Cal Poly is adding a new program to its summer session options, but this time it will be crunched into three weeks.
The Quarter Plus program — designed for incoming freshmen to get familiar with campus and classes — is offered to incoming construction management, business administration and economics freshmen starting Aug. 25.
The program would cost $3,955 for students interested in residential living and $2,805 for students choosing to live off campus.
According to Vice Provost for International, Graduate and Extended Education Brian Tietje, it’s a way for incoming freshmen to move in early, get ahead of the game in credits and get adjusted faster.
“The idea is that it just adds only three weeks to the (Cal Poly) experience, as opposed to traditional summer term, which adds five weeks or eight weeks, or even 10,” he said. “You’ve moved in early, you have some credits under your belt, you will have already built some camaraderie with other students and we’re in the process of designing activities, too.”
Though the program is restricted to certain majors, most of the classes offered will be general education courses.
“We’re piloting it this year with just these majors to make sure we start small and do it well,” he said. “We just want to get the kinks sorted out.”
In the future, however, Tietje is aiming for Quarter Plus to become a university-wide option for both returning students and first-time freshmen.
“If this program goes well, returning students would have the option to stay for summer term and still have a pretty full summer — so students could still travel or have an internship,” he said. “We’re planning to start to ramp up classes for returning students as well.”
But according to communications associate professor Richard Besel, who will be teaching Public Speaking (COMS 101) at Quarter Plus this summer, the three-week time period for teaching classes requires some adjusting.
“It is possible to squeeze a course into three weeks, but it is very difficult,” Besel said. “The quarter system is already a little short compared to semesters, so having three weeks to crunch everything together might mean changing the nature of some assignments in to make sure all the basics are being covered.”
Though the three-week time period may be intense, Tietje said, the classes chosen were ones faculty and departments thought would be best to compress.
“I leave it totally up to faculty and departments to decide if their course can be taught that way,” Tietje said. “We know that some courses you may never see in a three-week format — some science classes, some lab-based or math classes — so that’s why faculty is involved in choosing.”
But faculty, including Besel, hope students understand that though the program is made to compress classes into three weeks, it won’t necessarily be easier.
“The biggest concern for me for the students is that they don’t overload themselves,” he said. “Three weeks is not going to be fast and easy … it’s more concentrated. A lot of students try to maintain the same pace, and (they) just can’t do it.”
However, Cal Poly is easing the possible intensity of the program with a leadership course taught by Peak Learning Chief Creative Officer Ronda Beaman, who has taught a leadership summit at the Orfalea College of Business for the past three years.
“Thirty-three percent of incoming freshmen nationwide end up dropping out, most never to return, because the transition is so difficult and they’re not prepared for all the challenges,” Beaman said. “We’re making sure that beyond study skills, students have the chance to know what they’re made of, how they can improve and how they can handle their own adversity quotient and grit to succeed.”
Tietje hopes this formula — two courses and a leadership course — will be the “winning program” for summer.
“We’re seeing the numbers go down, and yet our marketing efforts for summer have never been higher,” Tietje said. “We’re working harder and harder, but there’s still less and less demand, so we’re just hoping this is a winning formula.”