Graphic by Paige Cross
Cal Poly is projecting enrollment of 4,488 first-time freshmen and 760 transfer students this year — and enrolling 383 fewer freshmen and 187 fewer transfer students than last year.
After the May 1 Intent to Register deadline, the admissions office calculated the number of students who accepted Cal Poly’s offer and subtracted that by a predicted “melt rate” — the difference between those who accept the offer and those who actually enroll.
The enrollees, currently at approximately 100 more students than the target number of 4,358 freshmen and 730 transfers, include Cal Poly’s most racially diverse, gender-equal class in history, Associate Vice Provost for Marketing and Enrollment Development James Maraviglia said.
“Right now, I can tell you this will be the least white class ever,” Maraviglia said. “I could also tell you it will probably have the largest number of national and international students ever … that’s what I’ve schemed so far. We’ve also looked at gender ratio, and it seems to be the best we’ve ever had.”
In Fall 2013, the gender ratio stood at 52.4 percent male and 47.6 percent female. The Fall 2014 enrollees’ ratio will be at 50.8 percent male and 49.2 percent female.
“It’s the closest gender mix,” Maraviglia said. “Underrepresented minorities should also come in close to well over 18 percent, and the rest of it is all based on melt rate. It’s the most multi-racial class and also has the highest percentage of traditionally low-income students.”
However, according to Associate Director of Admissions Terrance Harris, the competitiveness of the incoming Fall 2014 class is also impressive.
“The biggest news is that the competitiveness of our applicant pool continues to grow regardless of the gender or ethnicity,” Harris said. “Year after year, the caliber of the student that is both interested in applying, and interested in actually enrolling, continues to go up and continues to bring strength to the value of students’ degrees.”
Though the difference in target and projected enrollment exists, Harris said it is too early to know the exact number of enrollees, because the summer melt rate is unknown.
“There are some students that will say they are going to enroll at Cal Poly and for whatever reason — financial or otherwise — will choose to enroll elsewhere,” he said. “There are also some students who won’t meet our terms and conditions of admission.”
Waitlists at other universities are also a contributing factor.
“Someone who says they’re coming to Cal Poly may actually choose to go elsewhere once they’re taken off a certain waitlist — maybe a (University of California) or private school,” he said. “So the enrollment number can change.”
Currently, the incoming Fall 2014 class is approximately 570 students smaller than the Fall 2013 class. However, the projected number of enrolled students at the university for Fall 2014 may have been estimated higher by approximately 240 students, Associate Vice Provost Kimi Ikeda said in an email to Mustang News.
With efforts to get students to graduate more quickly, there could be more students graduating than in past years, Ikeda said. In turn, that would reduce the total number of undergraduate students.
According to Maraviglia, graduation rates play a role in why the enrolled class is smaller this year.
“Last year’s numbers do not impact the overall amount,” he said. “The biggest role is what the overall number is, and what are we projecting is graduation rates … If you graduate more students, you have more openings and if you retain more students, that impacts long-term graduation rates, but also short term — shrinking the number of openings.”
Though final details on academic profiles of the projected enrollees have not been released, Harris anticipates the enrolling class will be very strong because students in the applicant pool already stand at an all-time high GPA of 3.97.
“I think that there’s something tremendous to be said about the strength of the student that attends Cal Poly,” Harris said. “We continue to see very qualified, engaged and talented students coming here and it’s a great thing to see, and it’s a testament to not only the faculty and staff that work here, but also the quality of the students right now — that they draw other students like them to come to Cal Poly.”