The pursuit of a college degree may not seem like the most practical way to chase surf, binding yourself to one location for an extended period of time and saddling yourself with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt just to postpone your eventual entry into the Rat Race in service of paying down your federally subsidized debt. Oh, how Dora would rage!

But there are obviously advantages to furthering your formal education. Regardless of your career path, a college degree is now the lowest barrier to entry to the jobs market. The unemployment rate for college graduates hovers around 2 percent. And those with a degree from a four-year academic institution earn 90 percent more on average than those without a post-high school education. Unless you're one of the lucky few whose resume will include the single-line entry "professional surfer," in order to surf for the rest of your life, you'll need money. And while there may be other ways to get it, a job is the most practical (and legal) recourse.

So college is good idea, but let's talk trade-offs. You're going to be tied to one specific location for four (or more) years of your life. You might as well find a school within striking distance of a sliver of coastline offering ample opportunities for aquatic-based matriculation between classes. Also, it's (almost) as important to make sure the school provides a quality education.

To make life easier on both you and your guidance counselor, we pored over university pamphlets, surf reports, and statistics—taking into consideration surf proximity and quality, academics, cost and lifestyle—to narrow down America’s most surf-friendly four-year schools. The list we've assembled (which we’ll be revealing over the next week) includes ten prestigious institutions, revered by many surfers for their high academic standards, illustrious alumni, and, not coincidentally, their nearness to quality surf.

Here’s No. 8 on our list….

No. 8: San Diego State University
San Diego, CA

Waves
Although it lacks the ocean vistas of nearby Point Loma Nazarene University and the proximity to world-class surf of UCSD, State Diego State University remains within striking distance of a good portion of one of California's most wave-rich regions. It's a just straight shot west on the 8 freeway to Ocean Beach and less than an hour north of the US-Mexico border. Warm weather and 70 miles of beachbreaks, piers, and reefs make San Diego a no-brainer for those interested in aquatic-based extracurricular activities.

Education
SDSU is slightly easier to get into than other UC schools, and a whole lot less expensive. It’s the oldest and largest institution in the city and it has been named the number one small research university in the country as measured by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index four years in a row. SDSU offers 190 bachelor's degrees and 26 teaching credentials to its student-body, which ranks in the top 10 for its racial and ethnic diversity.

Town and campus
Conveniently located next to southern California arteries like the 5 and the 8 freeways, the SDSU campus, though inland, offers relatively quick and painless access to the beachies and piers of OB and PB, as well as La Jolla's reef passes. PB, OB, and Mission Beach each offers its own version of southern California beach life and a fair share of affordable surf shacks and beach-y bungalows. PB is home to a lively stretch of bars frequented by collegiates and post-collegiates alike. Incoming freshmen would be wise to bring a passport, as Baja's less-crowded breaks are arguably just as close to the SDSU campus as those of North County SD.

Lifestyle
Aside from being home to innumerable waves, San Diego is a sprawling metropolis home to more than 150,000 college students attending a dozen colleges and universities. It's a Playboy-rated party school (for whatever that's worth). If you're bored (or surf-starved) here, you're doing it wrong.

Annual cost: $28,200 in-state / $40,000 out-of-state
Enrolled: 34,000
Average incoming GPA: 3.67
Male/female ratio of students: 46/54

[Head back to Surfer.com tomorrow for our No.7 reveal]

Best Surf Colleges 2018

No. 10: Monmouth University

No. 9: University of North Carolina Wilmington