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Transition Tips

Transition Tips BannerTransitioning 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

One of the most exciting times is after you have decided to commit to Cal Poly! At this point, many questions start popping up, especially with uncertainties about fall quarter classes being partially or fully virtual. 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.

I know transcripts are due by July 15th, but what if I am taking a summer class?

Send your partial transcript (transcript without the final grades) to Cal Poly before July 15th and block schedules team will do their best to account for that. However, if you get blocked into a class that you are earning credit for over the summer (or have previous credit for) just reach out to our office. We can show you how to find an alternative course.

How can I take a summer class that will be applicable to my Cal Poly Degree?

Welcome new Mustang! Are you interested in taking a General Education (GE) class over the summer? Check out the three steps below to get started!

1. Get to know your GE requirements by looking at your major’s curriculum sheet.

  • Go to, select the 2021-2022 catalog year (may not be published at the moment), then select your major, then select a concentration or non-concentration option.
  • Under the General Education section, you need to complete one class for each GE area that has a “4” beside it.
  • Any GE area that does not have a “4” and is grayed out, will be automatically satisfied through a major or support course.

2. Understand what you already have credit for by reviewing the AP or IB matrix.

  • Visit the AP/IB Transfer Credit page, and select the AP or IB exam matrix for the year in which you took the exam; you may need to review multiple matrices if you took exams in multiple years.  
  • On the matrix, find the exam you took; if you earned the minimum score for credit, you should earn credit for the GE area listed in the right-hand column of the matrix.
  • Be aware that 2019 and earlier matrices listed credit using the old 2019-2020 GE pattern.  To see how the GE listed on 2019 and earlier matrices will apply to your 2021-2022 GE requirements, follow the chart here.

3. Now that you know which GE areas you still need to complete, follow the steps below to determine how to find GE classes this summer

Within California Only:

  • To find GE classes at a California Community College, use To find out how to use ASSIST visit our Assist Webpage.

How will Cal Poly be here for me if we are virtual?

Within the Mustang Success Center we are offering all of our services virtually. This ranges from 1 on 1 advising meetings, workshops for changing your major and class registration, time management and study skills conversations, and making the most of your academic experience.

On a broader scale, the university as a whole is transitioning their services to a virtual world, and trying to find new ways to build community. The Cal Poly Now app and the Cal Poly Guidebook have up to date information on how to get involved here. 

Advice from other First Years

Registration Process Banner

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 Banner

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 Banner

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.


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