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Types of Schools

There are many types of colleges, universities and other post-secondary options to fit different career choices and student personalities. High school students should begin early on to figure out what type of school they would like to attend. The summary below will get you started.
Universities are typically larger than colleges. They usually offer more majors, research facilities and graduate programs. Class size can be significantly larger.  It is not unusual for a graduate student to teach a class under the guidance of a professor.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal arts colleges offer a broad base of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Most are private and focus mainly on undergraduate students. Classes tend to be small and students may have more interaction with their instructors.
Community Colleges
Community colleges offer a degree after the completion of two years of full-time study. They frequently offer technical programs that prepare you for immediate entry into the job market. The Sacramento region is served by the Los Rios Community College District.  Los Rios has four campuses: American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College and Sacramento City College.
For students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution after completing their studies at a Los Rios school, each Los Rios campus offers Transfer Admission Guarantees (TAG) options.  The TAG program provides eligible students guaranteed admission to a UC campus college and academic term of choice, but not necessarily for impacted majors – if a student satisfies certain requirements for admission to a UC while at their community college.  Los Rios schools offer TAG options to seven University of California campuses – Davis, Irvine, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz – as well as to the University of the Pacific. American River College also has TAG options with Bethany University, Golden Gate University, Humboldt State University and Santa Clara University.  Folsom Lake College offers TAG options with Golden Gate University, California State University, Monterey Bay and St. Mary’s College of California.
Although the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) does not offer a TAG option, Sacramento City College does participate in the Transfer Alliance Program with UCLA. By completing five honors classes and maintaining a cumulative 3.2 grade point average, Sacramento City College has an 80 percent acceptance rate into UCLA.
Agricultural, Technical, and Specialized Colleges
Technical or vocational schools prepare students for specific careers. A career college is a private or public institution that offers certifications and degrees in a variety of career-specific fields. Some of the most popular subjects and careers include:
  • Accounting
  • Art and Design
  • Automotive
  • Business Administration
  • Cosmetology
  • Court Reporting
  • Culinary Arts
  • Dental Assistant
  • Electrician
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Fashion Design
  • Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management
  • Information Technology
  • Medical and Technical Careers
  • Nursing
  • Paralegal
  • Plumbing
  • Real Estate

Specialized Private Schools

  • Single-Sex: All four-year public colleges and most private schools are co-ed. In terms of single-sex colleges, there are about 50 specifically for men and about 70 specifically for women. Some may enroll a few men or women.
  • Religiously Affiliated Colleges: Some private colleges are affiliated with a religious faith. The affiliation may be historic only or it may affect day-to-day student life.
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Some colleges in the United States were created for black students. They were founded at a time when African Americans were not allowed to attend most other colleges. Today, these colleges are known as historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs.  While HBCUs may recruit students of all ethnicities, black students are usually the biggest group on campus. This gives African Americans a unique opportunity to experience an educational community in which they are a part of the majority, often for the first time.
  • Hispanic-Serving Institutes: There are about 135 institutions designated by the federal government as “Hispanic-Serving.” At these schools, Hispanic students comprise at least 25 percent of the total full-time undergraduate enrollment.
  • Military: Members of the U.S. military service maintain the U.S. national defense and join as either enlistees (with a high school diploma) or as officers (with a college degree). Although some service members work in occupations specific to the military, such as fighter pilots or infantrymen, many work in occupations that also exist in the civilian workplace, such as nurses, doctors, and lawyers. Members serve primarily in 5 branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Or, some serve in the Reserve components of these 5 branches, and in the Air National Guard and Army National Guard. (The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security.)
Enlisted personnel typically do the following:
    • Participate in, or support, military operations, such as combat or training operations, or humanitarian or disaster relief
    • Operate, maintain, and repair equipment
    • Perform technical and support activities
    • Supervise junior enlisted personnel
Officers typically do the following:
    • Plan, organize, and lead troops and activities in military operations
    • Manage enlisted personnel
    • Operate and command aircraft, ships, or armored vehicles
    • Provide medical, legal, engineering, and other services to military personnel

