Want to go to Cal Poly but don’t have the grades? Here are the top 10 schools for transfers

Acceptance into Cal Poly is a competitive process.

In 2019, the San Luis Obispo university turned away 75% of first-time freshman applicants. But those students don’t have to give up on their dreams of becoming Mustangs.

“They definitely have another shot,” said James Maraviglia, vice provost of enrollment development and chief marketing officer at Cal Poly.

Attending community college for the first two years of higher education might be the path to get you there. It will also save money and buy time to better identify what you want to study in preparation for your career, but it’s still no guarantee.

Once you know what you want to study, learn the transfer selection criteria for your planned major and stay focused on accomplishing those prerequisites. Cal Poly’s Admissions Office provides a clear road map of what you need to do to be accepted into the school of your choice at

Two Central Coast community colleges serve feeder schools for Cal Poly — both because of their location, and also their ability to help students stay on track toward the goal of admission.

Not all colleges have counselors that work with students to take the right courses, but according to Maraviglia, Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo “do a fantastic job.”

Other top feeder schools include Moorpark College, Santa Barbara City College and Santa Rosa Junior College.

In 2019, Cal Poly offered admission to 1,590 transfer students, including 189 from Cuesta College and 168 from Allan Hancock College. Still, even with good counseling and proximity, the acceptance rate of students applying from Cuesta to Cal Poly is less than 50 percent.

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Monica Vaughan reports on health, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo County, oil and wildlife at The Tribune. She previously covered crime and justice in the Sacramento Valley, is a graduate of the University of Oregon journalism school and is a sixth-generation Californian. Have an idea for a story? Email: