Going to College in California: How to Get to the Mecca of International Students

going to college in california

Are you dreaming of places where the sun never stops shining, palm tree-lined streets, seaside cafes, and a multicultural experience? If so, California is the place for you! With endless opportunities available to international students, it’s no wonder that so many choose this state as their new home.

Whether you’re looking to further advance your educational goals or just seeking an exciting cultural journey full of unique adventures, this guide can get you started on making all those dreams come true!

From understanding scholarship requirements and finding the best universities in vibrant cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco to exploring outdoor opportunities like Lake Tahoe, let’s take a virtual walk through what it would be like living in California as an international student.

Further in the Article:

The Benefits of Living in California

California, no doubt about it, offers a lot of benefits to everyone, including international students looking for an exceptional living and learning experience.

Here are some reasons to go to California:

1. High-Quality Education

California is known for its world-class educational institutions that offer various programs catering to distinct fields. Aspiring writers from all over the world seek top-notch writing schools in California to hone their craft, as the state is home to some of the best creative writing programs and literary communities in the country.

In addition, many universities have partnerships with notable corporations, thus facilitating scholarship programs that create experiences relevant to future job opportunities and perfect individuals’ understanding within their fields while providing top-notch resource materials. So, Californias studies open up many opportunities!

For example, when comparing California vs India size, it’s clear that California is significantly smaller than India, both in terms of land area and population. Still, many Indian students choose California colleges because of their excellent quality and relatively low tuition fees. 

2. Beautiful Weather 

With over 300 days of sunshine annually and mild temperatures all year round, California provides favorable conditions around different micro-environments that allow an easy switch between indoor and outdoor activities without much hassle or preparation.

3. Networking Opportunities

California is one of the most important parts of America’s economy, offering multiple networking chances for students interested in pursuing career paths within various sectors such as tech, finance, marketing, and commerce, among others.

Here, California students can develop themselves by gaining strategic personal connections that promote individual growth.

Many international students are excited to begin their studies soon be California schools due to the state’s reputation for academic excellence and diverse campus life.

4. Diverse Cultural Experience

California has a large and diverse population that includes individuals from Far East Asia, Mexico, and Latin America.

This diversity is celebrated throughout the year with cultural events such as San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade, which has expanded to include other sectors such as art festivals and music-themed events like Coachella. 

So, someone studying will enjoy the atmosphere! 

5. Popular Events

Music festivals like Outside Lands, film festivals, and multimedia avenues such as YouTube Fanfest (which showcases celebrity status in varying forms) await every passerby, elevating human morale through casual exposure.

6. Celebrity Encounters 

Living in Hollywood City provides citizens with the opportunity to witness celebrity status firsthand.

Whether its celebrities are walking along the streets of Beverly Hills, discussing their latest projects, taking photos, or sharing their aspirations, the city promotes friendly interactions that emphasize shared goals and dreams.

7. Outdoor Recreation

California is a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts, both tourists and residents alike.

From majestic mountain ranges offering stunning hiking trails to birdwatching opportunities in natural habitats, the state is a haven for nature lovers.

California Education Facts Every International Student Loves 

As an international student, choosing California as your destination for education is a smart choice, due to the high availability of educational facilities.

california college distribution

Image Source: Univstats

Many students dream of the opportunity to study abroad California due to the renowned universities, diverse culture, and outstanding recreational opportunities that the state offers.

The following chart shows the key statistics for colleges and universities in California. 

california acceptance rate

Image Source: Univstats

Here are some cool and useful facts about universities in California that every international student will love: 

