Cal Poly enrollment increased by an estimated 850 students for the 2017-18 academic year due to a change in the admission process and an increase in student retainment.
The official Fall 2017 enrollment will not be known until the fall census is completed and reported in early October.
According to university spokesperson Matt Lazier, the student body will see a jump in size due to the number of continuing students. Lazier said the increase is “attributable to better-than-expected results in our campaigns aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates.”
One factor contributing to the larger enrollment was changes to the admissions policy. Last year, Cal Poly ended its early decision application. The application allowed students to apply between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31. Students who applied through early enrollment were notified of their acceptance by Dec. 15.
However, students who have applied for federal and state financial aid were not notified of the aid they received until April 1. President Jeffrey Armstrong explained how this policy was unfair.
“We felt early decision was not consistent with underrepresented low income students attending Cal Poly,” Armstrong said. “You had to make a decision in December, but you don’t know your financial package until March.”
With the early decision option, at least 25 percent of the incoming class would give their decision by December. With the removal of the early decision, the entire class of 2021 was not official until all regular admissions were accepted.
According to Armstrong, early decision applicants also tended to accept admission more than regular decision applicants, so ending the option changed the way the university’s admissions office predicted how many students would accept admission. Combining early decision and regular admissions groups made a composite acceptance rate the model could not predict.
The admissions office intentionally admitted fewer students because the model changed, but it was not adjusted enough, Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.
Armstrong said next year Cal Poly will try to admit 1,000 students fewer than this year to return class sizes to last year’s numbers.
Incoming student housing
With Fremont Hall closed until Fall 2018, University Housing is adding 1,000 beds to Poly Canyon Village (PCV) to house the incoming class. According to Armstrong, Cal Poly will be working with the fire marshal to determine locations where beds can be safely added. Student Housing South– which will be completed Fall 2018— is going to house the 2018-2019 freshman class.
According to Humphrey, three buildings in PCV will house freshmen and the other four will house continuing students. Continuing students who met the housing deadline for PCV were informed that the university would increase the amount of students living in one apartment.
Room configurations in PCV changed to accommodate the incoming class. Four-bedroom apartments will have eight students with two students per room and no desks. The rates for these apartments will be decreased by 10 percent.
The College Living Learning Programs will be throughout University Housing and one or more may share a building. According to an email from Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Executive Director of University Housing Jo Campbell, University Housing “ensures that 89 percent of our new students will be placed in one of their top five Learning Community preferences.”
The university is not removing any offers of admission due to the over-enrollment, unlike other universities such as University of California, Irvine.
Armstrong allocated $1 million to hire additional faculty this year. He also said Cal Poly will convert unconventional spaces around campus into classrooms. Cal Poly will use community centers of residential halls as classrooms.
Impacted classes are already an issue and some students are concerned that additional enrollment could have an effect on registration.
“My engineer friends can’t get classes,” aerospace engineering senior Chris Young said in a Facebook comment. “How are the 1000 new freshmen supposed to?”
In 2015 and 2016, Armstrong asked California State University Chancellor Timothy White to end enrollment growth and keep the university enrolled at the same number.
“We’ve hit our max on so many fronts, but it’s such a complicated matter,” Armstrong said in a 2015 interview with Mustang News. “We can’t grow the way we have been growing, that’s for sure. We’ve simply run out of room.”
White denied the zero percent increase and asked Cal Poly to instead increase enrollment by 180 students in 2015 and then 80 students in 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, new enrollment decreased by 600 students, although total enrollment increased by 400 students, according to the Cal Poly Fact Book. This means that admissions decreased, but more students stayed on compared to previous years.
A previous version of this story was titled “2017 freshman class has more 1000 more students than expected.”
A previous version of this story stated that Cal Poly has accepted an additional 1,000 students for the 2017-2018 year. It has been corrected to include that enrollment has increased by an estimated 850 students for the 2017-2018 academic year.
A previous version of this story stated that approximately 200 returning students were expected to leave Cal Poly based on previous retainment rates. It has been removed from the story because it was outdated information.
A previous version of this story stated that Jo Campbell was the Vice President of Student Affairs. Her title has been corrected.
A previous version of this story stated that the increase in students for the 2017-2018 academic year was a five percent increase from 2016. That was incorrect information and it has been removed from the story.