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Cal Poly Lingo and Terms


Academic Probation

An undergraduate student is automatically placed on academic probation when the grade point average drops below 2.000 (C). The grade point average applies to the current term (unadjusted for any subsequent grade forgiveness), the Cal Poly cumulative, or the higher education cumulative. The student is advised promptly, by email or other means, of being placed on probation. It is the student’s responsibility to check his/her campus email account regularly.

More about Academic Probation

Academic Year

Consists of summer, fall, winter, spring quarters.


A period of time (the initial registration cycle until the of the 8th day of instruction each quarter) when classes can be added or dropped without penalty/paperwork.

More about Add/Drop

Advanced Placement (AP)

A high school course that offers college credit if successfully complete course and obtain high scores on examination. Exams are passed by earning a score of 3, 4 or 5, earn a Credit (CR) grade and are not calculated in the GPA. A maximum of nine (9) quarter units are earned for a course; fewer are earned when exam content is duplicated. When credit and units are earned for a specific course(s), the excess unit(s) count as free electives.

More about Advanced Placement (AP)

Approved Electives

Courses that students can choose from within the parameters set by their departments.

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Block Schedule

First-time freshmen are enrolled in classes by Cal Poly for their first fall quarter. This is based on each student’s major and any course credit that was submitted on time to the University.

More about Block Schedule

Book Buyback

Time at the end of the term to sell used textbooks back to the University Bookstore.

More about Book Buyback

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College of Architecture & Environmental Design

More about CAED


College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences

More about CAFES

Cal Poly Cumulative GPA (C.P. CUM GPA)

GPA calculated using Cal Poly courses only.


A web-based course management system used to post course information, create discussion boards, submit term papers and homework, etc. Access Canvas via student Poly Portal.

More about Canvas


Prepared by the Office of the Registrar. The catalog provides a description of colleges & departments, programs, course descriptions, degree requirements, and University Policies that impact students.

More about Catalog


College of Engineering

More about CENG


Located on the second floor of the University Union, Chumash Auditorium is home to numerous campus events.

More about Chumash


College of Liberal Arts

More about CLA


Cal Poly consists of six colleges that make up the university. College of Architecture & Environmental Design (CAED), College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences CAFES, College of Engineering (CENG), College of Liberal Arts (CLA), College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM), Orfalea College of Business (OCOB).


Group of courses designed to provide specialized knowledge within a bachelor’s degree program. Completion of a concentration is noted on the student’s transcript, but not shown on the diploma. Not all majors have a concentration.


Two or more courses must be taken in the same term.


A course or courses may be taken prior to the course being described (prerequisite) or in the same term (concurrent).


College of Science and Mathematics

More about COSAM or CSM

CP (Cal Poly)

Acronym for our University.

Crashing a class

Attempting to add a class by going to the designated class during the add/drop period (first 8 days of the term) and speaking to the professor. To add a class after classes begin, students must obtain a permission number from the professor or department.

CR/NC (Credit/No Credit

An alternate grading option offered for some courses. Students change courses to CR/NC grading through the “edit” tab within the student center. Students must read the CR/NC policy to determine if they are eligible to take certain classes CR/NC.

More about CR/NC (Credit/No Credit)

CSD-Coordinator of Student Development

Full time professionals living on campus that train, and direct resident and community advisors.

More about CSD-Coordinator of Student Development

Curriculum Sheet

A list of the major, support, general education, and free elective courses, as well as other graduation requirements required for a particular degree.

More about Curriculum Sheet

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The administrative head of a college.


Academic rank which the University confers on a student who satisfactorily completes a designated curriculum or program of study. Cal Poly grants undergraduate degrees as well as master’s degrees.

Degree Planner

Degree Planner is a required degree planning tool which provides you with a personalized, pre-populated path to graduation. Your path contains a sequence of courses that you are encouraged to regularly adjust to accurately reflect your future plans.

Department Chair

A faculty member who serves as the academic leader and administrative head of a department.

DPR (Degree Progress Report)

Commonly called the “degree audit,” it indicates which requirements have been satisfied and which ones still must be completed.

More about DPR (Degree Progress Report)

DRC (Disability Resource Center)

The DRC’s mission is to cultivate an accessible university community where students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of the educational environment.

More about DRC (Disability Resource Center)

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EPT (English Placement Test)

Tests new students for competency and placement into appropriate English courses.

More about EPT (English Placement Test)

ELM (Entry-Level Math Test)

Tests new students for competency and placement into appropriate Math courses.

More about ELM (Entry-Level Math Test)


Student ID number that can be found in the portal under the “personal info” tab.

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Faculty Advisor

Designated faculty members (professors) providing academic and advising support.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Application students may file annually with the US Department of Education to determine eligibility for financial aid. Filing date is between January 1-March 2.

More about FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

A federal law establishing the protection of privacy of student education records.

More about FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)


A quarter-by-quarter plan of the courses required for a particular major to complete the degree.

More about Flowchart

Free Electives

Courses that students can choose to pursue their own interests. Not all majors require free electives as part of their curriculum.

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GE (General Education)

Courses that provide a common foundation of knowledge for all undergraduate programs.