  1. The California educational system is the largest in the USA and is home to over 400 institutions, including many top-ranked universities such as Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Caltech, USC, and UCLA.
  2. Many Californian campuses boast stunning locations, whether you’re enjoying the views of Lake Tahoe at UC Davis, overlooking Silicon Valley at Stanford University, or savoring coastal settings like Pepperdine’s Malibu campus or UC San Diego, which backs up to La Jolla Cove beach.
  3. The weather in California is its biggest advantage; with mild temperatures all year round, students can take advantage of the pleasant weather conditions to explore beaches and parks or take part in other outdoor activities during their free time out of class.
  4. With more than 141 languages spoken, going to college in California opens endless opportunities for international students to explore new cultures in one of America’s most progressive and liberal states. Besides, there are the best English programs in California.
  5. Silicon Valley is located close to many Californian universities, which provides students with real-world experience opportunities to work with successful internet companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tesla, among others 
  6. The people in California are known for their friendliness and openness towards foreigners, making it easier for international students to make friends and integrate themselves into a new environment.
  7. Schools across California offer hundreds of study abroad options, so you can explore new cultures while earning credit towards your degree!
  8. The state offers a wide variety of majors and programs, including many in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
  9. From scientific research in top-tier labs to cutting-edge innovation in the tech industry, California provides students with advanced research facilities across different fields and departments.
  10. Many of California’s universities have strong partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with opportunities for internships and job placement.

Famous California Colleges Among International Students

California is a popular destination for international students seeking higher education opportunities in the United States.

Here are five of the most famous international schools in California based on recent research data:

1. University of Southern California (USC)

UC South California boasts an excellent reputation, particularly for its business programs, such as the Marshall School of Business. Its location in Los Angeles also offers plenty of opportunities for internships and employment with renowned entertainment companies like Disney and Warner Bros.

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Number of applicants per year: 80,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 9.9%
  • Number of international students: 17,509
  • Admission requirements: Completion of a college-preparatory program, official high school transcript, high school GPA.

2. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Ranked consistently as one of the top famous universities in California, UCLA is known for its world-class academics and research programs. With an exceptional Fine Arts program and an overall great student life culture, it’s easy to see why many international students also choose this university. 

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Number of applicants per year: 150,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 8.6%
  • Number of international students: 9,999
  • Admission requirements: Completion of a college-preparatory program, official high school transcript with MAP scores if applicable (for California residents), SAT or ACT scores.

3. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

With a spectacular Bay Area location, there is a lot to love about UC Berkeley. This California international institution provides global educational opportunities with access to resources from Silicon Valley nearby, offering options to work with leading tech companies from groundbreaking startups to established firms like Google.

  • Location: Berkeley
  • Number of applicants per year: 128,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 11.4%
  • Number of international students: 10,711
  • Admission requirements: Completion of a college-preparatory program , official high school transcript with MAP scores if applicable (for California residents), SAT or ACT scores.

4. Stanford University 

Stanford is one of the several universities in what is known as Silicon Valley, located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. The institution is widely admired and popular for its computer science program with great potential networking opportunities.

  • Location: Palo Alto
  • Number of applicants per year: 55,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 3.6%
  • Percent of international students: 16%
  • Admission requirements: Completion of a college-preparatory program , official high school transcript with MAP scores if applicable (for California residents), SAT or ACT scores.

5. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Caltech is a small but well-respected institute with unique academic programs that offer both research-oriented and science-based education to students passionate about their scientific interests in mathematics, physics, or engineering sciences.

  • Location: Pasadena
  • Number of applicants per year: 10,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 4-6%
  • Percent of international students: 29,94%
  • Admission requirements: Completion of a college-preparatory program, official high school transcript, SAT or ACT scores, one teacher recommendation letter from junior/senior year emphasizing the student’s potential for excellence in STEM classes.

Easiest Colleges to Get into California & Their Admission Requirements

If you are a student who is looking for an easier path to admission to colleges in California, here are some general admission requirements that easy colleges to get into in California will ask for:

  1. High School diploma or equivalent
  2. Minimum GPA
  3. Standardized Tests such as SAT or ACT
  4. Letters of Recommendation
  5. Extracurricular activities
  6. College application and essay
  7. Financial Aid forms (if applicable)

 Here is a list of seven of the easiest colleges to get into in California and their admission requirements:

1. Academy of Art University

This private art school in downtown San Francisco has diverse undergraduate arts programs catering to different interests.

