Cal Poly to switch from quarters to semesters, following CSU demand

October 20, 2021

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Upon the demand of the California State University system, Cal Poly will switch from a quarters calendar to a semesters schedule.

Currently, Cal Poly is the only CSU campus that remains on the quarter system. In 2012, six of the system’s 23 campuses were on quarters calendars. But, the other five have since shifted to the semester system.

The CSU system previously encouraged Cal Poly to make the switch, and the idea was met with resistance. But last week, CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro wrote a letter to Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong stating he expects the San Luis Obispo campus to switch from quarters to semesters by 2025-2026.

“After much thought, and after watching the success of the other CSU campuses that have recently transitioned from quarters to semesters, I am resolute that the time has come for Cal Poly to adopt the semester system,” Castro wrote in the letter to Armstrong. “It is my expectation that the transition will be implemented by the start of the 2025-2026 academic year.”

Castro argued that Cal Poly shifting to the semester system would allow for articulation and equity; student success; and administrative efficiency.

Many first-generation, low-income and underrepresented minority students start at community college and then transfer to a CSU campus. Since nearly all California community colleges are on semesters calendars, Cal Poly, too, using that schedule will ease students’ transitions and improve the equitable access to the CSU system, Castro argued.

The semester system also makes it easier for students to find summer internships or jobs. Additionally, it simplifies administrative tasks, such as verifying vaccination status, calculating academic progress, completing financial aid reporting and hiring and onboarding part-time faculty, Castro wrote.

In response, Armstrong agreed to make the switch, though he acknowledged the decision may initially be unpopular.

“I believe Chancellor Castro raises valid points regarding the benefits of adopting semesters,” Armstrong wrote in a letter to the Cal Poly community explaining his decision. “I share his concern about Cal Poly being perceived — rightly or wrongly — as needing to address issues of equitable access and student success. In addition to the considerations he raises, I see this as an opportunity to: achieve greater pedagogical depth in courses at all levels; retain some fast-paced courses by having terms of variable lengths, as we do during summer; rethink how to balance teaching and research for faculty; and revisit curricular priorities across the curriculum.”

The CSU system will pay for the vast majority of direct costs related to Cal Poly’s transition from quarters to semesters, Armstrong said.


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Jorge Estrada

I guessing that this will be helpful for transfer students from a community college into the CSU system and likely a savings in the total cost of a four year degree? This would be a good thing as most can’t afford the luxury to leave home for a college education.


Buchon

Nah. That has LONG been worked out. 1 semester hour = 1.5 quarter hours.


paragon

This idiotic idea has nothing to do with what is best for Cal Poly and everything to do with a CSU system that wants to stamp out any diversity in which term length each college chooses and enforce mindless conformity to make all CSUs identical cookie-cutter universities purely to satisfy the whim of the chancellor.


Various Chancellors have tried to force this destructive change on Cal Poly for decades. Every 5 years or so, the current chancellor would come to previous Cal Poly President Warren Baker to demand Cal Poly switch to semesters and Baker would tell them to go F themselves because he was going to run Cal Poly as he saw fit. Sadly, Armstrong lacks a spine and it was only a matter of time before he buckled like a belt to the chancellor’s senseless demands.


Quite a few California schools are on the quarter system and have found it to be optimal for student success, including Stanford and all UCs (except for Berkeley and Merced) and Foothill, De Anza and Lake Tahoe community colleges. I highly doubt the UC Regents are pressuring Berkeley to switch to quarters because almost all the rest of the UCs are on them.


Buchon

Ever so slowly, Poly is losing what led it to become one of the leading undergraduate agricultural, engineering, hard sciences and business institutions in the US. Bye-bye 205+ quarter units of hardcore rigor. Hello liberal arts college of 15 units/semester.


jimmy_me

Cal Poly: Best in the West! So let’s change it for no legitimate reason whatsoever. Great independent thinking by calpoly’s admin.


gauche123

Everything that goes woke…goes to….


I’d love to see the research behind the equity argument in this case. I guess they can turn anything into a racial problem in todays society. As a minority it’s offensive to me…using their logic, it implies that minorities aren’t smart enough to make it at cal poly so therefore cal poly needs to lower their standards to accommodate minorities lack of ability to meet the old standards.


Everyone needs a participation trophy in todays world, it couldn’t be that some just have more ability than others, not all of us can be Picasso, a professional athlete etc…there are 23 CSU campuses for a reason, if a student can’t handle quarters then they have 22 other campuses they can go to….