Reasons to Study in California

More than 55,000 international students are enrolled in California educational institutions, making "the Golden State" the most popular place for international students who wish to continue their education in the United States.

While many factors influence a student’s decision to study here, these are three major reasons to consider for selecting California as your destination for continuing education.

1. A Variety of internship and networking opportunities.

As the gateway to the Pacific Rim, California offers students opportunities in establishing worldwide business contacts or in gaining work experience at top American companies.

California’s educational system is among the finest in the United States; students benefit from the school reputations and the contacts these institutions offer.

California’s major cities are international centers for the variety of industries: entertainment and fashion in Los Angeles, finance, international commerce, and computers in the San Francisco Bay Area; and research and technology in San Diego.

If your goal is to advance your career or obtain job experience, ask prospective schools about internship programs. Internships provide you with the opportunity to gain work experience at a U.S. company; these are often short-term, unpaid positions which allow you to apply the principles you have learned in your course work.

2. High-level educational institutions.

California is home to more than 1,300 higher-education institutions that offer all types of degrees: certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees.

Such a vast number of choices may seem overwhelming. To start the process, you may want to consider several factors: your goals, the type of environment that would help you achieve those goals, and the cost of both the education and living expenses.

(For more guidance, please read the article, "Questions to Ask When Choosing a U.S. College"). When you prefer the challenges or the security and friendliness of a small college, you will be sure to find the right match in California.

Private universities, such as the University of Southern California and Stanford University, may be more expensive than other institutions but are world-renowned for their excellence in education.

There are distinctive small colleges as well, each with unique features. Mills College in Oakland, for example, is a small private liberal arts college with an undergraduate school for women only. Pepperdine University is an independent Christian university overlooking the ocean at Malibu.

The University of California is supported by taxed paid by residents of California. Non-residents, including international students, pay tuition fees.

Currently, 7,000 international students are enrolled in the nine campuses that make up the University of California: Berkeley, which is the oldest, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. Each campus offers a balanced program covering all basic areas of study. Each campus has its won identity, based on its locale, size, and student population.

Offering even more diversity is the California State University system, which has more than 20 campuses throughout the state. The emphasis of these campuses is more on undergraduate programs; entrance requirements are a bit more relaxed than the University of California.

You also can attend a community college. American community colleges offer two-year programs, which are more accessible, flexible, and often more personal than larger institutions.

The education also is less expensive. Community colleges are excellent alternatives for students who want to learn the culture and the language before tackling the rigors of a large university, or for students who have not yet decided on a field of study.

Students often can transfer these educational credits to larger universities, if they decide to pursue their education further. If this idea appeals to you, be sure to find out the policies of credit transfer from both the community college and other institutions you might plan on attending.

For more information, particularly about the larger institutions, check out the World Wide Web (a good place to start is the World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Education at:, contact each campus directly, or ask your local representative for brochures.

If you don’t know who to contact, start with the local office of the Fulbright Commission, or inquire at the local U.S. Embassy or consulate office.

3. A world-class destination.

With its diverse landscape and metropolitan centers, California offers students a way to extend their education with travel, culture, and recreation.

When it comes to recreation and leisure, California ranks number one. Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, offers a number of attractions: Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and Knott’s Berry Farm.

In the cultural mecca of San Francisco, you can enjoy world-class cuisine, opera, and art, as well as such famous landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and cable cars.

If the big cities leave you breathless, you can slow the pace by visiting California’s natural wonders. Some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery lies within California’s borders and in its neighboring states of Arizona, Utah, and Oregon.

Enjoy the mild climates and miles of beaches from San Diego to Santa Cruz. Farther north, in San Francisco, and the towering redwoods and the famous wineries of Napa Valley.

California also is the home to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Death Valley. You can travel easily by train, bus, automobile, or airplane, and you can stay at a number of excellent student hostels. Wherever you go, you will be welcomed by California’s friendly residents who, as a whole, embrace diversity.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a U.S. College

1. What are my main goals and objectives?

2. What type of environment would help me achieve those goals?

3. Is the school reputable? What is the depth of the curricula?

4. Will I need transportation or is public transportation readily available?

5. What are the housing accommodations like? How do they compare in quality and price to similar institutions?

6. What is the average cost of meals and housing in the college’s location?

7. How does the cost of tuition and books compare to other similar programs?

8. How many other international students are enrolled?

9. Is the staff for international students adequate? Do they respond reasonably quickly to my needs?

10. What are the biggest strengths of the institution? What are the major drawbacks?

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