Academics at Cal Poly are generally as advertised: small classes when compared to the UC system, taught by actual professors, and filled with ways to learn by doing. Cal Poly truly lives up to its reputation as a polytechnic school. Though its disciplines span outside the realm of what a "polytechnic education" might generally include, this unique teaching philosophy is present in all disciplines, from architecture to wine and viticulture. One important thing is that professors are at Cal Poly primarily to teach, which is unlike many other universities. This means that they're willing to put time into helping you succeed. Office hours are popular among students, and teachers are extremely accommodating when it comes to setting up appointments for extra help. Cal Poly professors are intelligent, helpful, and personable. It isn't uncommon to see students walking around campus finishing up a discussion from class or to hear a student talk to a professor on a personal, first-name basis.
A couple of important things that set Cal Poly apart include its upside-down curriculum and its registration system. From the first day at Cal Poly, students take both major and general education classes. A healthy dose of both not only promote interdisciplinary development and new friendships, but they also help students get internships and job offers after only a year or two in school. This means that seniors could very well be in a freshman-level class, or even vice versa. "Not getting classes" is relative. Not getting classes with the "best" teacher in the department on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons is highly likely. Not getting enough classes to be a full-time student is far, far less likely to happen, though. Teachers generally take in a fair amount of students from the wait list to better accommodate the student body.