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Thread: Cal Poly SLO or Cal Poly Pomona

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    Cal Poly SLO or Cal Poly Pomona

    I've been accepted to both school for their respective Urban Planning programs, but I'm still contemplating which school to attend. Which school do you think has a better Urban Planning undergraduate program overall? First hand accounts from each school would be greatly appreciated, not just on the program itself, but on campus life too.

    I've visited both campuses, Cal Poly SLO appealed to me more, but Cal Poly is just about 10 miles away from where I live. Although it's close by, the school has been more severely affected by state budget cuts than Cal Poly SLO, and Cal Poly SLO's student life is much better than Pomona's.

  2. #2
    Congratulations, because this is one of the easiest choices in your life. Cal Poly SLO. The planning program is waaaaay better than Pomona. Everything is better than Pomona.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    SLO hands down.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

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    Congrats,

    I'm planning to apply to CAL poly SLO for fall 2011.
    I'm trying to assess my ability to get in. Could you post/send your GPA and other stats as well how the application process went. I'm interested in the urban design and physical planning specialization. I know the the school has a reputation for hands approach, did you get a chance to learn anything about the studios from the faculty/visits?

    I'd a appreciate the help.

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    SLO is gorgeous and amazing. My friends who have gone there have loved it and were pretty sad to leave. Its only downfall is that it's a little secluded and you aren't around some big city. Academic wise the planning dept is very good.
    Pomona I have heard nothing but unfortunate things about. You just seem to get all the smog of LA without the joy of the coastline. The planning dept I hear is decent.
    I would hands down pick Cal Poly SLO!

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    Okay, so from the responses I've gotten thus far, SLO is the way to go. But, is there anyone who has gone there so I can have feedback? What about the program at SLO makes it great? I was also wondering if i'd be able to get a decent job somewhere in the area because I would be financially strapped.

    There's a lot that has it going for SLO. If I attend the school, I can minor in Studio Art and Photography as well. I can't do that at Pomona. In Pomona, i'll save money by living with my parents (i live 20 minutes away from the school). Here in SoCal, I could also go plenty of places with friends who'll be going to nearby schools. I heard SLO doesn't allow freshmen who dorm to have a car the first year? How would I get around the area, I'm a guy who really loves travel far, that would be a setback.

    Here are my stats, they aren't very good compared to the average student accepted at SLO. I was kinda shocked that I was accepted:
    Overall GPA: 3.40 (Weighted) 3.27 (Unweighted)
    SAT Composite: 1750 Reading: 560 Math: 550 Writing: 640
    ACT Composite: 25 English: 29 Math: 23 Reading: 26 Science: 22
    ACT(cont.) Writing: 8 English/Writing Comb: 27
    AP US History Test: 4 out of 5
    Extracurricular: 300 Hours of Volunteering, joined about 6 Clubs at School, Choir, Theater (House Crew, minor role for 1 play)

    I also took two SAT 2's (they dont really matter at SLO, but I still sent them)
    US History: 700
    Spanish: 730

    I got a 1610 the first time I took the SAT 1 ( I sent all tests taken)

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    POMONA ALL THE WAY!!!!!

    Your profile says you are from Chino Hills, so you are used to vast expanses of civilization like the SGV, the OC, and IE. SLO is pretty much a dot in the map. Imagine the city of Claremont but no other cities around it.

    Diversity and authentic ethnic food at SLO? Forget about it!
    Dirt cheap housing at SLO? Nope.
    Local employment? No way!

    Yes, SLO is more competitive academically. But who cares about that?? Cal Poly Pomona is A HUGE FEEDER SCHOOL for CalTrans, Department of Transportation, MTA, LA County Services, OMNI, Metrolink, San Bernardino County Services, the huge list of private planning firms, and the countless local planning departments. If you want priceless networking and a plug into SoCal planning, CPP is the way to go!

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    piecewise7, thats kinda what i was thinking. the la region has so much to offer and so much waiting to be explored. even though ive lived in the area for years, there's still much to be seen, i just can't imagine myself just suddenly leaving. but, does CPP really have that strong of a connection? i had no idea.

    those same advantages are the downfall for SLO. even though SLO has a bit more going for it academically, theres more to balance here in SoCal. At this point, I'm still left undecided and still a bit equally pulled by each school....

