College

Northern California's best community colleges are many, and Cosumnes River College is definitely one of them. Offering degree and certificate programs in a multitude of general education, transfer, and career education options, CRC is committed to providing an inclusive and innovative education for all. 

Students can earn degrees in 30 different fields, most popular of which include business, marketing, management, liberal arts and sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

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