OSU and UofO, Thirty Miles…and a World Apart

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by Kay Helbling

Duck bill on one side and beaver tail on another, we’re a family split. With one boy choosing to attend Oregon and the other Oregon State, it has given us the opportunity to compare and contrast Oregon’s major university experiences. Even though they may be only about thirty miles apart in distance, they may as well be on different planets.

The distinction began with the new student and parent orientations.   From the first day we knew the boys would be travelling in two different worlds. At OSU we were taken from meeting to meeting and fed very practical information—tutoring is available and recommended, signing up for classes is competitive and here’s how to navigate registration. Internships are a great opportunity and the university works closely with the business community to make them available. Oh, and if your son or daughter call home for a needed $187 for a textbook, just keep in mind that the going rate for an MIP in Corvallis is $187.

At the Uof O the orientation and focus of the information was vastly different. The presentation began with a story behind the beauty of the campus, when years ago the University President’s wife brought in trees and landscaping ideas that would showcase the grounds. She accomplished her goals. The discussion turned to the present day goals of nurturing that respect for nature. Parents were assured that before any tree is cut down for building development there is an extensive review process, and for at least a week before the cutting all students are notified so they can visit and properly “mourn the loss of the tree.”

Not to give the impression that the UofO doesn’t have practical procedures in place as well. They do. It’s just a bit more difficult to seek out those resources. Or, that OSU isn’t equally environmentally sensitive. Their many awards and honors for green practices would quell that concern. It is simply the balance of these areas that carries a different weight.

What takes place within academia is also remarkably different. On the one hand, at Oregon you have a world of philosophical ideology and perspective. Oregon State is concrete building blocks and research. You might say at the UofO you have a melding of the head and the heart—talking, more than doing. At OSU is a melding of the head and the hand—doing, more than talking.

Does that mean there isn’t research and practical applications coming out of Oregon. Certainly not. Driving around campus you’ll find your greenhouses of research. Nor is OSU simply a hive of worker bees. Behind any substantive research comes a world of ideas.

Each school has its strengths and its weaknesses. Each has its pros and its cons. Each has its challenges and its advantages. Each has as wide a range of perspectives as are needed to serve the citizens of Oregon and the citizens of the world that attend our universities. It serves our state well and makes finding the best fit for the student that much easier.

If you have a high school grad weighing whether to attend Oregon or Oregon State, simply ask them to consider their favorite color, book, and toy. Is it Eco Green, or Lab Coat White?  Is it Brother Eagle, Sister Sky or How to Eat Fried Worms? Is it Origami or Legos?…and after they’ve decided, grab your checkbooks, because tuitions are on the rise.

Kay was an insurance adjuster and executive for 15 years, a small business owner, and a teacher for 10. But, her most fulfilling work has been as a mother of her two boys. She is now looking forward to an empty nest with her best friend—her husband.