Advice from a PSU Grad

My time here at PSU has become an incredibly inspiring journey. I have taken the school’s motto, “Let Knowledge Serve the City” and made it my own. Walking on campus one day, I distinctly remember seeing the motto emblazoned on the sky bridge and thinking how incredibly lucky I am. How lucky I am to find myself at such an inclusive and supportive community and to attend a college that has connected me with employers and prepared me for my career.

When I started this journey three years ago, I was a non-traditional international student and English was not my first language. To save the money necessary to come to the U.S. and study for nine months, I had worked multiple jobs for five years. A feeling of pure panic welled up after about six months of being here and I wondered how in the world I was going to come up with enough money to stay at PSU and graduate with a degree.

Luckily, through this difficult time, a community of faculty, mentors and friends supported me and helped me find my way. Over time, I got to know PSU by serving as the coordinator of the International Women’s Group and mentoring freshman students as part of the University Studies program. This community has been incredibly supportive and I’ve found friends for life. I’ve also really enjoyed taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that have been offered to me. Through mentorship programs to networking events, PSU has prepared me to be an incredible professional. I graduated on Sunday with a job offer and an offer to start in PSU’s prestigious Master of Science of Financial Analysis program in the Fall.

My advice for students is to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. College is a great time to network and conduct informational interviews with employees from companies you are interested in working for. Personally, I’ve had great opportunities at PSU to grow and learn outside the classroom. One of my most memorable experiences is speaking at the 2015 Simon Benson Awards Dinner and to thank all of the kind people who support scholarships and students like me. It was my first time speaking in front of such a large crowd, more than 1200 people were there! I was honored to be able to thank scholarship donors in person.

No other university works so hard to connect students with each other, staff, faculty, and employers as PSU does. I have found a family and a future here. I think this applies to many other graduates as well. When you graduate you will be able to look around at all the incredible people you’re surrounded by right now, think of how many friendships you’ll create, the love you will find and or the career you will start, all here at PSU.

A Day in the Life of An Environmental Studies Major

Nikki is a third year student at Portland State University and has been on the Orientation team for two years. Her major is Environmental Studies with a Geographic Information Systems minor.

“I decided to major in Environmental Studies because I’ve always found Earth so fascinating. I think it’s pretty special that out of all the planets in the universe, ours is the only one (that we know of) that is capable of supporting life. I knew that I wanted to study and protect the different plants, animals, and ecosystems that make our planet so special.” – Nikki

Check out her video where she takes you through her typical day at Portland State University.

PSU Orientation Leaders Climb Trees to Prepare for New Student Orientation

You’ve been admitted. You’ve submitted your tuition deposit. You’ve signed up for Orientation. Next step? Attend Orientation! Every year we gear up to put together an orientation program that ensures your life at PSU will be smooth sailing. It doesn’t happen overnight either. Our orientation team spends months planning and training for your sessions and it starts by getting all of our orientation leaders and student ambassadors together to become supportive resources for you!

The first people you will meet are orientation leaders (OLs). OLs are your guides, your friends, and your human information booths. They know all the details about what it’s like to be a student at PSU, where the best food carts are located, how to navigate your PSU account, the best resources for registering for classes, and how you can get more involved on campus.

The Orientation Leaders join our Student Ambassadors for a retreat for team building and cohesiveness. This year’s retreat took place at Camp Collins. The team worked together to get through high rope courses, team challenges, and deep conversations to become stronger and to learn how to support each other and how to better serve new students for the upcoming orientation season.

If you haven’t signed up for Orientation, do so as soon as possible! You must submit your tuition deposit or exemption in order to sign up for Orientation.

What You Should Really Be Asking at College Fairs

Every year, I go to at least 10 college fairs and I have been an admissions counselor for 4 years so you can bet that I’ve heard every question under the sun. I get common questions about course offerings, student body size and test score requirements, and the occasional unusual question like “what do they serve in the cafeteria?” College fairs are a great opportunity for you to connect with different colleges and universities to find the right fit for you and further your understanding of the admissions process. It is my job to talk to you about the opportunities Portland State University offers and guide you toward making the right choice for your future.

To better prepare you for your next visit to a college fair (and your next campus visit), I’ve created a list of the top questions people ask me and what you should ask instead.


1. What students ask: “What department or program is the best at your school?”

Asking this question is like asking what your favorite Missy Elliott song is, they are all good!

What you should ask: Think about your own interests and what you hope to gain by going to college and then get more specific. Ask about class size, graduation rates, notable alumni and professors, study abroad programs, and work-study options. The best program will be the one that is matched to your interests and needs, and what you might gain from it.

2. What students ask: What is your most popular major?

Choosing a major is a very important part of the student experience, maybe even the most! Just because something is popular does not mean that you will like it.

What you should ask: Ask questions about your interests and goals so we can talk about a major that would be right for you.

3. What students ask: What are the chances that I will get in?

Admissions counselors are not evaluators, we really don’t know!

What you should ask: You can start with asking how many applicants there are and what the admission rate is. It will help to find out what makes you a competitive applicant for the school you are applying to and why.

BONUS 1: Ask about student life!

Most students I meet hone in on academics and forget to ask about another important part of choosing the right college, their social life. At PSU, we offer a diverse range of organizations to get involved in and we value what students do outside of their academic life. There is so much to do in Portland and we love talking about all of the options. The community Portland State offers outside academics is equally important to your success, and your success is our primary goal.

BONUS 2: Don’t let your parents ask all the questions.

Your parents’ opinions matter in your admission decision and even though they may be helping you financially, you are making the final decision. You are the student and the one who will be living out your college experience so you need to ask the questions. Showing your independence and making responsible choices during the admissions process might even win brownie points with your parents.

Do you have questions? Meet an admissions counselor at your school.