Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College Quad

Cabrillo College, a public community college located in the picturesque town of Aptos, California, is a shining jewel in the crown of the state’s community college system. This institution has carved a niche for itself in the realm of higher education through its dedication to comprehensive learning, inclusivity, and a strong focus on student success.

A Brief History

Established in 1959, Cabrillo College has come a long way from its humble beginnings when classes were held in the partially abandoned old Watsonville High School. The college was named after the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and has since grown to enroll about 9,700 students per term. Over the years, Cabrillo College has earned the reputation of an institution that genuinely cares for its students, a value that was instilled by its founding president, Robert Swenson.

Mission and Core Values

Cabrillo College is dedicated to helping its students succeed both personally and professionally by mastering four major skills, often referred to as the ‘core four’.

  1. Communication: This includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and conversing.
  2. Critical Thinking and Information Competency: Skills like analysis, computation, research, and problem-solving are prioritized.
  3. Global Awareness: The college encourages an understanding and appreciation of scientific processes, global systems, and civics, as well as artistic variety.
  4. Personal Responsibility and Professional Development: Fostering self-management and self-awareness, social and physical wellness, and workplace soft skills are also part of the curriculum.
Cabrillo College Student Union

Cabrillo College Student Union

Campus and Facilities

Cabrillo College’s primary campus is located in Aptos, with an additional location in downtown Watsonville. The college has invested in several major construction projects, including the Barbara Samper Student Activities Center, the Cabrillo College Arts Education Complex, and a Health & Wellness Center at the Aptos campus.

The Aptos campus features a bust honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and in 2013, the college opened the Baskin Engineering, Physics and Computing Center, a hub for STEM classes. The Watsonville location hosts the Solari Green Technology Center, offering classes in renewable and recycled building materials, solar technology, and construction management.

Academics and Transfer Options

Cabrillo College offers hundreds of courses leading to four-year degrees in various majors. Many Cabrillo College students transfer to nearby universities, including the University of California at Santa Cruz, San Jose State University, and California State University at Monterey Bay.

Additionally, the college offers programs connected to the nearby Silicon Valley business environment and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. These programs lead to skills certificates, certificates of achievement, and associate degrees. Cabrillo also offers basic skills courses and courses for business, professional, and personal development.

Financial Aid and Tuition

Cabrillo College offers affordable education to its students. The in-state tuition is $1,262, and the out-of-state tuition is $8,630. The college also provides financial aid in the form of grants and loans to eligible students.

Campus Life and Student Resources

Cabrillo College provides a vibrant campus life and ample resources for student support. These include career counseling, personal counseling, and free workshops on a variety of subjects. The college also has various student resource groups and an on-campus Women’s Center.

Cabrillo College in Aptos

Cabrillo College in Aptos


Cabrillo College is home to Sammy the Seahawk and has a thriving athletics department.

Notable Alumni

Cabrillo College has an impressive list of alumni who have made their mark in various fields. This includes professional athletes, actors, animators, and musicians.


Cabrillo College is a beacon of higher education, providing quality education and resources to help students succeed. Its commitment to nurturing global awareness, critical thinking, communication, and personal responsibility makes it a truly unique institution and a jewel in the crown of California’s community college system.

“I’m often told by students that they decided to come here because they know the faculty really cares what happens.” – Dr. Robert Swenson, Founding President of Cabrillo College

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