Most college students experience difficulty when it comes time to selecting the university that is suitable for them. They are uncertain about the differences between the California State University System (CSU), the University of California System (UC), and the Private University system. There are many variables that are tied to making this decision such as an individual’s learning style, major, grade point average, campus tuition, and the location and environment of the specific university you chose.
The first variable that you should definitely consider is your learning style. If you are a hands-on, experiential learner, the CSU system should be strongly considered because the CSU frame work is practical, with a classroom environment that incorporates various opportunities for instructor and student collaboration. Class presentations, group projects, and classroom discussions are conducive to this type of learning environment. However, if you are an independent learner who prefers a deeper focus on research and autonomous study, the UC system is a better fit for you. Professors at the UCs are trained researchers focused on abstract thinking and theoretical concepts. In addition, private universities also focus on hands-on and practical learning, just as the CSUs. The difference is that most private schools are very specialized according to major, class sizes are smaller, and offer traditional as well as unique interdisciplinary majors. Another aspect to consider is whether or not to attend a university as a part-time or full-time student. The California State Universities accepts part-time status, the University of California system accepts full-time status, and private universities typically accept full-time status, but this varies depending on the institution.
The second variable to consider is your major; it is essential to choose the university that offers the major, area of study, or concentration that most interests you. Make an effort to explore your options and always consult with your high school and college counselors, who are aware of major requirements and educational opportunities. A student’s grade-point-average (GPA) also plays a vital role in the university selection process. For instance, the CSU GPA requirements are within the 2.5 to 2.8 range, while the UC GPA requirements are within the 3.0 to 3.8 range, and the GPA for private universities varies based on major; it is essential to meet a GPA of 3.0. If the major is impacted, which means that the major is popular and maintains a large number of applicants, the GPA average is higher for that major. Each campus of choice has certain expectations and requirements; students should feel comfortable to discuss these matters with their counselors.
The third factor to consider is the cost of tuition. For the 2012-2013 school year the annual tuition comparison is as follows: California State Universities (CSU) $7,002.00, University of California system (UC) $13,200.00, Woodbury University (Private) $30,492.00, University of Southern California (USC) $43,722.00 and Occidental College (Private) $43,490.00. This is the estimated annual tuition for these universities based on full-time attendance. Additionally, do not be afraid to explore the Ivy League Universities, such as Harvard and Yale, including out of state colleges, taking into consideration the differences in tuition and curriculum. Before making the choice of which university is right for you, consider your options in obtaining financial aid and scholarships by contacting the financial aid department of each university.
The fourth variable to consider is the university environment and campus locations because you should feel comfortable within the university setting you have chosen. Some questions you should ask yourself are: How do I feel in this environment? How do I feel about commuting or living on campus? Do I feel an overall sense of belonging here? Do I feel comfortable interacting with faculty, staff, and classmates? The best way to understand if you like the environment and location is to visit the campus which can be a great way to make an educated decision on the university that is right for you.
The decision making process regarding which university to transfer to can be stressful and overwhelming, whether right out of high school or from a community college; but at the same time there is excitement and hope for the future. Take these few tips to ease the stress and enjoy the process, in an effort to find the university that is the right fit for you!
Key Guidance by Edith Azizian M.S.