San Diego is a fantastic city on its own, but what makes it even greater is its access to higher education. A lot of San Diego newcomers are driven to San Diego because they are attending college in the area. With four prestigious universities in a highly desirable location, these are plenty of reasons why San Diego is an awesome college town.
Right off the bat, this is one of the first things that people think of when deciding to go to college in San Diego. From Imperial Beach in South Bay to Torrey Pines State Beach just past La Jolla, there are at least ten beaches all along the coast of San Diego—and that’s not including the number of beaches in northern San Diego county.
With easy access to the beach, San Diego college students aren’t at a loss of recreational activities or hang out spots during their free time. On a perfectly sunny day (and in SD there are plenty) you can catch college students paddle boarding out in Mission Bay or soaking up the sun on La Jolla Shores.
Plenty Of Outdoors
For those who don’t particularly enjoy the beach but love the outdoors, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy nature in San Diego. Torrey Pines State Reserve has some easy trails along the coast, so you get to enjoy the ocean views but not actually have to be at the beach.
Potato Chip Rock is a popular hiking destination among San Diego’s college students. Located along Mt. Woodson trail in Poway, it’s a bit of a drive but worth it for the pictures. For those not willing to make drives out to San Diego’s more mountainous areas, there’s also Mission Trails closer to the center of the city.
College students also have access to Balboa Park, which is like San Diego’s mecca for arts and culture. The 1,200-acre property contains over a dozen museums in which visitors can explore art, history, and science. There are also nine venues to enjoy a plethora of performing arts, including the Tony Award-winning Old Globe theater.
Balboa Park is also home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, a pioneer in the recreation of animals’ natural habitats for better zoo living conditions. Balboa Park is a playground for those who like to soak up knowledge and culture, which is why it is the perfect environment for college students in the area.
Despite its laidback reputation, San Diego does have a burgeoning nightlife scene. From Thursday night all the way through Sunday, Pacific Beach is rife with bar hoppers. College students travel in droves throughout PB’s dusty beach streets, from Johnny V’s to PB Alehouse, there’s an overwhelming amount of bars to choose from.
For those who are more into the clubbing scene, Downtown San Diego is where you can find clubs like Omnia SD, Fluxx, and others where college students go to let loose on a Friday and Saturday night. A lot of times, popular artists make appearances at these clubs which draws in even more of a college crowd!
Fortunately, San Diego is quite suburban in most parts so college students have access to a lot of basic amenities that they miss back at home. When care packages from mom are few and far between, college students can travel to local stores like Target or Walmart which are thankfully only a few minutes drive from all the universities.
There are even international markets in certain nearby neighborhoods, so international students can stop by for a taste of home whenever they are feeling homesick. A lot of universities in other big cities don’t always have access to these kinds of amenities or when they do, the products and services are often very limited or overpriced.
Plenty Of Off-Campus Options
For college students who are so over living with everyone else in the dorms, there are plenty of off-campus options for housing. Granted, it can get pretty expensive to live on your own, so that is why you will almost never find a college student who lives without roommates off campus.
San Diego landlords know that there is a whole market of college students looking for off-campus housing and that is why there are plenty of apartment complexes and houses that cater solely to them. Some college students are even lucky enough to find decent rent deals in some of San Diego’s suburban neighborhoods, often much to the dismay of actual families who live there.
Day Trips Are Easy
Another great thing about San Diego is its proximity to other major southern California cities. Students who are bored on the weekends can easily make trips to Los Angeles or Orange County, which are only an hour or two away depending on where exactly you’re going. Recreation destinations like Big Bear and Joshua Tree aren’t that far away either and during festival season, college students love to flock to Coachella which is in Indio, only about two hours away.
So for San Diego college students who’ve exhausted their options of activities in the area, there’s still a lot more to explore in other parts of southern California.
You Can Even Visit Mexico
San Diego is also known for being an international border city with its close proximity to Mexico. The border at Tijuana is only a 25-minute drive from any of the major San Diego universities and many San Diego college students often like to cross the border to party, which may or may not be the best idea depending on how well you can handle yourself.
Many students opt to walk across the border, which is a quicker option if you plan on going for a few hours. Driving to Mexico is pretty easy, but it’s coming back into America that is the hard part. People wait in line for hours to cross back into the states.
Ask any college student in San Diego about Mexican food and you can guarantee that they will rave about their favorite spot. San Diego is home to some of the best Mexican food in America, which makes sense given how close it is to Mexico.
San Diego Mexican food is a class of its own. The college students down here have all found their favorite spots and they will fight you over which Mexican joint is the best. Needless to say, there are a plethora of taco shops around San Diego that are open late, if not 24 hours, and this is a godsend to everyone in SD, let alone college students.
San Diego Coffee Culture
What is more essential to a college student’s study routine than a cup of coffee? Luckily San Diego’s craft coffee scene is robust with dozens of local coffee shops located throughout the city. From Dark Horse Coffee Roasters in Normal Heights to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in the Bird Rock area of La Jolla, there are plenty of options to choose from if you want something better than Starbucks.