Colleges & Universities

College Navigator
College Navigator is an interactive website that provides detailed information about different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations and more.
Below are links to a variety of educational institutions including UC, CSU, California community colleges and private colleges.
California Colleges 
Learn about admission requirements, how to apply, and more for all higher education segments in California.
Cal State Apply (CSU System)
Link to the 23 state universities for information on admissions, campuses, majors and more.
CRC Program Exploration
Visit your local community college programs from this link.
University of California (UC System)
This link provides you the opportunity to explore the 10 UC campuses, apply online, research majors and more.
Local Community Colleges
Click here to link to all the local community colleges within the Los Rios Community College District.
eCampus Tours
Features a 360 degree virtual college tours of over a thousand college campus.
Historically Black Colleges
Link to a list of prominent historically black colleges. You’ll find access to the common application, scholarships and schools.
CollegeWeekLive is the world’s largest college fair, with hundreds of colleges and universities from around the world and tens of thousands of students participating.

CSU & UC Admissions

Since the Class of 2003, the University of California and California State University systems agreed to adopt the same courses required for freshman admission – making it easier for high school students to prepare for admission to both systems. High school course requirements are as follows:
  • History/Social Science (including 1 year of U.S. History or 1 semester of U.S. history and 1 semester of civics or American Government AND 1 year of social science) – 2 years
  • English – 4 years
  • Math – 3 years (4 years recommended)
  • Laboratory Science – 2 years
  • Language other than English – 2 years
  • Visual and Performing Arts (dance, drama/theater, music or visual art) – 1 year
  • College Preparatory Elective (chosen from the University of California A-G list) – 1 year
Students are also encouraged to earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better in the above courses with no grade lower than a C.
For students applying to a UC who are California residents – if a state resident student who has met the minimum requirements and isn’t admitted to any UC campus to which they apply, that student will be offered a spot at another campus if space is available, provided:
  • The student ranks in the top nine percent of California high school students – according to the UC admissions index, or
  • The student ranks in the top nine percent of their graduating class at a participating high school (referred to as “Eligible in the Local Context” (ELC)).
Validation of “D” grades in foreign language and math:
Both UC & CSU require that applicants have a grade of “C” or better in each term of the required “a-g” courses except that a “D” grade may be validated with a higher grade in the second semester or the next higher level course in foreign languages and mathematics. Even though the course requirement has been validated, the “D” grade will still remain in the grade point calculation.
Validation of language other than English: 
Both UC & CSU can validate the requirement for two years of language other than English with a first semester college level course in that language. The college course must show that the first semester of college study is equivalent to two years of high school study. Higher levels of either high school or college level language other than English courses can also validate lower levels of the same language courses. 


Certificate or Diploma
These non-degree offerings can lead to employment in an occupational field. In EGUSD, several Explore Academies and Pathways programs offer them.
Associate’s Degree
Community/junior colleges offer Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees for two years of study, similar to what is offered through a four-year college. After earning an A.A. or an A.S., students may choose to transfer to a four-year college to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree is awarded on completion of technological or vocation programs of study.  Some careers, such as nursing, require only an associate degree.
Bachelors or Baccalaureate Degree
Colleges and universities offer four- or five-year, full-time programs of study (or its part-time equivalent). The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are the most common.  Other colleges award very specific degrees, such as the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) or Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.).
Teacher Certification
Teachers are required to have a credential from the state that declares that they have completed certain mandated-requirements and have passed teaching examinations.  Each state has individual requirements for teacher certification.  All states require certificated teachers to have a bachelor’s degree.  To learn more earning a teaching credential in California visit:
Combined Bachelor’s/Graduate Degree (or Joint Degree)
A combined Bachelor’s/Graduate (or Joint Degree) are sometimes available at colleges and universities for students who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree and a master’s or first-professional degree in less than the usual amount of time. In most programs, students apply to the graduate program during their first three years of undergraduate study, and begin the graduate program in their fourth year of college.
Graduate Degree
After completing a bachelor’s degree, you may decide to pursue an advanced or graduate degree. In general, you can earn a master’s degree after studying for two more years. Studying for four years after getting your bachelor’s can earn you a doctoral degree. Many students go into the workforce after getting a bachelor’s degree and then return to college later to pursue a master’s degree, often one in a different subject area than their first degree.
Professional Degree
Earning a professional degree means completing the academic requirements to become licensed in a recognized profession. For example, if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, veterinarian or pharmacist, you’ll need a professional degree. These programs of study require at least two years of previous college work for entrance, and at least six years of total college work for completion.

