"Just looking."

Jimmy Benitez Jr. and his father, Jim Benitez Sr., came to Oregon State University's campus Friday from Chandler, Ariz., to look around.

"I'm debating between four colleges," Jimmy said, as he studied a schedule of events to plan his day.

"For me, he has a lot to offer," his father said. "I'd like him to go down the right road."

Friday was the second of four planned spring campus visit programs at OSU. "We're probably pushing just over 1,000 (parents and students). That's normal," said Carl Thomas, associate director of campus visits and programs. The majority of students and parents were from Oregon; others came from Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado, California, Kansas, Ohio, Illinois, Idaho and Washington.

According to a national survey, 76 percent of students say the campus visit is the number one decision-maker when they choose a school, Thomas said.

Many, like Jimmy, were just looking: looking at the campus, at housing and dining options, into financial aid and academic program offerings.

Tour ambassador DJ Zissen, a senior in human development and family sciences, gathered a group of 50 at the foot of the Memorial Union steps for a campus tour.

He led them under rain-soaked magnolia blossoms, past the Valley Library, pointing out the architecture and clock tower of Benton Hall, the oldest building on campus. "It once housed the entire college," Zissen said.

Eiayas Bajracharya, 17, from Portland, traveled at the back of the pack. "My intention is to major in engineering." He came with his parents and younger brother, Aeijan, 10.

"We like this college for engineering courses," said his father, Ekamana. "He wants to start here."

"Walk this way," said Zissen, his voice at times competing with the noise of leaf blowers, a jackhammer and an idling 18-wheeler.

Taking notes, Bryan Beals, 16, from Eugene, wasn't sure where he'll attend college or what he wants to study.

"The biggest thing is the diversity of majors," said Beals. "I'm kinda split between engineering and social sciences."

Fit was his second-most-important criterion. "I haven't found the perfect fit yet."

"Where's the nearest food?" Beals called out to Zissen when they stopped near Waldo Hall. He inquired about the payment system and made notes.

Food was a hot topic on both the campus and housing tours.

"If you keep food in the refrigerator, is it there later?" Nancy Kaste asked as she passed through a kitchen in Sackett Hall. "Moms wanna make sure their kids are well-fed."

Her daughter, Kristen, 18, from Tillamook, didn't have many questions. She was torn between Sackett and Wilson Halls for housing. Otherwise, she knew what she wanted.

"OSU is pretty much ..." Kristen said. "Top of the list," mom said, finishing the sentence. Kristen said, "I'm going to explore the field of agriculture and then decide what I like."

"To me, college was the highlight of growing up," her mother said. "I hope she has just as good a time."

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