In addition to superb coffee, a lot of these shops offer the perfect environment for studying, which is especially great if you need to get out of the campus environment.
Craft Beer Scene
When you’re done studying, you can treat yourself to a nice, cold beer and San Diego is definitely the place to do it. San Diego is home to a burgeoning craft beer scene and has one of the biggest concentrations of microbreweries in the nation. With big names like Ballast Point and Stone, you can be sure that you are getting a good brew in this city.
Of course, it’s more rewarding to discover the amazing beers made by smaller, local craft breweries and there are, of course, plenty to choose from. After all, isn’t beer a college student’s number one drink of choice?
No Car, Not Necessarily A Problem
Not a lot of college students have cars, but that isn’t too much of a problem. San Diego’s public transit system of buses and trolleys is easily accessible on the campuses of San Diego’s universities. San Diego State even has its own designated trolley stop on the Metropolitan Transit System’s Green Line.
MTS has even begun construction on the expansion of their Blue Line, which starts in San Ysidro by the U.S.-Mexico Border. There are plans to add nine more stops to the line that will extend all the way to the university area of La Jolla, which will be a great benefit to UCSD students.
One of the things that make San Diego such a great environment for college is the diverse array of cultures found in its city. You can probably attribute this to the fact that the city sits at an international border, it is a military town where a lot of military service people get stationed, and the fact that there are multiple universities in the area.
People from all over the world come to America to study at San Diego universities and while San Diego is generally welcoming of these new cultures, it always makes newcomers feel welcome when they find people of their same background.
Growing Tech Industry
San Diego is becoming a pseudo-Silicon Valley for companies in the high-tech and biotech industries. This means good news for a lot of college students majoring within these fields since they can easily find jobs or internships with these companies while and after they attend school here.
With companies like Sony, Qualcomm, Intuit and others, San Diego is certainly becoming a choice location for a lot of tech startups who are trying to root themselves in the industry. While San Diego’s tech industry isn’t quite comparable to that of Silicon Valley, it is certainly making its way up there.
Access To Research Facilities
As you might guess in a city with multiple prestigious universities, there are quite a number of research facilities that are forging breakthroughs in medicine and other scientific fields. San Diego is home to facilities such as the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Scripps Research Institute, the SDSU Research Foundation, just to name a few.
Some of San Diego’s facilities have been funded to make breakthroughs in cancer research and they even tackle more minute issues, such as discovering the fat-burning brain hormone. So if you decide to enter medicine, technology, or science in college, you can be sure that San Diego is the perfect environment in which to forge your academic career.
San Diego Job Market
Because San Diego is home to plenty of research facilities and it has a burgeoning tech industry, there are plenty of opportunities for jobs for college graduates who want to stay in the area. According to a UCSD survey, 56 percent of survey respondents found a job in their chosen field.
Around 35 percent of graduates went into technology, 25 percent went into life or health sciences, while the remainder went into other fields ranging from business to the arts. That’s a lot of successful graduates and that’s only at UCSD. Imagine the statistics for all colleges combined!
San Diego State University
So what about all these prestigious universities? San Diego State University is probably the most renowned school out of San Diego. Founded in 1897, this public university is a part of the California State University system, the biggest public university system in the nation. In 2017, SDSU ranked #146 in National Universities, according to U.S. News.
The most popular fields of interest for SDSU students are business and management, social sciences, and health-related fields. SDSU has is known nationally for its sports teams, particularly the SDSU Aztecs men’s basketball team, which has won the school NCAA Conference championships over two dozen times.
University of San Diego
Founded in 1949, the University of San Diego is the city’s most prestigious private university. It’s ranked number 86 in National Universities for 2017 according to U.S. News. It is a Roman Catholic University whose mission is to cultivate social justice and global awareness, which is probably why it is one of the top universities for law students.
It’s array of graduate programs include a Tier 1 School of Law and accredited paralegal program. As a private university, it is one of the more expensive options for higher education in San Diego, which is probably why it’s total enrollment is less than 9,000.
University of California, San Diego
Founded in 1960, University of California, San Diego ranks number 44 on U.S. News’s list of best National Universities. UCSD’s School of Medicine and the Jacobs School of Engineering are home to some of the highest-ranked programs in the nation, which is probably why students from all over the world come to UCSD to get their education.
As a part of the University of California system, the San Diego campus is among the ranks of its counterparts, UCLA and UC Berkeley, which is probably why this university is highly selective, with an acceptance rate below 40 percent.
California State University, San Marcos
CSU San Marcos is off the beaten path, located in San Diego’s north county city of San Marcos. It is also one of the newer universities, having been founded in 1989. Although U.S. News doesn’t list a ranking for it in the category of National Universities, San Marcos ranks number 88 in Regional Universities in the West and number 32 for Top Public Schools.
The most popular majors for San Marcos students are Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies; Social Sciences; and Business, Management, Marketing and other related fields. It’s still a fairly new university, so it hasn’t quite made a national name for itself, but needless to say that San Marcos students reap the benefits of San Diego living as well.