Decisions, Decisions

How do university systems really differ?


Berenise Alfaro

CSU Northridge Ralph Prator Fountain pictured.

Berenise Alfaro and Luis Arevalo

For students applying to universities, the most difficult decision might be deciding which school suits their career path. But how do the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and private universities’ differ?

Each system has a unique set of admission requirements. According to the College Board, UC’s require “A-G” courses. A 3.0 minimum grade point average (GPA), high scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT), extracurricular activities, and two personal statement essays are necessities. The CSU system also requires “A-G” courses, a minimum 2.0 GPA, an average score on the SAT or ACT, and consider extracurricular activities.

Private schools differentiate from public California universities since there is no set minimum GPA, but require the SAT or ACT. Extracurricular activities are highly influential on acceptance, as well as letters of recommendation.

Although every school has different acceptance rates, the average UC admittance is lower than a CSU. According to the University of California and California Colleges, as of fall 2013-2014 the average UC rate is 39.5 percent, CSU rate is 58.5 percent, and private schools differ based on the institution. As stated by the University of California Admissions, “the numbers are useful only as a general guide to selectivity and not as a predictor of your chances for admission to a particular campus.” Therefore, there are no set boundaries when it comes to the chances of getting accepted to a certain school.

Cost is a major factor when deciding which of these three type of university systems to attend. An average UC tuition per year costs $33,110 for living on campus and $29,200 for off campus. According to the UC system, “these expenses are offset by grants and scholarships…over two-thirds of UC undergraduates receive some gift aid.” Thus, allowing residents to waive off a significant fraction of their fee.

A CSU fee is around $22,000 for on-campus tuition and about $23,000 for off-campus. In addition, private universities prices rank from $60,000 for on-campus tuition to as low as $18,000, but it depends on the type of school attended.

Each university system is diverse. Whether it is a UC, CSU or private school, the key factor for applicants to remember are the advantages each system provides.