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UC vs CSU. Which one is best for You? I will walk through everything you need to know about the difference between CSU and UC system
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UC vs CSU. Should You Pick A CSU Instead of a UC?

UC vs CSU. Should You Pick A CSU Instead of a UC?

UC vs CSU. Which one is best for You?  Everybody knows about the University of California system. It contains some of the top universities in the United States and typically the #1 Public University in the World (UC Berkeley or UCLA depending on the day). This leads many people to discredit the stature and validity of the California State University (CSU) system. In this article, I will walk through everything you need to know about the CSU system and how it compares to the UC system.

Watch the live YouTube video on this topic.

The Difference Between UC and CSU.

While the UC institutions are more popular, they are known primarily for their research prowess and promoting curriculum that encourages higher education. The CSU system, on the other hand, promotes a curriculum that encourages people to enter the job force. Further, there’s less theory at the undergraduate level, and more hands-on learning, which is why it may be a better fit for many students. Despite the difference in “prestige”. CSU’s commitment to job preparation is evident from their list of majors. Also offering dozens of degrees that the UC’s do not, from digital arts to teaching credentials to an actual business administration degree (not some economics program made to look like a business degree, as seen at UCSB and UCLA).

It is commonly known and understood that the UC system has more prestige than the CSU system and that is why we have numerous students who set their goals at going to one of these schools. They do this, without really understanding their goals or what they hope to get out of their college experience. Most people don’t have goals to continue into higher education, and would rather get a job. Therefore most CSUs have great connections with many companies that feed students directly into the companies. For example, San Jose State University is in Silicon Valley. So the proximity allows it to bring amazing guest lecturers as well as a great curriculum.

Arguably, this gives SJSU more value than UC Berkeley when it comes to jobs in Silicon Valley. Moreover, there is a more tangible list of majors that can be applied to real jobs for CSUs compared to UCs.

UC and CSU Rankings

  • Computer Science & Engineering

    • SJSU (Ranked #22 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SFSU (Ranked #29 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • Cal Poly SLO (Ranked #3 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • CSU Long Beach (Ranked #14 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SDSU (Ranked #65 in Top Public Schools West by US News)
  • Biology & related majors

    • SJSU (Ranked #22 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SFSU (Ranked #29 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • Cal Poly SLO (Ranked #3 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • CSU Long Beach (Ranked #14 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SDSU (Ranked #65 in Top Public Schools West by US News)
    • CSU Monterey Bay (Ranked #25 in Regional Universities West by US News)
  • Business

    • SJSU (Ranked #22 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SFSU (Ranked #29 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • CSU Northridge (Ranked #40 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • CSU Long Beach (Ranked #14 in Regional Universities West by US News)
    • SDSU (Ranked #65 in Top Public Schools West by US News)
  • All other majors

    • Those closest to you + SJSU, SFSU, CSU Northridge, and SDSU

Programs not offered at UC, but you can take at CSU. (reference SJSU as an example.)

  • Advertising (BS)
  • Art: Digital Art (Animation, Graphic Design, etc) (BFA)
  • Aviation (BS)
  • Business Administration (BS)*
  • Communicative Disorders and Sciences (BA)
  • Hospitality, Tourism, & Event Management (BS)
  • Industrial Design (BFA)
  • Kinesiology (BS)
  • Nursing (BS)
  • Packaging (BS)
  • Public Relations (BS)
  • Recreation (BS)
  • Teaching Credentials

The Difference Between UC and CSU

The next major advantage of the CSU system is the amazing cost savings associated with going there. To clarify, the average tuition at UC schools is approximately $14K. Therefore, this is in stark contrast to the average tuition at $7K. Furthermore, many of the CSUs are optimized for commuting. This means that you can either live at home or farther away from campus. This increases the cost savings another level as campus housing tends to be more expensive.

Altogether, it is pretty conclusive that the CSUs have a lot to offer and should be a serious consideration for in-state and out-of-state students alike.

Conclusion

I hope that this has provided some perspective on the very valuable university system we have in California. UC vs CSU.  Similarly, please check our YouTube channel for a live video on this topic.

Also, we specialize in youth mentorship and college counseling. From 8th grade to 12th, we have you covered for any stage in your high school career. Schedule a free consultation with us here.

We are always posting more helpful tips and tricks to help reduce the stress of college application season. Therefore, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn

See you soon!

Ariana Lee

Senior Admissions Advisor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 12

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing their stories. There's so much to discover about a person. It's very rewarding when my students get comfortable and know that I'm there for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Swim, read, write, sing, enjoy nature, and play with my two crazy boys.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do what you love, and everything else will fall into place.

Julian Hoffman

Special Programs Manager

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 5

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Hearing each student's unique stories, guiding them in discovering their passions, and helping find their voice!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am a figure skater, world traveler, dessert aficionado, and devotee of the Pioneer Woman, the Barefoot Contessa, and Maneet Chauhan!