More about GE (General Education)

GPA (Grade Point Average)

The average grade that is calculated by dividing the grade points earned by the number of units graded.

More about GPA (Grade Point Average)

GWR (Graduation Writing Requirement)

CSU-mandated program designed to ensure that students can write proficiently before they enter the professional work force. Students can fulfill it by taking an exam on a designated date each quarter or through a GWR-approved course.

More about GWR (Graduation Writing Requirement)

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Higher Ed. GPA

GPA calculated using a combination of courses taken at Cal Poly and any other community college/4 year university.


Restricts a student’s ability to register for classes or access services. Students can access their Student Center to view holds and take care of holds and information about whom to contact.

More about Hold

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ICMA (Individualized Change of Major Agreement)

Any student wishing to change their major who meets the minimum application requirements after consultation with the department may enter into an ICMA. University policy states that a student will be allowed a maximum of two quarters to satisfy ICMA requirements. Students who to not complete the ICMA requirements within this time frame cannot re-apply to the major. Please see change of major policy under your prospective college.

More about ICMA (Individualized Change of Major Agreement)


The "Incomplete" ("I") grade signifies that a portion of the required coursework has not been completed and evaluated in the prescribed time period due to fully justified reasons and there is still a possibility of the student earning credit.

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Major Courses

Designed to provide competence in the professional field in which a degree is earned. Courses are typically offered by the academic department in which the degree program is offered.

MAPE-Mathematics Placement Exam

Not all students need to take the MAPE. This is a test that students can choose to take if they want to test into a higher math class than they were initially placed in.

More about MAPE-Mathematics Placement Exam


Integrated, coherent group of courses designed to give a student knowledge in an academic area outside of the major field of study.

Mustang Jobs

Online database hosting hundreds of on and off-campus jobs

More about Mustang Jobs


Cal Poly’s official mascot

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Orfalea College of Business

More about OCOB

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Peer Advisor

Current Cal Poly student that is hired and trained within an advising office to help support other students, academic advisors, and departments.

Permission Number

Code that can be obtained from a professor or department. Once classes begin, students need a permission number to be able to add a class to their schedule. Students can add classes during the first eight days of instruction of the quarter (during the add/drop period).

More about Permission Number

Plus Dollars

Money that can be put on a student’s PolyCard that enables students to use their ID as a debit card at campus establishments. Now called Dining Dollars.

More about Dining Dollars


Student ID card

More about PolyCard


A student’s unofficial transcript. Students can see AP credit, community college credit, academic progress gauge, and other important academic information. Access to student PolyProfile is in student Poly Portal under the Academics tab.


An internet portal that is the source for students’ academic and financial account information at Cal Poly. Students use their Cal Poly username/password to log in.


Course(s), skills or knowledge a student must possess or successfully complete prior to enrolling in or taking a class.

More about Prerequisite

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Quarter Units

Each course offered by the University carries a value in quarter units. To convert semester units to quarter units, multiply by 1.5 (example: 6 semester units x 1.5 = 9 quarter units).

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RA (Resident Advisor)

Professional student staff member who oversees and lives with residents in the residence halls.

More about RA (Resident Advisor)

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Schedule Builder

Online scheduling system that allows students to plan and enroll in their schedules for the upcoming quarter.

More about Schedule Builder

Schedule of Classes

Online listing of classes offered for the term. This is found in “PASS.”

Student Center

The tool used to register for classes and accessed within the My Cal Poly Portal.

Student Ombuds Services

Office that assists individuals and groups in the resolution of concerns or conflicts. This office is a resource for all Cal Poly students.


Summer orientation for all incoming students, parents, and supporters. Now call SLO-Days.

More about SLO-Days

Support Courses

Provide background needed for major courses and are offered by departments other than the department in which the major is offered. For example, most majors in engineering and in the sciences require support courses in mathematics. Some degree programs do not include support courses.


A summary of course expectations provided by the course instructor that outlines requirements, assignments, grade breakdown, etc.

More about Syllabus

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University Learning Objectives (ULOs)

Experiences aligned to a common set of academic expectations for each student.

More about University Learning Objectives (ULOs)

University year

Includes and begins with summer quarter. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring


University Union, Building 65.

UU Hour

Events are held in the UU every Thursday 11 am – noon.

More about UU Hour

USCP (United States Cultural Pluralism)

All students are required to complete a United States Cultural Pluralism course. View Plan a Student Schedule (PASS) or the catalog for courses that fulfill the USCP requirement.

More about USCP (United States Cultural Pluralism)

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Waitlists begin when the enrollment for a course is closed.

More about Waitlisting

WPE (Writing Proficiency Exam)

One of two ways to fullfill the GWR. The WPE is a two-hour exam in which students write a 500-800 word essay that demonstrates their ability to present an argument in an organized manner with fully developed supporting points that are expressed logically and clearly.

More about WPE (Writing Proficiency Exam)

WOW (Week of Welcome)

A new student welcome event that occurs the week before school starts in fall that promotes new student connections with faculty/staff/students/administrators.

More about WOW (Week of Welcome)

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