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Experiential opportunities transform learning for Oregon State’s online students

Oregon State University Ecampus students don’t just learn their course material — they live it. Through experiential learning opportunities such as field trips, internships, research and study abroad, online students connect with people and places that enhance their learning and career prospects. In this video, Class of 2018 alumni share how experiential education opportunities grounded their learning in physical locations around the world.

By Julie Cooper
May 30, 2019

Experiential learning can refer to many things: internships, research, field trips, study abroad opportunities and more.

But according to Oregon State University Ecampus Class of 2018 alumni, those diverse opportunities can be summarized in one word: Life-changing.

Experiential learning offers some of the most rewarding aspects of a college education. For alumna Janine Romero, that was a personal connection to her university while she earned a liberal studies degree online from Clovis, New Mexico.

In her sustainability courses, she participated in virtual tours of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Corvallis, Oregon, offices, as well as fish hatcheries along the Columbia River.

“The interactive activities were not only valuable for my education, but they also made me feel close to campus, as if I was a part of the Corvallis community and was able to visit these incredible places firsthand,” Janine says.

Whether a student earns their degree online or on campus, what sets them apart to employers goes beyond a top-ranked degree. Applicable experience is key.

In a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly 65% of employers responded that, when hiring new college graduates, they preferred candidates who had experience relevant to the field.

“The experience of traveling and working in another country was life-changing, and I loved that it counted toward my degree.”

“One of my favorite parts of the program was that it required multiple internships,” says fisheries and wildlife sciences alumna Lindsay Caplan. “It had a great system to support those internships through the internship coordinator. She helped me find and apply to opportunities that became great learning experiences and made me more competitive as a prospective employee.”

Among the internships that took place near her home base in Owings Mills, Maryland, Lindsay was even able to pursue work abroad in Greece.

“The experience of traveling and working in another country was life-changing, and I loved that it counted toward my degree,” she says.

Just as a meaningful fieldwork experience can open new doors in one’s career path, it can also surface new academic interests.

When business administration alumnus Patric Papabathini began an internship with a nonprofit that offers education, meals and medical assistance to over 2,000 students where he lives in India, he saw firsthand how many lives were touched by the organization.

“It inspired me so much that I signed up for a nonprofit management class at OSU,” he says. “I would recommend to everyone to pursue an internship because it’s the best form of learning. It prepares you for what’s going to come after you are done with your degree.”

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