Mother’s Day-Resources for Students with Children

Happy Mother’s Day! We know that parenthood can be both rewarding and challenging experience, especially when juggling multiple responsibilities and roles. At PSU, we strive to support our students with children through various programs and resources so that they can be effective parents and achieve academic success. In dedication to all of the hardworking parents who are also students, we asked Lisa Wittorff, Director of Services for Students with Children, to share the support services offered here on campus.

PSU Admissions (PA): Tell us a little bit about how the program was started.

Lisa Wittorff (LW): Student parent services initially started in 1989 through various grants given to the school. A major improvement occurred between 2010 and 2011 when the president of PSU conducted a study to see how families on campus were doing. The results showed that more services were needed, so services were expanded to build up the program allowing the university to serve the needs of more students and their families. Today, we have more resources for students than children than most campuses in the Pacific Northwest and serve a wide variety of family needs.

PA: What are some of the resources offered here on campus for students with children?

LW: We offer a wide variety of programs and resources, let’s start with here in our office. Our office is place that students can come for help if they have questions about financial aid, admissions, or outside social resources. We offer a physical space here that serves as a study lounge and play area with computers so that students can study while keeping an eye on their children. Additionally, we have a children’s clothing closet and a library of parenting books that work on a donation basis.

PA: What childcare programs do you offer?

LW: Our main program called Little Vikings. It’s a flexible childcare service that can be reserved online although we also take walk-ins when there is room. It can be used 5 hours per day for 20 hours per week. Its main purpose is to cover gaps in childcare. For example, a student could have class when other child care programs or school are not in session. There are special camps on days that PSU is in session but Portland Public Schools are not. We also offer the Jim Sells Childcare subsidy program that can pay for up to 50% of childcare costs based on financial need. We have many other resources as well, including a list of recommended child care facilities around PSU, other financing child care programs on and off campus, and a database of babysitters.

PA: Are there events for students with children?

LW: We want children and their student parents to feel that they are an important part of the PSU community so we offer multiple events throughout the year. Our main events are Winter Wonder, an annual giving event before Winter Break and a Family Friendly Commencement featuring a bounce house and a cap and gown for the little ones to match their parents. Other activities include parent social hours, happy hours, game nights, and a Dad’s breakfast.

Lisa Wittorff, LCSW is the Director of Services for Students with Children. Lisa has her Master of Social Work from California State University Sacramento. Her favorite childhood memory is of using a piece of rope and her dad’s old Army blanket to make a “tent” between 2 trees in the backyard and “camping” in it with her sister. Her mother brought out some warm gingerbread for them to share. It was a perfect summer day. Lisa loves helping students with children find the resources they need to stay in school and complete their degrees. She also loves to see the students’ children grow and change. She has a fantastic staff who make her work possible

Want to know more? Visit them onlinestop by Smith Memorial Student Union, Suite 462 or call (503)725-9878.

Meet Your Orientation Leaders!

We are working hard to ensure that your orientation is everything you imagined. The Orientation Leaders are divided into teams to plan various components of the Orientation session we’re hosting for you this summer. We want you to meet the folks who are organizing the events this summer!

You must confirm your intent to enroll before signing up for Orientation.

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Already confirmed your Intent to Enroll?

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Orientation Team: The Spice Girls


Team Lead

I’m from Woodburn, OR and I’m a Film Production major and Communications minor. My passions lie in petting dogs, making movies, and eating really good food. I love being a part of the PSU community and am thankful for all it has given me!


Returning Orientation Leader

I’m majoring in Social Science with a focus in Women’s Studies and minoring in Business. I use she/her/hers pronouns and absolutely adore cats and love everything Disney! I work on campus as an Orientation Leader, Student Ambassador and RA. I love the city and how our campus is integrated with the city. Knowledge really does serve the city here at PSU!

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Orientation Leader

I’m majoring in Business: Supply Chain and Logistics Management. I wouldn’t have been able to succeed at PSU without the help of older students, mentors, and school resources. I want to be able to give back to my community and help direct incoming students so they feel prepared to succeed. I also enjoy the outdoors, and DIY projects such as sewing and designing.


