College Focus: Cal Poly SLO

By Amelia Lipcsei

One of three California Polytechnic Universities, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, offers over 60 undergraduate majors and 50 graduate programs. With a student body of over 21,000 people and a total of 9,178 acres of land, the university has an impressive campus—the second largest of all land-holding universities in California. Known for its engineering programs, with almost a third of undergraduates in the engineering department, Cal Poly tends to focus on hands-on learning and research in STEM fields. However, the university also places emphasis on “combining technical and professional curricula with the arts and humanities” (CalPoly). In fact, the school is known for its ‘Learn by Doing’ process—providing small classes that give students the opportunity to work closely with professors on projects and research. A student to faculty ratio of 19:1 allows for easy access to advice from professors and professionals in all fields. 

Recently, Cal Poly added an Office of Undergraduate Research to aid students in pursuing real-world projects. With a focus on applied research and industry collaboration, the research office provides undergraduates with the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Gaining knowledge and expertise, students work with private companies that Cal Poly collaborates with to work on real-world industry projects. These projects can range from in-classroom projects to long-term partnerships with respected organizations. 

Unfortunately, since all majors at Cal Poly are impacted, students usually face difficulties switching courses. In fact, the university encourages students to make well thought out and informed decisions about their majors before applying to the school. To even consider switching, students must complete a full quarter at the school and then go through rigorous paperwork to attempt to leave their major; however, even after attempts to switch, students often remain stuck in the same major as they originally declared. 

Currently, Cal Poly has an acceptance rate of around 33%, making it a competitive school, especially with the number of applicants that it receives every year. If you’re looking for a school focused highly on hands-on learning and research and you are completely set on a major, then Cal Poly may be a good school to look into.