Trading Deserts for Forests to Study Film

Fernando Gomez on PSU campus

Finding the perfect college match can be as much about the city as the school. Fernando Gomez had his heart set on Oregon, someplace vastly different from his Arizona home, so he traveled around the state to check out different universities. But his love affair with Portland began when he toured Portland State’s campus.

A new transfer student in the School of Film, Fernando knew going to college in a city with a large art scene was a major factor in his decision.“I wanted a change, and Portland is a 180 degree difference from the Phoenix metro area. The weather is cool, the city is culturally diverse, and it’s cheaper than all the other big cities that would allow me to study film.”

When Fernando decided to transfer from Scottsdale Community College, he considered schools in different states, but he was on the hunt for something in Oregon. It was only after he realized PSU checked everything off his must-haves list that he found out about the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), a resource that makes getting a degree more affordable for out-of-state students from participating states. “I found out about WUE after I was accepted to PSU. I got a call from one of the admissions counselors, who told me I qualified. I’ve always been a full-time student, so it’s necessary for me to find ways to pay for school. I knew I wanted to attend PSU, so WUE was just a bonus!” Qualifying students pay 150% of resident tuition—for the 2018-19 academic year, that’s $13,107 compared to $27,437 for out-of-state tuition.

Fernando keeps costs down by living on campus. He doesn’t need to worry about paying for gas, parking and upkeep on his car because everywhere he regularly goes is in walking distance from campus. He also likes how many opportunities there are in downtown Portland for people interested in film, like the 5th Avenue Cinema, a student-run cinema on campus that’s free for PSU students. “I’m always getting emails from the School of Film about internships, film festivals and film scholar talks. I was getting these emails long before I got here, so I already had an idea about the film culture in Portland.”

And the film program makes it easy for its students to get involved and get hands-on experience. “PSU has great equipment available for students.” Fernando frequently checks out equipment and treats the city as his subject, capturing video for class projects. “I go walking or running downtown to take video of things that interest me.”

Fernando likes that the film faculty have real-world experience—his faculty get him access to many people who work in the film industry. “My professors are very accredited, more than the ones I had back in Arizona.” Even though Fernando is older than the traditional college student, he has connected with people in his cohort too. “A couple guys came up to me early on, and we’ve been working together ever since. We have the same goals and mindset despite being different ages.”

Though this is Fernando’s first term at PSU, he’s already found his place. Portland is his education and inspiration.

Want to start your own love affair with Portland by attending PSU? Discover how you can make that happen.

Find out more about WUE and Fernando’s experience on our dedicated blog.

Being the Most Prepared: Earning College Credit in High School

The Scouts have a motto: Be prepared.

They might not have been thinking about college when they coined that phrase, but we believe it still applies.

There are lots of ways to prepare for college. One that you may be doing already is earning college credit in high school. Whether it’s through AP and IB exams or taking classes at a local community college, taking college-prep courses is a great way to get a jump start on your degree.

Plus, coming in with college credits means you can take more electives and graduate sooner, which means more money saved.

PSU offers multiple different ways to earn college credit during high school:

SAT and ACT scores

While not directly earning college credit, SAT and ACT scores can help certain students’ application in other ways.

  • For international students (for whom ACT and SAT are NOT required), these scores can help them meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement required for class placement.
  • These scores can also help  meet admission requirements in the case of a GPA below our minimum requirement (3.0).

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

If you have taken AP courses in high school you may be able to earn college credit you can use toward your degree at PSU. If on your AP exam for a given class your score is high enough, you may be eligible for college credit.

AP courses are also a great way to get a preview of the kind of academic rigor and content that you may encounter in your college classes.

To request an official copy of your AP transcripts, visit the College Board website.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams

Like AP courses, IB classes are a way that you can both gain collegiate-level academic experience and receive college credit by doing well on IB exams.

Students enrolling at Portland State who earn their IB diploma with a score of 30 or above will receive a total of 45 college credits (!) and sophomore class standing. Review this chart to see how your specific exam scores will transfer to PSU credit.

To request an official copy of your IB transcripts, visit the International Baccalaureate website.

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

CLEP subject exams, like the more general AP and IB exams, can help you enter your freshman year with college credit, the results of which can be seen in this chart.

If you are interested in taking CLEP exams, it is recommended that you sign up for them one month in advance with Testing Services (part of Student Health and Counseling) or with another recognized CLEP testing center.

To request an official copy of your CLEP transcripts, visit the College Board website.


Earning college credit during high school is an investment in your future. Coming in with college credit means that you are more likely to graduate on time and that means saving money! It also allows you to jump into your major and start learning about the things you are passionate about.

