COASTLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Description: Founded 1976. Offers telecommunication courses at main centers in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Westminster, and at 80 other sites throughout the district. Telephone (714) 241-6152.
Key points: 15,589 students. Does not have a mascot or sports teams. Many instructors stay sharp by teaching part time and working full time in their respective disciplines.
Beyond the basics: Student-teacher ratio is 33 to 1. The college offers occupational certificates in fields such as building inspection technology, international business, office automation, telecommunications technology and tourism.
President's message: William M. Vega--"Coastline has been one of the most successful colleges in meeting the needs of our community by offering classes at times and locations most convenient to our students."
GOLDEN WEST COLLEGE
Description: Founded 1966. Celebrating its 25th anniversary--"a silver past and a golden future"--on a tree-lined campus of 122 acres at 15744 Golden West Ave. in Huntington Beach. Telephone (714) 892-7711.
Key points: 15,464 students. The Rustlers. Received several grants from the National Science Foundation for math and science programs and has an intercultural center to serve its multicultural student body.
Beyond the basics: Student-teacher ratio is 36 to 1. College has a law enforcement academy that trains police recruits, offers unique programs in commercial music and recording arts, as well as computer-assisted drafting.
Big-name alums: Brad Gates, Orange County sheriff; Kevin Elster, baseball player with the New York Mets; Shirley Babashoff, Olympic swimmer in 1972 and 1976 games; Eric Marienthal, musician with the Chick Corea jazz quartet.
President's message: Judith Valles--"Our faculty and staff care about all of our students and make a concerted effort to make them feel that their background, color, ethnicity or accent are not viewed as barriers, but as assets."
ORANGE COAST COLLEGE
Description: Founded 1948. Boasts of being the nation's largest community college campus in terms of enrollment, spread across 210 acres at 2701 Fairview Road in Costa Mesa. Telephone (714) 432-0202.
Key points: 28,000 students. The Pirates. Has the nation's largest public sailing program. Speech and debate teams were national champions for five of the past 10 years. Only Santa Monica College sends more graduates to four-year schools.
Beyond the basics: Student-teacher ratio is 32 to 1. Has a strong marine biology program. Size of the dance program puts it among the top three for community colleges in the nation. Photography program rated in the top 12 nationally.
Big-name alums: Diane Keaton, actress; Dan Quisenberry, former baseball player with the Kansas City Royals; Kelly McGillis, actress; David Emmes, producing director for South Coast Repertory; Brad Gates, Orange County sheriff.
President's message: David A. Grant--"When the college began . . . agriculture was a key part. . . . Now we're into computer-assisted design, fine arts, and marine programs. . . . 750,000 people have had all or part of their college education here. . . ."
Description: Founded 1966. Celebrating its silver anniversary on a 107-acre campus at 9200 Valley View St. in Cypress. Telephone (714) 826-2220.
Key points: 15,463 students. The Chargers. Enrollment has grown 5% this year alone, a surprising rate considering its location in the fully developed northwest region of the county.
Beyond the basics: Student-teacher ratio is 33 to 1. The college has one of only two mortuary science programs in state. Court reporting program claims a 100% job placement rate. Men's and women's baseball teams have been state champions.
Big-name alums: Mark Eaton, basketball player with the Utah Jazz; Swen Nater, former basketball player with the Lakers; Geri Jewell, "Facts of Life" television actress; Stanley T. Oftelie, executive director of the Orange County Transportation Authority.
President's message: Kirk Avery--"Cypress College has worked to support the broad mission of community colleges--provide quality collegiate courses for transfer to universities; vocational and technical courses leading to, or upgrading, employment; and adult, non-credit and community services programs."
Description: Founded 1913. California's oldest continuously operating community college. Started at Fullerton High School, now is across the street on 85 acres at 321 E. Chapman Ave. Telephone (714) 992-7038.
Key points: 21,743 students. The Hornets. Has an Office of Economic Development to promote cooperation in planning among cities, corporations, chambers of commerce and redevelopment agencies.
Beyond the basics: Student-teacher ratio is 30 to 1. The college has a Higher Education Center in the Anaheim Civic Center, plus a Center for Applied Competitive Technologies that trains students about the "model factory of the future."