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    just wondering piecewise7, did you or are you attending CPP?

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    @espinozajr

    i will be attending the graduate program this fall.

    my good friend from high school is the president of the planning association, he convinced me to go to cal poly pomona. during his undergrad, he's worked on this:

    http://www.edenslostandfound.org/hom...iew.php?id=215
    and this
    http://www.metrogoldline.org/about.html

    and yes, campus life is dull at cpp. but do it 626/909 style, live with your SGV/IE friends and have fun!

  11. #11
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    I will have to agree that where you study will be very influential on where you could/will work. if you want to work in the LA area, studying there is a good way to go.

    However SLO isn't that far away, you're not deciding between Boston and LA here. You're talking at a school in the same State (as big as Cali is...) and within its zone of influence.

    You obviously live in the LA area, so getting connections on your own won't be hard. And for all the benefits of the "local" school, getting meaningful connections beyond a business card is up to you.

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    both are very good points.

    @piecewise: do you know if CPP always has some sort of project like those for undergrads? and.. is your friend the president of APSA at CPP?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by espinozajr92 View post
    Okay, so from the responses I've gotten thus far, SLO is the way to go. But, is there anyone who has gone there so I can have feedback? What about the program at SLO makes it great? I was also wondering if i'd be able to get a decent job somewhere in the area because I would be financially strapped.
    I did the BSCRP at SLO, as, I believe, CPSURaf has also done. I'm sure there are others here who have done either the BSCRP or the MSCRP.

    I'd say the great thing about the SLO program is a strong, intense beginning in urban design, but a good breadth in everything else, such as development review process, environmental planning, collaborative planning, and the like. One good thing is that you'll have experience doing real planning for real communities in your third and fourth year. These studios are intense, involved, and the class does a lot to run the show.

    As far as summer work and stuff like that... most of your available jobs would be in retail or whatever... I didn't work, though, until I got my planning internship for one of the firms in town, which I was fortunate to get. I eventually got hired full time, and have been there for the past 3.5 years. However, your ability to get a job rests entirely on you.

    Personally, I value natural beauty and the outdoors more than I do ethnic food and access to regional markets. While I'm sure Pomona would offer closer geographic access to job centers, SLO is in the middle of a very beautiful area. That may not matter so much to you if you're a younger guy wanted the nightlife or whatever. SLO is a town with a lot of partying and drinking, so it's not like you'll want for the lack of that.

    As far as freshmen not having cars on campus... I don't know for sure, it seems like that's not the case, since I see freshmen all the time driving cars around. In any case, this is something you can figure out over a 2 minute phone call to the campus. Also, SLO has some really nice, brand new dorms in the newly built housing campus on the northwest side.

    Public transportation is great, you'd have free bus rides on SloTransit. Here I am working full time and no longer going to campus and I still ride the bus as my main form of transportation. There is a bus route going back forth from campus and downtown all day, and so its popular with students. A lot of bicyclsts as well... you will definetely want a bike if you're on campus.

    SLO is a small city/large town, that is bike friendly and has good public transportation. If you want some suburbanite, vehicle-friendly commuter campus, Cal Poly SLO is not it. The campus itself is pretty, the CRP Department has new classrooms and labs, and more space since they moved out of the old Dexter building. There is a lot of development on campus and they are making things better all the time. There is a new tech park out near the barns they are building at the moment, and brand new, state of the art engineering and construction mgmt complexes as well. They're expanding the Rec Center and the University Union center, and like I said, have a nice new huge dorm complex with restaurants, laundry, etc., and parking garages.

    If you're just going to choose between these two (SLO and Pomona), you should definitely come up here and check it out for yourself before you make your decision, instead of relying on just our opinions. The fact is, everyone from SLO is going to say to go to SLO, while everyone from Pomona is gonna say go there. So you have to make your own decision. With that said, it is clear by the number of awards Cal Poly SLO Planning Department has won over Pomona, that Pomona is a distant second best. We have better faculty, facilities, a more renowned College of Architecture and Environmental Design (with a top-ten national architecture school), a more beautiful campus, a more beautiful natural landscape, the largest CSU campus in the state, and rapidly expanding state of the art facilities across the campus.

