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Frequently Asked Questions Banner

First year students, please start by reviewing the First Year Advising Canvas to search for answers to your questions

To access Canvas, log into your Cal Poly Portal and click on "Cal Poly Canvas" on the left column

Academic Advising

What is an academic advisor and how can they help me?

Academic Advisors can assist you in identifying resources on campus suited to your personal needs, schedule planning, and study skills development. Academic Advisors can help you navigate and understand your degree requirements, curriculum, and Cal Poly policies.

Mustang Success Center is a first year advising office here to assist you with any questions you might have.

As you transition into your 2nd year at Cal Poly you will connect with your college or department advisors. Please click on "who is my advisor" for your respective college or department.

What is a block schedule?

Short answer, a block schedule is classes that your department and the Office of the Registrar have enrolled you in. It is going to consist of all degree applicable classes from your major/support/GEs.

Check out block schedules for more information on how it's made and a specific FAQ.

Can I make changes to my block schedule?

Yes, however we do not recommend you doing that without reading through information, and talking with an advisor in the MSC.

How does my AP/IB transfer credits apply to Cal Poly

Check out the AP/IB matrix site. Make sure you look at the matrix of the year you took the exam.

What is Drop-In Advising

In the Mustang Success Center, we focus on being accessible to you as you need us. Our office is open extended hours and in multiple locations. You can drop-in to see an advisor without an appointment.

Can I take class at Cal Poly and another college at the same time?

Yes! This is called dual enrollment. Some things you want to pay attention to are whether the school is quarters, like CP, or semesters, the start and end date of the term, and your overall work load. Work with an advisor in the Mustang Success Center to talk through the transferability of your class choices and finding success with time management.

How do I use Degree Planner?

Degree planner allows you to plan out your path to graduation. The Office of the Registrar has a great resource page to answer most questions!

Can I repeat classes I received AP/IB credit for?

Yes! You can repeat courses that you received AP/IB credit for; however, you will not receive additional credit for the course. It is recommended for you to discuss repeating the course with your academic advisor to see how this will affect your course sequencing.

How can I withdraw from a class, the term, or leave Cal Poly temporarily or permanently?

During your college career you may have to make a change to classes or even take time away. Use the information on the Drops, Withdraws, and Leaves page to review your options. Click on the box that best describes your situation to see the process and timeline. For help or more information contact the Mustang Success Center or the Office of the Registrar.


How do I get an official transcript?

You can order an official transcript via paper or electronic here.

If you are trying to get a transcript sent to Cal Poly, work with the institution that you took the class at. They will have their own ordering process.

Where can I get my unofficial transcript?

Access your Unofficial Transcripts through your portal and the “Academics” tab. You will find your Poly Profile under “General Degree Resources” in the “Degree Information” channel.

Take a screenshot of your "Degree Information".

What happens if I drop less than 12 units?

Being enrolled in less than 12 units can have an impact on your financial aid and on campus housing. For specifics of your situation touch base with Financial Aid and your Coordinator of Student Development in Housing.

I want to study abroad, where do I start?

There are a lot of rumors around what classes to 'save' for study abroad or when you should study abroad. However, every student comes in with with their own academic history and program requirement. Attend a study abroad 101 workshop and then talk with an advisor in the MSC about your situation!

How do I change my meal plan?

First Year students are allowed to make a one-time change to their meal plan. Connect with Dining Services to find out how!

How can I replace my campus ID

  1. Go to PolyCard Services to report your lost card. If prompted, enter your Cal Poly username and password.
  2. Answer "Do you want to report your card as lost?" by clicking the Yes button.
  3. Follow the steps on the Get a PolyCard page. There is a $5 replacement fee

How long does it take for for courses taken at another college to count towards my degree once I sent my transcripts?

If they are sent after you application transcripts it can take 1 - 3 quarters for them to be received, evaluated, and applied to your degree.

How can I find out about internships and research opportunities?

Talking with faculty members in your major department is one of the most effective ways to find out about research and internships!

