Humboldt State University (Arcata, CA)

Outside the Bay Area, CA
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At Humboldt I think he's guaranteed housing if he's in one of the PBLCs (small learning communities for freshmen in STEM majors). If not I still think applying for housing in April should be fine. Note, the Canyon dorms may be better than the Hill dorms (Sunset and Redwood) which are crowded and lack common area. Don't request a triple in the Hill dorms even though it's cheaper - the rooms are really small.

I don't have a college counselor to recommend, but if you're looking at state schools, we found that Humboldt State provided very good support for my daughter with LD. Their office of disabilities is located in the same building as the library (less stigmak if that is an issue), the counselors were knowledgeable, and they have a relatively comprehensive peer tutoring program (open and easily accessible to all students, not only kids with diagnosed LD).  We found the majority of teachers to be very open to the accommodations and when she had to do a late withdrawal because one particular teacher was a horrible match, the disabilites office signed off (kind of a big deal, they had an early drop date which they were strict about). They were also very open to what I think was an appropriate level of parental support / involvement, which I don't think is always the case. One down-side is that there are very few professional tutors in that area - my daughter was used to working with one here, so had to make the adjustment to peer tutors who don't understand LD.  Good luck with this process!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Humboldt State or CSU Monterey Bay

March 2014

I'm interested in hearing from parents who have a child who's attended either of these colleges. My daughter is a senior this year and these are her top two of the state schools. Right now she's looking at majoring in marine biology or something in the general area of environmental science, but she doesn't have much real experience on which to base her choice, so that could well change. I'm interested in hearing your impressions in general, as well as specifically:

---Experience with Disabled Students' Program, or in getting accommodations (my daughter has an auditory processing disability)

---Overall culture re: drug use. It seems like Humboldt State is trying to overcome this reputation but I'm not sure if this is just their PR? I know drugs are available everywhere, and there are always alternate peer groups who aren't into this, but I'm talking about the overall culture.

---Housing issues? This seems to be especially a problem at Humboldt State.

---Issue of low graduation rate (true @ both schools) - was this an issue for your kids, i.e. not enough students focused on learning? Thanks! Julie


Hi Julie,

I'm a College Advisor and I can address some of your questions based on my experience with helping students apply to these schools and my interactions with the reps.

Humboldt gives the impression that their on-campus housing availability is very limited and ask students to put down a deposit much earlier than most schools. However, the admissions counselor, who I have come to know very well, told me that if a student applies for housing late, they WILL still get a space in the dorms, they just might not get their first choice. More specifically, she said they will likely end up in the dorms with 30-40 students per floor, rather than the smaller apartments/suites. So not a big deal, unless your daughter has her heart set on the suite style living! I can't speak to the housing situation after freshmen year.

One of the seniors who graduated in 2013 is attending Humboldt and loves it - she is very mature and someone I would trust to be honest about the realities of the drug culture there.

My impression overall is that Humboldt is a much stronger school than Monterey, at least academically, and I've also had a fantastic experience working with their admissions staff - they offer a ton of student support and really make students feel welcome there. Hope that helps! Nicole M


My son is a student at Humboldt and I can respond from that perspective. Do not know much about CSU-MB and also am not familiar with disabled student program, though I have heard that MB has a good program.

Drugs: I think HSU staff try very hard, the campus police/residence hall staff are zero-tolerance for pot, etc. On the other hand, drugs are available on every campus and you can't protect your kids from them in any college environment. Complication at Humboldt is that the entire regional economy is fueled by pot and so it's pretty out in the open. Good news is it's focused on pot, rather than more dangerous drugs (meth, heroine, etc.) and the environment is appropriately mellow (!). Housing: is tight at Humboldt--you should absolutely get your name on the housing list immediately, even if she hasn't decided where she's going. Graduation rates: low throughout the CSU system and the CSU culture does not emphasize graduating on time. This can easily be managed by making sure your daughter stays on track, but she will have to make that happen, they won't do it for her. If she graduates in four years she'll definitely be in the small minority. But I don't think this is about ''not focusing on learning.'' It's about the fact that courses can be hard to find, many students work, and if it's not the norm for most students then they don't have pressure to move through the curriculum quickly, take a full load, etc. Overall: I do think Humboldt is one of the best CSU's. It's been there a long time, there's a good town-gown relationship, and a sense of tradition (which you will not get as much of at MB). Also, the academic program in marine science and environmental sciences is quite strong. That may be true at MB as well, I just am not familiar with their programs. Good luck with the decision!! HSU Mom


Humbolt CSU

Dec 2011

I am wondering what anyone knows about Humbolt CSU. My son applied there, and though he is quite bright, has not gotton good grades recently. Is the school good? Is it a healthy environment for most college students? How friendly is the student body? Are there more drugs there than other schools? Thanks anon


I attended HSU (Humboldt State University, a party of the CSU system) and loved it! I attended 1996-2000, so it's been a while! But I still have LOTS of friends who stayed in the area, moved back to the area, or now work on campus and they say most things haven't changed much.

I personally thought the school was great! Some of the fields of study are top notch like Forestry, Wildlife, Fisheries, etc. But they have good teaching, nursing, business, and art programs as well.

The student body is very friendly and it is easy to fit in. The biggest problem most students have is dealing with the lack of facilities for recreation. Humboldt County has amazing beaches and forests, and there are lots of outdoor recreation options. However, there aren't a lot of indoor activities which can be a problem for some student (especially since it rains normally 250 days a year). The closest mall is in Eureka and there are no big box stores in Arcata. My friends and I often drove to Oregon to go shopping for our big Fraternity social events. So that is something to consider.

I would definitly say that Marijuana is more prevalent on Humboldt's campus than it is on most other campuses. But that said most students used Marijuana and Alcohol for recreational purposes rather than anything else. Other types of drugs are not prevalent on campus and can be hard to find. I did know people who did way too much and other's who didn't touch it at all, again I think it's all about your student and what they are into.

I would be willing to talk more about any questions or concerns about HSU if you would like. I was a leader on campus and would even be able to refer you to friends who may have the same interests as your child and friends who work on campus. Please feel free to email me. klz


Humboldt State University is a wonderful school. Two of mine went there from BHS, one for undergraduate and graduate work, the other for a Master's Degree (now has a PhD from another university). Classes are smaller than urban colleges and faculty members are very approachable. The quality of the education is excellent. Furthermore, Arcata is a charming community centered around a town square. Arcata is a very friendly community. Parents will love visiting as the restaurants are great and there's a lot to do in the area from visiting the marsh lands, walking the redwood groves, strolling the beaches, exploring the town and surrounding neighborhoods, driving further north to Trinidad. There's lots to explore going and coming as well. The ride from the bay area is gorgeous. Ours loved Humboldt and appreciated all that it had to offer. Yes, there are drugs there as anywhere. That's a discussion you need to have with your college student wherever he or she goes. Former Humboldt CSU Parent


Have you visited the CSU Humboldt campus and Arcata/Eureka? Drive up with your kid and take a look. They are both relatively small (by Bay Area standards) towns. Humboldt has a great environmental science program but if your kid requires a more urban setting, it won't be the school of choice. Both my boys (one a pot smoker and one absolutely NOT) took a look and both said NO. They are both at Chico - one likes it well enough to stay and the other will move on (probably out of state) after this semester. Humboldt is FAR away and kind of in the middle of nowhere - which may be okay. My best advice? Take a road trip & stay a few days. Then decide. Susan