    SLO is the real and original Cal Poly, while Pomona was originally a satellite campus of Cal Poly SLO. SLO has the largest endowment of any CSU campus, at 20% of the total among all campuses. Just face it, we are the best CSU, and without a doubt the most financial healthy CSU at the moment. Just before the recession, CPSLO got a $300m bond from the state for the new dorn complex, and Pres. Baker has done a lot to expand the endowment. They also just got an anon donor giving something like 20 million to the architecture department. They also have a surprising number of scholarships for CRP students you can take advantage of, some with surprisingly large amounts given this is a public university.

    Really, the only advantage that I can see of Pomona is that its in a major metro area.

    edit: Here are some views of the new housing complex (for which our firm did the environmental review - i think, it was before my time, but we've done most of Poly's env. review): http://www.brookwoodgroup.com/portfo...yonvillage.png
    http://www.brookwoodgroup.com/graphi...009_06_003.jpg
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 06 Mar 2010 at 3:46 PM.

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    Now I have a much better understanding for the curriculum at SLO. I love nature and being outdoors, and I'm not a party person at all, so nightlife really doesn't matter much. Public Transportation is an important factor considering both schools, I dont want to rely solely on my car if I stay in CPP; it's nice to know biking is good form of transportation at SLO. I knew academics were better at SLO than at CPP. If I go to SLO, I would also want to minor in Studio Art and Photography; that's an opportunity not available at CPP.

    Next month I'm going to PolyCultural and the Open House at SLO, so I should get a much more refined opinion. Student Life is very important to me, that's another thing CPP is very mediocre at. I've already visited both schools, but now that I actually have to choose, I've become more inquisitive.

    I'd be great if someone gives their take on CPP now that I've gotten a good amount of info on SLO.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Call up any planning director in California, and they will confirm that grads from CPSLO have one of the best all around educations hands down in this state. I vouche CC's description. Other than the buildings changing from when i went (99-03, BSCRP) the program is still strong. My firm which has its headquarters in SLO has most of its employees from there. Nothing more I can add to, but seriously take a look at the awards, programs, etc and see if it fits what you want at out of life. (BTW, i do miss the slo night spots )
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  16. #16
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    A lot of you guys seem to have gone for the undergrad at SLO. How's the grad program compared to it?

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    honestly, we can keep arguing which planning program at either school is better...

    however, we must remember he is asking input on an UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM!!!!

    how many of us changed our majors during our undergrad??

    statistically there will be an 80% espinozajr will be changing his major at least once.

    who else changed their major during their undergrad?
    i went from law and society, to art history, to finally history.


    espinozajr, make your decision based on the school itself, not a specific program. worry about that in grad school.

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    Quote Originally posted by piecewise7 View post
    honestly, we can keep arguing which planning program at either school is better...

    however, we must remember he is asking input on an UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM!!!!

    how many of us changed our majors during our undergrad??

    statistically there will be an 80% espinozajr will be changing his major at least once.

    who else changed their major during their undergrad?
    i went from law and society, to art history, to finally history.


    espinozajr, make your decision based on the school itself, not a specific program. worry about that in grad school.
    that is very true, i do have a high chance of changing majors.

    i have been taking the school itself into account, not just the program. i've taken student life, minors, academics, and the local atmosphere into account as well. i think i discussed that somewhere in one of my comments above.

    nevertheless, i was interested about learning more about the major of each of the two schools i asked about; there's no harm in that.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by piecewise7 View post
    honestly, we can keep arguing which planning program at either school is better...

    however, we must remember he is asking input on an UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM!!!!

    how many of us changed our majors during our undergrad??

    statistically there will be an 80% espinozajr will be changing his major at least once.

    who else changed their major during their undergrad?
    i went from law and society, to art history, to finally history.


    espinozajr, make your decision based on the school itself, not a specific program. worry about that in grad school.
    Yes, and I have given my perspective of having gone to the UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM at Cal Poly SLO. And really, there is little argument about which school offers the best planning program, or which is the better school overall. So that's a moot point. With that said, I don't really see this as an argument in the first place. I'm merely representing my alma mater. If you want to represent Pomona go on ahead, but the name of the game is you represent as well as you can.

    As far as his chance at changing majors, that's a possibility, but you can't go through life never committing to anything because you know your interests might change. At some point you have to choose a path and commit--to a certain extent, anyway.