In addition, connecting with Career Services can you set you up with resume and interview help They also have internships fairs!

How do I get an on campus job?

Many of the on campus jobs are posted through your Handshake account.

Access Handshake through your Cal Poly portal at under MustangJOBS


How do I find and add a minor?

To add a minor check out this process.

A list of all minors offered at Cal Poly.

Can I double minor?

Yes! You will want to follow the steps of finding and adding a minor. Make sure that the additional curriculum still allows you to achieve graduation in a reasonable amount of time. Some minors have restrictions for certain majors, you can find more information about minor restrictions.

How do I change my major?

At Cal Poly a student must remain in their declared major for a full quarter before starting the change process. Visit the Change of Major page to read how you can get prepared now!

Can I double major?

Cal Poly does allow double majoring, but not all colleges allow it. To find out if this is an option for you reach out to the Dean of your intended second major.

How can I declare my concentration?

Not all major have concentrations, but some do! Most of your departments will share information with you during your first year on how to decide and declare a concentration. Check out these pages for more:

College Declaration
CENG All majors use this page
CAFES Depends on major, connect with your department
CSM Depends on major, see this page
CLA Depends on major, see this page
OCOB All majors use this page

What is a Major/Support/GE Class?

Major classes are designed to provide competence in the professional field in which a degree is earned. Courses are typically offered by the academic department in which the degree program is offered.

Support classes provide background needed for major courses and are offered by departments other than the department in which the major is offered. For example, most majors in engineering and in the sciences require support courses in mathematics. Some degree programs do not include support courses.

General Education (GE) classes are courses that provide a common foundation of knowledge for all undergraduate programs.

More about GE (General Education)

Who is my major advisor?

During your 2nd year at Cal Poly you will transition into meeting with your College advisors. Learn more about College Advising Centers.

Who is my faculty advisor?

Some colleges utilize a faculty advising model, where faculty can help you connect to your major in many different ways. Check in with your department to find out who your faculty advisor is!

To Calculate Major GPA (unofficial)

  • The classes that count in your Major GPA are those listed beginning in the left top corner on the Curriculum Sheet under the heading “MAJOR COURSES.” Courses listed under Support and GE do not count in the Major GPA. Include Technical Electives, Concentration Courses, and/or Approved Electives as specified in the MAJOR COURSES section.
  • Use the GPA Calculator and leave the Current Cumulative GPA table blank.
  • Enter the name, number of units, and your actual grade for each course. Note that the “grade range” will be the same for both the high and low grades; e.g., if you have a B in a class, put in B for both High and Low Range.
  • If you repeated major courses and the grades were averaged, not forgiven, include such courses in your calculations. Enter such courses twice, with the corresponding grades. An unforgiven grade is noted on Poly Profile with an “Exclude Earned” notation.
  • After you enter a unit count and grade for each class, your GPA will be displayed in the “Total High & Low GPA” table; the GPA calculations will be the same. Note: official determination of major GPA is calculated by Evaluations at the time of graduation.

Finding Success

How is the quarter system different, how can I get prepared?

The quarter system divides the typical academic year into 3 parts, rather than the 2 that is common with high school semester system. The quarter consists of 10 weeks of class and 1 week of finals, so your faculty are going to move through material a lot faster.

Exam season can feel like it is all quarter, which can also add to stressors.

On the positive, if you are in a class you are not enjoying, it moves very fast so you can get right on with your academic journey!

To get prepared, the week before classes:

  • Check your class schedule through the student center. Print/screen shot schedule to retain class schedule information. Waitlists will disappear from your class schedule few days before classes start
  • Textbooks: online at the bookstore’s website or walk in to the bookstore in the UU plaza (textbooks are found by department in the back room).
  • Check out where your classes are located before the quarter starts either by downloading the CP App or look at campus map, hint: 33-211 mean Building 33 (Fisher Science), in room 211 (on the second floor).

During the first week of classes:
Make an academic plan:

How can I get help with time management?

