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Campus and Community

Cal Poly Brings Open House to Students — In A Virtual Format

A shot of Cal Poly's entrance with flags.
Written By Gabby Ferreira

Cal Poly’s traditional Open House weekend, which usually draws thousands of prospective students to the San Luis Obispo area every April, couldn’t attract the same crowds due to COVID-19.

Instead, campus officials brought Open House to the students — via Zoom.

Staff from Admissions and Recruitment as well as University Marketing spent countless hours conceptualizing the sessions, securing technology and promoting the event.

Sessions included comprehensive discussions with representatives from all colleges, including Engineering, Architecture and Environmental Design and Liberal Arts.

There were also information sessions about student life on campus, disability resources, financial aid and other pertinent topics, as well as a question-and-answer session with alumni.

And it paid off: data from the event showed a 195 percent increase in attendance from selected students over 2019. 

In all, there were 20 hosted sessions with 4,589 distinct people logged in virtually, though there could have been more people watching.

“We truly put Learn by Doing into action for this year’s Virtual Open House series,” said Andrene Kaiwi, the Director of New Student & Transition Programs. “I am grateful for our Cal Poly Community and their rapid response to action to provide a unique campus showcase.”

A virtual tour video, which allowed people to tour the campus virtually, received more than 10,000 views on YouTube. The Virtual Open House sessions, which were recorded for YouTube, received more than 800 views on that site.

Feedback from attendees and participants showed that many appreciated the personalized, comprehensive and interactive nature of the Virtual Open House sessions.

“I’m very proud of the work done across campus to bring together a virtual Open House for our prospective students and their supporters,” said Terrance Harris, the Assistant Vice Provost of Admissions Operations and Enrollment Development. “While we know that a virtual experience doesn’t replace our Open House tradition, many students and their supporters were incredibly grateful to have this experience.”