CAED's Virtual Fall Welcome FAQ's

From webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, 6 to 7 pm

How is Cal Poly working on diversity, equity and inclusion? 

I am very excited about the development of diversity, equity and inclusion in the CAED and Cal Poly.  We are going into our fourth year of a student-led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, which develops interdisciplinary programming and workshops.  This will be our third year with our Faculty Staff Committee, which similarly has engaged in workshops and trainings to support our faculty and staff.  What is particularly exciting about our current efforts, and inspired through our student expectations, is making sure DEI is incorporated into curricula.  This is one of our primary focuses this academic year, as we finalize our CAED Diversity Action Plan.


What is the plan for virtual versus in-person courses for fall, winter and spring? 

We are planning to offer all of the courses our students need to make progress in their degree programs. During fall and winter quarter we plan to offer some face-to-face classes that have activities where in-person work is essential, but most instruction and all activities outside of our classes, such as services like advising, club activities and program enrichment activities will be by distance.  This is part of a university-wide effort to minimize exposure to COVID. Also, we are prepared to transition those classes to remote formats if public health guidelines change because of increased risk. 

We do not yet know if it will be possible to expand our on-campus activities in the spring. This will depend on the guidelines in place at that time.  We are all looking forward to coming together in person again as soon as it is safe to do so. 


What classes will be in-person versus online? How will taking classes online affect Learn by Doing? Will we be able to use any on-campus materials and tools for our projects during the fall quarter if we're living on campus?                                                                                               
All lecture courses will be offered virtually. There will be a limited number of labs and activity classes in Architectural Engineering, Construction Management and Landscape Architecture that will be offered in-person.  All activity classes in Architecture and City and Regional Planning will be virtual. Faculty are developing remote labs and activities that replicate or simulate many of our in-person Learn by Doing methods. 

CAED indoor spaces will be open for students enrolled in in-person classes during the scheduled times of those classes.  There will be limited use of shop and lab spaces for research and, in some cases, this may include senior projects. But this access will be for equipment use only. We are unable to provide general workspace. Other services like plotters, computer labs, etc. will not be available outside of in-person class activities.

All CAED majors engage in Learn by Doing, each transitioning to remote versions that are particular to their discipline.  It is important to recognize that professional offices working across multiple locations and time zones have been working this way for some time, so in many ways students who practice remote communication and collaboration will be ahead because of this experience.  While it may be true that some of the elaborate, highly crafted models are not being produced, students are able to develop quick study, more improvisational models that are commonly used in the profession. 


What do students who have in-person classes need to do before coming to campus? 

Students are required to self-monitor their health status before coming to campus each day, stay home when sick, stay 6 feet apart from others, wash hands regularly with soap and water, wear face coverings when in public, and comply with local public health recommendations.  Additionally, all students who come to campus will use Cal Poly’s COVID-19 self-screening tool to monitor their personal health, assess symptoms, such as temperature, related to coronavirus, and receive immediate guidance. The tool also functions as a pass for students coming to campus. For more information, please click here


Would it be better to take courses online versus deferring a year? If taking courses online, how will that affect student life, time and commitment in the program?

When considering the option of a gap year, students need to consider their personal circumstances. In general, we do not recommend deferring for a year. Cal Poly does not hold spaces in next year’s incoming class for students who decide to defer.  This means that you would have to re-apply for admission to Cal Poly this coming fall and there is a chance that some re-applicants may not be admitted, so this is something to consider.

Usually when students take a gap year, it is because they are engaged in a valuable professional development opportunity that prepares them for college and for future success.  Given the impacts of COVID on opportunities to travel and the availability of internships, it may be difficult for some students to secure the types of experiences that make it worth the year delay in receiving their degrees. It is important to consider future impacts. A gap year now will mean a delay in your career launch and full-time income.

Building community is a very important aspect of our studio and lab environment in the CAED, but as all students know, there are many opportunities to continue to build community in the online environment.  Students have reflected that the mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes have helped them focus on their asynchronous course requirements on the weekend, so they can fully focus on their studio work during the week.  


How are international students affected by COVID-19?

In terms of student visas, most continuing international students are not affected. New international students that want to reside in the USA are required to take at least one in-person class per Federal Government requirements. For our many international students that reside at home, in timezones that could be 12-15 hours from Pacific Standard Time, this is something our faculty are very sensitive to and work with these students to provide a positive learning experience.


Where can students find information regarding computer/software requirements?

The minimum computer requirements for CAED students is posted on the college’s website here: Specific requirements by major are listed below.

Architectural Engineering:
City and Regional Planning:
Construction Management:
Landscape Architecture:


How will academic advising be handled this fall? Who do students contact for change of major, adding a minor, or questions about graduate school?

The Mustang Success Center supports first time freshmen students with their transition and integration into Cal Poly. The academic advisors in the Mustang Success Center are your “go-to” people for your academic questions and concerns during your first year. More at

The CAED offers a dual advising model for non-freshmen students in the college. This means that you will have access to two sources of academic advising, the CAED Advising Center at and your departmental faculty advisor. 

Please check with your department to find out the name and advising hours of your faculty advisor. Meet with your faculty advisor before registration every quarter. Faculty advisors can provide the following services and more:

  • Help students plan a balanced and realistic schedule
  • Answer course content questions
  • Help students improve their academic performance
  • Provide career advising
  • Provide information about graduate schools, coops, and future jobs 

Students who are considering a change of major should fill out the Change of Major form in their student portal. After this information is filled out, they will be contacted by their target department. 

