Top 5 Reasons to Apply to the Orfalea College of Business


High school seniors around the nation are beginning to contemplate where they want to attend college. So why, they may ask, should they choose Orfalea College of Business in San Luis Obispo? While Orfalea has been ranked among the nation’s best business schools, the college is more than just a number. If you’re considering earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics or industrial technology and packaging on the West coast, consider these top five reasons to apply to Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business:

#5 Comprehensive Student Support
From acceptance through graduation, Orfalea’s Student Services offer comprehensive support to strengthen personal, academic, and career success. Students have direct — and free — access to Peer Advising to help with academic progress, Peer Mentoring to help students grow personally, Tutoring in tough classes, leadership opportunities, and career-readiness advising to help students build confidence throughout the hiring process. The college’s Student Services Center also provides quarterly workshops on professional skills, networking events with alumni, and campus-wide resources for you to constantly stay connected. The college’s support network and peer advising model is credited with boosting graduation rates by 10 percent; now 87 percent of Orfalea students graduate within five years — the highest rate at Cal Poly.

#4 Endless Opportunities For Studying Abroad
Orfalea students have an expansive list of options available to them to embrace an international perspective on business. With more than 200 programs in 75 countries, and with options to go abroad for spring break up to a year long, Orfalea students have the opportunity to globalize their college experience and adapt to new cultures. Business, econ and industrial technology/packaging students also have exclusive access to Orfalea International Business Tours: trips led by faculty to business hubs that immerse students in the region’s economic atmosphere in places like Vietnam, China, Cuba, Costa Rica and New Zealand. These tours last 10-14 days over academic breaks, making them a great option for students who don’t have time to study abroad. Worried about financing your study abroad experience? Orfalea’s got you covered. With the Orfalea Travel Grant, students often receive financial support from the college to travel.

#3 Personalized Experience With Expert Faculty
Orfalea College of Business students have direct access to seasoned faculty who have years of experience in their industry. Cal Poly’s student-faculty ratio is 19:1, with 15.6 percent of classes having fewer than 20 students and 71.35 percent having 20-49 students. Unlike many large universities where student interact with a teacher’s assistants only, Orfalea students have the opportunity to know their professors on a personal level, where they can ask questions, participate in discussions, or even contribute to their research. This is excellent outside the classroom, as well, as students benefit from the professor’s industry connections and insights on where their disciplines are headed.

#2 High Return On Investment
College isn’t cheap, and many potential students are concerned about cost of tuition and potential debt. However, students at Orfalea know that their education comes at a relatively low cost compared to UC or private schools. Orfalea grads also see an excellent return on investment, meaning you’ll earn back the money invested in tuition quickly after graduation. That’s why Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Orfalea No. 5 in the nation for ROI among undergraduate business schools in 2014. And according to, the average in-state Orfalea graduate’s 20-year lifetime earnings are 18 times larger than the total cost of four-year tuition. Moreover, Orfalea students are in high demand with employers following their education. In fact, 90.6% of undergraduates at Orfalea are employed at graduation, and many of those students already have their jobs set into place at the beginning of their senior years. Many of Orfalea’s programs, like accounting and information systems, boast 100 percent placement rates and substantial salaries for all graduating seniors.

#1 Learn By Doing
At Orfalea College of Business, the Learn by Doing motto drives coursework to include hands-on experience that gives students the opportunity to gain practical skills and confidence. For example, finance students can participate in the Student Managed Portfolio Project, where they can manage nearly half a million dollars of Cal Poly Corporation funds within the stock market. Entrepreneurship students have the chance to collaborate with engineers to develop and launch a brand new product through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Accounting students gain experience in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, helping locals resolve significant tax burdens with the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. The Learn by Doing motto not only helps students gain firsthand experience, but it also gives Orfalea students a leg-up when applying for jobs. Industries value graduates who can bring technical expertise and know-how to the job before they’ve even started, and Orfalea prepares students to stand out and to add value at their companies on Day One.

Cal Poly’s undergraduate applications are open Oct. 1- Nov. 30. Remember, Cal Poly requires you to apply to a specific major, so take this time to explore the Orfalea College of Business academic programs via our website: The college features majors in business administration, economics and industrial technology and packaging. The college offers specific concentrations within those majors, as well as minors, to complement your education.

While you’re at it, get to know Cal Poly’s selection criteria, the admissions timelines and details on the CSU Apply website.

Looking to get to know campus even better? Come to San Luis Obispo for a tour of the Orfalea College of Business. You’ll get to know one of America’s happiest cities and hear specifics about the college from one of our knowledgeable student leaders.

Apply now via CSU Apply before the deadline closes:


Student Managed Portfolio Project Outperforms Market Indices

Four students from the Student Managed Portfolio Project present to Cal Poly Coporation Board. When it comes to investing, the unpredictable financial market can shake even the most veteran industry professionals all around the world. But imagine being a student responsible for investing hundreds of thousands of dollars — of real money — for the first time. That’s exactly what Cal Poly finance students do through the Student Managed Portfolio Project (SMPP), a hands-on program steeped in Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.

The SMPP gives a select group of senior finance students the responsibility of managing nearly half a million dollars of Corporation funds — and with it, managing the ups and downs of an ever-changing stock market.