First, get all your syllabi and layout your entire quarter's worth of assignments, projects, and exams. After you have a quarter's view, use the weekly schedule to plan out your class schedule, study time, group projects, work, etc!

Check out the Academic Skills website for more detailed information and printable PDFs for monthly and weekly planners.

Bring these in to an advisor to talk through additional strategies!

I need help with studying

How you study and learn is a very personal thing. What works for you in one class may not work in another, and it's very likely to look different than your peers.

The study strategies library is a great place to start exploring strategies, but don't hesitate to come in and meet with the Mustang Success Center!

Is tutoring free? How can I sign up?

Tutoring is no additional cost for you! It's funded through your student fees.

To sign up for 1 on 1 or group tutoring set up an account through the Writing and Learning Center.

They have trained tutors for almost every specific class at Cal Poly, and if your class isn't there they can work with you to find someone!

What is a Supplemental Workshop or a Study Session?

  • Workshops are a 1-unit class taught by an upper division student that got an A or B in it. They will create handouts and practice tests and help answer any questions. You will get graded pass/fail for participation.
  • Study sessions are not a class, but rather a time when you can collaborate with peers for a certain class. They are facilitated by an upper division student who can help you out with any questions.

Where can I get help with a paper I have to write? Or a research paper?

The Writing and Learning Center can help ANY student with a paper! It is not limited to English classes.

To get help start to finish with your research paper take a look at Research 101.

What is grade forgiveness and how does it work?

Students may repeat up to 16 units at Cal Poly for purposes of improving their GPA. If the second grade is equal to or higher than the first, then it replaces the first grade.

The original grade is "forgiven" from the GPA computation, but both grades appear on the student's transcript.

Students just need to enroll in the same class (ex. Math 141 for Math 141), and the system will automatically count it for grade forgiveness.

Why should I got to office hours? I don't know what to talk about!

Office hours allows you to meet your professor and get to know them, and them you. It can be a bit daunting to visit office hours the first time, but many students share they wish they had gone earlier.

Office hours can help you get a better or deeper understanding of the material, catch up if you are feeling behind, provide clarity if you are feeling lost, and help you get ahead when preparing for exams or projects.

Here are some starting questions:

  • How does {insert topic} in the reading relate to the lecture?
  • Can you explain how you structure your exams?
  • I was looking at the expectations of this project/paper, can you share with me what exceptional work looks like?

How do I get involved?

There are so many ways to get involved on campus! The best place to start is to think of your interests and find groups and clubs that focus on that. However, college is a time for exploring and expanding your interests.

Between academic groups, cross cultural centers, clubs, fraternity & sorority life, club sports, and residence hall leadership you are sure to find something that fits you!

How To Calculate GPA When Repeating Courses

Step 1

Log on to your Cal Poly Portal. To access your GPA Calculator, select the “Academics” tab, then click on the “Poly Profile” link.

PolyProfile Tab in the Portal

Step 2

Once you have successfully logged into your Poly Profile, scroll down until you see this category of information. Click on the “GPA Calculator” link. This will automatically populate your current Cal Poly Cumulative GPA (CPSLO GPA).

GPA Calculator

Step 3

Enter your courses you are currently registered for in order to learn about the grades you will need to receive in your current term GPA.

Input current courses in each “Course Title” column, and include class unit amount in “Unit” column. You can develop both “high” and “low” potential grades to predict the outcome of your GPA based on these potential grades. If you are repeating a course in Fall, click the “Show Repeats” option to calculate how the Grade Forgiveness Policy will benefit your GPA.

As you input grades, your “GPA High” and “GPA Low” will fluctuate. Use these GPA fluctuations to determine the grades you need to receive in Fall Quarter to get off of Academic Probation.

Show repeat class


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Common Academic Policies

A new academic setting brings new policies you need to be aware of throughout your time at Cal Poly. The catalog provides all policies and degree requirements. Review some of the following policies that you will be expected to be aware of:



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