Orientation Leader

Karla’s the name, new OL is the game. I’m majoring in Marketing and getting an International Business Certificate. I like D&D, Audrey Hepburn, Harry Houdini and Croquet. I can’t swim, and I don’t know Karate. I’m excited and I Don’t Stop Believin’ in being a part of other people’s Journey; whether it’s here at PSU or elsewhere. Dad jokes aside, I look forward to meeting you!


Orientation Leader

I’m a current freshman at PSU and I’m majoring in English. My hobbies include reading poetry, eating, watching Netflix and jogging with my dog. I love PSU because of the diversity and the food carts located near campus.

Student Spotlight: The Choice to Transfer to PSU Was Easy

I’m a senior studying international development studies. My home town is Mexico City, but I have lived in Aloha, OR for about 16 years. I have two brothers. I’m actually a twin! My brothers and I are first generation college students. My older brother graduated from PSU last year and my twin will be coming to PSU this fall, he’s transferring from PCC. I’m a Student Ambassador and I’m a mentor with the GANAS program. For fun, my friends and I like to cook and eat all types of food like Vietnamese, Korean, and BBQ. On the weekends we get together and cook big meals.

I have lived in many different places within the United States and internationally so I am not a stranger to making new friends and finding my place within a community.  Even still, I was nervous about transferring to a new school. There are many factors that can affect your decision to transfer colleges.

For me, I wanted to be confident in my decision to transfer and know that I was making the best choice to prepare me for my future plans. I always knew I wanted to go to school in a city where I would be surrounded by lots of activities and cultural events, so Portland was a great fit for me. During my decision making process, I met with student ambassadors on tours and orientation leaders. They had so much excitement about the programs and the school that I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The affordability factor was one of the main reasons that I transferred and PSU made the transfer process really easy.

To sweeten the deal, I was offered a scholarship through the GANAS program (Gaining Awareness and Networking for Academic Success). This program not only helped me financially, but it was also an important support system that helped me get to know people and feel like I was part of a community. In GANAS, students engage in cultural activities and connect with PSU programs that offer resources with a small cohort of other transfer students. It was a great way to meet new people, make connections on campus, and share the experience with other transfer students.

My advice to transfer students is to get involved in different programs and activities on campus if you want to make the most of your time and be successful. By getting involved, I have made friends, gotten scholarships, worked in various departments on campus, and even made connections for internships and jobs for when I graduate.

Transferring to a new environment, making new friends, and creating a whole new life can be overwhelming, but college can be some of the best years of your life and you have control over where you spend those years. If the only thing standing in your way on making the best out of your college experience is the transfer process, please speak to an admissions counselor today!

If you have questions about transferring, check out the Transfer Student website or reach out to your admissions counselor.

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.


Earth Day 2016: Passion for Community Engagement Helps PSU Students Gain Real Job Skills

Community development and service learning are core components of the PSU academic experience. After all, our motto is Let Knowledge Serve the City, and our students are doing just that by building community connections and earning course credit and service scholarships to do it! In honor of Earth Day, we caught up with a member of the Student Leaders for Service, Randy Black, to learn more about the program and to see what our student service leaders were up to for this national day of service.

PSU Admissions (PA): What is the Student Leaders for Service (SLS) program?

Randy Black (RB): The SLS program is a one-year opportunity that offers members assistance with partnering, serving at, and reflecting on community-based experiences at community organizations. Members work with a community partner during the year to build real life experience in issues around social change and social justice. We have a wide range of organizations throughout the community that we can choose to work with, or we can bring a partner we’d like to help into the SLS program.

PA: What are the requirements?