  • Location: San Francisco
  • Number of applicants per year: 7,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 100% Open Admissions 
  • Admission requirements: High school diploma or equivalent.

2. California State University, Fresno

Known for its Agricultural Research programs and athletics, this public university is one of the colleges in California easy to get into and provides learning opportunities across various subjects at an affordable price. 

  • Location: Fresno
  • Number of applicants per year: 19,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 97%
  • Admission requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; minimum GPA requirement varies by program.

3. California Northstate University

This private institution is located in Elk Grove and offers undergraduate programs focusing on Health Sciences, including Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine.

  • Location: Elk Grove 
  • Number of Applicants per Year: Approximately 2000+ (depending on the program)
  • Percent Admitted: 95%
  • Admission Requirements: Completed high-school education, completion of college preparatory courses such as biology, chemistry, and physical sciences.

4. Azusa Pacific University

A leading Christian-based university offering various majors, it’s nestled between the Los Angeles County foothills. Here, you can study liberal arts degrees and program-specific programs in scientific fields.

  • Location: Azusa
  • Number of Applicants Per Year: 14000+
  • Percent Admitted: 94%
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent (for general admissions).

5. Sonoma State University

This beautiful campus is surrounded by breathtaking views, including vineyards and scenic points near the Pacific Ocean coastline. Here, students can learn a variety of disciplines, from business to humanities. 

  • Location: Rohnert Park
  • Number of Applicants Per Year: 13,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 94%
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent.

6. California State University, Channel Islands

This public university offers an intimate learning experience on its picturesque campus located in Southern California and has excellent environmental programs that are well received by students.

  • Location: Camarillo
  • Number of applicants per year: 12,000+
  • Percent Admitted: 93%
  • Admission requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; minimum GPA requirement varies by program.

7. California State University, Monterey Bay

A recently public university situated in a coastal community, it offers a great Science and marine biology curriculum and is located near Cannery Row. This university offers an affordable education for students and numerous study-abroad programs.

  • Location: Seaside
  • Number of applicants per year: 11,000+
  • Admission rate: 93%
  • Admission requirements: High-school diploma or equivalent; minimum GPA requirement ranges between 2.0-3.5 depending on the major selected.

Easiest Universities to Get into California & Their Admission Requirements 

When applying to easy universities to get into California, there are always common requirements that need to be met before being accepted into the institution:

Admissions requirements:

  1. High school diploma or equivalent
  2. Completed application
  3. Test scores (SAT/ACT)
  4. Transcripts
  5. English proficiency exams (for international students)
  6. Application fees/deposits
  7. Financial aid applications

Remember that admission requirements and standards can vary by university, so it is important to research each school’s policies and complete all the necessary steps in the application process.  

As a prospective college student, you may be wondering what these easy schools to get into in California are.

Whether you are seeking an undergraduate degree or simply looking to continue your education, here is a list of 7 colleges with low admission standards:

  1. California Coast University: Online university offering flexible undergraduate and graduate degree programs in criminal justice, psychology, education, and business administration. Minimum GPA requirement but quick enrollment process.
  2. The National Hispanic University: Private nonprofit university offering degree programs in social sciences, engineering, education, and business administration. Open enrollment for high school graduate students of all backgrounds.
  3. Western Governors University: Online university offering competency-based degree programs for working students or those with limited educational opportunities. No minimum age requirement, but completion of a high school diploma or equivalent is necessary.
  4. California State University, Northridge: Over 37k students enrolled. Offers a variety of Bachelor’s degrees including journalism, music, cinema, and television arts. Acceptance rate between 48-67%. Based on major selection, SAT or ACT scores may be required, with an HS transcript showing a minimum range from 2.0-3.4.
  5. California State University Bakersfield: Offers affordable courses in over 50 fields including business, nursing, education, and public policy. Minimum GPA requirement ranges from 2-3, depending on the field of study.
  6. California State University Dominguez Hills: Located in Los Angeles County. Over 13k students enrolled. Offers 45 undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in fields like nursing, education, public policy, and business. Minimum GPA requirement is 2.5.
  7. University of California, Santa Cruz: Public university with a low acceptance rate of 39% and a strong commitment to social justice. Offers undergraduate degrees including computer sciences, art, economics, and environmental studies. No minimum GPA, but SAT or ACT scores are required.

