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Press Release

Cal Poly Announces Increased Year-Round Operation Beginning Fall 2024

Contact: Matt Lazier

805-756-7109; [email protected]

New initiative will allow for increased enrollment in Cal Poly’s renowned Learn by Doing education while helping meet campus and CSU growth goals

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly officials today announced the first phase of a new Year-Round Operation initiative aimed at increasing the university’s overall enrollment through greater utilization of the summer term — providing increased opportunities for students to experience the university’s renowned Learn by Doing education and take part in High-Impact Practices such as study abroad and internships.

Beginning in Fall 2024, new students can opt to start at Cal Poly in the summer of their first year and spend a second summer on campus later in their career, while agreeing to spend two typical academic terms off-campus.

The first phase of the initiative will extend the option to students in select majors in the College of Liberal Arts, College of Engineering, and Orfalea College of Business. (More details about the specific majors taking part will be released in the coming weeks.)

This initial group of up to 600 students will be scheduled so that one-third is off campus during each term of academic year 2024-25. This way, the university can increase enrollment while minimizing the impact during the fall, winter or spring terms.

President Jeffrey D. Armstrong speaking at Cal Poly's Fall Convocation.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong speaking at the university's Fall Convocation on Sept. 18, 2023. 

“Think of Year-Round Operation as increasing students’ opportunities at Cal Poly by increasing availability of beds, labs and classrooms, by increasing attendance in the summer, and, ultimately, by slightly lowering attendance during the fall, winter and spring terms,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who announced the first phase of the new initiative at the university’s Fall Convocation on Monday.

“As we gain experience with Year-Round Operation, we will expand the number of majors and the number of students involved using this model, so that actual head count on campus in any given term will be significantly lower than the university’s overall enrollment for the year.”

Under full implementation, the campus could see several thousand students taking part in summer term — a significant increase from our traditional levels but not close to the on-campus enrollment of fall, winter or spring terms. 

There are no plans at this time to exceed what is outlined in the most recent campus master plan, which calls for build-out of maximum student head count on-campus during any given term to about 25,000 students on or before 2035. This announced first phase of Year-Round Operation is part of a multi-year initiative — which will evolve as the university moves toward full implementation.

Year-Round Operation also allows the university to extend its Learn by Doing pedagogy by giving students a greater opportunity to take part in High-Impact Practices, which could include enriching activities such as study abroad, internships and co-ops, service learning projects, and other activities.  

Participating students will be encouraged, though not required, to spend their time off campus taking part in High-Impact Practices. While participation in such activities is not always an option to all students, the university announced an anonymous $300,000 annual donation aimed at providing these opportunities to students with financial need — along with plans to continue to seek additional funding to make sure these educationally enhancing experiences are available to all who want to partake. 

Year-Round Operation will help Cal Poly and the California State University meet enrollment growth requirements at a time when higher education broadly is challenged by application and enrollment declines and some colleges and universities are consolidating or even closing campuses. The new initiative has received the enthusiastic support of Jolene Koester, the CSU’s interim chancellor, and her leadership team.

The CSU has a compact with the governor of California that links increased funding to enrollment growth — goals that aren’t easily attainable. However, with the demand it routinely receives for admission, Cal Poly is uniquely qualified to help the CSU meet these goals. This year, the university received upwards of 70,000 applications for only about 6,200 new spots.

“We have talked about greater utilization of our summer term for many years, and now the time is right to take advantage of this opportunity for our university and for the many more students we can help to succeed,” Armstrong said. “This is the next phase in the more than 120-year evolution of our Learn by Doing education.”

The application period for Cal Poly’s 2024-25 academic year opens Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 30.