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Rose Murphy: California State University system preparing students for future work needs

Rose Murphy

California is in urgent need of a young workforce that is trained in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. To the rescue comes the California State University (CSU) System! CSU Humboldt will now officially be deemed as California State Polytechnic University, informally known as Cal Poly Humboldt.

What is so great about a Cal Poly? A Polytechnic institution devotes a majority of its instruction to technical arts and applied sciences. They prepare students for the workforce, provide hands-on learning and opportunities for internships. CSU’s polytechnic universities offer majors in high-demand careers that deliver solutions to the complex social and environmental issues we face today. Social justice issues, closing equity gaps in higher education and environmental stewardship will continue to play a strong role in all of the curriculum at Cal Poly Humboldt’s expanding campus. For many years, Humboldt State had been in the top three of the CSUs for providing majors in STEM fields. Currently, California has a growing demand for professionals, leaders and changemakers in programs that address areas of concern like climate resiliency, wildfire management, engineering, agriculture and health care.

California has two very well-known CSU Cal Polys in the central coast and southern California- Pomona and San Luis Obispo. Their STEM majors have remained impacted throughout the past years. Pomona and San Luis Obispo have more selective acceptance rates due to more students applying than there is available space. However, with Humboldt’s acceptance rate of approximately 80%, and their commitment to expansion, these new programs will be obtainable to more students. Northern California will benefit by the additional high-demand academic programs that will be offered starting in the fall of 2023.

Cal Poly Humboldt will focus on meeting the needs of rural communities, with particular emphasis on underserved populations. An emphasis will be placed on authentic engagement and collaboration with Indigenous communities in order to leverage their expertise and practices. Many of the new programs will be highly interdisciplinary and will help the next generation solve the challenges in these changing times.

In January of this year Governor Newsom and the state legislature approved one-time funding to assist Cal Poly Humboldt to become a polytechnic university. By 2023 Cal Poly Humboldt will roll out 12 new STEM degrees and certificate programs. Within seven years Cal Poly Humboldt plans to have 28 new degree programs. Due to the increasing demand for STEM-related careers and the revitalization of campus, it is expected that Cal Poly’s Humboldt student population will double by 2029. To prepare for this transformation, new buildings will be built or renovated, including student housing, laboratories, and a renewable energy research facility. A commitment to increased infrastructure will expand broadband across the northern coastal region.

Tuition at Cal Poly Humboldt is just under $8,000 a year. This value is greatly enhanced if students first attend a community college in California, many of which offer free tuition. Cal Poly Humboldt plans to increase their Associate Degree for Transfer student rates.

A sample of the Bachelor degree programs that will be implemented over the next seven years include: Energy Systems Engineering, Indigenous Science and the Environment, Software Engineering, Marine Science, Applied Fire Science and Management, Cannabis Studies, Health Advocacy, Food Systems Science, and Digital Arts and Media. Certificate Programs will be available in Equitable and Sustainable Futures, Cybersecurity, Biotechnology and more. Master’s Programs are also being expanded, including STEM Education, Speech and Language Pathology and Nursing MSN.

To learn more about the opportunities at the newly designated Cal Poly Humboldt you can check out their website (https://www.humboldt.edu/). You can sign up for in-person campus tours, which are given on many weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Virtual tours and the descriptions of the 28 new majors and certificates, as well as current programs, can be found on the Cal Poly Humboldt website. Check them out, and also take a look at the outlook for jobs in these fields, the median wage and workplace descriptions. There just might be something that fits for you or someone you know. The education students will receive at Cal Poly Humboldt will have a lasting impact on Northern California’s economy and environment.

Rose Murphy is a retired high school counselor now working as an independent educational consultant. She can be reached at abestfitcollege@gmail.com or abestfitcollege.com

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