    Cal Poly SLO requires freshmen to declare a major. I think there are pros and cons to this... probably more cons than pros, due to the fact that an 18 or 19-year old cannot possibly know what they will do with their life, since their identity is still changing so much at that point.

    Ideally, I think people in general should go to a traditional undergrad program, where you spend 2 years messing around with general education, then 2 years in your major. The problem with this, however, is that those traditional programs aren't designed (as CPSLO's is) to get you in a profession upon graduating. CPSLO uses all 4 years to prepare you for a profession. It is, after all, a technical college, and not a traditional research university. So while I appreciate why you have to declare a major right off the bat, if at all possible I think its generally better to go to a traditional program, especially if you end up getting a masters anyway. (For myself as a transfer student, this was the way it worked out anyway... two years at community college getting GE, then two years in the BSCRP program. It was more hectic than it would have been for a normal student, and a couple quarters I had to take like 25 units, but I did it anyway and ended up with a great GPA--because, well, I just rock at everything I do ).

    However, with all that said, the BSCRP program at CPSLO trains you very well. Nearly everything is hands-on, and you do a lot of real planning in real communities. As far as the comparison between the BSCRP and MSCRP at SLO, the level of expertise a BS student will have upon graduation will likely be more than what an MS student will have. Some might find this hard to believe, but it's absolutely true, and an admission of the CRP faculty, not just my own opinion. The reason is that that BS student has had FOUR YEARS of exposure to planning, not just two, like the graduate students, or planning students from more traditional programs. While the BS students have already acquired some ability to use various graphics programs, drafting skills, arcGIS, and all the rest, the MS students are dicking around with this their entire first year at the same time as doing some hefty community planning work, which is really insane. A BS student has mastered those tools (they should have, anyway) in their 2nd year, and by their 3rd or 4th, not have had to spend anymore time training on how to use basic tools of the trade. Most of the MS students are still screwing around by the time they graduate, and never get up to the level of what a BS student can do. To prove this, simply walk down the corridor of the CRP department at the end of a quarter and you'll see all the posters pinned up on the walls. The work from the 3rd and 4th year students (and now even the 2nd years students, thanks to Umut Toker, urban designer extraordinaire), is oftentimes astronomically (and embarrassingly) better than the MS students.

    If the MS students have an edge, it is probably with policy analysis and management skills, MAYBE. They will most likely be more mature. They might have work experience. Occasionally there will be a rockstar MS student, but certainly no more often than a rockstar BS student. They are simply blown out of the water by the BS students when it comes to urban design.

    The MS students come from all over the place, they could be photography majors from undergrad, or business, or whatever. The masters students will probably have more maturity by simply being older and maybe having some work experience, but they will not have more expertise. (Just as a qualification here, I am not talking about bad students, but referring to the "average good student" for each program.)

    To give you an idea, I got the BSCRP from SLO, and got a full-time planning job right out of college, lined up before graduation. It was the planning program that gave me the confidence and expertise to do so. I had done some of the work, and I knew I could do it in a professional capacity. I got this planning job without a masters in planning. I really don't think I would have been more prepared for the work if I had already acquired a bachelors in something and graduated from the MSCRP program. In fact, I'm glad I didn't go that route, because a masters in planning is just a little too specialized for my taste. I will not be a planner for the rest of my days, and having a masters in something broader will pay off. So I got my MPP on the side, with night classes also at SLO.
    Last edited by chocolatechip; 09 Mar 2010 at 2:22 PM.

  20. #20
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    When I first began my 'undergrad search' I applied to SLO for Architecture and Pomona for Urban Planning (because I deemed each respective school to have a forte in each subject). I made the decision to go to Pomona and I am nothing but happy with my selection. This school offers a very qualified array of faculty members. While at the school I worked on projects with Walt Disney Imagineering, The City of Riverside, The City of San Gabriel, Heritage Housing Partners (NGO), Habitat for Humanity, and some private firms. The access you will have to the professional world is really quite unparalleled when you compare it to SLO. I must concede that Campus Life is limited, but I weighed academics and my future to higher degree than campus life.

    Even though Pomona isn't the most exciting place to live, there are surrounding areas that are quite fun. I actually ended up moving into a Penthouse in Downtown LA with a bunch of friends and am having the time of my life living here. What's more, I've been able to live a car-free life. I got an internship with the City of Los Angeles, and take the Metrolink to school when I have class.

