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California's Small Colleges and Universities

California College of the Arts, Whittier College

Whether it’s a tiny campus tucked away under towering redwoods or an acclaimed faculty of arts instructors in a bustling city center, California’s numerous small colleges and universities offer copious opportunities. For those who aren’t interested in the endless cattle calls and rush to get into larger universities with tens of thousands of students, these smaller institutions provide the kind of hands-on learning that best shapes young minds for their future excellence. And in a state as large as California, finding the right school for your particular area of interest is often so simple that you can even choose to be picky about location.

California College of the Arts

While California College of the Arts once included “and Crafts” at the end of its title, the school has no less of a vested interest in combining the worlds of fine arts and fine craftsmanship. One of the most renowned art schools in the entire country, CCA manages to provide an excellent academic core while also training students in their various fine arts disciplines. Netting famous artists to lecture and teach as adjunct professors is one of the school’s strong suits, and excellent on-campus work spaces mean that those enrolled are able to get their hands on some of the most important equipment in the industry. With a student body of less than 2,000, CCA offers the kind of small community you need to get serious as a wonderful visual artist. With San Francisco and the Bay Area as your campus, CCA provides the chance to start networking in the art world immediately.

Whittier College

As one of the oldest private institutions in the state, Whittier College combines over a century of experience with a dedication to classic liberal arts training. With a student body of just around 1,300 students, you are guaranteed the individual attention that you need, while getting to draw on years of experience and acclaim for one of the most celebrated faculties in the state of California. Founded by Quakers, there is no current religious affiliation at Whittier. Interdisciplinary learning is the focus on-campus, which is located in a leafy and green corner of Malibu. Students design their own majors under the watchful eyes of experienced faculty advisors, meaning that they are expected to be far more self-motivated than your typical college freshmen. January Interim sessions provide chances to pursue focused learning for a month, with special guest professors who are major players in their fields often stepping in to teach.

“The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone”:

For those interested in learning a more hands-on skill during college, The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone provides an excellent opportunity. With small class sizes and a laid-back and rural location, the CIA Greystone is an excellent way to learn everything from the art of baking to more delicate pastry-making. With many faculty members currently employed in the area or coming from serious industry experience, students are promised the right kind of education to immediately excel out in the working world. And internships allow placement in local restaurants, where students can hone their skills in the real world, rather than in the state-of-the-art classroom.

Thomas Aquinas College

Located in Santa Paula, California, Thomas Aquinas College is one of the smallest academic institutions in the entire state. A Roman Catholic college that has been active since the 1970s, the school focuses on courses centered around reading classics in literature and employing the Socratic method in discussions and class debates. Professors are known as tutors, and with only one degree to choose from—the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts—the focus of classes is an engaging dialogue that draws on an interdisciplinary background.

Menlo College

To get ahead in business, sometimes it makes sense to train right in the heart of where you plan on working. With Menlo College, anyone hoping to launch successively in Silicon Valley is afforded the chance to learn the lay of the land while also catching up on today’s business principles. Located in Atherton, just 25 miles away from San Francisco, the college was originally founded in 1927 and has changed forms a few times before coming the well-respected business-oriented school it is today. Known as Silicon Valley’s business school, Menlo offers bachelor’s degrees in Human Resources Management, International Marketing, Finance, Accounting, Psychology, and Management Information Systems. Those who plan on combining the old-world ethics of business studies with the brave new future of computers will find that Menlo is the California institution to get this done.

Mills College

For women seeking a campus without the distractions of a co-educational education, there is no better California choice than Mills. Located in Oakland, just a short drive from San Francisco, students are at once engaged in the local community while enjoying a college campus that allows them a chance to focus strictly on academics. The first women’s college in the state of California, Mills was founded in 1852 but has undergone numerous changes since then. Students can choose between 40 undergraduate and 25 graduate degrees, and a number of different concentrations also award additional certificates. With under 1,500 students on-campus, the student-to-teacher ratio is ideal for those independent learners who want extra attention and guidance. Faculty advisors assist students in creating their own majors, rather than simply picking the ones out of the coursebook, meaning that independently motivated students are likely to excel on-campus and in future endeavors. The college is consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, and is a major producer of Fulbright recipients, one of the most prestigious awards in academia.

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Best Colleges by State