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Work hard now -- procrastinate later!

Sarah Gooch

Essay Editor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: I have five years' experience in coaching student writing, but this is my first year with ReadyEdgeGo.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love helping students find depth and meaning in their own stories—but I also just love it when they make me laugh!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In theory, I enjoy painting and writing poetry, but these days I actually spend most of my free time socializing or watching movies with my husband.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't just focus on achieving top grades and credentials because they look good on applications, or your education will be meaningless. The numbers and awards have their place, but stay connected to your sense of curiosity, discovery, excitement, and wonder so that the content you're learning is constantly transforming you—it's something you care about, something you remember after the final exam. Work on the aspects of yourself no one can measure, like integrity, wisdom, kindness, and compassion, so that you're not only developing your academic and career potential but also investing in the type of adult you're going to be, the person you'll have to live with after you clock out every day for the rest of your life.

Doing the hard inner work of building your character and learning deeply instead of just earning grades will set you up for a satisfying, well-rounded life. Strange as it sounds, it will also put you ahead in your academic and career goals, because colleges and hiring managers aren't looking for an empty set of data on a spreadsheet; they want a fully fleshed-out person marked by passion, creativity, and a story no one else has lived.

So go on studying hard for tests, but also spend some time asking yourself what matters in life and who your role models are. Read up on topics that amaze you, and build something incredible just for fun. Cultivate that spark of joy you feel when you're immersed in a subject that fascinates you. If you can hit that balancing act of doing your homework and meeting deadlines but also investing in the kind of person you want to be, then trust that all the rest will follow: schools will recognize you as a dynamic, all-star person, and you will also build a life of happiness, close relationships, and peace.

Bernie Nguyen

Admissions Advisor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 5 years high school mentoring experience. I was heavily involved in it all throughout college and after graduating.

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing about their passions and what they genuinely love to do. It also makes me extremely happy to.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I recently picked up the electric guitar! I also have multiple aquariums, and founded a company that built body armor.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Don't go down a path just because you think that's "what you're supposed to do." Life is more diverse and unexpected than any of us could ever know.

Joanna Yang Yowler

Senior Essay Editor & Program Specialist

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 15

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love hearing students' stories and seeing their faces light up when they talk about their passions and dreams.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Cook, write, draw, save Azeroth .

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Pursue dreams that matter to you and don't be afraid of forging your own path to where you want to go.

Graham Traylor

Senior Applications Advisor

Q:How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 7 years

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: One of my favorite experiences working with students is opening student's eyes to possibilities they didn't know would be an option for them.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time I like to stay active playing sports / running, but most of the time I am hanging out with my wife and daughter (usually with college sports on in the background).

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: It's possible there could be several colleges that are a good fit for you. Don't lock in on just one preferred option, and work toward finding places you can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

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Tylar Pendgraft

Director of Programs

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 12

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: I love how open students are to learning and trying new things. As mentors, we get to see so much growth simply because our students are so open to new experiences and are looking forward to applying their learning and other skills.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time I like to read and write. I also spend a lot of time just watching--my dogs, birds, trees. I also enjoy baking and cooking (even though I'm terrible at baking).

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: It's never too early or late to start practicing self-care. Build moments of joy and celebration into your week. Give yourself a treat for working hard. It's important to have things to look forward to. If you can get into the habit now, you'll have a much more balanced college experience.

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Anika Sharma

Essay Editor

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 2

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: As a major advisor for students interested in the humanities, I’ve found it immensely rewarding to offer an outlet for students to explore ideas that they often don’t get to delve into at school. Watching a student light up when they realize that there is in fact a community around their specific interests is easily the best part of the job.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: In my free time, I love to be outdoors - I've been hiking around the Bay Area and recently started biking again. I also volunteer at community gardens and trail restoration projects in San Francisco. When I'm not outside, you can find me reading visionary fiction, practicing yoga and qigong, or cooking.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: My advice for high school students is to focus on the present! Use this time to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Solid values and a sense of self will allow you to make challenging decisions for the future and create the life you want.

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Tushar Singla

Chief Technology Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 4

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Watching them accomplish great things.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Watch Formula 1, play ice hockey, and watch TV.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Spend time exploring different things -- you have a long time to become an expert.

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Dan Zhou

Chief Executive Officer

Q: How many total years of experience do you have in your current role, including but not limited to ReadyEdgeGo?

A: 16

Q: What about working with students do you most enjoy?

A: Inspiring a student towards self discovery, and wanting to learn about everything there is in the world. Reaching this moment can take time, but it's what makes it worth it every time.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Outdoors hiking, photography, gardening, and reading.

Q: What is your one piece of advice for high schoolers?

A: Do the thing that moves you, or be moved by forces not your own. The choice is yours.

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