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Oregon State’s online graduating class tops 1,000 for the first time

OSU Ecampus students praise online learning experience for hands-on work, improved career prospects

Students in the crowd at the Oregon State University commencement ceremony

By Tyler Hansen
June 12, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The map arrived in Lindsay Caplan’s mailbox, having traversed nearly 3,000 miles from the Oregon State University campus to her home in Owings Mills, Maryland.

It was part of a wilderness excursion for a class in Oregon State’s fisheries and wildlife sciences online degree program – a hands-on learning activity that helped Caplan develop a strong connection to the university despite living on the opposite side of the country.

Now, several years later and without ever setting foot on campus, she is among a record-setting 1,065 students who will graduate Saturday, June 16, after completing degree requirements online through Oregon State Ecampus.

The commencement ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. PT at Reser Stadium in Corvallis and will be streamed live online. Hundreds of Ecampus students will travel long distances to participate in the event and receive their diplomas in person.

The Ecampus class of 2018 features students from 49 states and 12 countries, including Egypt, Spain, Myanmar, Indonesia, Canada and Australia.

Caplan is unable to make the cross-country trip, but she says Oregon State left an indelible mark on her because of the effort the university puts forth to let online learners know they’re a vital part of the OSU community.

And for her, it started with the map.

“I was required to use a compass to draw a specific route and locate certain things in the wilderness. I spent hours poring over that map,” said Caplan, who also recalled virtual lab experiments and other field work she conducted in her area. “I’ll never forget the feeling of finally figuring it out, sending the map to my instructor and receiving a great grade.

“That experience encouraged me that I could still work just as hard and learn just as much as students on campus did.”

The Ecampus class of 2018 features students in 35 different distance degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The graduates hail from 49 states and 12 countries, including Egypt, Spain, Myanmar, Indonesia, Canada and Australia. It’s the most geographically diverse graduating class in Ecampus history.

“Oregon State’s impact is felt globally, and we’re proud that the opportunities and access provided online by OSU Ecampus are helping to improve the lives of learners around the world,” said Lisa L. Templeton, associate provost for OSU’s Division of Extended Campus.

The student traveling the farthest distance to attend commencement is Patric Papabathini, a resident of Delhi, India, who this spring term is finishing his bachelor’s in business administration online. He grew up in what was then Bombay before his family moved to the United States last decade.

“I needed this business degree to qualify for program managerial positions, and now I’ll finally be able to apply for jobs I’ve wanted for years.”

Papabathini worked for four years at Microsoft in various tech jobs, but his career mobility was hampered by his lack of a college degree. Newly married in 2016, he left Microsoft and returned to India with his wife so he could focus on his studies after enrolling online with Oregon State.

“I have real-life work experience, and I was able to put my professional knowledge into what I’ve learned with OSU, and it’s given me a better perspective,” he said. “I needed this business degree to qualify for program managerial positions, and now I’ll finally be able to apply for jobs I’ve wanted for years.”

More than 5,000 learners have now earned an Oregon State degree online since 2002 when Ecampus began delivering programs in its current format. During the 2017-18 academic year, 23,362 students – more than 60 percent of the OSU student body – took at least one class online.

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