In response to the growing tendency of students to seek internships early in their college career and in hopes of generating greater diversity among applicants, the Claremont McKenna College Robert Day Scholars (RDS) scholarship program changed the application deadline for the Class of 2015 from October 2013 to Feb. 15, 2013. The RDS Program is a non-degree curriculum in finance for seniors at the 5Cs.
“For the people who are really interested in the area of finance, that market has become hyper-competitive. Earlier and earlier, students are getting their internships, and the type of vocabulary and the way that they present themselves at other schools is a little further advanced than you are at CMC, because the Robert Day Scholarship has been primarily in your senior year,” said Brock Blomberg, Dean of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.
David Leathers CM ’15, who attended an information session, said program leaders hoped to start meeting with the Class of 2015 Scholars as early as this coming fall. By selecting students earlier, the program leaders hope to provide greater support for the Scholars in navigating the career market.
“I do think that the Robert Day Scholars program could have been a useful resource earlier,” Robert Day Scholar Grant Ukropina HM ’13 wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “I would have started looking into a career in management earlier and perhaps taken more classes that emphasized engineering management.”
Former Robert Day Scholar Alan Mitchell PO ’12, though supportive of the program overall, does see a downside to the change.
“It gives students who might be interested less time to hear about the program, and so people who might be a good fit for the program won’t apply,” Mitchell wrote in an e-mail to TSL.
Diversity of interest played another role in the decision to shift the deadline. Instead of advertising only to those interested in pure finance, the RDS Program has begun actively encouraging students with a range of interests to apply. By accepting students earlier, RDS faculty have more time to identify career trajectories for each student and help them tailor the program to their specific goals.
“The earlier we can describe what your options are, and the earlier we can essentially provide you with support, the easier it is for you to work within those given paths,” Blomberg said.
To increase representation of different majors and all the 5Cs, Blomberg said the program is gradually increasing in size. The program began with about 20 Scholars. Currently the program enrolls 30 students, 23 of whom attend CMC.
“The reason that we’ve increased the size is that we’re trying to provide a greater diversity of opportunities for students: those who might be really highly focused toward the financial services arena, and those who maybe are not quite as highly focused but would like an introduction … in those areas,” Blomberg said.
The increased array of opportunities certainly influenced Leathers’ decision to apply. A major in the Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE) program, Leathers became interested when he learned that the RDS program was not strictly for finance students.
“I don’t want to become an investment banker, and probably not a consultant, but these skills can prepare you for any kind of nonprofit work or government work, and that’s something I want to get involved in,” Leathers said.
The RDS Program was founded five years ago when Robert Day donated $200 million to CMC’s Robert Day School of Economics and Finance to give interested and qualified seniors a chance to gain experience in finance and accounting. The program requires six courses—two each from the fields of finance, accounting, and leadership/organizational psychology—and includes a vast array of guest speakers, networking events, and internship opportunities. Accepted students also receive a significant scholarship grant that is applied toward their senior year tuition.