One of several highly ranked public universities in the Golden State, the University of California, Davis — sometimes called a “Public Ivy” college — has made a name for itself as an affordable school that produces results.
Although about a third of the student body is considered low-income, the university still has a six-year graduation rate of 88%, above the average for schools with a comparable population of students.
Students can earn undergraduate degrees in about 100 majors, but UC Davis is best known for its specialties in agriculture and animal sciences. The university is home to a dairy center, meat-processing lab and 100-acre arboretum; its department of enology and viticulture offers a major, as well as an online winemaking certificate program.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, UC Davis was practicing sustainable techniques — such as using local produce, promoting biking and creating energy-efficient buildings — long before such efforts became common on college campuses.
When they're not hard at work, many students are cheering the 25 NCAA Division I sports teams alongside the Aggie Pack, the biggest student-run college spirit group in the country (perks include free T-shirts, sunglasses and In-N-Out meals). Students can also hang out at the recently renovated aquatic center, complete with a sand volleyball court and two pools, or they have a load of other options on the 5,300-acre campus.