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Value of the college experience draws students to Oregon State campus
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Value of the college experience draws students to Oregon State campus

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Oregon State University students who moved into their dormitory rooms on Sunday said they were excited to be on campus for in-person learning — and for the college experience.

“I’m glad that COVID didn’t interfere too much and I’m able to be here,” said Cameron Lindsay, of Anchorage, Alaska, as he and his father unloaded suitcases and duffel bags from an SUV outside Finley Hall.

Lindsay, a freshman, set foot on the OSU campus for the first time on Sunday. He plans on studying finance and trying to walk on to the rowing team. And he’s particularly looking forward to the social aspect of attending college.

His father Kevin Lindsay said that, in a way, classes may be secondary for his son. Just as important as book learning is understanding how to work with other people, being exposed to other points of view, and knowing how to be open to unfamiliar ideas and concepts.

“I learned more about life in general outside of class than inside of class,” Kevin Lindsay added.

It’s easier than ever and better than ever to take courses via the internet, and OSU is a leader in that field. But for many families, distance learning misses the point of college.

About 2,500 to 3,000 students were expected to move in Sunday on the Corvallis campus. According to OSU, more than 4,600 students were expected to live in on-campus residence halls this fall.

That’s nearly double the number from last autumn, and similar to pre-pandemic figures, said Brian Stroup, director of operations and facilities for university housing and dining services.

OSU is requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for safety reasons — roughly 93% of students have complied with the university’s COVID-19 protocols and are fully vaccinated — and that’s added a layer of confidence for families, Stroup said.

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“We’ve heard loud and clear from students about their desire to be in the community,” he added.

Cameron Lindsay and other students said that with the vaccine, they don’t have to worry as much about severe illness during the novel coronavirus pandemic. “It’s a little concerning, but you can’t stay inside forever,” he added.

Sunday’s move-in process wasn’t easy, however.

OSU required COVID-19 tests on the south side of Reser Stadium before students could receive their dorm keys, and the process snarled traffic around campus and beyond.

Ben Shumway of Seattle, whose daughter Emily Shumway was moving into Finley on Sunday, said he was stuck in bumper-to-bumper gridlock for 2.5 hours. It would have been longer had his daughter not gotten out of the car amidst the traffic jam and walked to get her COVID-19 test, he said.

The community aspect of OSU, including attending sports events, played a major part in his daughter coming to Corvallis, Shumway said.

“That’s one of the big reasons why she chose OSU is the ability to have that camaraderie,” he added.

Emily Shumway, an incoming freshman, said she was excited to be on campus to study psychology, because she struggled with distance learning. “Finishing my last year (of high school) online was really difficult,” she said.

Jake Sorensen, an incoming freshman from Rainier, said that in his last year of online high school, he didn’t learn as well and he greatly missed all the interactions with people. He plans on studying chemical engineering, just like his father did when he attended OSU years ago.

Sorensen said he feels comfortable being on campus despite the pandemic. “Hopefully everything stays in-person,” he added, before he and his sister grabbed plastic bins and headed toward the Finley Hall entrance.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter via @KyleOdegard.

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