Changing your major is effected by the capacity of the target to accept a change of major. Factors could include majors you were eligible for at the time of admission, your current GPA, and your success in coursework applicable to the target major. 

For additional guidance and resources visit:


How will co-curricular activities and competitions be handled this academic year? When is the best time to get involved?

Many co-curricular activities and competitions are transitioning to an online format this year. Information about specific co-curricular activities and competitions will be made available as the academic year progresses. Students are encouraged to research past activities and competitions online and ask faculty for more information to learn how to better prepare. All club activities will be virtual.  

Balancing time is key when entering college. Some students are able to rush a sorority or fraternity, get a job on campus, remain on the Dean's List, and have time to be with friends. It is all about getting your priorities straight and developing a strategy that works best for you.


When will study abroad opportunities be available to students, and what do they look like?

Since last March, we have been closely working with our International Center to make sure students abroad got home safe, helping students planning on traveling this year find opportunities at home, and certainly looking at options and opportunities for international travel experience as soon as we are able to.  This is closely tied to the US State Department’s travel advisories, and until this is advisory is changed from “do not travel,” we cannot make any predictions about a return to study abroad.  We are also looking at online opportunities, engaging students with different international perspectives, coupled with travel when it is safe to do so.


What career paths are common for students within CAED in each major?

Cal Poly’s Career Services Department conducts an annual survey of the activities of its most recent graduates, which is compiled into the Graduate Status Report (GSR). This includes information on career outcomes related to employment and admissions to graduate or professional schools. Summary reports for 2019 are available by college here: 

Additionally, the CAED Career Connections website contains interviews with student interns and alumni who are entrepreneurs, work for local to global firms and public agencies. This is an excellent resource for inspiring students to learn more about different career paths that alumni have taken and for charting their own unique paths: 


Due to the pandemic economy we are concerned about jobs for students and recent grads. Can you share the details about job placement for the Class of 2020 and plans to help students with internships and those planning to graduate in 2021?

Until March 15 of 2020, CP had the highest number of job postings in its history.  The immediate impact of the stay-in-place orders dropped the number of positions posted by half, however that has turned around and we are now down to about 20% of where we were last year but still higher than we were two years ago.  

National surveys of employers that recruit at universities show that 70-80% of them plan to recruit this year. The Cal Poly Career Center is currently in the process of surveying our employers and recent graduates to find out more. 

One of the impacts we are hearing is that when firms had to pivot from work in their offices to remote working, many decided to postpone internship and entry level career hires until they could better understand economic impacts and figure out how to engage new staff and. We’ve also heard from employers who did hire that they have had success onboarding new team members.  

We are continuing to host virtual career fairs, which expand our national and international reach, and all students, including graduates of the class of 2020, have access to Cal Poly Career Services. The CAED Career Advisor Jade Moreno is available to meet with students and welcomes new students who may be seeking their first industry internship. She can be reached at .


What scholarship or support opportunities are available for students impacted by the pandemic? 

Cal Poly Cares provides limited financial assistance to currently enrolled Cal Poly students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship related to an unexpected situation. The grant is designated to offset a short-term financial need and is not intended to replace or supplement financial aid. Long-term needs can be addressed by meeting with a financial aid counselor to determine available options. Funds are awarded as a grant, and unlike a loan, do not need to be repaid. Examples include:

  • Unexpected financial burdens in response to COVID-19 pandemic, such as loss of income or wages, increased care-taking responsibilities, or moving/relocation costs.
  • Replacement of essential personal belongings due to fire, flood, theft, or natural disaster.
  • Emergency or temporary housing assistance.
  • Medications or costs related to emergency medical care (not covered by insurance).
  • Assistance with rent or utilities due to an emergency situation.
  • Financial assistance for DACA/visa renewal fees in the event of unexpected loss of income.
  • Other emergency situations that will impact a student's ability to fully participate and make academic progress at Cal Poly.

More information is available on the Cal Poly Cares website:


Will all freshmen be allowed to live in the dorms this fall? Who else will be allowed to live on campus this fall? Why are two years of on-campus housing required for incoming freshman?

Yes, first-year students with a few continuing and/or transfer students will be allowed to live on campus this fall. First-years will be placed in single rooms in residence halls and shared apartments. Continuing and transfer students will be housed in single rooms in shared campus apartments. Plans may change as we receive and adapt to new information and decisions to best serve students. For more information go to:

We have partnered with Cal Poly Housing to provide all incoming first-year students with a two-year in-residence experience.  Students in the College of Agriculture and student athletes also reside on campus for two years.  

There are two reasons why our students are included.  For all majors, data show that students who live on campus during their second year perform better academically than students who move off campus. But our college’s second-year experience carries extra demands because of higher than average contact hours compared to other colleges at Cal Poly.  This is because many second-year students are simultaneously enrolled in studios and in laboratory courses.  It is not unusual for a second-year student to have more than 30 in-class hours a week and still need to study an additional 25 hours or more out-of-class. Living on campus helps ease the added time responsibilities for off-campus living requires.  (There is some flexibility. Students, such as older students, students living with family members, or veterans are exempt from living on campus, and other students who have a need to live off campus can apply for an exemption.)

Related Content


Giving to the CAED

Power of Doing Campaign

More on CAED support

CAED Connections

Connections 2020

Connections Magazine

Faculty Resources for Remote Classes

CAED Faculty Resources image

Updated resources and links for our faculty who are teaching and working remotely.

CAED Tech Team