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What's it like?

DraytonDrayton Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited May 2013 in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Hi, I'm a British student studying at Cal Poly next academic year and I'm currently trying to get a general picture of what campus life is like. I've heard from some people that it's a popular party school and other people have said the students are generally sober so if any current students could clarify that kind of thing I'd be very appreciative :)
Post edited by Drayton on

Replies to: What's it like?

  • blindmonkeyblindmonkey Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    Hey, my family lived in London (Chelsea) for a long while. Welcome to our very California family. Are you on exchange for the year? Where about in UK are you from?

    Cal Poly, or any other uni in the US, is very very different from the British system. We can't be anymore different from Oxbridge. University atmosphere is very relaxed, collegial, and the professors are generally very friendly and informal. We are not posh like Greek columns with mahogany wood and ivy everywhere. Classes move at a brisk pace in a lecture style setting (not the 1 on 1 professor to student oral exam), and academic life centers around the campus with a strong dose of student collaborations. Although relaxed, academics are taken seriously here for majority of the students.

    As for general lifestyle, the best way to describe Cal Poly is that it is classic California lifestyle. The weather here is brilliant! The surrounding scenery beautiful with rolling hills and a lovely town center. It is sunny and warm almost year round (no English summers here), and thus activities center around outdoor hobbies and sports like hiking, surfing (we are very close to 3 excellent beaches), running, mountain climbing. And because the climate is so nice, students and faculties are very friendly, and approachable because we are always in a good mood. Cal Poly has a strong sense of a close-knit community that pervades all aspects of life here. This is important if you are used to living in a big city, because we are somewhat isolated geographically, so to be part of the community is the best way to make friends, and have a steady stream of activities so you won't feel bored or lonely. Remember SLO is NOT LONDON (more like Winchester or something).

    Cal Poly does have its share of wild parties frequently and students do have a good time. But we are not the p*i*s*sing your night away, every night until you puke and crawl to class type of school. We do have a lot of beautiful people at school (especially girls), and they relish displaying their physique readily. So dress for a warm weather. Majority of the students do take academics very seriously, and the school expect high degree of academic performance and discipline from students. I am an engineering student and I routinely study 7 hours a day outside of classes. I have mates from architecture that don't sleep for days at a time due to workload. This is especially true if you are in one of the STEM colleges. Oh, we are a alcohol free campus as a policy.

    Cal Poly main campus is huge (around 2500 hectare) and very new (by British standard). So get ready to walk a lot.We don't have any building older than 100 years old (if even that).

    Food is terrible for most part on campus but thank god no kidney pie.
  • DraytonDrayton Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thanks for the long reply! Yeah I'm on a year exchange, I'm from London (Streatham) but study at Essex University.

    My university is probably more like yours than Oxbridge so it doesn't sound like there will be too much of a culture shock. How many classes are you meant to take per term? My degree in the UK is a lot stricter than American degrees seem to be, and I can't figure out what I'm meant to take or how long any courses are lol. I'm a politics & philosophy student so you may not have much experience in this but do you know what the contact hours for social science students are like? I've heard that American universities are more like high school than English ones so I'd like to know if I'm going from eight contact hours a week to full days and regular homework haha.

    Do you mean alcohol free as in it doesn't sell alcohol or you can't drink on campus? That's a pretty alien concept here considering we have night clubs and bars on campus here. Is alcohol quite expensive in that case? The food shouldn't be a problem, I'll be as self catered, unless I'm missing something on the website I don't think I can apply to live on campus anyway. Thanks for the help!
  • blindmonkeyblindmonkey Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    You are welcome. San Luis Obispo will be quite a change from Streatham. Trust me on that. I visited Essex University once, Wivenhoe Park, it was quite nice.

    As for your question, how many classes to take? That is up to you. But in order to be considered full time student, you need to take at least 12 units worth of classes. Since you are liberal arts major, typically liberal arts lectures are 3-4 units each. So you need to take at least 3-4 classes per quarter. But you probably should take 4 classes (brings you to 16 units) in order to stay on course for your degree program in the UK.

    As for contact hours, typically you have a lecture for each class that goes for 2 or 4 days a week depending on the class. If 2 days/wk, then each lecture is about 2 hours for a total of 4 hours of class time (1 hr/lecture if 4 days/wk). Of course, you have assignments, tests, and visits with the professor during open office hours for any questions you might have. The amount of assignments varies from class to class. But due to the quarter system Cal Poly is on, classes moves at a brisk pace. In case you don't know our quarter system, we have 4 quarters per year with each quarter lasting for 10 weeks. So each class you take only run for 10 weeks. And we go to school full time 3 out of the 4 quarters. If you take 5 classes, your day will be full, proper full.

    Cal Poly is a dry campus which means the university does not allow alcohol on campus. So in theory you are not suppose to drink on campus anywhere (yes we are aliens). We have a bowling alley, a very nice gym, and performance arts center on campus, and a long list of other amenities, but no pub or night clubs on campus. And no alcohol is served in any of the venues. But worry not, there are plenty of pubs/bars in downtown and is usually packed starting on Thursday nights.

    Alcohol in SLO is cheaper than London. Food is good in downtown. Japanese is good, Thai is decent, didn't see any Indian, and there are several Italian places.

    As for housing, I think you CAN apply for housing on campus. You should send an email or give Cal Poly housing a bell. I would recommend you living on campus, it is the easiest way to make friends. I remember meeting couple of French girls on exchange here that lived on campus I think.


    As I said, you will have a wicked time here if you are connected with the university community. And if you come visit during summer, you will love it. We have a proper hot summer here with fantastic beaches. Look up Pismo beach.

    Live Web Cams - Pismo Beach, California

    Cheers mate!
  • DraytonDrayton Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Ah awesome, I've signed up to four classes for the Fall term now (I think). The website says that all on campus housing has already been reserved, but I'll email just to check. I wont be able to drink in there until November anyway so I may as well indulge in the "dry campus" lifestyle for a bit :P I'm not coming until September but I'll check out the beaches anyway I'm sure haha
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