Transitioning to Cal Poly
As you start your journey at Cal Poly you will encounter fun, new friends, discover new interests, run into deadlines, policies, and procedures. It takes a while to learn your new academic system, but no worries! We are here to help. On this page you will receive weekly updates and tips to commonly encountered processes.
Between Now and SLO Days : AP/IB and other college credit
During our Advising Toolkit SLO Days session, we review the advising tools that you use to see what Cal Poly credit you would get from your AP and/or IB exams. Below is a overview of each of those tools:
Each year, Cal Poly published a matrix of which exam gives what credit at Cal Poly. You can view matrices here. Be sure to select the academic year in which you took the exam for the appropriate credit. You may need to view multiple matrices if you took exams in multiple years. (ex. if you tool the calculus exam in 2018 and US History in 2019 you will need to use the 2018 and 2019 matrix respectively.)
Degree Progress Report (DPR)
You can access your DPR by logging on to your Cal Poly Portal (my.calpoly.edu), click on Student Center, then on the drop-down menu, select "Degree Progress." On your DPR, you will see credit that you received from your AP/IB exams identified with a green check mark and/or a green arrow.
Mustang Success Center Advisors
Once you have reviewed the AP/IB matrices and your Degree Progress Report (DPR), you may still have questions. If that is the case, just drop-in to meet virtually on Zoom, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advice from other First Year Students
The quarter system and managing your time
Understanding the quarter system takes time and can be a challenge to adjust to the fast pace.
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 long, which can also add to the overall stress and change.
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:
- Sign up for workshops and study sessions for your science, math, and engineering classes.
- Sign up for study sessions, they are not for credit classes, but rather time when you can collaborate with peers for a certain class.
- Plan how you will manage your time throughout the quarter
First Fall quarter block schedule
First-time freshman are enrolled in classes for fall quarter and will be able to view their schedules on their Student Center in August. Block scheduling are designed to get freshman into classes chosen by their major.
Winter and Spring quarter block schedule
In winter and spring quarter, it will be common for students to be block enrolled in less than 12 units. Students will need to add courses to your schedule. Schedules during these terms focus on major, support and select general education courses. Learn more about how you will navigate your winter and spring class schedules.
How registration works at Cal Poly
Cal Poly has a variety of registration tools to assist you in registering for classes. Learn more about how these registration tools work together to assist you in building your class schedule and graduation planning.
Schedule Builder Tips
How to search for a GE on Schedule Builder
How to search for a class by subject in Schedule Builder
How to waitlist a class in Schedule Builder
How to use a permission number in Schedule Builder
Change of Major Information
First time freshmen are required to stay in their major for at least one quarter. There will be change of major workshops throughout the school year to learn more about this process. We encourage you to review the change of major procedure and reach out to the Mustang Success Center if you have questions.
We also encourage you to read about how the Freshmen Focus Team (below in academic support) can help be a helpful resource to you in the change of major process.
Freshman Focus Team
Freshman Focus Team includes three specialized career counselors to help students with their unique career needs, including:
- Exploring their values, interests, personality, and strengths and making informed major/career decisions based on these personal factors
- Discovering a range of career possibilities through hands-on exploration and research
- Creating plans to gain experience through co-curricular involvement, internships, and part time jobs
- Developing professional skills like resume and cover letter writing, networking, professional branding, and interviewing
Tutoring, Paper Writing, Supplemental Workshops, and Study Sessions
The University Writing and Learning Center supports academic achievement by offering peer-to-peer learning opportunities in a welcoming environment. All students are welcome. Get support for the following:
- Writing Consults
- All writing projects from ANY class
- Generating and organizing your ideas
- Focus your thoughts and clarifying your purpose
- Developing support for your topic
- Preparing for the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE)
- Reviewing grammar and punctuation
- All classes across all colleges
- Specific subject tutoring
- Trained peer tutors
- 1 on 1 and small group options
The Academic Skills Center offers programs to enrich academic development and reinforce the learn by doing emphasis at Cal Poly. The most popular are:
Learning how to study is an on-going process. Different strategies may be required for different types of exams or assignments, and everyone has a unique learning style. During office hours, ask your professors how you might focus your efforts to study most effectively for their classes. Cal Poly also offers a Study Strategies Library that you can use to explore various aspects of studying.
College Librarians and Specialists
Kennedy Library has an expert team of College Librarians and Specialists who provide meaningful, tailored support to students. Contact your College Librarian or Specialist if you are seeking research help or want to learn more about library resources.
Involvement, Clubs, and Jobs
Cal Poly provides many opportunities to get involved throughout your time here. Additionally, there are many resources if you are looking for an on-campus job, local part-time job, or internship opportunities.
There will be an abundant amount of opportunities to get involved throughout your time here. For your first year, we encourage you to get involved in different areas but keep a realistic balance with your academics.
- Join a campus club or organization
- Intramural Sports
- Center of Leadership and Service
- Attend Athletic Event
Check out other clubs affiliated with your major!
Mustang JOBS is a great resource that lists over 25,000 positions that are made available annually. You can access this resource on your Cal Poly Portal under the "My Apps" column. To find out more information please visit Career Services website
Get a Research Job
Our students have amazing opportunities to collaborate with faculty for undergraduate research.
- Biology research
- Psychology and Child Development research
- Pre- Health research
- Electrical Engineering projects
- Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in STEM research-opportunities
You can Google Cal Poly Research Opportunities for more information about undergraduate research at Cal Poly
Departments, if you have on going research job opportunities, please email advising to put your link here.