RB: Each student leader is required to participate in a minimum of four hours per week of community service, but most of the students here are already involved in community activities and do way beyond the required minimum. There is also a seminar on Fridays that we attend to reflect on our experiences for the week and talk about our successes and challenges. So far, it is my favorite thing that I am involved with at PSU! Student Leaders for Service members are involved in many things throughout the year. We have an overnight retreat at the beginning of the year so we can get to know other student leaders from student-led organizations throughout the PSU community, and build a network of community leaders. We plan and participate in large national service day projects and serve as coordinators for Portland State of Mind Day of Service, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and the Earth Day of Service. We also lead the Alternative Spring Break trips each year. This year we had a group work in organizations that feed the hungry in San Francisco, and another that learned about urban farming here in Oregon. I went on the San Francisco trip, and it was a transformative experience for me.

PA: How did you become involved with the SLS program?

RB: Rachel Samuelson, the program leader, came to one of my classes last school year, and was really inspiring, so I signed up for this year. I just loved the program and the experience I could gain from it.

My community partner this term is the Portland Student Food Pantry. I learned about the pantry through a Capstone class that I took on campus food security last summer. There are a lot of issues surrounding students and food security that go unnoticed. It breaks my heart, and it is something I am really passionate about. I’ve volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank and other hunger relief organizations in the past, so this was a chance to use my passion to help fellow students.

PA: Why is this program important to you?

RB: This program not only feeds my passion for community engagement and helps me to get job experience in the field I am interested in, but it also raises the spirit of public service to the next level. For me, it serves as a connection between doing things for the community and self engagement and learning.

PA: Why did you choose to study at PSU?

RB: I always knew I wanted to study in a field that had a service learning component. I was taking classes at PCC but hadn’t really decided what it was that I wanted to do with my life. Then, I found a degree program at PSU and it was just the right fit. I remember on my visit to the campus, sitting in the Smith Memorial Hall and looking out over the park blocks and thinking what a great place to be. I can really do this!

PSU student service leaders will be involved in many projects on campus for Earth Day! Check out the schedule of activities here. Interested in becoming a student service leader for 2016-2017? Apply here. Applications are due May 4th!

Ready to Transfer to PSU? Attend a Transfer Workshop

Ready to transfer to PSU? Meet Admissions Counselors and Academic Advisers during Transfer Workshops at local community colleges.

Learn More About PSUAttend a presentation about transferring to PSU:

  • Apply during the Transfer Workshop and defer your $50 PSU admission fee
  • Speak with an academic adviser. All popular majors will be represented!
  • Ask financial aid and scholarship questions
  • Learn how your credits will transfer to PSU
  • Gather information about on-campus housing options

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Sign Up for Housing for Fall 2016

Incoming PSU Students Fall 2016

Made your commitment to PSU? The housing contract for the 2016-2017 academic year is available to complete online. Sign up early to secure your preferences! If you are still awaiting an admissions decision, you can sign up while you wait. Priority deadline for new students is May 1.

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Important Dates

March 15: 16-17 Room Selection ends for Current Residents

March 19: Winter Term Move-Out

March 26: Spring Term Move-in

March 28: Spring Term Classes Start

May 1: Priority Contract Deadline for 16-17 New, Incoming Students

May 20: Summer 2016 Cancellation Deadline for Current Residents

May 30: PSU Closed – Memorial Day

June 11: Spring Term Move-Out

June 18: Summer Term Move-In (new residents)

June 18: 2016-17 Cancellation Buyout Fees Apply

8 Things to Do to Prepare for a College Fair

College fairs are a great way for students and parents to learn more about universities, however, they can be very overwhelming. At these events you can make the most of your time, get to know colleges and make meaningful connections with admissions counselors and college representatives if you do these eight things to prepare!

1. Do Your Research

Want to live close to the beach? Are you interested in an all-star baseball team? Worried about tuition costs? Talk with your family and think about what your top priorities are beforehand. It may be helpful to make a list and prepare questions you want answered to save time.

2. Organize Yourself and Prepare Contact Information

Make sure to bring a binder or folder to keep all of your information organized. Our job as admissions counselors is to help guide you through the school selection and application process. It would be a shame if you found a school or admissions counselor you really liked and lost their contact information. Also, save yourself the time and pain of handwriting your contact information on interest cards. Prepare a sticky label with your name, contact information, date of birth, and year of graduation. This way we can keep in touch and send you the correct information for application deadlines, upcoming events and important updates specific to you.

