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Summer is here, and while enjoying your time out in the sun is important, now is an ideal time to tour colleges and explore your collegiate options. In sunny San Diego, California, for example, students can enjoy comfortable weather all year round, with hot summers and cool winters; and of course, the beach is just a bike ride away.

California is home to dozens of competitive universities, with some offering incredible academic and research opportunities. In this article, we’ll explore the top four colleges in San Diego and discuss how they compare to one another.

The University of California – San Diego

UC San Diego is a solid choice for any student seeking a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) degree, hands-on research experience, and extracurricular activities.   The university gives students a well-rounded campus experience, featuring nine sports facilities, and 45 sororities and fraternities.

Located in the La Jolla community of San Diego, The University of California boasts a reputation as one of the Top 15 research colleges worldwide – and for good reason. The college receives an impressive amount of research funding (about one billion dollars), 16 Nobel Laureates lectured on the campus, and the students receive unparalleled opportunities, particularly in the STEM fields. For example, the UC Scholars program encourages students to cultivate practical research skills and attend exclusive networking events.

A recent article ranked La Jolla as the sixth-best neighborhood in San Diego. In a large city with over 30,000 people, safety remains a top concern – though the city has a lower-than-average crime rate. Moreover, UC San Diego has an impressively large library, which plays a critical role in advancing research, teaching, and public service missions.

The University of San Diego

Welcoming people from all walks of life, USD is a great place to enroll as an undergraduate student.  As a private Roman Catholic research university, USD is a Top 100 school that holds smaller classes and unique learning opportunities. Nearly 91.2% of graduates secured jobs or enrolled in graduate school after completing a bachelor’s degree. Even better, an estimated 92.4% of positions align with their career goals. Furthermore, 9.1% of students declared Finance as their major, making it the most popular academic program in the school.

Since USD is a Catholic school, one of its main values is to investigate the Christian message and build a foundation on belief. Known for its beautiful 16th-century style Renaissance architecture, USD has proximity to the US and Mexican border, acting as an enormous melting pot of different cultures.

San Diego State University

Not sure what major you want to pursue in college? Then consider applying to San Diego State University. The stellar higher learning institution offers bachelor’s programs in 97 areas, master’s degrees in 84 areas, and doctorates in 21 areas. Surrounded by idyllic palm trees and green shrubbery, the university is an excellent school for anyone that loves the outdoors. Indeed, known for its perfect climate and comfortable weather, San Diego is a beautiful place to spend your college career.

Regarding acceptance rates, San Diego State is more selective, admitting only 36% of applicants. Priding itself on its in-depth research experiences, sustainability and entrepreneurship initiatives, mentoring, and much more, San Diego State has much to offer. More importantly, enrolling in San Diego State won’t break the bank, boasting in-state tuition as low as $8,136, and $20,016 for out-of-state students. As if this wasn’t good enough, nearly every 2014 graduate of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management landed a job after graduating.

San Diego Miramar College

San Diego Miramar College is an above-average learning institution located in the heart of Mira Mesa, CA. Community colleges typically receive an unfair stigma among high school students. The college partnered with its local industry and the City and County of San Diego to prepare students for high-demand jobs in biotechnology, paralegal work, and more.

An impressive 77% of students agree that professors put in a lot of work in their classes, and more than half agree that it was easy to register for the classes they want. The acceptance rate at San Diego Miramar College is 100%, so there’s no need to stress over ACT or SAT scores. Compared to the other community colleges across the country, the university ranks #114 out of 845; not bad for a small community college.

Comparing the Top Colleges in San Diego

So now that we’ve laid out the top four San Diego-based colleges, let’s explore how they compare to one another. It can be tricky figuring out which college is the right choice; but knowing what you want to get out of the college experience is a good first step. Maybe you want a large campus with tons of organizations and clubs – if so, UC of San Diego might be a fit for you.

In fact, these schools are quite similar – but, again, the choice ultimately depends on what major you’re pursuing and your personal preferences. Do you enjoy smaller, more intimate class sizes? Then USD is undeniably the superior choice. Interested in biochemistry, mathematics, and econometrics? Look no further than UC San Diego, which holds a 94% student satisfaction rating.

In terms of tuition costs, San Diego State is the most affordable for both in-state and out-of-state students. While there is no straightforward answer as to which college is the best, each institution received national recognition for encouraging students to pursue their passions.

Choosing a college can be an intimidating situation, but Test Prep Score is here to help with all your college-related questions. Remember to subscribe to our blog for more helpful tips and hacks to streamline your college application.