5 Worst Colleges in California

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Getting ready for college entails considering several things, such as education quality, tuition costs, the percentage of graduates who secure jobs, your unique needs, and much more. That being said, you might be surprised that there are certain worst colleges in America you should avoid, even if they’re close by or affordable. Keep reading as we look at the worst colleges in California and how the education system works.

What is California’s College Education System?What is California’s College Education System?

The California College Education System comprises three public segments: the California Community Colleges, the California State University (CSU), and the University of California (UC). The system has around 160 for-profit institutions and over 150 private nonprofit colleges. It is well-known that California’s universities and colleges enroll up to 3 million students from diverse backgrounds yearly.

Additionally, 170 private for-profit trade colleges are postsecondary institutions awarding vocational certificates instead of degrees to about 30,000 students. More than half of California students attend community college, while eight of ten students opt for a public institution. However, the share enrolled in private schools is still sizable. On the other hand, private for-profit colleges have seen a sharp decline in enrollment in the past few years.

Since California does not have a coordinating body for higher education, unlike most states, coordination, goal setting, and oversight are much more challenging to implement. The principles and structure established by the Higher Education’s Master Plan around 60 years ago remain significantly unchanged.

5 Worst Colleges in California

5 Worst Colleges in California

In the past two decades, enrollment in California’s universities and colleges has declined, and tuition has risen sharply. It’s no shock then that this deteriorating education standard has resulted in California being one of the states with the worst colleges. Let’s take a look at these institutions:

Columbia College Hollywood

Situated in Los Angeles, California (as you probably guessed from the name), Columbia College Hollywood is a private school that has been ranked as one of America’s worst schools by The College Scoreboard. Their graduation rate is quite low, and tuition typically costs $10,000 more than the national average.

Enrolled students accumulate a considerable debt upon graduation; if you default on your loan, its rate is much higher than usual. Most students who graduate from Columbia College Hollywood struggle to secure gainful and stable employment because it is a film school with a default rate of 13.2%.

Mt. Sierra College

Another university ranked as one of the worst colleges in America is Mt. Sierra College in California due to its low graduation rate. While the institution offers various technology and business courses, students don’t seem to be completing their degrees. It is a cheap college with tuition costing around $14220,  but this aspect is overshadowed by the graduation rate, which stands at a mere 27%.

Mt. Sierra College’s graduation rate has resulted in its reputation suffering and employers hesitating to respect its degrees. Most people will likely pass over Mt. Sierra graduates in favor of students from other universities and colleges.

California State University Los Angeles

Most people wouldn’t recommend setting out on your college journey at California State University Los Angeles. There’s a tax imposed on controversial speech by the administration, and free speech is extremely limited. The university made headlines nationally due to its Ben Shapiro speaking engagement where it postponed the event and requested a panel of opposing speakers for him to be a part of.

California State University at Long Beach

As the sister school of the LA Cal State University,  the California State University at Long Beach also made the list of the country’s worst colleges. This is because of the school’s refusal to allow artistic expression that incorporates serious issues like race, ethnicity, etc.

If you want to take a stand against racism, you won’t be allowed to do so. It’s also well-known that students of minority groups weren’t permitted to perform a play making fun of racial stereotyping in society. Unfortunately, there’s no concept of free speech at California State University.

California College San Diego

Since most California College San Diego students still get paid poor salaries six years after graduating from their employers, it’s clear that the institution has some work to do. However, that’s even if you make it to your graduation; the graduation rate is only 35%. To make matters worse, there are not enough full-time professors, and students don’t get enough time to discuss their course material and problems.

5 Factors that Influence College Rankings

5 Factors that Influence College Rankings

In this section, we’ll explain the factors that differentiate the best colleges in California from the worst ones:


The volume and quality of a college’s research significantly influence rankings because it determines your academic experience. Remember that a good teaching university doesn’t mean it will also excel in research. Learning about results, ideas, and theories as academia evolves is one thing, but working under the researchers that will help you take such leaps is quite different and rewarding.

Students who get the chance to be supervised by leading researchers benefit both practically and intellectually, picking up essential skills that serve them for their whole life. Excellent research institutions like Stanford and University of California, Berkeley offer their students facilities and resources you won’t find at every university.

There is a research metric that is determined by:

  • A reputation survey detailing research income
  • Research productivity
  • How academic peers perceive the university’s research.

The Learning Environment

One of the most important factors that ensure a good college ranking is the teaching environment, namely what it’s like to learn at the school. Rankings heavily depend on knowledge production and transfer at the school, giving an excellent indication of the teaching environment’s facilities, prestige, and resources. For example, UC Davis is well-known for its hands-on learning approach as well as various study abroad programs, a robust undergraduate research initiative, and mentoring options.

The Teaching metric is analyzed through five performance indicators:

  • Institutional income
  • The ratio of undergraduate students to doctorate students
  • The ratio of students to staff
  • A reputation survey
  • The ratio of doctorates awarded per academic staff.

International Outlook

Gone are the days when universities only drew comparisons with other colleges in their own city or country. It’s becoming more common for colleges to compete globally and attract researchers and students worldwide. You can tell whether a university is worth attending by researching its international outlook, which is relevant to both domestic and international students.

The International outlook measures the following indicators:

  • The percentage of research involving international collaboration
  • Domestic to international staff ratio
  • Domestic to international staff ratio

An international campus environment enables students to benefit from open-minded debates with their peers from different cultures to improve cross-cultural relations. An institution that is isolated and doesn’t have international connections won’t be able to make it to the list of the world’s most prestigious universities in this ever-evolving, fast-paced age.

Industry Income

This factor is mostly relevant for business, engineering, science, and technology students, indicating the commercial impact of a college’s research. If you are someone who prioritizes practical applications of science and technology research, then the industry income indicator is essential to deciding whether you will attend a specific university.

Subject Rankings

Along with a university’s overall ranking, the rankings of 12 individual subjects help you explore different disciplines:

  • Engineering and Technology
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Social Sciences
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Law
  • Business and Economics
  • Computer Science
  • Clinical
  • Pre-clinical and Health

How these majors of a university rank nationally or internationally allow us to determine the quality of education offered. The better the rankings of the majors mentioned above, the better the institution is likely to be, such as Stanford and California Institution of Technology.

Wrapping Things Up: 5 Worst Colleges in California

Maybe you’re about to apply to colleges for higher education and don’t know where to start. In that case, researching a school’s return on investment (ROI) over 20 years, the medium starting income, annual cost, graduation rate, etc., are in your best interest. Not every school is worth wasting energy over during the college application process, and certain metrics can help you avoid the worst colleges in California and other places.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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