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First-year programs aim to help freshmen  October 4th, 2013

[Septermber 29, 2013 — Corvallis Gazette-Times] – One of the first pieces of action in the Collaboration Corvallis project was announced, oddly enough, at a meeting of the Corvallis Economic Development Commission.

On Aug. 15, 2012, Oregon State University President Ed Ray told the commission that beginning in the fall of 2013, freshmen would be required to live on campus.

Ray cited research showing that students who live on campus perform better in school and noted that if more students live on campus, that would reduce congestion in nearby neighborhoods.

And so was born the “first-year experience.”

Roughly 80 percent of OSU freshmen lived on campus in the 2012-13 school year, with university officials predicting that number will reach 90 percent with the group that starts classes Monday.

The program has required some housing adjustments. Finley Hall, which was not fully used a year ago, is back on line and the university has converted some double rooms to triple rooms to meet the demand, said Dan Larson of University Housing and Dining Services.

Larson estimated capacity at about 4,650 students. OSU is expecting a similar number of freshmen in the fall of 2014.

A new residence hall with room for 300 students is under construction in the southwest part of campus, and when it opens in September 2014, the university will convert the triple rooms back to doubles, said Larson.

University officials, however, were adamant that the program extends beyond housing.

“It’s more than just a request to live on campus,” said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for marketing and university relations.

“The first-year experience initiative is a broad-reaching set of actions and enhancements,” said Susie Brubaker-Cole, associate provost for academic success and engagement.

Read the full article by James Day and see photos at

Daily Barometer: First-Year Experience Begins  October 4th, 2013

[September 25, 2013 — The Daily Barometer] — The 2013-2014 school year will be the first year of the First-Year Experience, an initiative to improve retention, graduation rates

This term marks the debut of the First-Year Experience, a program designed to improve the college experience for students. It requires that freshman, with some exceptions, live on campus, and provides support for freshmen transitioning to life at Oregon State University.

“Our overarching goal for the First-Year Experience is to improve the success rates of students at OSU during the first year and through to graduation,” Associate Provost for Academic Success and Achievement Susie Brubaker-Cole wrote in an email.

Brubaker-Cole served as co-chair of the First-Year Experience Task Force and will be responsible for coordinating how the task force’s recommendations are carried out during the next few years.

Supporting students’ transition from high school to college, academic success, and campus involvement will be the emphases of the program, Brubaker-Cole wrote.

“National research on undergraduate education demonstrates that establishing a solid foundation through enhancements to the first year bolsters student success throughout students’ undergraduate career,” Brubaker-Cole wrote.

University Housing and Dining Services has worked to create new curriculum to help students transition to university life and added transition programs at the end of the year that teach students to live on their own, including how to sign a lease, said Ann Marie Klotz, associate director of UHDS.

Read the full article by McKinley Smith.

Read about everything a freshmen needs to know in the “OSU 101” section from The Daily Barometer

Photos: Move-In 2013  October 3rd, 2013

New students move-in with help from friends, family, and the OSU community. View the full Facebook gallery here.


Photos: New Student Walk  October 3rd, 2013

New students take their traditional first steps toward graduation. View the full Facebook gallery here.


Video: Move-In 2013  October 3rd, 2013

OSU seeks to boost retention through first year experience program  August 16th, 2012

OSU News and Communications (Aug. 16, 2012).

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will revise its First Year Experience program for new students over the next several years in an effort to help students succeed academically and improve retention.

A task force of OSU faculty, staff and students has been working on ways to help students thrive academically and personally during the first year. It concurs with what many national studies have found: The best way to ensure that students return for their sophomore year is to help them “connect” to campus in a meaningful way, said Susie Brubaker-Cole, associate provost for academic success at OSU and co-chair of the task force.

“What we’re seeking is a ‘high-touch’ experience for students during that first year when it becomes critical for them to interact in meaningful ways with other students, with faculty and with campus programs,” Brubaker-Cole said. “A lot of this happens in the classroom, but much of it is an extension of classroom learning that reaches into life on campus and the experiences you have as a member of campus communities.”

As an integral part of OSU’s initiative, first-year students will be required to live on campus for their first academic year beginning fall term of 2013.

“If you look at top universities in the country in terms of academic success and student retention, almost all of them require students to live on campus their first year,” Brubaker-Cole said. “The learning and community-building that occur in campus residences are focal points of the first-year experience.”

Tom Scheuermann, director of University Housing and Dining Services at OSU, says his office has assessed its overall on-campus housing capacity and will have adequate space for the live-on-campus requirement. In addition to the International Living-Learning Center that opened last year and houses 320 students, OSU’s on-campus capacity will get a boost from a new residence hall that is in design with a planned opening of fall 2014.

Scheuermann said on-campus capacity this fall (2012) should be about 4,300 spaces, which will grow by another 300 in 2014 with the new hall. And some floors in Finley Hall that will be off-line in the coming academic year, or used for office space, will reopen in fall of 2013.

In recent years, about 80 percent of the new-to-OSU freshmen have lived on campus.

There will be some exceptions granted to the new requirement, OSU officials say, though specifics have yet to be determined.

Brubaker-Cole and her colleagues are focused on the importance of boosting OSU’s First Year Experience efforts to broaden student success and deepen student learning. OSU’s retention rate for freshman-to-sophomore year is 81.4 percent, which “is actually good when compared overall nationally,” she said, “but it hasn’t improved over the past few years in ways that fulfill our aspirations.”

“We want more of our students to flourish here, earn their degrees, and benefit from the career paths that a college education brings,” Brubaker-Cole said.

OSU’s retention rate is comparable to its institutional peers, according to Brubaker-Cole, but not as good as some of its aspirational peers.

“It is important to actively build programs and support services that foster broad student success, and we know that the stakes are high for our students, their families and Oregon communities,” she said. “An Oregon state employment projection showed that by 2016, nearly 74 percent of high-wage job openings in Oregon will require a bachelor’s degree. We also know that college degree-holders are more active in civic life and are more likely to vote.”

Mark Hoffman, co-chair of the task force and associate dean of OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said the university is also working on ways to better connect students to campus resources, including the library, academic advisers, faculty mentors, Counseling and Psychological Services, and other resources.

“There are summer bridge programs to help students get their feet wet before they become full-time students,” Hoffman said, “and then we have U-Engage classes for first year students to help them learn how to navigate on campus and connect to all of the things it offers. Our next step is to evaluate all of the orientation programs and see what is working and how we can better coordinate the university’s efforts.”

Brubaker-Cole said students typically drop out for a variety of reasons, including homesickness, academic difficulties, finances, and psychological pressures. Friendships, mentoring relations with faculty members, connecting to programs that motivate and inspire, and campus support services can help offset the pressures that compel some students to not return after their first year.

“Retention is an issue that almost all universities around the country face,” Brubaker-Cole said, “and fostering a deep sense of belonging for all students in the university community is the critical foundation for college success.”

About Oregon State University: OSU is one of only two U.S. universities designated a land-, sea-, space- and sun-grant institution. OSU is also Oregon’s only university to hold both the Carnegie Foundation’s top designation for research institutions and its prestigious Community Engagement classification. Its nearly 24,000 students come from all 50 states and more than 90 nations. OSU programs touch every county within Oregon, and its faculty teach and conduct research on issues of national and global importance.