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San Francisco State University

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  • Statistics

    San Francisco, CA
    College Town
    Acceptance Rate:
    61 %
    Tuition and Fees:
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  • Summary

    San Francisco State University students often get unfairly lumped in with their city’s hippie history. While undergrads admit there is a large number number of liberal vegans in this almost commuter school, business-casual dressers are welcome, too.

    SF State is very racially diverse, representing all types of people in an urban environment. Not surprisingly, it's the only college in the U.S. to offer an MA in Ethnic Studies. While there are almost 25,000 undergraduates, only 15% live on campus, giving it a commuter college reputation. Typical of an urban campus, the majority of students choose to take advantage of city resources. Endless housing, dining, and entertainment options in the heart of San Francisco make up for the lack of parties and

    almost non-existent Greek life at SF State. While the university lacks "guide book prestige," driven students can find their niche in one of five honor societies. A select few are even eligible to enroll in graduate-level classes after completing the standard core curriculum. While sports are Division II, there is little fan involvement in the 10 non-scholarship teams. The most popular major is business, with unique programs such as parks and recreation as well as leisure studies also available.

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  • Additional Info

    As reported by a SFSU campus rep: SFSU began as the San Francisco State Normal School in 1899, a school for prospective public-school teachers. The college was the first state-supported institution of higher learning. Its motto was “Experience teaches,” and the fight for many teachers’ rights, including tenure, began here. After the Depression hit in 1929, the need for teachers declined and the school began offering more courses in order to stay open. Expanding in scope, the school attained liberal arts college status in 1935 and changed its name to San Francisco State University, a name that stuck even after the California State University system was founded.

    The General Education program was very innovative when it began in 1946. The program required all students to learn a core curriculum regardless of major. In 1947, SFSU protested for the right to buy more land. We protested a bit more in the 1960s, and even had the longest campus strike in US history in 1968. Our Black Studies department was the first in the country, and we even had a Psychedelic Research Institute before LSD was declared illegal!

    Today, some of our most popular majors are Psychology, Cinema, English, Asian-American Studies, and Hospitality Management. The most popular major overall is Business. As far as the arts go, Theater Arts is a very large major, and Creative Writing majors seem very loyal to the program. Our Astronomy department is also very strong and has made significant discoveries in the past.

    The main Lake Merced campus opened in 1953, and in 2007 the college continued its expansion with a new campus in downtown San Francisco.

    SF State is a smoke-free campus set on 94 acres, a small size for almost 30,000 students. Although the college is located in an urban area, it has a large grassy quad and is a short walk to Lake Merced and the beach.

    As reported by a campus rep:

    “There is usually live music or performers of some sort in front of the Cesar Chavez building on warm sunny days. Everyone kicks back and just enjoys their break. Most clubs and organizations are tabling outside, doing fundraising or just raising awareness of their organization.

    The number-one place people really just “hang out” is probably The Pub, located on the Lower Conference Level of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. If you’ve ever been to a bar or know anyone who’s been to a bar, seen a movie with a bar scene, or know what a bar is, it’s pretty much that. People sit (or stand) around, sip a drink and just hang out.

    My favorite place to hang out is the Rack N Cue billiards hall, located just one floor below The Pub. It has six or seven tables but they’re almost always taken by the time the place opens (11am) so it’s fair to say that this is a pretty popular hangout spot. It does cost $7/hr to play though.

    In front of the Humanities building is Café Rosso, a little coffee place. This is a very popular hang-out spot, especially on sunny days, due to all the outdoor seating. It’s a perfect place to sit with your drink of choice and read or just people watch.

    The 24-hour library isn’t the quintessential example of a hangout spot, but it is a prime destination for students not in class. It’s huge and has tons of places to sit down and relax

    There’s also a video arcade skirting around the dining area. The arcade has some of the newest and hottest games out right now and is always packed, so bring some quick fingers and a roll or two of quarters if you want to play for a while!”

    SF State is located in southwest San Francisco, a city with a population of almost 800,000 people. The campus is a 20-minute train ride from downtown and the Mission District, which is packed with bars and small music clubs. The beach and Lake Merced are a short walk away, and most students commute via easily-accessible public transportation.