Cheap Medical Education Colleges in California

If you’re looking for affordable medical education, California has many colleges and universities that offer quality programs at a reasonable price. To get into medical colleges in Kalifornia, USA, here are some common requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  2. Completion of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)
  3. Prerequisite coursework in areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics
  4. Clinical and/or volunteer experience in the healthcare field
  5. Letters of recommendation from professors or healthcare professionals
  6. Personal statement or essay explaining why you want to pursue a career in medicine

It’s important to note that each medical college may have specific requirements beyond these general ones, so it’s important to research the admission requirements for each individual school.

Here are seven cheap medical colleges in California, along with their descriptions:

1. Loma Linda School of Medicine

Loma Linda School of Medicine is a faith-based university that focuses on primary care and global health issues. The tuition fee at Loma Linda is around $60,000 per year.

  • Location: Loma Linda
  • Number of applicants per year: 6,000+
  • Admission rate: 2%

2. University of California – San Francisco School of Medicine 

UCSF is a renowned medical school which offers its students research-driven education and a curriculum designed to provide them with hands-on experience and opportunities to engage in research programs that are applicable across different fields. The yearly cost for tuition at UCSF is approximately $40,000.

  • Location: San Francisco
  • Number of applicants per year: 9,000+
  • Admission rate: 2%

3. Western University – College of Osteopathic Medicine 

Western University – College of Osteopathic Medicine offers a range of programs including DO/MPH dual-degree programs along with cosmetic dermatology and acupuncture therapy. This university’s tuition fees start at around $65,000 annually.

  • Location: Pomona
  • Number of applicants per year: 6,000+
  • Admission rate: 20%

4. Charles R Drew University – David Geffen School Of Medical Sciences 

Charles R Drew University has partnered with the David Geffen School Of Medical Sciences to offer various interdisciplinary programs specifically designed for current healthcare providers willing to advance their education, costing around $60,000 per year. Currently, it is one of the best places to study in Los Angeles.

  • Location: Los Angeles  
  • Number of applicants per year: 3,000+
  • Admission rate: 2%

5. Southern California University Of Health Sciences 

SCU is a small private university dedicated to the provision of education within Chiropractic and other forms of Holistic medicine-relevant specialties. The yearly tuition fees are between $20,000-$35,000.

  • Location: Whittier
  • Number of applicants per year: N/A
  • Admission Rate: 100%

6. Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Touro University offers a number of programs specifically designed to provide students with a holistic approach to patient care, the annual tuition fee being approximately $40,000-$55,000.

  • Location: Vallejo
  • Number of applicants per year: 8,000+
  • Admission rate: 8%

7. California Northstate University College of Medicine

California Northstate University College focuses primarily on primary care, emphasizing family medicine and pediatrics. The fee for attendance here is approximately $68,000.

  • Location: Elk Grove
  • Number of applicants per year: 2,500+
  • Admission rate: 1-2%

Cheapest Colleges for International Students

For international students, tuition fees can be a significant barrier when studies will be California schools. However, some colleges in the state offer affordable tuition rates. 

california tuition fees

Image Source: Univstats

These institutions also provide high-quality education and many opportunities for students to succeed academically and professionally.

