SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Kicking off your college experience usually starts with orientation. It’s a chance to make friends and get to know the campus. At Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo orientation is mandatory.
School officials said 30 students had their admission offers withdrawn because they didn't sign up. They said many of those students decided to go to another school.
Freshman have to attend Student Life Orientation Days, SLO Days and Week of Welcome or WOW. Jonas Gedvila is getting used to the place he’ll call home for the next four years.
"All of these ice breakers are a way for me to get to know more people,” he said. He’s talking about his experience with the mandatory orientation.
With a price tag of $365, each student has to attend two different sessions or face losing admission to the school. "I think that’s a little extreme,” said Gedvila.
"It should be strongly recommended but, I don’t know if mandatory is necessary,” added Ava Gibler, an incoming freshman.
Cal Poly administrators said the policy was put into place in 2015 and students who qualify receive financial help to pay for the costs.
"I chose this single day SLO Days for this upcoming weekend to save money, so I agree the money is too high,” said Gibler.
Some students said the mandatory policy just doesn’t make sense. Adding it forces working students who have to pay for rent and groceries to take time off from work.
"What our organization is concerned about which is making the CSU and Cal Poly accessible for working students, low income and nontraditional students,” said Mick Bruckner.
He helped start the petition “No kicking accepted students out of school for not being able to attend orientation.” With more than 2,000 supporters the petition questions if administrators are making orientation accessible to all Cal Poly students.
"It adds up, $365 for an orientation program with info that should be available to students for free,” Bruckner said.
School administrators in a statement said, "SLO Days and WOW provide a foundation for the Cal Poly experience, making them critical to student success, retention and timely graduation.”
"If it’s super mandatory they should make it super clear and keep reminding us,” said Gibler.
Classes start at the end of September for students. School officials said they do try to provide a variety of orientation dates to help make it easier for local and commuting students to attend.