This year has been no easy sprint for the 25 current SMPP students. From dropping commodity prices to presidential elections to a slowing Chinese economy, students have learned first hand that a career in finance isn’t always about earning money.

On January 29, 2016, four Orfalea College of Business students stood strong and confident in the Cal Poly Corporation’s Board of Directors meeting as they presented an update on this year’s investments totaling $455,850. While the overall Vanguard Dividend Appreciation index has dropped almost 10 percent since the beginning of the yearlong project in September 2015, the students’ portfolio value has decreased by a modest 2.5 percent. A few of the stocks they have selected, such as Nike and Lowe’s, have even seen significant growth throughout the tough market conditions. The team also holds a percentage of their capital in cash, and is always looking for more opportunities to maximize their investment.

The Orfalea College of Business has conducted the SMPP as the capstone experience in the finance concentration since 1992 when it was founded by Professor John Lindvall. The course is now helmed by Professor Cyrus Ramezani and Phillip Cohl, senior vice presidents of investments at local firm Stifel. The class is patterned after a real-world relationship between a client (the Corporation) and its adviser (the SMPP students). Though students only earn four units for the course, it requires a yearlong commitment from all students.

Each year, the new crop of student fund managers assesses the portfolio from the previous year’s group. Fall quarter is dedicated to conducting due diligence while developing a strategy for the coming year. In winter and spring, they research new investment opportunities and manage their stocks accordingly. Students are given access to guest speakers to advise them on their investment selections as well as industry-grade news publications, including The Day Ahead and Confluence Comments, to stay on top of the major political and macroeconomic factors affecting the market.

“There’s nothing like real money to drive accountability,” said Ramezani. This year’s course has been much more challenging than last year. Our students are earning such valuable experience here that will directly translate into their careers.”

This year, Ramezani feels that students have been forced to be more resourceful and apply their skills to a market that is defying many of the trends the students have studied during their four years at Cal Poly, especially with historically low oil prices. They are asking themselves the same hard-hitting questions that senior industry professionals are addressing today: how do we ride out the present instability with the focus on long-term, dividend-bearing investments?

Through the uncertainty, each student in the SMPP is gaining valuable knowledge about the finance industry. Student Kevin Louge said navigating real money through these unexpected conditions was a major help in landing a job as a financial analyst at Clorox before graduation.

Through all the market’s ups and downs, students are learning how to not just stay afloat, but thrive in the hard times that scare many others away from the investing world. Student Montana Kosty said that the Learn by Doing approach to the SMPP has allowed her to leave Cal Poly with a knowledge of how to face finance’s toughest challenges head on.

We are responsible for what happens to their investments, so there’s a great deal of pressure to make the right decisions,” Kosty said. It was an honor to present on the progress of the portfolio and class to the people who made it all possible.”

To give back to the Finance Area in the Orfalea College of Business and support the SMPP, visit Cal Poly’s secure giving website.

Finance Faculty Update

Finance faculty are continuing their commitment to excellence in the Orfalea College of Business and beyond.


Larry Gorman

Professor Larry Gorman became one of the first-ever recipients of the Jacobsen Faculty Fellowship, alongside fellow professors Eduardo Zambrano (economics) and Chris Carr (accounting and law). Gorman was selected for the fellowship by a four-person Dean’s Advisory Council committee for his outstanding efforts to inspire students. Gorman has paved the way for strong industry connections between finance students and major employers in the high-tech sector, including leaders like Apple.



Cyrus RamezaniFinance professor and former area chair Cyrus Ramezani has been appointed interim department chair for Agribusiness Department in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences. Ramezani brings extensive hands-on experience to the position, including his Ph.D. in agricultural and resources economics from UC Berkeley and extensive research in the field. Ramezani’s appointment follows the retirement of the Agribusiness Department’s Jay Noel. Ramezani continues to teach finance courses in the Orfalea College of Business, including the Student Managed Portfolio Project, during this temporary appointment.



Pratish PatelProfessor Pratish Patel is also sharing his finance knowledge across Cal Poly’s campus. Patel served as a mentor to an interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly business,s architecture and construction management students competing at the recent 2016 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Residential Construction Management Competition. His expertise helped the team finish in second place out of 37 universities across the nation. He worked with the team as they prepared for the critical finance and business portions of the comprehensive building planning project.



Brian AyashProfessor Brian Ayash has led finance students through the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Challenge course. In December 2015, 14 Cal Poly students took the Level 1 exam with a pass rate of 57 percent. The rate yet again bested the international average of 43 percent. Ayash says another group of 25 students will take the exam in June. Cal Poly’s CFA Challenge is a senior project course that devotes a year to preparing seniors to sit for the certification that is often considered the gold-standard in the finance profession. Thanks to Learn by Doing preparation, Cal Poly students have a long history of surpassing international averages for the CFA exam.



Area Chair John DobsonFinance Area Chair John Dobson has continued his research surrounding aesthetics and business. He recently published the article “Heidegger’s Critique of Technology and the Contemporary Return to Artisan Business Activity” in the journal Philosophy of Management. Dobson was a featured speaker at a symposium hosted by University of Wisconsin’s School of Business on Beauty in Business. The title of his presentation was Dwelling Poetically: An Aesthetic Justification for Teaching Art in Business School. Professor Dobson also presented a similar paper this summer at the Philosophy of Management Conference at Oxford University, UK.