3. Keep an Open Mind

You may find some schools that you never considered as a choice. There are so many options out there! Talk to schools you do not know much about and keep an open mind. I would never have ended up at my Alma mater if I hadn’t been open to changing my original plan.

4. Arrive Early

While attending a party fashionably late can be a social strategy, the opposite is true for college fairs. Come early, check out the scene, and then decide who you are going to talk to. You’ll have an advantage by getting more one-on-one time with counselors, allowing you to meet more people and get more questions answered!

5. Introduce Yourself and Exchange Information

One of the best parts of my job is meeting new people. Please introduce yourself and let us get to know you! A firm handshake is always a nice touch. Like I said, it’s our job to help you through this process, so if you aren’t sure what to ask, that’s ok! We’re just as good at asking questions as we are at answering them. If you find a college counselor you really like, ask for their business card and give them your information. It shows that you are personable and making an effort to find the best choice for your future college career. Plus, creating a relationship with your admissions counselor early will mean that you’re better prepared and ahead of the game.

6. Ask Questions to Get the Answers You are Looking For

Don’t let us do all the talking. Take the time to think about questions that prompt meaningful information you couldn’t get from a website or brochure. Try asking questions that do not involve a yes or no answer. Also, keep in mind, this is your college experience; don’t hide behind your parents.

7. Follow-up

I love hearing from students I met at a college fair! Send thank you cards or e-mails with follow up questions. It makes you stand out from the crowd. And believe me, we admissions counselors are often more willing to advocate for students they remember well.

8. Take time to Reflect

There is a lot of information exchange at college fairs. Take time after the event to organize your thoughts and contact information. You can make a spreadsheet and rank your schools by your interest level so you know where to focus your next steps.

PSU Admissions representatives visit high schools, community colleges and participate in college fairs regionally, nationally, and internationally throughout the year. Select your region and see when a PSU representative will be near you!

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.

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Understanding Your Financial Aid Award

You’ve been admitted, you’ve filled out your FAFSA, you’ve received your financial aid award letter. Here are a few tips to help you understand your financial aid award.

Start by Looking at the Total Cost of Attendance

We encourage you to hit the books, do your research! Even though schools will typically only bill you for direct costs (tuition bill), it’s important to estimate your additional expenses such as housing, food, books and transportation in order to budget accurately.

Next, learn about the types of financial aid that you are eligible for

Your Financial Aid is based on many factors unique to you. (Don’t worry,  it’s all calculated  for you) here are the major ones:

Your academic record, family and finances:

  • Your financial strength (Estimated Family Contribution or EFC from FAFSA)
  • Your high school or college transfer GPA

Your college program and enrollment

  • Your admission level (undergraduate, graduate etc)
  • Your academic level (freshman, sophomore, junior etc)
  • Your enrollment level (full time, part time etc)

Your state of residence

  • In state Oregon resident
  • Out of state (not an Oregon resident)

Your financial aid package will help you make clear comparisons among the other financial aid offers you may have received.

Then, map out your degree path. Save time and money!

We are committed to helping you graduate in four years, saving you thousands of dollars in tuition and college costs. Check out this snapshot of how PSU compares to other universities in the area:


Kick the tires, crunch the numbers and get an estimate of what you’ll pay while at PSU. The bottom line is that you should know the value of your investment and shouldn’t feel like you’re throwing your money away.


College is an investment and we want you to be successful which is why we’ve worked to ease the cost of college by offering more financial aid opportunities.

Fill in the Gaps

For some students, the financial aid programs may not cover all their costs, which means students need to find alternative options to decrease bills and increase financial aid. For other options, check out the Financial Aid Resources page at

If your parents plan on helping you out, make sure you talk to them and know the difference between borrowing money in their name and your name. Paying for college can seem overwhelming but know there are lots of options so be smart, plan ahead, and only borrow what you really need so you can set yourself up for success down the road.

As always, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships for assistance with award letters or to answer any questions regarding financial aid.