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Back in the Saddle

Students hold signs and cheer for new students and family as they arrive on campus during move-in.

Fall quarter begins with a few long-standing traditions at Cal Poly even before classes start. Take in the sights of September on campus as another year of Learn by Doing gets underway. Photos by Joe Johnston.


On a warm September Saturday, move-in began for thousands of first-year students. Greeting them on Grand Avenue were swarms of enthusiastic Mustangs welcoming students to their new home.

Cal Poly students line Grand Avenue to welcome new students on move-in day


Hundreds of volunteers, including alumni, faculty, students and staff, helped families unload all the residence hall necessities.

A new Cal Poly student and a volunteer shake hands while loading a cart on move-in day

A row of carts pushed by students and family line up at the yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls

Cal Poly mascot "Musty" smiles with a move-in day volunteer.


This year’s incoming students are the second class to call the new yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls home. Learn more about the Northern Chumash names of each building and their significance to the Central Coast community.

Students and parents push carts on move-in day at the yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls.

A mother and two daughters all in Cal Poly t-shirts smile in front of the yakʔitʸutʸu residence halls.

Three people push a cart to toward the residence halls during move-in weekend.


President Armstrong welcomed thousands of faculty and staff to the start of another academic year with Cal Poly’s annual Fall Convocation event. The event also honored outstanding educators and staff for their years of scholarship and service.

President Armstrong addresses faculty and staff at Fall Convocation at the Performing Arts Center


Before classes began, Cal Poly entrepreneurs took to the stage to pitch their businesses to investors and community members at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s annual Demo Day at the Fremont Theater. Learn more about the startup teams and the Summer Accelerator program that prepared them for the big day.

The marquee of the Fremont Theater announces the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's Demo Day as patrons walk into the theater

A student entrepreneur presents on stage at Demo Day with a slide of her furniture design

Student entrepreneurs speak to community members at Demo Day


Back on campus, Week of Welcome (WOW) kicked off with thousands of new and transfer students meeting with their ecstatic WOW leaders for the very first time.

Leaders of WOW group 101 jump to welcome their Wowies at Cal Poly

Three Cal Poly students walk toward the Week of Welcome event.

A WOW leader and group member high five enthusiastically at Cal Poly


Big Fall Welcome in Spanos Stadium set the tone for a week of bonding, learning and exploring the Central Coast. Mustang Band, Stunt Team, President Armstrong and Paul “The Ripples Guy” Wesselmann brought the crowd to their feet.

Students cheer in the stands of Spanos Stadium at Big Fall Welcome

President Armstrong addresses students from the field at Big Fall Welcome


WOW wouldn’t be complete without a few bonfires on Grover Beach! Watch a WOW group build a pathway to a beach bonfire for one of their members who uses a wheelchair.

Students smile around a WOW group bonfire at Grover Beach

Several WOW groups surround bonfires at Grover Beach.


Group 14 took one of many hikes to the P to appreciate the view. Check out a few facts about the P, which celebrates its 100th birthday this fall.

A WOW group celebrates with a high five at the P.

WOW Group 14 takes in the view from the P


More groups ventured to Morro Bay for some kayaking and wildlife appreciation.

Cal Poly students paddle a double kayak toward Morro Rock


A dog sniffs a student sitting in kayak in Morro Bay

Two female students paddle a kayak in Morro Bay during Week of Welcome


A few groups took part in a sunny Pismo Beach clean-up day.

Students participate in a Beach Clean Up at Pismo Beach


Back on campus, students took in an acoustic concert and met new pals from Zoo to You.

Cal Poly students listen to an accoustic concert on campus during sunset.

A lemur looks over the shoulder of its handler at a Cal Poly WOW event.

Students pet a small crocodile at the Zoo to You event at Week of Welcome


WOW leaders and new students contributed to the “I Am Cal Poly” project to illustrate pride in the social identities that make them who they are. See the project in action on the Multicultural Center’s Facebook page.

A student poses with a white board for the I Am Cal Poly project while a photographer takes their photo

A group of students holds a sign while having her photo taken for the I Am Cal Poly project


Students let loose at “Inflate-a-Fest,” an obstacle course filled with slides and, of course, a mechanical bull.

Four students dodge inflatable obstacles at Week of Welcome's "Inflat-a-fest"

A student in a black hat rides a mechanical bull at Week of Welcome's Inflate-a-Fest


The Cross Cultural Experience celebrated the conclusion of WOW with music in the UU. Learn how the program is helping students build a strong sense of community on campus.

Cal Poly students dance during a Cross Cultural Effect event in the UU.

WOW group 38 yells out in the UU during the Cross Cultural Experience closing ceremony.


The sun sets on another Week of Welcome at the Oceano Dunes.

Cal Poly students walk along the Oceano Dunes.

Students jump off the edge of a dune in Oceano during WOW.


There’s more to see. Keep in touch with Cal Poly throughout the year on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.