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13,000 4.0 students didn’t get into Cal Poly. Here’s who made the cut for fall 2019

What does it take to get into Cal Poly?

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo accepted less than 3 in 10 first-time freshman applicants in 2019. Here's a quick guide to admission for high school students looking to apply to the university.
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Cal Poly San Luis Obispo accepted less than 3 in 10 first-time freshman applicants in 2019. Here's a quick guide to admission for high school students looking to apply to the university.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo turned away more than 13,000 first-time freshman applicants who had high school grade-point averages of 4.0 or higher as the university sifted through applications in the most competitive selection year in over a decade, newly released data shows.

The university accepted less than a third of high school applicants, turning away more than ever before, according to data provided by the university.

Of the nearly 54,070 first-time freshmen who applied, 15,350 were selected for admission and 4,850 have preliminarily accepted as of Monday, according to Jim Maraviglia, Cal Poly’s associate vice provost for marketing and enrollment development.

Maraviglia said the university was forced to turn away 13,194 first-time freshman applicants with a GPA of 4.0 or higher. That’s well more than last year when more than 10,000 4.0 students were rejected.

It’s a “pretty incredible demand at Cal Poly,” he said.

Of those accepted, the average GPA was 4.09, he said. The average SAT score was 1402, and the average ACT score was 30.

The rate of acceptance was lower this year than ever before. The university turned away 38,720 students, accepting only 28.4 percent of those who applied, data show.

School officials said that’s because of the high number of applicants and the limited space available, in part, because more enrolled students are staying longer than four years.

“The first priority is to currently enrolled students,” Maraviglia said. “Just because you have more applications, doesn’t mean you’re going to have more capacity. We’re at capacity; We’ve been at capacity for 30 years.”

The number of applications the university received this year didn’t break last year’s record of 54,663. Still, it received thousands more application than any year preceding 2018.

That trend is not unique to Cal Poly.

The California State University system for the past decade has seen yearly increases in the number of applications.

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Cal Poly students walk past the mathematics building on campus. The university accepted only 28% of freshman applicants for fall 2019. Laura Dickinson The Tribune

The system received more than 1 million applications during the primary application period for admission to the fall 2019 term, according to CSU officials. That’s up from around 615,000 10 years ago.

System officials attribute that to a few different factors, including that more students are applying to multiple campuses.

Toni Molle, director of public affairs for the CSU Chancellor’s Office said it’s also because “more and more people are understanding the value of attending college and how it can better one’s life from both an economic as well as a societal perspective, and CSU campuses offer a high-quality, affordable education.”

And, “while the number of high school graduates in the state has been fairly steady for the past few years, the trend is that more of those graduates are eligible for admission to a CSU campus having completed A-G coursework (required college preparatory classes, like English and math).”

Gender and race

The incoming group of freshmen is shaping up to be the most diverse cohort the university has ever had, based on preliminary numbers, Maraviglia said. That could change depending on which students who have enrolled follow through with attending.

Cal Poly received more first-time freshman applications from male students (27,993) than from female students (26,054), preliminary data show. But, the university accepted more female students (8,344) than male students (6,997).

It’s at least the 12th straight year that more female students were accepted than male students, and the third year in the row when the number of female students enrolled to attend Cal Poly as incoming freshman (2,450) is higher than the number of male students (2,409).

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Cal Poly students chat during a break between classes. Laura Dickinson The Tribune

This year, for the first time, data show that 23 students who identify their gender as non-binary applied to the university. Nine of those students were selected and two have preliminarily confirmed enrollment.

More than 54 percent of the incoming freshman class identifies as white, preliminary data show. Earlier analysis of the university’s ethnic breakdowns by The Tribune showed that Cal Poly was the least racially diverse public university in California.

This year, the share of enrolled students classified as under-represented minorities is the highest it’s ever been, but still at just 20.6%. That’s up from 17.5% in fall 2018 year and 20.1% in 2017, preliminary data show.

Students identifying as Hispanic/Latino made up 24.8% of freshman applicants, while 25.1% identify as Asian American and 7.1 percent identify as multi-racial.

African American (1.8%), Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.2%) and Native American (0.1%) students made up around 2 percent of the applicants.

If preliminary figures hold up, Cal Poly will enroll 37 African American first-time freshman and 4 Native American students, the lowest number in at least 12 years.

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Brayden Mahoney, an environmental engineering student, studies inside Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library. The university accepted only 28% of freshman applicants for fall 2019. Laura Dickinson The Tribune

Where they’re coming from

Of the first-time freshman applications to be selected to attend Cal Poly, more than 15% (2,321) came from Los Angeles County, data show.

Cal Poly accepted students from nearly every county in California this year, with large portions hailing from Santa Clara County (8.8), San Diego County (7.8) and Orange County (7.3).

Locally, 540 San Luis Obispo County high school students applied this year, and 286 were selected — an acceptance rate of 53%, the highest of any county. Those selected had an average GPA of 4.08.

The most out-of-state applications came from Washington, where 1,397 applied and 901 were accepted, an acceptance rate of 64.5%. Large numbers of students were also selected from Colorado (338), Oregon (245), and Texas (173). All seven high school students from Arkansas who applied to Cal Poly were selected, making it the only state with a 100 percent acceptance rate.

Of the foreign students who were selected, 63 attended high school in India, 14 in Canada, 14 in China, 14 in Taiwan, 10 in Singapore, and dozens more from of other countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, Germany, Japan, Myanmar, Senegal, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Uganda, data show.

Of 104 home schooled students who applied, 30 were accepted — a rate of 29%.

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