Google Tag Manager

Cal Poly Global Site Tag

Script for Translate Tracking

Transition Tips

Transition Tips BannerTransitioning to Cal Poly

As you start your journey at Cal Poly you will encounter fun adventures, new friends, discover new interests, run into deadlines, policies, and procedures. It takes a while to learn your new academic system, but worry not! We are here to help. On this page you will find tips to commonly encountered questions and processes.

Between now and WOW

One of the most exciting times is after you have decided to commit to Cal Poly! At this point, many questions start popping up. We have a lot to share with you during SLO Days, but in the meantime, you can find answers to some of your questions below.

Complete your admissions checklist

Make sure you are up to date on your admissions checklist items so you are prepared to meet us during Cal Poly SLO Days (aka summer orientation). View the First-Year admissions checklist.

Math Placement

Many students will be required or encouraged to take the Math Placement Exam (MAPE). This allows a student the opportunity to advance their placement up to Calculus 1.

Standard math placement is pre-calculus algebra (MATH 118).

To place in Calculus 1 (Math 141, 161, and 221) students will need one of the following:

How to determine if you should take the MAPE

  1. Check your current math placement level (typically accessible after July 9)
    1. Login to your Cal Poly Portal 
    2. Click onto the Academic Tabs
    3. Click on "Poly Profile" under General Degree Resources
    4. On your Poly Profile find "Career Program Plans"
    5. Under "Career Program Plans" and you will locate "milestones"
    6. Your "milestones" has your "Math Placement Level"
  2. Understand your math placement level
    1. Eligible for Math 115 - Stretch Pre-calculus Algebra I (this option stretches Math 118 into two quarters of math, Math 115 + Math 117). Students with this placement should take the MAPE.
    2. Eligible for Math 118, 119 - Pre-calculus Algebra / Pre-calculus Trigonometry. Standard math placement at Cal Poly. Students with this placement in majors that start with Calculus should take the MAPE.
    3. Eligible for Math 141, 161, 221 - Various Calculus 1. Student with this placement should not take the MAPE.
    4. Eligible for Math 142 or 143 or 241 - Student with this placement should not take the MAPE.
  3. Know what math placement level your major starts with
    1. Locate your curriculum sheet or flowchart at
    2. Find the first required math class. Look for: 
      1. Math 112, 118, 119, or 227
      2. Math 141, 161, or 221
      3. No math class
        • If you find Stat 130, 217, 218, or 251 "special circumstances by major"
      4. If your math placement is lower than your first required math class you may benefit from taking the MAPE to elevate your math placement.
      5. Review special circumstances by major

College of Liberal Arts Majors 

  • The following majors need a math placement of at least Math 112, 118, 119, or 227 or completion of Math 115 to take STAT 217
    • Anthropology and Geography
    • Child Development 
    • Comparative Ethnic Studies
    • Political Science
    • Psychology 
    • Sociology 
  • The following majors need a math placement of at least Math 112, 118, 119, or 227 or completion of Math 115 to take STAT 217 or STAT 218
    • Communication Studies
  • The following majors need a math placement of at least Math 112, 118, 119, or 227 or completion of Math 115 to take STAT 130, STAT 217, or 218
    • Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Journalism 

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences Majors

  • Animal Science students are given the choice between Math 118 or 161, students who wish to go the pre-vet track should prepare to take Math 161. 
  • The following majors need a math placement of Math 141, 161, or 221 or completion of Math 118 piror to taking CHEM 127
    • Plant Science
    • Wine and Viticulture

Bailey College of Science and Mathematics Majors

  • Liberal Studies students need a math placement of Math 112, 118, 119, or 227 or completion of Math 115 to take STAT 130, STAT 217, or 218
  • Public Health student need a math placement of Math 141, 161, or 221 or completion of Math 118 to take CHEM 127

Orfalea College of Business

  • Business students will need a math placement of Math 141, 161, or 221 or completion of math 118 to take STAT 251

Utilizing Advising Services

Prior to June 24th send the MSC Advisors an email at

Starting June 24th utilize all MSC services email, virtual, and in-person drop-ins

Top 5 Questions from First-Time Freshmen

What is the Mustang Success Center? How do Academic Advisors help me?

The Mustang Success Center is a first year advising office here to assist you with any questions you might have including identifying resources on campus suited to your personal needs, class schedule planning, and study skills development. Our Academic Advisors can also help you navigate and understand your degree requirements, curriculum, and Cal Poly policies.

Watch our intro video

What credit did I get from my AP exams, IB exams, or college classes?

You will first want to understand the course requirements you will need to complete in order to graduate.

Visit; use the drop-down menus to select the upcoming academic year as the catalog year, your major, and “non-concentration option.” Then click on the Curriculum Sheet button. *Your year's catalog may not be finalized until summer.

If you sent your transcripts by the July 15 deadline, you should be able to use your Degree Progress Report (or DPR) to see what you got credit for. Log into your Cal Poly Portal, click on Student Center, then click on the drop-down menu and select Degree Progress.

The green checkmarks and arrows identify what you have credit for from your transfer credit. Compare that to the requirements on your curriculum sheet. If you think you should have credit for something, but it is not there, we may not yet have your transcript.

When do I register for my fall classes? What is a block schedule?

Cal Poly enrolls you into your fall classes, so you don’t have to worry about navigating the registration system. This is called a block schedule, and you will receive it in August. Check out our block schedule page for more details.

To make sure that you are enrolled into the appropriate math class for you in fall quarter, be sure to send in any SAT or ACT scores you may have, take the Math Placement Survey via the link on your To-Do List.

If you need to make a change to your block schedule, you will use a tool called Schedule Builder. Visit the block schedule page for more information.

Watch this video introduction on the Registration Tool Schedule Builder

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 learn about the process.

Watch this video on Getting Started with Change of Major

How do I double major or add a minor?

Double Major: Double majoring is permitted at the discretion of each individual academic department. Not all departments allow double majors; those that do will consider your Cal Poly GPA as part of the criteria to add a second major. Try your best during the first quarter, then to come see us again in winter quarter if you are interested in a double major at that time.

Minor: A minor is an integrated, coherent group of courses (typically 24 to 30 quarter units), which gives the student knowledge in an area that lies outside of the major field of study. The minor must be completed prior to, or at the same time as, the requirements for the bachelor's degree. A major and a minor may not be taken in the same degree program, and a minor is not required for a degree.

Review this process for choosing a minor.

Review the list of all minors at Cal Poly.

Visit our FAQ page for answers to additional questions.

Registration Process

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:

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.

Learn more about block schedules.

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.

Learn more about block 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

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.

Academic Support

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, & Study Sessions

The University Writing and Learning Center offers free consultations on any writing project for any discipline. All students are welcome. Get support for the following:

  • 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

In addition, the Writing and Learning Center offers 1 on 1 and group tutoring for almost every class on campus.

Study Skills

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, Jobs, and Clubs

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.

Campus Involvement

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.

Check out other clubs affiliated with your major!

Campus Jobs

Portal App for Mustang JobsMustang 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



What can I do with my major?

Get a Research Job

Our students have amazing opportunities to collaborate with faculty for undergraduate research.

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.


Related Content

Sample Menu 1