California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo - Comments and Student Experiences|
I really feel like I'm saving lives by people who are reading this and considering this school. It definitely has an edge over other universities, but this is not a university that is for everyone. The education quality is overall great, but once you move here, you realize that the quality of education is not all that matters. You MUST LOVE to live in small, secluded areas because that is exactly what San Luis Obispo is. If you prefer the excitement of a city, you are choosing the wrong place. If you think you are one of those people who can leave the excitement behind and just worry about college stuff, I encourage you to try visiting and definitely consider your options before going here. I personally could not stand the atmosphere, and that seems to have caused me a lot of grief in my schoolwork because I had no social life whatsoever without either going to Los Angeles or San Francisco. I think I would have committed suicide if I hadn't had a car.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't consider this school, but there's no way I could ever recommend it just because of my personality type. I need big cities, excitement, and an abundance of different cultures and ideas. The small town, conservative thing just didn't work out for me. I just consider you to visit and make the right choice for you. There are plenty of great schools, you just have to find the one that's best for you. If you decide later that it's not the school for you, think of how much you have wasted being miserable.
Another thing to mention is -- for first time freshman, make sure you know exactly what field you want to go into before applying. Don't just put down anything on the application thinking you can change later. IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO CHANGE MAJORS AT THIS SCHOOL. It's much easier to change within your college (ie. Computer Science --> Computer Engineering), but to change to a major outside of your college (ie. Computer Science --> Graphic Communications) would cost you at least $4,400 (two quarters) of tuition trying to do so because you are required to simultaneously take current major and support classes along with major classes in your requested major. If you cannot complete these successfully (along with a lot of paperwork and advisor chats), you won't be allowed into the new college, and you'll have wasted your time, sweat, and tears.BE CAREFUL. MAKE A DECISION YOU WON'T REGRET.
Everyone is white, middle-class, all-American, and lives in CA. I didn't think that would bother me that much, but the lack of diversity is truly troubling - race wasn't as much of an issue as much as it was a uniformity of experiences: everyone liked the same food (American) and the same music (country) and the same things to do (hiking, partying). Personally, I enjoy a little more diversity with my peers, and having friends from all over the world and different backgrounds really brings some interesting viewpoints and excitement to my life. This will not be found at Cal Poly.
The students are also a saving point of the university. Everyone is nice, friendly, and welcoming.
The academic environment is interesting. Since CP admits students by major, you end up with a lot of unintelligent people (a good majority of which are ag majors, due to the high acceptance rate in that field - many people apply to this major just to get into the university and then attempt to switch out)and you also have a lot of VERY intelligent people (engineering acceptance rate is almost in the single-digits). The constant clashes over "engineering vs. business majors" is not only dumb, it grows really old and you will enventually get very sick of the engineering majors who carry the pretentous and condescending attitude around. I would say the majority of the student body is unmotivated, lazy, and lack an ambitious drive. My friends at other universities all had summer internships; CP friends were just "hanging out" all summer or had camp counselor jobs. The laid-back attitude eliminates a "cut-throat" environment at other schools, but I did not have any challenge navigating the academic workload, as I was constantly at the top percent of the class, and the lack of a challenge ended up being a little bit boring. Group projects were also frustrating since most group members were more than likely idiots.
SLO is a nice place to live, but for a college student in the prime of my life, I found it a little boring. On the weekends, hiking and going to the beach can get a little repetitive, and the social scene is lacking, to say the least. There is no Greek row, and frat/sorority houses are small and ratty. Extracurriculars are not as abundant as they are at other schools, and I would not agree with the statement "it's easy to get involved." You really have to work hard and be persistent about finding things to get involved in, as I found that clubs do not have a great campus presence in the day-to-day. I was also hard-pressed to find the "opportunities" that people speak of. Getting an internship or an opportunity through the university is not abundantly provided, and even after thorough searching, I did not find any true opportunities through CP.
The campus is allright. It's set in the hills, which is beautiful, but all the buildings are a little mismatched and there is no "collegiate" feel about the campus. It's very hilly and most people walk places rather than bike. It WILL smell like cow poop when the wind blows the wrong way, especially in fall and spring when it's warm.
I found all my teachers to be very good, welcoming, and genuinely interested in teaching their students. They probably all moved to SLO to find a safe place to live with their families and are teaching for the fun of teaching. No douchey research-oriented staff here. I was impressed with the quality of the education I was given and I would definitely highlight that as a great pro of this university. The education you will receive for the price of tuition is unparalleled. However, education is only half of the ultimate college equation - I would say that CP is quite lacking the college experience department, one of the integral parts of college.
School spirit is also lacking. I didn't think that it mattered that much to me, but even though I'm not a sports fanatic, not having school spirit is a bummer. People wear other college's sweatshirts around campus, and the attendance for any sport event is really quite sad. Nobody is really proud that they go to Cal Poly in the same sense Bruins are proud they go to UCLA.All in all, if you have a smaller budget for college and don't mind missing out on the excitement of a traditional college experience in exchange for a great education, I would say CP is the place for you. Personally, I chose not to return. Freshmen retention rate is around 90% - for every 10 people you know, one of them will not come back next year. I'd say that is pretty accurate, as I know at least five or six people in my dorm who will not be returning (including me.)
Academics: one of the few things this school has working for it. Education quality is above average. You learn lots of cool stuff here. Classes are appropriately challenging. Sometimes they can lack intellectual stimulation, especially GEs, but overall the academics here is very good. quite a few out-of-class learning resources as well. Teachers vary from the best individuals I have ever met to the biggest jerks and sorriest souls. Choose carefully, get to know them. Most are awesome.
Housing/Dining: Atrocious. This is some of the worst food you will ever eat, and you have to eat it to use your meal credits. Heaven knows where this food comes from. In terms of housing, not much better. Very disorganized. The dorms and apartments themselves are at best adequate. Small, clustered spaces with poor facility design that allows you to hear everything going on. Don't study in your room.
Social life/People: You know the stereotypical "college dude"? That frat boy, football, aggressive, over-assertive, swearing alcoholic? This is their Mecca. The social vibes here aren't that great. It takes hard looking to find chill people (but you can). The majority of people here are conservative Christians, so if you are liberal and have another worldview, you may be lonely. The connotations of the people that apply to other universities: forward-thinking, innovative, worldly, intellectual, active citizens does not apply here. I find many of these students care only about getting a degree and getting smashed Friday night. The place is loud. You can find cool people here, but you have to look hard.
Girls: Prettier than average. They are fun to look at, but I find they are horribly uninteresting. Plus, they actually seem to find the douchebags I talked about earlier attractive, and no one else. You will find some cool ones though.
Party: I like to call this place "UCSB light". If you are looking for a good brew and a good time, you'll find it pretty quickly. My problem is when you need some peace and quiet to get work done, you will be hard pressed to get it. These guys party ALL THE TIME. I'm not saying I haven't enjoyed myself and indulged, but seriously.
Surrounding area: The outdoorsman's dream. Hiking trails, biking trails, surf, parks, sights, awesome geology...... it's all here. I suggest Montana De Oro state park. Really cool. The sky here is really fantastic. Sunsets are great.
Campus: Not as cool as some of the UCs, but nice. Can smell like cow crap when you're downwind, but whatever. Some buildings, especially science 52, are aging badly. A bit cramped and crowded, but still one of the better aspects of this place.
Hope that is helpful. Choose your college wisely! In conclusion, Cal Poly is an overrated place that is less like a university and more like a vocational school for engineers and agriculturalists. This school is a good choice for some, but not for all.
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