Here is a table of the 10 cheapest schools for international students and their tuition fees for international students in California:

College Name Tuition Free
San Diego State University Bachelor’s: 20,078 USD

Masters: 9,608 USD

Golden Gate University Bachelor’s: 12,711 USD

Masters: 19,705 USD

University of Massachusetts Bachelor’s: 36,964 USD

Masters: 32,809 USD

California State University San Marcos Bachelor’s: 19,607 USD

Masters: 18,665 USD

California State University, Dominguez Hills Bachelor’s: 18,940 USD

Masters: 17,998 USD

California State University, Stanislaus Bachelor’s: 16,580 USD

Masters: 15,638 USD

California State University, Long Beach Bachelor’s: 18,726 USD

Masters: 17,784 USD

Alliant International University Bachelor’s: 17,676 USD

Masters: 16,046 USD

California State University, Northridge Bachelor’s: 18,944 USD

Masters: 18,007 USD

San Francisco State University Bachelor’s: 19,184 USD

Masters: 18,242 USD

It’s important to note that while these cheap US colleges for international students

may have lower tuition fees for international students compared to other schools in California, they still provide excellent education and plenty of resources to help students succeed during their academic journey.

Scholarships and Grants for International Students in California

California is home to many universities and colleges which offer scholarships and grants that can help international students to cover a significant portion of their tuition fees.

Here are some of the popular scholarships for international students in California:

– Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program is a prestigious scholarship program that financially supports international students pursuing graduate-level studies in the US. It covers tuition fees, living expenses, health insurance, and airfare.

– Breakthroughs in STEM Education Scholarship

California Community Colleges offer annual $5,000 scholarships to international students pursuing community college degrees in STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math) with the goal of transferring to better institutions.

– Berkeley International Office Scholarships

Berkeley International Office Scholarships provide financial assistance to international students, especially during travel advisory and visa processing periods. The scholarship offers a median amount of $2,000.

– The University of California Regents Scholarships

The University of California Regents Scholarship awards full tuition and academic opportunities based on merit to incoming freshman and transfer students at UC campuses such as UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Berkeley.

– Monterey Institute of International Studies Scholarship 

The Monterey Institute of International Studies Scholarship provides a merit-based scholarship ranging from 25% to 50% off tuition fees for international students pursuing a Master’s program.

– World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (GSFP) 

The World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to international Master’s graduates from participating countries who are pursuing a degree relevant to development practices or agricultural economics. The scholarship covers full tuition and living expenses.

– International Women’s Board Leadership Accelerator Scholarship Funding

The International Women’s Board Leadership Accelerator Scholarship Funding targets women seeking career-oriented study options amid emerging market disruptions. The scholarship contributes up to $5,000 towards fee payments and other study-related costs for undergraduate or postgraduate programs offered in accredited Californian institutions.

These are just a few of the many scholarships and grants that international students can access to help finance their studies. With so much potential for financial aid, California is an excellent choice for international students pursuing their educational dreams.

However, you should remember to follow the local enrollment rules to get accepted. For example, the Cape Test San Diego study guide is a helpful resource for those preparing to take the Cape Test in San Diego.

FAQs about Studies in California

1. I want to go to college in California. Where should I start?

 To start your college search in California, you can explore different types of universities, their programs, and the admission requirements on their official websites. You can also research college ranking sites and seek advice from academic advisors or student counselors.

2. How should I choose a college in California?  

When choosing a college in California, first list the universities you are interested in, then research their programs and admission requirements to ensure that they meet your academic needs. After researching schools, consider other factors such as financial aid, student activities and clubs, housing options, location, etc., to find the right fit. 

3. How many college students are there in California?

It’s quite hard to calculate how many students are in California. Still, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students in California is approximately 2.6 million.

4. How much is a student visa to California?

The cost of a student visa to California varies depending on the type of visa and processing time. As of 2023, the application fee for an F-1 student visa is $510.

5. Which student visa should I choose to study in California?

International students studying full-time in California should apply for an F-1 Student Visa. 

6. Is California a good place for international students? 

Yes, California is known for its diverse culture, top-ranked universities, and beautiful cities, which make it a great destination for international students.

7. Can I apply to California colleges with the Common app?

Yes, several colleges and universities in California accept Common Application (Common App). It is a platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously with one standard application form.

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Lauren Bradshaw
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Lauren started writing in 2003. Since then, she tried her hand in SEO and website copywriting, composing for blogs, and working as an academic writer. Her main interests lie in content marketing, developing communication skills, and blogging.
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