Choosing a College or University

Choices, choices, choices! With hundreds of options, this task can seem overwhelming. Just remember that the decision is yours and there is no wrong choice, except the one that is not your own.

The Foothill College Counseling and Career Center & Transfer Centers maintain the most up-to-date information on most colleges and universities. Our counselors and professional staff can discuss with you the pros and cons of each campus and help you to decide which university best suits you.

Consider these factors/issues when making your decision.


Personal Preferences
Admissions Requirements (highly selective to open admissions)
Housing Cost/Availability (married, fraternal organizations, military operated, same sex, coed, off campus, on campus, coops, etc.)
Public or Private
Extracurricular Options (NCAA sports, intramural athletics, student organizations
Majors Offered
Visit the Campus!


Personal Preferences
  1. Geography : Do you prefer beach, mountain, desert, farmland, urban environment? Are you looking for a campus close to skiing, surfing, work opportunities, etc.?
  2. Climate: Are you most comfortable in cool, temperate climates? Or do you prefer fog, heat, or rain? California has it all.
  3. Distance from home: How far would you like to be from family and friends? Do you want to stay in the bay area? Drive 1 hour? Two hours? Three hours? Would you prefer to be a plane trip away?
  4. Urban vs. Rural vs. Small town: Consider the options each environment has to offer.
  5. Type of college: (coed or same sex; religious or not; public or private) Publications are available that describe these factors of college campuses. Some people thrive better in same sex campuses. Are you comfortable with the philosophy/mission and conduct codes at certain schools with religious affiliations? Are you looking for a liberal or conservative atmosphere?
  6. Faculty: student ratio :Would you prefer large lecture halls and many amenities or a smaller school with more faculty: student interaction? Each campus has information regarding the average faculty: student ratio.
  7. How much can you afford to spend? Private universities generally cost much more than public institutions. Have you explored all the financial aid options? Is student housing readily available-either on-campus or off? What is the cost of living in that geographic region? A counselor can discuss these issues with you. Generally, the cost of housing is much less in rural areas like Chico State, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, CSU Stanislaus, Sacramento State, Humboldt State, CSU Monterey Bay, UC Riverside and UC Davis than in large urban centers like Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. (subject to change with the fluctuating economy)
  8. Academic reputation: It is true that some schools seem to maintain a higher reputation than others; however, students should be discriminating in their evaluation. Reports of ranking are often subjective and may be assessing graduate rather than undergraduate programs. It is most important that you like the campus.
Admissions Requirements
  1. Selection criteria: Competitive schools may require all lower division requirements and/or general education be complete prior to transfer. Others may require volunteer/community/ major-relevant work experience of their applicants. Students may be required to write an essay describing their goals and accomplishments. For some programs/campuses, you may be asked to provide letters of recommendation from your professors at Foothill.
  2. Competition: Some universities and majors may be impacted. In other words, there may be more applicants than spaces available for new students. These programs are generally much more competitive. Grade point average, number of lower division <pre-major> courses completed, experience, essay, etc. all play a role in determining who is selected for these programs. Your counselor can provide information regarding which campuses/majors are impacted each year.
  1. Types of housing available (married, coed, military, off campus, on-campus, fraternities and sororities, etc.):
  2. Cost of living in the community: Generally, the cost of housing is much less in rural areas like Chico State, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, CSU Stanislaus, Sacramento State, Humboldt State, CSU Monterey Bay, UC Riverside and UC Davis than in large urban centers like Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. (subject to change with the fluctuating economy)
  3. On-campus vs. off-campus housing cost:
  4. Availability: Many campuses guarantee that housing will be available to transfer students for their first year. See a counselor for the latest information on your intended campus. Note: family student housing is generally not included in this guarantee.
Public or Private
  1. tba
Extracurricular Options (In what would you like to be involved outside of class?)
  1. NCAA Athletics?
  2. Intramural athletics
  3. Student organizations? (newspapers, government, clubs, social groups, fraternities and sororities, political climate, etc.)
Majors Offered

(Every college/university offers dozens to hundreds of different majors. Every major is not offered at every university. Your counselor can show you a list of majors offered at every college. Each major has a different scope or philosophy. It is important to find the major that matches your goals.)
  1. How to research: Read the catalog description for the major at the campuses you are considering. Contact the dean or adviser for that department for more information. Your Foothill counselor can help you make contacts.
  2. Visit the Foothill College Career Center & Transfer Centers, see a counselor, or enroll in a Career Life Planning class to help you decide on the program that is best for you.
  3. Some majors require extensive lower division preparation, others may require only a few lower division courses. Think about the length of time you plan to stay in college.
  4. The Career Center & Transfer Centers regularly offers workshops related to different majors. Stop by to see the schedule of events for this year.
Visit the Campus!
  1. Most colleges offer daily or weekly student-led tours. Plan to attend one before deciding on a campus.
  2. Contact the Office of Relations and Schools or Outreach for tour information.
  3. Campuses regularly host “Welcome” “Transfer” or “Information” days. Check them out!
  4. Take a virtual tour of each campus. Check out the appropriate website for more information.
  5. The Career Center & Transfer Centers has catalogs and video guides on most California colleges and universities.

Top of page March 07, 2011

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Update: UC Personal Statement
The UC Personal Statement prompts have changed effective Fall 2016. There is one required question you must answer. You will also need to answer 3 out of 7 additional questions. Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
See more at Personal Insight Questions