OSU fall term enrollment numbers to be released late Oct.; 40% decrease in on-campus residents

The Reser stadium empty on a Saturday afternoon. With no cars in view, the lack of students and current lack of sports lends to the feeling of isolation from COVID-19.

Haley Daarstad, News Contributor

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of the 2020 OSU Back-to-School Issue. The Baro has put together this issue to inform Oregon State University’s incoming class, as well as returning students about the impacts COVID-19 has had on the university and what to expect this fall.

Spring term enrollment numbers show that COVID-19 had a small impact on OSU, but people believe that Fall 2020 won’t be the same due to the people’s concern and struggle with remote learning.

The transition to online learning was difficult for many, including Cole Eustis, a junior majoring in psychology at Oregon State University, who decided to take a gap year after struggling with online and remote learning last spring term. 

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Although COVID-19 seemed to do little on the effect of spring term enrollment during the 2020 school year according to Salvador Castillo, director of Institutional Research at OSU, “My opinion was that since most students were already enrolled and much of the country was shut down, there was not much else to do but to continue their enrollment remotely,” Castillo said via email.

The only group to see a drop was new transfer students who were beginning in spring term. This group is more sensitive to starting a new academic program, and are small so the drop in enrollment didn’t impact the overall enrollment numbers greatly, Castillo said via email. 

“The main thing is that it provides a reminder that the crisis has hit the vulnerable populations the most (which we knew in general) and these groups might need even more resources to successfully transition to OSU,” Castillo said via in response to the drop in the new transfer student category. 

These numbers are determined by reporting on the fourth week census numbers, and report on the OSU Corvallis campus and OSU Cascades campus. The Corvallis Campus includes all other campus locations including e-campus. 

The numbers for the fall of 2020 won’t be out till late October to see if COVID-19 impacted fall enrollment, according to Castillo.

For Eustis, the choice to take the gap year was easy knowing the likelihood of online classes continuing into the fall and rest of the school year. 

“Reading textbooks off a screen and being bombarded with power points was a truthfully uncharming way to learn, and quite frankly I felt it to be something I didn’t sign up for,” Eustis said via email. 

Many people were questioning the investment of college and online learning over the course of spring term and into fall term. While the fall 2020 numbers won’t be out until late Oct., there was a 40% decrease in freshmen moving into the dorms compared to the year before. 

According to Jennifer Viña, the associate director of marketing and communications for University Housing and Dining Services, only 1,750 freshmen moved into the dorms this year compared to 2,966 freshmen last year. 

In order to make sure a safe transition into the dorms, Viña said via email, “several policies and precautions were put into place for fall 2020 [such as] all residents moving into UHDS residence halls were tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.”

Eustis said in an email that taking the gap year was a good choice for himself and has allowed him to reevaluate what he wanted out of college, save some money and pressure other passions. Although he says that he will miss having classes because of the routine that they create and the challenge they bring with the satisfying feeling of accomplishment. 

“I would recommend taking a gap year if you feel there is a good reason too,” Eustis said via email. “What’s most important is that you make sure you feel you are using your time wisely.”

People are predicting that there will be a decrease in the fall 2020 enrollment numbers, but we won’t know until they are released to understand the impact that COVID-19 had on OSU for fall term.