In the fall of 2014, the Orfalea College of Business welcomed its first cohort of 21 freshmen from the Cal Poly Scholars program. The program provides scholarship funding, advising support and academic resources to outstanding high school seniors from underrepresented communities.
Cal Poly Scholars was founded in 2012 to connect the university with students at “partner schools” – California high schools that serve communities with large proportions of first-generation and low-income students. This is the first time the program has included business students.
The program has been specially adapted for students in the Orfalea College of Business to support its goals for four-year graduation. As part of a Freshman Success Program, each of the Cal Poly Scholars majoring in business completed BUS 100 – Student Orientation and College Success, which helps students navigate available resources in the college as they plan for a successful academic career. The Cal Poly Scholars program was created with incentives, including study abroad opportunities, for business students who graduate within for years.
Cal Poly Scholars were also given an iPad at the start of fall quarter to assist with their studies. Most Cal Poly Scholars live together on campus in the Cerro Vista residence hall, where they can thrive in a supportive living/learning community outside of the classroom.
The intent of the Cal Poly Scholars program aligns closely with that of the Orfalea Foundation, which believes strongly in extending academic opportunities to students with different backgrounds and points of view. According to Kris McKinlay, program administrator and assistant dean of the Orfalea College of Business, a strong, diverse cohort of students betters the learning community at Cal Poly and helps prepare career-ready business leaders.