Cal Poly to see its biggest freshman class ever this fall

kleslie@thetribunenews.comAugust 9, 2013 

The largest-ever incoming Cal Poly freshman class will flood into San Luis Obispo this September, but the influx of new students may put a strain on some of the school’s already stretched-thin resources.

Cal Poly’s freshman class will consist of 4,750 first-time freshman students — 28 percent more than last year. The university will also enroll 1,000 transfer students, up from 800 the year before.

The larger class is in part due to more funding from the state, as well as increased efforts to grow Cal Poly, according to Provost Kathleen Enz Finken.

Besides being the largest, this class is also one of the highest achieving.

According to a Cal Poly news release, the average GPA for the incoming class is 3.88. Average scores for the SAT are 622 for reading and 651 for math and 28 for the ACT.

“We’ve had exceptional students here at Cal Poly for many years,” Enz Finken said. “We are excited about this new class; we have great expectations for them.”

The new slew of students may be impressive academics-wise, but it is also leaving administrators with the task of finding a place to house them.

In 2011, the school faced a similar problem when its incoming freshman class included 4,316 students, the largest freshmen class at that time.

To compensate for the extra students, Cal Poly Housing used triple rooms (dorm rooms occupied by three students, rather than the usual two or one that they were designed for) and modified existing study rooms to act as living space.

This fall, Housing Administration Marketing and Communications Specialist Tessa Stevens said though they will be creating triple rooms to help place students, they will not be modifying study rooms into living space.

Instead, they will be using space in some of the university’s continuing student dorms.

Cal Poly traditionally has 14 residence halls that can house more than 4,000 freshmen. This year, Housing Administration has modified several spaces in both Cerro Vista Apartments and Poly Canyon Village to accommodate the first-year students, Stevens said.

Normally, both apartment-style living complexes are populated by sophomores and older students, though Cerro Vista has allowed freshmen in the past.

This year, Housing set aside an entire building of Poly Canyon Village to add spaces for the new freshmen, Stevens said. That modification freed up 472 beds that would normally be reserved for continuing students, and made them available to the freshmen.

Students living in the apartments will pay higher rent but will have a modified dining plan to make up for the fact that they will now have kitchens to prepare food, Stevens said.

Besides housing them, the administration has also had to look into accommodating the incoming students’ class schedules.

According to Enz Finken, more classes were scheduled once they found out there would be more students than usual, though she was not sure exactly how many were added.

The extra classes will be taught mostly by newly hired faculty, Enz Finken said.

“We’re hiring more teachers to teach certain classes,” she said. “In some cases, it’s increasing class sizes, but that’s not our preferred method. … Sometimes a faculty member might be asked to teach an extra class where specialties are concerned.”

The funding for the new hires comes largely from money freed up by Proposition 30 — which was passed by California voters in November — and the Cal Poly “Student Success Fee.”

The success fee, which was approved by students in February 2012, is a $270 per quarter fee implemented to help improve the university’s budget deficit and support its “Learn By Doing” approach.

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