University High School Fresno

University High School, Fresno, CA

There are a lot of things you look for when shopping for a new home: Location, architecture, lot size, and—if you have a family—good schools. California is a big state, and that means there’s a vast range of public, private, and charter school options out there. But we all know quantity isn’t the problem, it’s quality, and that’s why U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of America’s Best High Schools is a resource so many families look to for guidance.

This year, U.S. News reviewed over 21,000 public schools for the “Best High Schools of 2013” list and when all was said and done, 630 California schools made the cut. That’s no easy feat; just to be eligible for the distinction, each school must be a national gold or silver medal award winner. So if you’re in the market for a new home and a great school, consider buying near one of these outstanding educational institutions.

While we can’t list all 630 schools right here, we’ve chosen five of the top ten Cali schools U.S. News & World Report’s included in their “Best High Schools” 2013 report. Take a look at the full report here!

1. Pacific Collegiate School: Santa Cruz, CA
Ranked #1 in California/#11 Nationally
Recognition: Gold-Medal School/California Distinguished School—2007

Pacific Collegiate School is a public charter school that opened its doors in 1999 with a fresh, innovative approach to learning. Their challenging education program focuses on standards-based college prep courses with an emphasis on cross-cultural, international, and technological studies. In addition to classes, PCS ensures all students are versed in community-giving by requiring Middle School students to complete at least 10 hours of Community Service per year while High School students must complete at least 20 hours of service. With a U.S. News ranking of #1 in California, the school’s educational and humanitarian vision is obviously paying off in spades. The student body consists of approximately 500 students in grades 7–12 and admissions are lottery based.

2. Oxford Academy: Cypress, CA
Ranked #2 in California/#16 Nationally
Recognition: Gold-Medal School/California Distinguished School—2013

California’s #2 ranked school is the Anaheim Union School District’s Oxford Academy. With approximately 1,100 students in grades 7–12 currently enrolled and applications only accepted for grades 7–9, competition is fierce to gain a spot at the academy. According to the school website, over 900 students test for 200 openings in the 7th grade class, yet only the top 25 applicants from each of the district’s eight public junior high schools will be admitted. In addition to courses such as Business, Mathematics, Social Science, and Performing Arts, all students participate in either the “Biotechnology and Medical Pathway” to explore careers in the health field or the “Business Pathway” for those interested in pursuing accounting, marketing, or business administration careers.

3. The Preuss School: La Jolla, CA
Ranked #4 in California/#30 Nationally
Recognition: Gold-Medal School

The Preuss School is not only ranked #4 in US News’ list, but it was also recognized by Newsweek magazine as a “top transformative high school in the nation” for three consecutive years and was also named one of their Top 50 American High Schools. This distinctive charter school concentrates on lower-income, gifted and motivated students who strive to be the first in their family to earn a college degree—and with nearly 100% of the graduates moving on to higher education, Preuss is apparently reaching its goals. While this school is not an option for higher-earning families, its mission is so significant and impressive that we felt it was important to share it in our “5 Schools to Know About” list.

4. University High School: Fresno, CA
Ranked #7 in California/#42 Nationally
Recognition: Gold-Medal School/California Distinguished School—2010–2012

Fresno’s University High School is a unique 9–12 grade Liberal Arts charter school located on the California State University campus. The approximately 400 enrolled students experience what the school calls an “accelerated college preparatory program” which includes two years of Latin, as well as music theory and performance classes. Interested applicants should complete either an online or PDF application and submit it during the Winter Application Process. Interested Freshman should meet several requirements, including showing a strong interest in vocal or instrumental music and having at least two years of musical experience.

5. Lowell Magnet High School: San Francisco, CA
Ranked #8 in California/#43 Nationally
Recognition: Gold-Medal School/California Distinguished School—7 times/National Blue Ribbon School—4 times.
Lowell Magnet High School has been a piece of San Francisco history since it first opened its door in 1856 as “Union Grammar School.” In 1962, Lowell moved to its current Parkside District location and is now renowned as the city’s leading “college preparatory high school.” Unlike most public high schools, Lowell’s progressive vision gives students the freedom to choose their own courses through the “Digital Arena Rotation” system and focuses on the concept of an “integrated school where cultural and social diversity enrich the lives of all students.” Admissions depend on the submission of applications, test score evaluations, and prior academic records. Bonus info: Lowell alumni include two Nobel Prize Winners.

Are schools a factor in your new-home search? Check out these listings from California Moves to see what’s available in and around these neighborhoods.

164 Sea Cliff Sitting Room
164 Sea Cliff Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121


8554 El Paseo Grande, La Jolla, CA
8554 El Paseo Grande
La Jolla, CA 92037