San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuition (in-state)
$19,071 ($8,043)
Admission Difficulty
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4 College Freshman

Facilities: We have a beautiful gym! It has everything any student needs

3 College Senior

Facilities: The overall atmosphere is alright. There are always places to go if you want to study or do something.

3 College Sophomore

Facilities: Some parts of campus are beautiful and new, while others are very outdated and dreadful to be in during the warm weeks of the year. Some of the campus could use updating, and the Towers are absolutely hideous, but Poly has done a nice job with the newer structures.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Facilities: I love the student life. There are countless opportunities for students to get involved and they make it very easy to do so.

5 College Freshman

Facilities: I love the location of my school. It is surrounded by luscious green rolling hills and is in very close proximity to the beach which is always a plus.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 119th
    Best Athletic Facilities
  • 128th
    Best Performance Venues
  • 280th
    Best Student Centers
  • 350th
    Greenest Campuses
  • 389th
    Best Library

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Amy Herman
Burbank CA
Liberal Studies
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Cal Poly is consistently working hard to make sure its facilities stay up to par. Two examples of this include the recreation center and the Center for Science and Mathematics. In both cases, the University saw a need that was not being fulfilled and raised the funds to be able to meet the needs of students. The Cal Poly Recreation Center has seven basketball courts, an indoor track, hundreds of cardio machines, multiple weight rooms, and multiple swimming pools. The Center for Science and Math includes more than 100,000 square feet to provide lab space, office space, classroom space, and collaboration/study space to students and faculty alike. Other buildings do vary in modernity—there are chalkboards and there are flat-screen LCD screens. There are up-to-date computers (both Mac and PC) in many labs across campus, but it's still possible to find some antiquated machinery still in use. Most classrooms are perfectly fine for their purposes, even though they are clearly more than a couple of years old. 

The indoor/outdoor student union (called the University Union, or UU) was recently redone to better provide for the needs of students. Plenty of seating, conference rooms, a full-service craft center (where else can you make your own surfboard?), and an outdoor amphitheater make it easy to hang out, eat, nap, or study! The library has pretty much the same story, minus the craft center. Lots of tables, cubicles, food, and even a study room that never closes! Speaking more generally about the overall look of Cal Poly, there isn't the typical Gothic architecture of the East Coast. The natural environment, however, never ceases to provide hours of entertainment or exercise to students. The rolling hills behind Cal Poly's campus are home to many facilities, animals, and student projects (don't miss the Architecture Graveyard!).