    As reported by a campus rep:

    “I live downtown, so I think the surrounding area is boring. It is rather quiet and residential and next to a large and standard shopping mall. Lake Merced is behind campus and is really pretty. The ocean is also a few minutes away. In general, the neighborhood is cute and easy to navigate. West Portal is not far and feels like a quaint area. It is also close to Daly City, and many students commute from the southern suburbs. If you want excitement, hop on the train and go downtown or to the Mission or the Haight.

    Need ample parking? Good luck. Expect to rent an apartment for a reasonable price? Keep dreaming. I am an independent student who lives in a studio apartment downtown near Union Square. The location is central and fantastic, but San Francisco has a very large homeless population that no one warns you about. If you are coming from the suburbs, you may feel uncomfortable at first. The problem is not as visible in the quiet neighborhood around campus, but you will still encounter homeless people on public transit, in tourist areas, in parks, and literally just camping out on sidewalks downtown. It is a heartbreaking and uncomfortable experience the first few times you see people sleeping on the street.”

    There don’t seem to be any deep-rooted traditions carried on by SF State students.

    Danny Glover (1971) is an American actor.

    Anne Rice (1964) is a best-selling novelist and author of Interview With the Vampire.

    Nina Hartley (1985) is a former porn star and film actress.

    Kari Byron (1998) is a cast member on the Discovery Channel show MythBusters.

    Arthur Dong (1982) is a Chinese-American filmmaker nominated for Academy Award.

    SF State Gators play in the NCAA Division II category and do not have a football team. While students don’t usually get excited about formal athletics, many participate in club sports, with options such as ultimate Frisbee and water polo.

    Wrestling is the most successful team at SF State, as the Gators have placed in the National Championship tournament every year for the past four decades under head coach Lars Jensen. He has been with the team since 1983. Other than wrestling, the most attended games are men’s baseball and basketball.

    SF State had a Psychedelic Research Institute before LSD was declared illegal.

    SF State has the only M.A. in Ethnic Studies in the country.

    The college only has a one-percent alumni giving rate.

    Charles Hall, the man who invented the water bed, is an SF State alum.

    -With special reporting by Lila Vazquez ’09

    SFSU is primarily a commuter school, with only three percent of students living on campus. On-campus housing is fairly expensive, but it’s still cheaper than living in an apartment in San Francisco. SFSU also offers both dorm and apartment options, with specialty housing for married, international, and disabled students available.

    As reported by a campus rep:

    “For incoming first-time freshman under 20, SFSU offers two major dorms: Mary Ward Hall and Mary Burk Hall. Each room accommodates two students and offers free internet access and cable TV (TV not included). The rooms come with beds, desks, bookshelves, closets and dressers. Bathrooms and showers are down the hall–-one on each wing of each floor. Also, every room is hooked up with two separate phone lines so you and your roommate each have your own personal phone number. You’re allowed to rent or bring your own microwave and mini-fridge. Don’t try to fill that mini-fridge with beer though, because RAs are strict about alcohol consumption for underage students. Students under 21 are also required to a buy a meal plan option of 10, 15, or 19 meals a week.

    If you’re 20 or 21, you might want to check out the Village at Centennial Square, located on the north side of campus. Buildings A and B are reserved for freshman over 20 but under 22, as well as sophomore, junior, senior and grad students under 22. Building C is reserved for freshman who are under 20 and participating in the Business Community. Now that the bureaucratic stuff is out of the way, there are the benefits of living in the Village. You can have your own room with a kitchen and two bathrooms or share with a roommate. There’s a gym right around the corner to help you combat the “freshman 15" as well as plenty of dining options, including a convenience store to assist you in packing those 15 right back on. Fall 2007-Spring 2008 rates were about $9,000 for a double occupancy unit and about $10,000 for a single, which is affordable compared to apartments in San Francisco.

    Building B of The Village is the International Learning Community. The ILC offers the same accommodations mentioned above, but the twist is that it’s intended for international students (under 26) and domestic students (20-21) who plan to study abroad and/or are pursuing a degree in a foreign language or international studies. The idea behind this is to facilitate relationships between domestic and international students to mutually aid one another in their particular endeavors."