OSU-Cascades’ plan to lure freshman

The school’s pitch to the world

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin


Published Feb 12, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 06:03AM

A peek at OSU’s pitch

These images are from a new brochure targeted at recruiting OSU-Cascades’ first-ever freshman class. Here’s what it includes and why, according to university officials.

Recreation vs. education Administrators acknowledge that earlier in the university’s history, there was a concern that OSU-Cascades’ proximity to recreation overshadowed its academics. But, Communications Director Christine Coffin said, “With the strength and breadth of our programs now, that’s not a concern.”

Spotlight on sustainability OSU-Cascades wants students to know that sustainability and the outdoors play a role in the curriculum. Both the energy systems engineering and sustainability degree programs are geared toward growing industries in the region.

Snapshot of the student experience “We want to give students a snapshot of life here, and that has to do with the weather and resources as well as the classes and academic opportunities,” admissions adviser Danny Cecchini said. “Skiing and snowboarding are a part of Bend — we want students to take advantage of that.”

Calculating the cost The university based personal expenses on national averages and used COCC’s dorm to offer an estimate of what its future residence hall will cost.

On the Web — View the university’s “Oregon State with an edge” webpage at osucascades.edu/edge

Sources: Bulletin reporting and interviews. Brochure images courtesy OSU-Cascades. Tyler Leeds and David Wray / The Bulletin

While colleges sprint to stay up with the digital habits of students, old-fashioned paper brochures still remain essential to recruiting efforts. But how do you sell a school that doesn’t even exist yet? That’s the question Oregon State University-Cascades Campus has just answered with the release of what administrators call their “freshman brochure.” Targeting the first set of students who will attend OSU-Cascades for four years starting in 2015, the brochure spends equal space offering views into the college’s classrooms and of the expanse of mountains and snow neighboring Bend.

Danny Cecchini, an OSU-Cascades admissions adviser, has boxes filled with the brochures stacked 7 feet high in his Cascades Hall office. The distance between the boxes and the ceiling will grow as Cecchini heads out on the college recruiting circuit this spring, initially focusing on Oregon and other states in the West.

“Brochures for any recruiter are a lifeline,” he said. “They’re a portal into the world we have here, and while we like students to visit, for a lot of them, they are just too far away. That’s why we need the brochure.”

When creating a brochure, universities always include what Cecchini calls “the pillars” — things such as academic programs, demographics, class sizes and cost. But when a college fair is packed with recruiters hawking their own paper, you need a way to stand out.

“The brochure is, I like to think, a snapshot of life here,” Cecchini said. “And what is definitely true about OSU-Cascades is that our location is different. Students who enjoy outdoor recreation will like it here, and we also have an awesome arts and music scene, good shopping and food. College life happens outside the classroom, and we want to show that off.”

On the front of the brochure is a woman running down the slope of Broken Top. On the back, a student walks through the snow with snowshoes on his back and a snowboard in his hands. Inside, a graphic declares “20 minutes to Mt. Bachelor” and “300 sunny days on average each year.”

“You know, it’s actually really important to point out the sunshine, as a lot of out-of-state students think of Oregon as rainy and muddy,” Cecchini noted.

OSU-Cascades Communications Director Christine Coffin acknowledged that earlier in the university’s history, there was a concern the school’s proximity to recreation overshadowed its academics.

“With the strength and breadth of our programs now, that’s not a concern,” Coffin said. “We believe we appeal to students who not only want to take advantage of the outdoors for fun and health, but for their studies, too.”

Coffin added that the school wanted to make sure the brochure didn’t “oversell the recreational opportunities” of Bend. To that end, below the image of Broken Top is a student examining the anatomy of a model skeleton. On the inside, an image of students standing in a field of solar panels nods to the university’s sustainability and energy systems engineering degrees.

“We want to give students an idea of what life here will be like, both inside and outside the classroom,” Coffin said.

How well did they do? Kat Myers, a sophomore enrolled at both OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College, said, “overall, pretty good.”

“The outdoor part is really important to include,” Myers said. “It’s not just students, but faculty go up the mountain, too. I’m glad they included it.”

Balancing recreation and academics wasn’t the only concern. The university also worked with OSU in Corvallis to ensure the brochure was recognized as a product of OSU, which is reflected in the black and orange color scheme.

“At the end of the day, we are OSU, even if we’re in Bend,” Cecchini said. “That’s what your degree will say if you come here, so it’s important people see that.”

What’s harder to let future freshman students see is what their campus will look like. Last week, OSU-Cascades closed on a 10-acre wooded site near the Southwest Chandler Avenue and Century Drive roundabout. Somewhere on that site by 2015, members of this first freshman class will be able to find their classes, food and beds within 146,000 square feet of building space. But that’s all OSU-Cascades knows at this point. The space is still trees and dirt, and the university hasn’t even yet closed on a contiguous 46-acre site, a plot that will be essential to the university’s long-term goals.

“It’ll be terrific once we do have iconic images of our campus we can share, but we’re not there yet,” Coffin said. “But, I don’t think we’re lacking in images that show our student experience.”

While the information is prominently displayed online and in more in-depth admissions literature, the brochure does not mention that OSU-Cascades is not yet a four-year campus.

“Four-year colleges don’t say ‘we are a four-year college,’” Coffin said. “Once we do have illustrations of the campus, though, we will definitely take advantage of those. Hopefully, they aren’t too far off.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com