Pros: Easy to get into, good honors program, low tuition rates
Cons: horrible parking, not very difficult as far as acceptance
Cal State Northridge (CSUN) was my last choice for a college. As a high school senior I applied to 4 colleges, UCLA, UCSD, UCDavis, and CSUN. I wasn't accepted at UCLA, but was at the other three. However I decided to goof off in my senior year and the UC (University of California) schools will not accept incoming freshmen who received a D or Fail their final semester, so I screwed myself. CSUN however, didn't care so I headed to CSUN.
When I had applied to college my major was in Biology, but I decided to change it to German (yes I know, odd change). It wasn't very difficult to change my major, I just went into an office, filled out a form and that was all.
I attended CSUN for one semester, Fall 1997. I would have moved out of my parents home had I attended any of the other schools I applied to, but when I started looking for my own apartment vs living at home, when CSUN was literally a bike ride away (and I did ride my bike to school on a couple occasions) I decided it was worth while to just live at home and commute the 5 miles. The parking situation was pretty terrible. I did not want to pay what I felt was a complete rip off for a parking pass, so I had to park a fair distance away from the campus and walk, due to lots of 2 hour only parking around the college. There are many homes in the area that, understandably, don't want college students parking in front of their homes all day. Currently (according to their website) 1 semester parking passes cost $126 or $80 for the farther away parking, and daily passes are $4.
While I was attending there were still bungalow classrooms, left over from the Northridge earthquake of 1994. And construction made some of the pathways a hassle, but for the most part the layout of the school seemed fine and I never had a problem getting between classes. It is a rather large campus, as it accomodates nearly 28,000 students (according to their website www.csun.edu).
While I attended I was in the Honors program, which seemed like a good program with many classes offered with an honors designation, and I qualified for a $500 a semester scholarship for my good grades, provided by the college. The current fees are $1389 for full time undergraduate status, and I believe when I attended it was around $1000, so $500 was around a half scholarship. It was not difficult to get accepted at all, I think you only needed around a 2.25 and I am not sure what the SAT/ACT minimum was. I had a 3.6 and a 1310 SAT, so acceptance was not an issue for me. It was really a 'if I don't get in anywhere else I'll go to CSUN' sort of school and ended up being exactly that.
I must admit I really disliked German. I hated the teacher and because it is a small department she taught many of the classes in the program. I knew I would need to change my major. As far as the other classes I took, Honors Math was my favorite class with an excellent teacher, while Music Appreciation was taught in a lecture hall and was rather boring. Honors Speech was challenging, and a 2 credit hour class I took called Leisure and Recreation, which was actually more of a philosophy class than a kinesiology class, was so boring I usually didn't wake up early enough to attend this 8am class.
However there are good majors offered there. Cal State Northridge has a very strong Education program. Growing up attending schools in the LAUSD I had a student teacher from CSUN almost every year at my elementary school. They also have a good Physical Therapy program. Another good department is Engineering.
One of the most interesting programs that CSUN has is the Deaf Studies program. There is a very large population of deaf students attending CSUN and many classes offered relating to deaf studies. There is an entire department of the school administration dedicated to notetaking and interpreting into ASL for the deaf students. None of my classes had deaf students in them, but many resources were available to this student population, including the notetaking, interpreters, and tutoring.
As far as amenities, the campus center has a bookstore, and a food store where I would buy Odwalla juices often. I never really used the library, but it was available to all students. The school also had lockers available. Often times the school would get bands playing there. I remember one time Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played. A nicer restaurant is on campus, whose name slips me at the moment, and is available for large events. The campus also has a campus ministry center, that I never really checked out.
I attended all my classes between 8 and noon Monday-Friday, as a typical/traditional college student but they offer night classes as well. And although they didn't when I attended, now they also offer some classes online. I remember my counselor was very instrumental in helping me decide which classes to register for my sole semester, but I can't comment on their helpfulness beyond a first semester freshman's.
CSUN offers undergraduate and graduate programs, and at $1389 a semester full time (for undergrad), with the rising cost of education nationwide this is a very affordable option for many students. Although I left CSUN to move to San Francisco with my boyfriend and attend SFSU, I thought Cal State Northridge was a pretty good school. Both my parents got their bachelor degrees from this school and my mother is working on her MA there currently.
If you want to attend the Cal State University in 'The Valley' CSUN is your place!