Despite pandemic, OSU-Cascades enrollment jumps 5%

Fall term enrollment at Oregon State University-Cascades jumped 4.9% compared with 2019 and includes 27% more first-year students and 16% more transfer students, officials announced Tuesday.

“Despite the pandemic, enrollment continues to grow strongly at OSU-Cascades as more and more students and their families recognize the value of an education that combines a cutting-edge research university with a small campus atmosphere,” said OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson. “In times like these, it’s especially important for Central Oregonians to have local access to an excellent university education.”

In total, 1,374 students are enrolled at the Bend campus; 59% percent are from the Central Oregon region, 86.5% are from Oregon, and 13.5% are from out-of-state, including students from 33 states and eight countries.

Jane McCorkel is a first-year student who came to OSU-Cascades from Wisconsin.

“I wanted to venture out into the world and prove myself as an adult,” she said. “It would have been one of my biggest regrets if I chose to stay home, especially after seeing how COVID has played out for friends back home.”

The business major is taking advantage of opportunities, some of which are virtual for now, to learn about the economy and prepare her to one day lead a business of her own. She also participates in the TRACE OSU \ COVID-19 prevalence testing project being conducted on campus, seeing it as a way to contribute to the health of the campus.

“Going to college during a pandemic has become my new normal,” she said. “I am appreciative for the perspective I’m gaining.”

This fall, 81% of first-year OSU-Cascades students are Oregonians, and 19.5% are students of color.

Students of color at OSU-Cascades increased 1% this year to 18.5%. The fall 2020 enrollment also includes 297 undergraduate students who are the first in their families to attend college.

The average unweighted high school GPA of OSU-Cascades’ first-year class increased from 3.49 to 3.51. First-year students with a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher increased to 35%.

Nine percent of first-year students came to OSU-Cascades with enough college credit to enter at the sophomore or junior level. Fifty-three percent of first-year students earned college credit while in high school.

Of 593 transfer students at OSU-Cascades, 67% are from Central Oregon. Students from Central Oregon Community College make up 40% of enrolled OSU-Cascades transfer students.

Taw Foltz is among those students who transferred from Central Oregon Community College to OSU-Cascades, where he is studying human development and family sciences.

A member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, he was raised by a single mother and attended Madras High School.

He worked with youth in drug and alcohol prevention and in fire prevention on the reservation, ran for election on the tribal council, and coached high school basketball and softball – but his academic journey stalled for two decades. Before his mother passed away he promised her that he would earn his college degree.

“Graduation to me means everything,” he said. “I want to be an example for my kids, my community, and for everyone who has put off going back to school for whatever reason. I want Native Americans everywhere to know that college is an option for them regardless of the current situation they may find themselves in. I am proof that no matter what age, you can earn a college degree as long as you put in the time and effort.”

He will be 42 when he earns his bachelor’s degree in 2021. He hopes to continue on to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in teaching and one day teach physical education.

OSU-Cascades’ enrollment increase was spread across disciplines, with the most popular majors being biology, business administration, energy systems engineering, computer science, natural resources and kinesiology.

A newly launched undergraduate degree program in outdoor products attracted 18 students while the second year of the undergraduate major in elementary education grew from 19 to 35 students. This fall term marks the fourth year that the OSU Honors College undergraduate degree is offered at OSU-Cascades. Twenty-six students are enrolled in that rigorous degree program.

OSU-Cascades enrolled 324 graduate students in fall 2020.

The counseling degree program is the largest with 86 students. Twenty-eight students are enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. The low-residency Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program has 19 enrolled students this fall. The average age of a graduate student is 37.

Seventy-eight student veterans are enrolled at OSU-Cascades.

The youngest enrolled student is 17 and the oldest is 83.


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