"nobody believes that cal poly is actually a really good school."
Yeah... about that... who is this nobody? Most HR people I've talked to (mostly at engineering firms) have a really high opinion of Cal Poly. Sure, plenty of people from my old high school scoff at it because it's a CSU and not a UC, of course most of them didn't make it into Cal Poly, but it has a very good reputation among employers.
I've been very impressed with all the positive and upbeat feedback I get about Cal Poly, in general. When I wear my sweatshirt around, there isn't a day that goes by that someone doesn't have something good to say about Cal Poly. "Oh, I'm an alum!" Or, "My kids went there and loved it!" Or, "My senior in h.s. really wants to be accepted there. We've heard it's not easy getting in." I'm amazed at how many people comment when they find out my daughter is a freshman there.
All of the recent positive news about Cal Poly seems to signal some kind of gradual but inexorable change in the reputation and the standing of the University. The fact that it outranked all of the UCs except UCSD (a virtual tie) and Cal is a testament to CP's improvements. Added to this, the Wall Street Journal recruiter ranking that put CP ahead of UCLA for engineering is a definitive proof of its rise.
We all have read general blanket negative statements here on CC about CP, mainly attributing it to being a CSU and hence inherently inferior compare to any UCs.
But it seems with the gradual increase in Cal Poly's admission selectivity, improvement in overall and department based rankings, continuing increase in graduate's earning power, and great improvements in campus facilities (among a whole host of other improvements), Cal Poly's detractors are left with less and less to assail. And Cal Poly can simply let its achievements speak for itself, and its reputation.
In fact, I think it is a good sign that overzealous boosters of UCSD/UCSB/UCD, and UCLA were assailing Cal Poly, simply because years ago they wouldn't even care to make such comparisons because CP was so far behind.
I am very impressed with Cal Poly because I feel like it has its "coming out" moment the last 2 years amongst the higher echelon of academia and I hope that it will continue its trajectory and work hard to achieve parity with UCSD over the coming future.
A family member who is rather high up in one of the big 8 accounting firms has one of his own kids at Cal Poly. He was quite clear that his firm recruits Cal Poly business grads because they hit the ground running.
Remember friends that both the Cal Polys (SLO and Pomona) adhere to a "learn by doing" philosophy. Thus the students there are getting practical knowledge and experience and not just theoretical knowledge. Big selling point to many employers I would think.
Well, I'm not convinced that number is that meaningful. Cal Poly's graduates are disproportionately in engineering and other fields that are highly paid by industry. Cal Poly graduates disproportionately go into industry right after graduating. Both of these factors will increase the reported salaries of Poly's graduates, regardless of any benefit that the graduates may or may not have received.
This may not be a good thing. The needs of industry come before the best interests of the student. Parts of the curriculum are driven by the demands of industry for disposable workers. If you take a database class, it's going to be in Oracle. If you take a networks class, it's going to use CISCO hardware. And, yes, I do think that industry wants disposable workers. Why else is age discrimination so rampant in engineering and software development?
You are not going to find much help from the university on going to grad school either. I'm starting to think that's intentional, to game numbers like this. You aren't allowed to switch your major, and all advice you do get comes back to this downright poisonous idea that you should get a degree so you can get a job. If that's the only reason you are getting a degree, I think you would be much better off by investing your savings and getting an apprenticeship in the skilled trades.
I want to major in something I'm interested in. Something I enjoy doing and studying. Something that will make a real difference in the world. Instead, I'm stuck where I am, having already sunk 5 years of my life and a decant sum of money at this place. So, yes, I think Cal Poly is overrated. I think Cal Poly is a terrible university for a lot of people. It has nothing to do with some abstract notion of academic reputation or university ratings. i just do not like the educational experience I've had. Isn't what it's all about?
I can comprehend your dislike for your college experience. It is an experience that is very personal to you, and it is sad to hear that you have had such terrible experience for what should have been one of the most exciting and best part of one's life.
You sounded like you were trapped in a major you don't like and an university that you felt alienated from. But in defense of Cal Poly and any other universities, you have a choice all along as to where to go and what major to pursue. You had the choice of major (barring your family forcing you to major in something you hate), and university. So I am curious why you just didn't take action and change your college experience for the better by transferring or changing major entirely?
Not liking your educational experience is completely personal and valid opinion, but shifting the blame entirely onto the university (any universities) is just externalizing your problems onto someone else's shoulders.
As for creating "disposable workers", I opine your thinking is flawed. According to your version of a Cal Poly graduate, they are automaton slaved to certain industry based technology standards and (by your inference) once that standards are obsolete, these Cal Poly trained drones are disposed. I agree that Cal Poly's engineering education does provide a very practical approach to a highly technical discipline, this approach does ensure the creation of a new generation of solid engineering professionals that can work in many corporate capacities right after graduation.
But what is central, and most invaluable part, of this engineering education (I think this is true for most solid engineering schools) is that it teaches a highly discipline way of logical thinking and the nurturing of intellectual horsepower that can be leveraged throughout one's life and career. It is this discipline logical intellectual thought process that enables a Cal Poly, and other universities', engineering graduate to innovate, learn, master complex new skills and knowledge throughout one's career. Just because an engineering student is trained upon Cisco's or Oracle's standards in Cal Poly does it mean he/she can't acquire knowledge based on a new standard?
In fact, I argue this previous exposure to a dominant industry standard would facilitate and speed up, NOT detract, the learning of a new set of highly complex technical knowledge. Your assertion that CP's graduates are "disposable" is based on the assumption of a static, corporate drone that is incapable or failed to learn/acquire/invent (or simply lack the desire to) new skills and knowledge throughout one's career. I truly feel sorry for you if that is how you see yourself and see others in Cal Poly Engineering.
Also, there is nothing wrong with university students aspiring to get an university education so they can secure a decent high paying job. MOST university students on this planet share in that desire. Even my classmates at my Ivy league Alma Mater were gunning to land a great job in Wall street. There is nothing toxic about that. Of course, some graduates have a noble or altruistic intent to serve humanity or nature, we should celebrate that! But concurrently, graduates having a more modest ambition of having secure and productive professional lives are just as valid and deserve our respect.
As for your assertion that money and time is better invested in an apprenticeship, I would like to hear what kind of skilled trade or apprenticeship in the US will teach you how to design a 64 bit microprocessor or hybrid electric power system or low orbital flight body?
As for preparing Cal Poly student for graduate studies, I am not sure what kind of preparation you would expect from CP? The best preparation for any graduate school is maximizing every single learning opportunity while in undergraduate, maintaining a high GPA, getting involved with extra curricular activities, build solid relationships with the faculty, and finally, developing and nurturing your personal intellectual PASSION. Speaking only personally, that approach worked for me quite nicely during my years at Cal Poly, and that's how I got into Harvard for my graduate studies.
As for the salary survey, CP is ranked third (behind only Cal and UVA) in earnings in the US for public universities. You can't argue that is simple because Cal Poly is a large engineering school with graduates heading into the workforce shortly after graduation. There are plenty of that type of technical universities throughout the US (e.g. Texas, Georgia, Virginia), and they are NOT all ranked third in the US.
I would also opine that for MOST students (including me), the Cal Poly educational experience was a grand experience in so many fronts. In so many countless ways, intellectually, socially, and professionally, my Cal Poly peers and I have benefited and grew as the result of our collective college experience. And it was definitely one of the BEST time of my life.