California State Universities
Completion of all general education courses prior to transfer is the most efficient path to transfer. You can complete a maximum of 39 semester units of CSU GE Breadth before transferring to a CSU. Within either pattern, the highest-priority classes are the three courses in the English language - oral communications, English composition and critical thinking - along with a general education course in mathematics. (Transfer Center Website, Norcocollege.edu)
University of California System
To transfer to UC, students must prepare for upper-division study in their chosen major, and in most cases should complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) requirements and electives to earn a total of 60 UC transferable semester units or 90 quarter units with a GPA of at least 2.4 (2.8 for non-California residents).(Transfer Center, Norco College Website).
Public universities offer a fantastic education for a great price. The financial impact on a graduate's future is undeniable.
The UC system puts out an accountability report which includes an interactive system for tracking student outcomes in their career.
The CSU system puts out an economical impact report by campus. They will show how much of the economy is positively impacted by alumni degrees.
APPLY! Many students are afraid to apply to private colleges and universities, thinking the cost of this type of education is too prohibitive (I know I did). Beware of ignoring them altogether. Many private institutions have so much grant money available to deserving students, you may be able to get your degree for less than you would pay at a public school (and possibly much quicker, too, given the small numbers of students and thus the less impacted classes.)
Private schools often have their endowment amounts listed on their Wikipedia page. The higher the endowment money, the more likely you are to get your tuition lowered (with free money, not just with loans). Apply. Then make sure you fill out the FAFSA and possibly the CSS, if required by that school. The extra $25 spent to fill out the CSS could translate to thousands of dollars in free tuition money.
While different methodologies can be used to rank private schools based on SAT averages, completion rates, cost vs. salary of graduates, etc., looking at a ranking list like this one can give you a good idea of the schools available to you.
Also remember, private schools love to diversify their student body by accepting transferring community college students. Don't underestimate your power to impress.
For profit colleges and universities have a problematic history. Recent regulations by the Obama administration have tried to curb those problems, but be especially careful if you choose this route. For instance, The Department of Education found that those in "for-profit gainful employment programs.....the majority—72 percent—produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts." In addition, while "students at for-profit colleges represent only about 13 percent of the total higher education population, [they represent] about 31 percent of all student loans and nearly half of all loan defaults." There are many and varied reasons for this. Most for-profit colleges have lacked accountability, and students "including veterans—enrolled to become equipped for the workforce, ...often [don't] get what they need. Instead, they found confusing or misleading information, excessive costs, poor quality, low completion rates, and programs that provide training for low-wage occupations or, in some cases, where there simply are no jobs." (Department of Education, http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-takes-action-protect-americans-predatory-poor-performing-career-colleges).
If you choose a for-profit college, do plenty of research on their success and completion rate, the average salary of their graduates, how long they have been in business, etc. Talk to your Counselor before making any final decisions.
Our own Norco College Transfer Center has provided a bevy of financial aid and scholarship resources.
Remember to also ask at your chosen transfer school for scholarships that are specific to their campuses.
Also, many companies offer scholarships to the children of their employees. Ask your parents to see if their companies offer these.