College Fairs/Visits

College visits play an important role in finding a school where a student will be successful. College campuses vary greatly in size, location in a community, architecture, facilities and culture. College visits are especially important for students who are thinking about attending a school in a state or area that they’ve never lived in or if the school is far away from family and childhood friends.
To get the best feel for the school, it is best to visit when classes are in session. While visiting a campus it is important to talk to both college officials and current students. Most schools offer campus tours, often provided by a current student. Many also offer high school students the opportunity to stay the night in a dorm to truly experience campus life.
Before You Go
With so many schools to choose from it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit.  However, there are several resources available that can help you narrow the search.
Click on the university’s website – This may seem obvious, but you’ll want to take the “virtual tour” and fully explore the resources available on the college website. Some college websites offer online chats so you can talk with current students and admission officers.
Read the college’s printed material – Take a look at the printed material that colleges produce.  The course catalog can be especially helpful. It outlines the college’s philosophy and mission statement, as well as providing information about majors, course requirements and offerings. However, when reading the glossy brochures, keep in mind that the university representatives are seeking to portray their school in the best possible light.
Check out the student newspaper – You’ll find links to the college newspaper from the college’s own website. Pay special attention to the issues that seem important to students on that campus – would these be important to you? You’ll also learn about student peeves and activities on campus.
Visiting the College Campus
Step 1: Select a few local colleges to visit to get experience handling a college visit.
Select several (six or seven) campuses you are thinking about attending. Select public as well as private colleges. Then select a few local colleges to visit.  Remember that you are just looking at colleges and that private colleges provide more financial aid, in general, than public colleges and universities provide.
Our local colleges include five kinds of campuses:
  • UC – UC Davis
  • CSU – California State University, Sacramento
  • Private – University of the Pacific
  • Community College – American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College, Sacramento City College, Sierra College
  • Technical/Vocational – Heald College, International Academy of Design and Technology – Sacramento, University of Phoenix, Carrington College California, The Art Institute of California – Sacramento, MTI College, Anthem College, Kaplan College, DeVry University
Step 2: Plan ahead for your tours and visits.
Before you visit the campus, consider some of the options below and create questions in advance of your visit.
  • Schedule an interview in the admissions office, if available.
  • Review admissions requirements (tests, high school grades, etc.) and get a realistic view by looking at profiles of the previous freshman class.
  • Obtain a school calendar and fee schedule.
  • Investigate your academic program or major of interest.
  • Take a campus virtual tour.
  • Learn about the college (departmental strengths, research opportunities, facilities, parking, ease of registration, crime statistics, etc.)
  • Investigate types of student support available (academic, personal, psychological and physical) and special programs (education abroad, work-study, intercampus exchange, etc.)
  • Investigate career planning and placement programs. Determine the percentage of graduates who go on to higher education and admissions rates of medical/law/business school applicants. Also, ask about employment rates directly out of college, internship and recruitment programs.
  • If possible, meet with someone in your major department.
  • Stay overnight in a residence hall, if time permits.
  • See if the colleges offer a new student orientation.  The organized event can cover everything above.
Step 3: The College Visit/Tour
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions while visiting a campus!  Ask about the percentage of students who graduate in four or five years and the number of returning sophomores. Ask why students choose to leave, ask about the amount of study necessary for success.
  • Visit the library.
  • Ask about financial aid opportunities (deadlines, forms required, merit scholarships, percentage of students receiving aid, etc.)
  • Schedule a visit with a financial aid officer, if appropriate.
  • Meet with faculty. Determine whether professors or assistants teach undergraduate classes.
  • Talk with students. Ask what they like and dislike most about the college.
  • Sit in on one or two freshman classes – witness class size, teaching style, academic atmosphere, respect accorded to students and teachers, comfort level in classes, etc.
  • Find out how students use their out-of-classroom time.
  • Become aware of student activities (clubs, organizations, intramurals, etc.).
  • Inquire about campus life in terms of dating, social activities, fraternities/sororities, etc.
  • Check the residence halls and dining facilities. Envision yourself in the living environment. Try the food.
  • Check the adequacy of computer facilities and technology available.
  • Examine the surrounding community, determine what cultural and social enrichment opportunities are available and inquire about safety issues.
Step 4: Make a “Quick-Check” list for each college visit.
Making a “quick-check” list can be helpful when visiting multiple schools.  If you don’t, the schools will become a blur after visits to several campuses. You can include the following types of information to personalize your list:
  • Name of college, date of visit, address and phone number
  • Size of student body, tuition/fees and admission requirements
  • Personal ranking of location, academics, atmosphere, housing, facilities, class sizes, social life, reputation, financial aid, school size, size of surrounding community, religious affiliation, athletics, special programs, special services, sororities/fraternities, prestige, rigor of programs.
Sample Questions To Ask on College Tours
Questions to ask can be divided into four areas: academic, social, surroundings and general.
A. Academic Questions
  • Do professors teach most freshmen courses or do graduate students do much of the teaching?
  • What is the attitude of most professors toward students? Are they friendly? Accessible? Willing to give extra help?
  • How hard do you have to work to be successful? How open is access to advisors for assistance and/or mentoring?
  • How difficult is it to change majors?
  • Is the learning environment cooperative or competitive?
  • Does the school have adequate computer facilities?
  • Some colleges are doing a lot these days in the area of career counseling. How does this college stack up? (One college, for example, devotes certain weekends to exploration of different careers with graduates coming back to tell about what they do and talk about salary, advancements, etc.).
  • Is there a Career Planning and Placement Center on campus? How many graduates does it help place?
  • What percentage of graduates got jobs last year?
  • What percentage of graduates goes on to professional or graduate schools?
B. Social Questions
  • What do students do on the weekends? Do many of them go home? Is the campus lively or empty?
  • What is the situation with regard to drinking and drugs?
  • Are there good places to eat, aside from the official dining halls?
  • If the school is not co-ed, what kinds of social arrangements are made?
  • How important are fraternities and sororities in campus life? Does most social life depend on them?
  • Do theatrical companies, orchestras and other musical groups or outside lecturers come to the campus? If not, are such activities available in town?
  • Are groups in the college community involved in what’s going on in the outside world – politics, international relations, community service?
C. Questions about the Surrounding Area
  • For non-urban schools, find out what the surrounding community is like. How are relations between residents and students – the so-called “town-gown” relationship?
  • What’s the transportation like between campus and town?
  • Is any large urban area accessible?
  • For urban schools, how safe is the neighborhood? Is housing available in the surrounding area? Is adequate parking available on campus?
D. General Questions
  • What kinds of help are available – academic, personal, psychological?
  • How are personal problems handled?
  • What can you do if you dislike your roommate?
  • Are there a lot of rules and regulations on conduct, etc. that must be observed?
  • Are there special restrictions on freshmen?
  • How safe is the campus?
  • Always ask what students like most about the college. Dislike most?
  • Also ask, “What’s wrong with this place?” as well as, “What’s the greatest thing about this college?”
  • Finally, what is the general attitude toward students by the college admissions officers, registrar, residence hall managers, assistant deans and academic advisors?

