Palomar College


Palomar College is a two-year community college located roughly 30 miles north of San Diego. With 30,000 students, 6 additional education centers scattered around the northern part of the county, and 200 degree and certificate programs, Palomar meets the professional and personal needs of a large portion of northern California.

The main campus is located in San Marcos, a suburb of San Diego, while the additional education sites are in Escondido, Camp Pendleton, the Pauma Indian reservation, and at three high schools: Mt. Carmel, Fallbrook, and Ramona. Palomar is currently working toward a master plan set to culminate in 2022 which will grow the size and scope of the college even further.


Information Summary

Ranks 241st in California and 2588th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 56.0
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $3,256
Admission Success rate N/A
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 27 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 70% / 40%
Enrollment Total (all students) 23,917


Palomar participates in transfer agreements with both the California State University and the University of California systems for students in all five of their academic divisions: Arts, Media, Business and Computer Systems; Career, Technical and Extended Education; Language and Literature; Mathematics and The Natural Health and Sciences; and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Students from Palomar studying in these disciplines can easily transfer to any California State University or University of California campus and be guaranteed to bring all of their credits with them.

In order to meet the needs of working students, Palomar offers fast track classes for students who wish to move through their programs quickly, self-paced classes that let students to move either slowly, quickly, or intermittently as their other commitments allow, and late start classes that begin after the first week of the semester.

Some of the more unique concentrations offered at Palomar include American Indian Studies, American Sign Language, Fire Technology, and Zoology. Occupational and non-credit programs include Construction Inspection, Electro-Mechanical Equipment Technician, Public Works Management, Wastewater Technology Education, and Water Technology Education. With such a wide range of choices, students can enroll in classes as diverse as Recreational Leadership, Tagalog, Digital 3D Design and Modeling, Preventive Dentistry, and Inductance and Capacitance Theory and Codeology.

Although the on-site facilities are not as extensive as they would be at a residential school, computers are available for student use at the Academic Technology Computer Labs on the ground floor of the college library. Four specialized computers are available for disabled students. Wireless laptops are also available for in-class uses such as project demonstrations or group research.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Academic Technology Laboratory :: Palomar College Bookstore :: Palomar College
Mathematics Learning Center :: Palomar College Boehm Gallery :: Palomar College

Unique Programs

There are a number of programs at Palomar to reach out to students who may have difficult acclimating to college academics. The Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S) program is a state-funded initiative to help orient, recruit, and retain college students from California who are economically, socially, and/or educationally disadvantaged. EOP&S offers financial assistance and academic support to qualified students. EOP&S services are geared towards full-time students with risk factors for failure, including being at least one of the following: a first-generation college student, a re-entry student, a student with a disability, a student whose first language is something other than English, an ethnic minority, or a student with a poor educational record.

Palomar has also developed a Department of Education-funded program called the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). This is a five-year initiative to improve the academic success and retention rate of Latino students. Components include a supportive summer program, first year mentoring, an early acceptance program, a faculty mentor program, and supplemental instruction. To help members of their wider community succeed in business, Palomar offers a Command Spanish® program to help non-native speakers of Spanish communicate effectively with Spanish speakers they serve through their work.


The admissions process does not exclude anyone who wishes to enroll in the college, with the exception of international students not in possession of an F-1, M-1, J-1, or J-2 visa. An online admission application is available on the school’s website. People from 49 different countries attend Palomar, helping to create a diverse atmosphere. In addition to holding an appropriate visa, international students must achieve a minimum score of 470 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Financial Aid

Palomar students enjoy the advantages of the California Community College system, which regulates the fee structure at the college. Enrollment costs are for a minimal charge per credit hour for California residents. Out-of-state students are charged a substantial extra fee per credit.

Regardless of their financial status, however, all students are encouraged to apply for financial aid. Palomar offers work-study programs as well as the standard grants and loans. Emergency funds are available to help students in need. The Steinberg Loan is a one-time $250 disbursement which requires a one week application process. A $50 emergency loan is also available to qualified students.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 6833rd for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in California.


