California University Leader Believes Year-Round Operations Will Boost Enrollment

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Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo has unveiled plans to become the inaugural public university in California to adopt year-round operations starting in the summer of 2025. This shift will offer students the choice to commence their academic journey in the summer and take their breaks during different terms, enabling the university to admit a greater number of students annually. According to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong, this move is anticipated to not only foster growth in enrollment but also boost student success, drawing inspiration from successful implementations at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the University of Waterloo in Canada. Armstrong aims to add a unique “Cal Poly twist” to this model for the benefit of all students.

With the implementation of the year-round operations commencing next year, students will have the flexibility to select their starting term, be it summer or fall, during the application process. Moreover, faculty and staff will have the autonomy to choose the terms in which they will work, offering a more personalized approach to scheduling.

“By initiating the year-round structure, we aim to maintain our academic standards while creating more opportunities for student admission,” noted Armstrong. The objective is not a compromise on standards but a strategic approach to accommodating more students within the Cal Poly ecosystem.

By introducing the option to begin the academic year in the summer, Cal Poly endeavors to offer a comprehensive academic experience throughout all terms, ensuring that summer-start students have access to full-term classes. Armstrong emphasized that while the transition to year-round operations will require investments, these will be comparable to those required for traditional enrollment growth methods.

The adoption of the year-round model will afford students, including freshmen, increased engagement in high-impact practices such as internships, study abroad programs, and undergraduate research, enhancing their overall academic experience and potential for success. Armstrong highlighted the pivotal role of high-impact practices in student retention and graduation rates, emphasizing the holistic benefits of such opportunities.

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo President Jeffrey D. Armstrong
Credit: Cal Poly SLO

Armstrong envisions that the switch to year-round operations will introduce flexibility for all students, offering the option to accelerate graduation or engage in various academic pursuits across different terms. The emphasis remains on enhancing opportunities and expanding access to high-impact activities to create a more equitable educational environment for all.

Despite the change to year-round operations, financial aid coverage for students will continue to span a complete academic year, ensuring that all students receive consistent support, irrespective of their chosen starting term. Armstrong outlined the aspiration for a third of students to begin in the summer, although initial figures may range from 15-20%, reflecting a gradual transition period.

This strategic shift to year-round operations holds the promise of facilitating enrollment growth and alleviating pressure on the campus while maximizing opportunities for student engagement. The decision to embrace year-round operations stems from a desire to enhance access to educational opportunities and ensure a dynamic learning environment at Cal Poly.

As Cal Poly embarks on this transformative journey, the objective is to create a more inclusive and flexible academic landscape that caters to the diverse needs of students, faculty, and the overall campus community. The gradual expansion of year-round operations is anticipated to usher in a new era of enriching opportunities and enhanced student experiences at Cal Poly.

Ashley BolterCalifornia Student Journalism Corps.

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