In November, California State University, Long Beach’s President, Jane Close Conoley announced upcoming changes to the 20-year old President’s Scholar Program that will take place fall 2016.
According to Valerie Bordeaux, the director of the President’s Scholar program, the changes will impact incoming freshmen, opening the program to all high-academic achieving students.
In the previous years, president scholarships required applicants to have been their high school’s valedictorian, in addition to stellar academic standing, to be considered for the scholarship. For fall 2016, admitted scholars will be awarded scholarships based upon academic standing, financial need and other criteria as well as admission to the university honors program.
As a separate entity from the president scholars, the university honors program’s admission was optional for recipients of the scholarship. In fall 2016, the two will combine into one, and admittance to the honors program will be a result of the scholarship.
“Blending the president scholarships with the university honors program will expand the rewards for more high achieving students,” Bordeaux said.
Reactions to the program changes have been mixed among some of the president scholar recipients.
“I really appreciated the exclusivity the program offered,” said Alexis Wildman, cellular and molecular biology major. “It’s a very personalized approach to college, so I feel that when President Conoley talks about expanding the program it is going to become less exclusive and less personal.”
While the opportunity aims to be opened up to more students, the result is that the scholarships will provide less money to each individual so it can provide for more students overall. Wildman fears that students, like her sister, who applied for fall 2016 admission at CSULB and is on the route to be a valedictorian, will receive fewer benefits from the program than she did.
Many students agree that the expansion of resources for more students is a good idea, but some feel that new programs should be installed rather than expanding the president’s scholarships. However, there are also some students who welcome the upcoming changes.
“The school has almost 40,000 students,” said Nicolas Olenslager-Orton, business econonomics major. “The scholarship only reaches about 100 students, so how do you make it worthwhile for the other thousands of students. The expansion wants to reach more leading students who can have a bigger impact on the campus, which I think is great.”
According to Orton, CSULB is a choice school for many students and by expanding the program to reach more students. The long-term benefit will be higher academia of the student body.
Some updated changes are already reflected on the president’s scholar site and future information will be released as the program decides it.
“Change is scary,” Bordeaux said. “But change is inevitable.”