Remember, if you want your college-prep courses to count you must send the appropriate transcripts to the Office of Admissions:

Office of Admissions
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Learn more about other ways to earn credit at PSU!

Oregon Promise and Co-Admission

Did you know that you can take classes at PSU while taking advantage of Oregon Promise? It’s called Co-Admission (or dual enrollment), and it allows you to be admitted to both PSU and a participating community college at the same time.

We are supportive of those who choose to pursue higher education through Oregon Promise, and applaud people who are following their passions as it’s a great route towards earning your bachelor’s degree at PSU.

As a co-admitted student you can get the financial support of Oregon Promise, and all the benefits of being enrolled as a PSU student, including access to PSU advising, credits transfers and the ability to begin taking classes at PSU at any time.

A co-admitted student may, in any given term, attend school to earn credit toward your degree in one of three ways:

  1. Take all courses at PSU
  2. Take all courses at the community college
  3. Take some courses at PSU and some at the community college

By enrolling as a co-admit, students will have 10 terms before they have to take courses at Portland State, but within those 10 terms they will have an active student status at PSU. Please note that your home school for financial aid should be the community college, and Oregon Promise funds can only be used for community college classes.

Learn more about co-admission at PSU, and reach out to your PSU Admissions Counselor today to learn more about how Oregon Promise can help get you money to follow your passions and land that perfect career.  

PSU Admissions Myth vs. Fact

The sheer amount of info surrounding the application process can be overwhelming, to say the least. To help you sail smoothly through the process, we have set course to debunk some of the misconceptions about admissions and student life at Portland State. Let’s drop some truth bombs.


Myth: I need to write a personal essay to apply to PSU.
Fact: PSU does not require an essay or letters of recommendation to apply. Admission is based on GPA and test scores for high school students, and college GPA for transfer students. However, students do need to write essays to apply to our University Honors College as well as some scholarships, so sharpen your pencils.

Myth: I have taken college-level courses in high school (things like Running Start, Early College, etc.). So I apply as a transfer student, right?
Fact: Regardless of how many college credits you have, if you are still enrolled in high school and have not yet graduated when you apply to PSU, you will be considered a freshman applicant. You will only be required to follow Freshman admission requirements, and the college-level credits will be transferred to PSU should you be admitted.

Myth: PSU will only accept test scores sent directly from SAT or ACT.
Fact:
We understand that officially submitting scores can be costly and time-sensitive. As a result, PSU does not require test scores to be submitted through the organizations who proctor the test. All we need is for the test scores to be reported as part of your high school transcript. Talk to your guidance counselor if this is something you would like to do, and relax, we have it covered.

Myth: PSU does not allow students to take a gap year.
Fact:
Exciting news! We have recently developed a policy for gap year students! This new policy allows eligible students to defer their admission for one year. Check out the eligibility requirements to participate in this new program.

Myth: It is always less expensive for a student to first attend community college and then transfer to a four-year university.
Fact: 
Not necessarily! There are often many more financial aid, grant (aid that does not need to be repaid), and especially scholarship opportunities for incoming freshmen when applying to a university. We understand that there are many paths on the road to getting a college education, and going directly to a university may not be right for everyone, so it is important to talk with your counselors and parents to determine what the best way forward for you.

Myth: Incoming freshmen are required to live on campus at PSU.
Fact:
Campus housing at PSU is always optional. We are pretty proud of our Residence Life program here at PSU, though. In fact, students who participate in our Living Learning communities typically have GPAs a whole point higher by sophomore year. Living on campus for your first year is highly encouraged, and is guaranteed for any students who applies before May 1st.

Myth: It is difficult to take all my classes AND graduate in four years.
Fact:
Not at all! Allow us to introduce to our Four-Year Degree Guarantee. We promise that full-time freshmen who sign an agreement will get the support and courses necessary to graduate in four years — or PSU will not charge them tuition for any remaining required courses. Students pay for only four years. That’s our guarantee.

Myth:  Freshman courses at large public universities usually have over 100 students.
Fact:
The average freshman class size at PSU is only 24! That small class size, along with a student to faculty ratio of just 20:1, means that you can get important personalized attention from professors who care about your success.

Myth: PSU doesn’t have all of the clubs and organizations other large public universities have.
Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve got a lot going on at PSU! We have more than 200 student clubs, NCAA Division 1 sports, club sports teams, Greek Life, a student newspaper, a student run radio station, and so much more. We guarantee that every student will find something to be passionate about beyond the classroom.


We hope that demystifies at least some of the questions you may have about applying to Portland State University, but if we missed anything feel free to reach out to your PSU Admissions Counselor and they will get back to you pronto!

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.

You can:

  • 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

Learn more about Transfer Events.