Facts & Statistics

Service & Maintenance Staff
Campus Size
9,678 acres
Student Centers
University Union (UU)
Campus Library?
Main Libraries
Kennedy Library
Popular Places to Chill
  • Dexter Lawn
  • University Union
Bar on Campus
Bowling on Campus
There are 14 lanes in the University Union including four bumper lanes.
Coffeehouse on Campus
  • Campus Market
  • Julian's Patisserie in the library
  • Peet's Coffee & Tea, located in Poly Canyon Village
  • Starbucks in Campus Market
  • Starbucks, located in the UU
Movie Theater on Campus
Chumash Auditorium in the University Union is actually an auditorium, not a theater, but movies are occasionally shown there. Films for Finals is a popular study break option provided by ASI.
"Green" Initiatives
Among its many initiatives, the Cal Poly Organic Farm consists of about 11 CCOF certified organic acres of land, including the Student Experimental Farm. Students can also minor in sustainable agriculture.
School Slang
  • The 101: Expression used by Southern Californians for freeways. Use if you want to be identified among them.
  • AACF: "Double-A C F," Asian American Christian Fellowship
  • AG: Arroyo Grande, a neighboring town
  • Bishop's: Bishop's Peak, the highest mountain in the area, is good for a hike.
  • CCAT: "See-cat," bus system for the county
  • Chumash: Auditorium in the UU used for movies, concerts, and other events
  • CPReg: Online registration website
  • Dexter: Dexter Lawn by the library
  • Hella: "That's hella cool."
  • The Mustang: Daily student newspaper that's free in bins all around campus
  • The P: The large concrete "P" located on the hill above campus
  • The PAC: Pronounced "pack"—the performing arts center looks like an enormous piano from the air and is impossible to miss.
  • Poly Ratings: Professor evaluation website
  • Red Bricks: Freshman dorms specific to major
  • The Silo: Room 213 of the business building, the largest lecture hall on campus
  • SLO: San Luis Obispo, about a million variations on this acronym, pronounced "slow;" (the SLO life, SLO town, SLO Transit)
  • The Structure: The parking facilities next to the PAC
  • The UU: University Union—encompasses the building itself, as well as the large courtyard downstairs
  • WOW: Week of Welcome, a week of orientation for all freshmen before the start of fall quarter
  • Egg Drop: A yearly competition held at the Thursday night market where students compete to build the best "egg cushioner" from a selection of odd items (chewing gum, rubber bands). Entries are then dropped at successively higher altitudes until only the champion egg basket remains.
  • Open House: This is a yearly tradition that happens around spring break. On the specified weekend, clubs and colleges open up food and game booths, and various activities are offered for visiting parents, students, and friends. Hands-on science demonstrations, á la Bill Nye, are offered for younger siblings, while parents can take a look at various creative and technical endeavors around campus, such as the solar racing car or architectural models. Prospective students can scout out clubs they'd like to join.
  • The P: If you're a member of a campus group, especially a Greek organization, you may have the opportunity to "dress up" the P. Clubs use large white sheets to transform the P into Greek letters or an abbreviation. (Sheets could be used to add a foot to the P, making it an R.) At times, the P, which is usually white, has also been painted rainbow, red/white/blue, or black. This is obviously a more "challenging" endeavor.
Urban Legends
  • One strange phenomenon of inanimate objects deals with the cafeteria trays from VG's. Although taking the trays out of the late-night dining facility is prohibited, signs begging for their return appear on move-out weeks in December and June. Piles of plastic blue trays materialize on top of garbage cans and retaining walls. It seems that many freshmen are in the habit of hoarding these trays for purposes that to this day remain unknown.
  • You'll find milk cartons hanging from trees, ceramic heads staring at you as you climb stairs, plaster people-pods appear ominously in a garden, mattresses outfitted with sheets, pillows, and stuffed animals in the courtyard of the business building, a knitted afghan carefully spread along a busy sidewalk, amorphous structures of wood and string in the middle of Dexter Lawn. Are these things the result of student pranks? Hardly. Cal Poly prides itself on being a hands-on community. Class projects are often very tactile. Whether a product of an architecture assignment, an experiment in modern art, or a political statement from a cultural pluralism course, sights like these appear and disappear frequently. Most of us have no idea what they mean. But it certainly provides an entertaining antidote to the boredom of seeing the same place day after day.
Favorite Things To Do
Some options available include working out, swimming, playing racquetball at the gym, bowling, playing pool, or dancing on the DDR machine. If you prefer to be a little less active, you can sunbathe on Dexter Lawn, listen to a live local band on Thursday's UU Hour, or contemplate the latest art or architecture projects (often displayed in odd, public areas around campus, many times integrated with the scenery itself).
Student Organizations Web Site
Student Newspaper
Mustang Daily
Clubs and Organizations on Campus
There are more than 300 student organizations on campus. The list is constantly changing, especially since it only takes a few students and a faculty adviser to get a club started! The best place to check out the current list of clubs and organizations is on ASI's website (http://www.asi.calpoly.edu/clubs).
Student Activities Offered
  • Campus ministries
  • Choral groups
  • Concert band
  • Dance
  • Drama/theater
  • International student organization
  • Jazz band
  • Literary magazine
  • Marching band
  • Model UN
  • Music ensembles
  • Musical theater
  • Opera
  • Pep band
  • Radio station
  • Student government
  • Symphony orchestra
  • Television station
Air Force ROTC: No
Navy ROTC: No
Army ROTC: Yes
Did You Know?
Around June, couches start appearing around SLO on front lawns, sidewalks, occasionally in the middle of the street. What is this phenomenon? It's not an alien conspiracy—it's a surplus of thoroughly trashed couches that departing students are unable to foist off on new residents. Nobody seems to know where the dump is, so couches usually get a final night of serious trashing by celebrating graduates before the garbage man decides to haul them away. Other students get a little more creative; flaming couches in the middle of the street are not entirely unheard of.

Student Polls

Rate the campus facilities in the following areas    Based on 107 responses

Very poor
  • Athletics/recreation
  • Classrooms
  • Computer labs
  • Dining
  • General aesthetics/architecture of campus
  • "Green" buildings/initiatives
  • Housing
  • Lawns/green space
  • Library
  • Modernity of facilities
  • Performing arts
  • Science/research labs
  • Student center
  • Study spots
  • Visual arts (work spaces, galleries)

What are the best on-campus student jobs?    Based on 8 responses

  • 33% ASI (Associated Students, Inc.)
  • 20% Department office assistants
  • 13% Campus dining
  • 13% DRC
  • 7% Career Services
  • 7% Athletics Team Managers
  • 7% Horticulture Unit manager

What are your favorite campus events or traditions?    Based on 8 responses

  • 43% Open House
  • 29% The P
  • 14% Parent's Weekend
  • 7% Homecoming
  • 7% Poly Royal
  • 0% Egg Drop

What are your favorite things to do around campus?    Based on 11 responses

  • 30% Go to the Rec Center
  • 30% Local restaurants
  • 19% Beach
  • 15% Bishops peak/hiking
  • 7% Pirate's Cove

Where are your favorite places to just hang out?    Based on 11 responses

  • 31% University Union
  • 31% Dexter Lawn
  • 25% Local coffee shops
  • 12% Avila

How would you describe the student center/union?    Based on 118 responses

  • 1% The student center is in need of a major renovation.
  • 19% The student center serves its purpose but is not a popular hangout.
  • 44% The student center is great but isn't central to student life.
  • 36% The student center is state-of-the-art and the hub of student life.

What is your overall opinion of your school and the campus community?    Based on 114 responses

  • 4% I hate my school and have no school spirit.
  • 4% The school community is okay-we're all just here for an education, nothing more.
  • 46% I like mostly everything about my school, but there are some things I wish were different.
  • 46% I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.

What are the worst on-campus student jobs?    Based on 7 responses

  • 78% Campus dining
  • 11% Package distribution center
  • 11% RA/ CA in on-campus housing

What is the most interesting urban legend about campus?    Based on 9 responses

  • 89% Architecture graveyard or the serenity swing
  • 11% The dorms were designed by a prison architect



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