Roundup: Best West Coast Colleges To Consider

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Kristen Seikaly
Kristen Seikaly

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Whether you want to stay closer to home, or experience a completely different coast, many students gravitate west. There are a number of reasons to look beyond the elite colleges of the East Coast; for instance, consider this list of best West Coast colleges we put together! If you’re already considering applying to West Coast colleges, good for you. The following list of schools draws upon our recommendations and research to present our roundup of best west coast colleges.

While researching, you might want to start your search with the top rated colleges. Of course, the “best” school will always remain subjective based on a number of factors. For instance, what you want to study, or how big of a school you hope to attend. However, the schools we’ve listed here are consistently rated well on multiple college rankings lists. That, plus our own expertise in college admissions, is how we drafted the best West Coast colleges and universities below.

Best West Coast Colleges


While Stanford University is not considered an Ivy League school, its academic prestige often earns it a spot at the top of national college rankings lists.

Claremont McKenna

Located in Claremont, CA, and part of the Claremont Colleges,  Claremont McKenna is considered a top liberal arts college nationally. As a result, it’s also highly selective.

University of California, Los Angeles  

A number of the University of California schools are considered top colleges, but UCLA tends to rank higher than the rest.

University of California, Berkeley

If UCLA tends to come out on top, then UC Berkeley makes a close second. If location is a factor for you, UC Berkeley is near San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento. 


Another member of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona offers a focused and rigorous liberal arts education. Plus, anyone enrolled at a Claremont college can attend classes at any of the other colleges.

California Institute of Technology

For students who want the academics of MIT but a West Coast location, Caltech is the answer. This private university also has a better faculty to student ratio than its East Coast counterpart.

Harvey Mudd

The last of the Claremont Colleges to make it onto our list, this small school ranks well for prospective STEM majors in particular.

Santa Clara University

Located in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara takes on the spirit of its setting, and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in its students. It also offers a number of graduate and professional degrees.

University of Southern California

USC is a private university located in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to hosting a wide variety of campus activities, it boasts a number of notable alumni.

University of Washington, Seattle  

f you’re looking for a West Coast college, but would also like an alternative to California, the University of Washington is your answer.

Final Thoughts from Empowerly

If you’re interested in attending a college on the West Coast, finding a western based college counselor can be of great service to you. They can help you find hidden gems that might not have made this list, or they may have insider knowledge into admissions practices at certain West Coast colleges.

Questions? Let us know!