Most of the 14,000 + students at Palomar attend part-time while working, parenting, or pursuing other life goals—only 25% of the student population is enrolled full-time. 60% of the student body attends part-time in pursuit of a degree or certificate, while the remaining 15% are enrolled in non-credit classes.

The student body includes a wide diversity of California residents. Only half of the students fit into the traditional college model of being under the age of 25, while the rest of the Palomar population spans the adult life cycle. Reflecting the diversity of the community around them, a quarter of the student population is Latino, 6% is Asian, and 4% is African American.

There are many extracurricular opportunities for students at Palomar. Some of the most popular student organizations include the Associated Student Government, the Anime Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Palomar LGBTQ & Allies, the Palomar College Democrats, the Speech & Debate Club, and the Environmental Student Organization (ESO). Student media at Palomar include the newspaper The Telescope, radio station KKSM, and television station PCTV. Highlights of student life at Palomar include Springfest and Comet Week, a festival marked by a traditional faculty/student tug of war, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, and pull-up contests.

Student Enrollment Demographics


Palomar College has both men’s and women’s teams for the following sports: basketball, football, tennis, cross-country, golf, baseball, softball, wrestling, volleyball, tennis, soccer, swimming, and water polo. Athletic events held during the day are free to both students and the public, while evening events are free for students carrying their Palomar ID cards.

Local Community

A true “community” college, Palomar is a cultural center for north San Diego County. The college’s Howard Brubeck Theatre offers plays, dance performances, and musical opportunities for both their student base and the wider community. Palomar also boats a planetarium with weekly shows open to the public and a five-acre arboretum for formal and informal botanical education. The arboretum features frequent lectures and demonstrations, on topics as varied as “The Sex Life of Figs,” “International Cactus Tours,” “Basic Tree Trimming,” and “Planting with Children”.

One of the highlights of the San Marcos community is Palomar’s Boehm Art Gallery, which hosts both local and international artists for community enjoyment. The Boehm Gallery houses over 250 works of art from the fifteen through the twenty-first centuries and displays five exhibitions a year. Exhibits have featured such esteemed artists as Andy Warhol, Leonardo da Vinci, and Edward Hopper. The most popular regular exhibit is the Annual Art Department Student Exhibition.

Lastly, the Fitness Center at Palomar is a joint project of the college, the City of San Marcos, and the Palomar Pomerado Health System. It includes a pool, weight room, and a number of workout programs and fitness instruction options. Open six days a week, the Fitness Center is free to students of the college. Use of the showers, towels, locker rooms, and parking lot are only available to paid members, however, so many students choose to join the Fitness Center as a member. Military personnel receive a 40% discount on membership.


Well-known alumni of Palomar include former NFL player Tom Dempsey, Washington Nationals pitcher Matt Chico, founder of DC shoes and rally car driver Ken Block, and EMS Videos Studio founder Alex Maximov.

Additional School Information

The Career Center is open five days a week with extended hours (7:30 AM to 7 PM) Monday-Thursday. The center connects students with both on- and off-campus employment opportunities. Individual appointments for career counseling, resume help, and aptitude tests are available through the center. Student employment is available on-campus at the bookstore, the Wellness Center, the Child Development Center, and in most academic departments. Federal work-study job are available in many of the college’s departments.

Dining services at Palomar are provided by Aramark at three locations: Comet Café, Snack Shack, and Java City Coffee Bar. All three locations are staffed by students in the college’s food service training program. Students can purchase “Comet Cash” from the college to save 10% on food purchases.

It’s worth noting that enrolled students qualify for free doctor and naturopath visits through the college. Health Services offers free HIV testing, sexual health screenings, and skin screenings. Regular health demonstrations and workshops are free for students.


Career Center: Frequently Asked Questions. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.

Mission. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Palomar College Fact Sheet. Palomar College. Web. 13 Apr. 2011.

Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.

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