Selecting a School

Deciding which colleges to apply to, much less which to attend is a significant life choice that will affect you for years.  What are your values?  What kind of environment do you want to live in?  These and other questions will help guide you to select the proper school.
How far away from home would you like to go to school? 10 miles or 2,000 miles
Size of College
Would you prefer to attend a school with a large enrollment, (30,000 or more students) a small one, (around 1,500 students) or something in the middle?  How large would you like the physical size of the campus to be?
Would you rather attend a community college or other: 2-year institution, 4-year university, urban, suburban, or a rural school?  Is the location and size of the nearest city important to you?  Do you prefer a co-ed or single-gender school?  Does the school’s religious affiliation make a difference to you?
At what schools do you have a high enough GPA, class ranking, and test scores to be admitted?
Which schools offer the major(s) that you are considering?  What kind of student-faculty ratio and typical class size are you looking for, and which schools offer them?
College Expenses/Financial Aid
Does your college choice match your financial ability?  How expensive a school can you afford to attend?  Consider tuition, room and board, and other expenses including the application fee, deposits, etc.  How many students receive financial aid at the schools you are considering?
Would you rather live on campus, in a dorm, or commute to school from home?  What type of academic, medical and recreational facilities should your college have?
What kind of clubs and organizations (including fraternities and sororities) do you want college to offer?  What types of athletic activities (including intramural teams) should be offered by the school you choose to attend?
Special Programs
Do you need a school with services or programs for the learning disabled?  Would you like to study abroad?  Do you plan to continue your ESL studies in college?  Are you looking for an honors program?