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Cal State Hidden Gem- Sonoma State


Sonoma State is tucked into California wine country.  There are rolling hills and farmlands in the surrounding community, but it is also only 50 miles north of San Francisco and 18 miles from the ocean.  For some students, it may be a bit too rural, but that is part of the charm.  The small town feel adds to the close knit community of 8500 students.  If you are looking for a friendly, approachable community with a beautiful campus, this may be the place for you.
From the availability of classes, to rising fees over budget cuts, Cal States have received a lot of negative attention lately.  While Sonoma State is not immune to these issues, it does appear that students are able to obtain their classes and graduate on time, if they are flexible.  General education courses are available, but you may have to take Biology at 8AM or find a away to attend a class on a Friday afternoon.  Students have to learn to take advantage of the courses that are open- which often means they are not at the most convenient times.
Sonoma State is also the type of school where you can build relationships with your professors and become involved.  The campus is not daunting or intimidating.  In fact, several students that I spoke with all said the same thing:  it is a friendly place.  Watch the video or read the summary below to learn more.

Today I had the opportunity to visit beautiful Sonoma State University.  I would consider Sonoma State to be one of the hidden gems of the Cal Sate system.  It offers a small school experience at a public school price.  The campus has about 7500 undergraduate students.  The average class size is about 23 to 28, which allows students to have a personalized academic experience and to build relationships with their professors.  Another impressive factor at Sonoma is their housing system.  They have several fairly new residence halls, but they also offer special interest housing.  During the first year, students can choose to live with other students who have interest similar to their own.  They can choose anything from diversity to adventure to healthy living. There are also Freshmen Interest Groups (FIGS).  These are groups directly related to the academic area of interests.  This helps students get a jumpstart in their major and also helps with course selection.
Now, I know a lot families have concerns about applying to the Cal State system right now due to the budget cuts that are taking place in the state of California.  I asked about budget concerns while at Sonoma State and the general consensus is that yes, there are budget cuts and in order to accommodate that, there are talks to raise some of the fees.  Students are strongly encouraged to voice their concerns over the rising fees, however, I would like to point out that there is a lot offered in those fees.  Students have access to a recreation center, they have free technology repair, even free bicycle repair. So there are a lot of things that are covered in those fees, in order to, I think, offer a great college experience.  Another concern is the availability of classes.   There are seven impacted majors here at Sonoma State.  These majors are a little more crowded which makes them a little more competitive and classes are little more difficult to get.  Overall though, students are able to get their classes, if they are flexible.  That means that you have to be willing to take some 8AM courses and some Friday afternoon classes in order to get those general education requirements done.  Overall, I think Sonoma State will offer a high quality college experience to any student.
Katherine Price
Educational Consultant


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