    I recently got accepted to Urbana-Champaign and Rutgers Master's programs.

    Moral of the story: I suggest making your decision based on academics, look at the faculty and see if their experiences are in line with what you want to research/study.

    Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. I know how hectic choosing a school can me, I'm in the midst of it .

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    Spremeniti, if you can recall, did you ever have any trouble otaining courses during your time at Cal Poly? I'm not sure if the budget cuts ever affected your education, but was obtaining courses relatively simple?

    Also, how was college homework and studying like at CPP? Was there enough free time available to have a job and hang out with friends?

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    What is the average transfer GPA for students at Cal Poly Pomona? I live close to SLO and the average transfer GPA is a 3.2 for locals. I have a 3.0. I could try to get in with a hardship petition but I'm not sure thats working for people anymore.

    Anyone know how the point system for SLO works? Anyone gotten into any of these schools as transfer students?

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    I can't speak for the undergrad planning program at CP SLO, but I can give you 2 perspectives. Here's what I mean:

    1) I did my undergrad NOT in planning at SLO and loved it. I will say that changing your major is very difficult, and they will threaten to kick you out if you don't take any of your current major's core classes, while trying to take the pre-reqs for the major you are trying to get into. That is nearly impossible, FYI, and a total waste of time. It was a pain in the butt, however in the end, was worth it b/c I found something I really loved (landscape design). It is ludicrous to think a 17/18 yr old out of high school knows what they want to do for the rest of their life.....or even a short portion of it. With that said, it is a great school, and no matter what major you are in, you'll get a fabulous education and have a great overall experience. It is a super fun town to be in with lots of different people, awesome farmer's market, great downtown.

    2) I did part of my MURP there and left after one year. I felt that particular program was too theoretical - I can't say whether or not this is true for the undergrad. So, while I liked the professors (for the most part), the other people in the program and the school in general, I left for a more "hands-on" program in the Bay Area that gave me more real world experience. I'm glad I did that too, although I'm not necessarily doing anything extraordinary compared to my old classmates - we're all in the same boat, but it is a matter of personal preference on how you think, what makes your brain tick, etc.

    In the end, I vote for SLO.....mainly b/c I have no experience with Pomona.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian LTKS's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    However, with all that said, the BSCRP program at CPSLO trains you very well. Nearly everything is hands-on, and you do a lot of real planning in real communities. As far as the comparison between the BSCRP and MSCRP at SLO, the level of expertise a BS student will have upon graduation will likely be more than what an MS student will have. Some might find this hard to believe, but it's absolutely true, and an admission of the CRP faculty, not just my own opinion. The reason is that that BS student has had FOUR YEARS of exposure to planning, not just two, like the graduate students, or planning students from more traditional programs. While the BS students have already acquired some ability to use various graphics programs, drafting skills, arcGIS, and all the rest, the MS students are dicking around with this their entire first year at the same time as doing some hefty community planning work, which is really insane. A BS student has mastered those tools (they should have, anyway) in their 2nd year, and by their 3rd or 4th, not have had to spend anymore time training on how to use basic tools of the trade. Most of the MS students are still screwing around by the time they graduate, and never get up to the level of what a BS student can do. To prove this, simply walk down the corridor of the CRP department at the end of a quarter and you'll see all the posters pinned up on the walls. The work from the 3rd and 4th year students (and now even the 2nd years students, thanks to Umut Toker, urban designer extraordinaire), is oftentimes astronomically (and embarrassingly) better than the MS students.
    Well put. Exactly part of the reason I left the MS program there - I didn't feel it was particularly that strong compared to the BS. I did dick round on a computer a lot, and felt it was wasting my time. There was a period of time where I knew A LOT about Photoshop during that year, which is funny b/c I have never used it my total of 8 years as a planner. Go figure....

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urban19 View post
    What is the average transfer GPA for students at Cal Poly Pomona? I live close to SLO and the average transfer GPA is a 3.2 for locals. I have a 3.0. I could try to get in with a hardship petition but I'm not sure thats working for people anymore.

    Anyone know how the point system for SLO works? Anyone gotten into any of these schools as transfer students?
    http://admissions.calpoly.edu/_admis...dels/crpa.html
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