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: 
It depends. Research shows that students who start at a four year school are more likely to graduate in four years, but that’s not always the best option for people. Our admissions counselors are here to work with you to determine the best route for you whether that means starting at a community college or coming to straight to PSU from high school. PSU understands the transfer student experience. In fact, 58% of our student populatation transfered here. 

Myth: Incoming freshmen are required to live on campus at PSU.
Fact:
Campus housing at PSU is always optional.  41% of incoming freshmen and 51% of students from other states choose to live on campus. Most of our international students also live on campus. Living on campus for your first year is highly encouraged, and is guaranteed for any student who applies before May 1st. We are pretty proud of our Residence Life program here at PSU. In fact, students who participate in our Living Learning communities typically have GPAs a whole point higher by sophomore year. Many of our students choose to live at home or off-campus. We are happy to work with you to find the best housing option for your situation. 

Myth:  Freshman courses at large public universities usually have over 100 students.
Fact:
The average class size at PSU is only 35! It’s the relationships that form in the classes that really matter. At PSU, you’re not just a number. With the 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 the campus life other large public universities have and is only a commuter school.
Fact: We’ve got a lot going on at PSU and the Viking Pride is strong! We have more than 200 student clubs, 15 NCAA Division 1 sports teams, club sports teams, 10 Cultural Resource and Resource Centers, Greek Life, a student newspaper, a student run radio station and movie theater and so much more. We guarantee that every student will find something to be passionate about on campus. Go Viks!


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!

5 Ways to Ease Homesickness

5 Ways to Ease Homesickness

For many students, going to college might be the first time they’ve been away from home for more than a couple of weeks. And when students finally have some free time from their school work, they might be unable to afford that plane ticket back home. All that extra time to think means more dwelling on what they’re missing.

If you’re feeling that homesickness bug, we have some helpful suggestions for you.


Find Community on Campus

One of the best ways to beat homesickness is to find a community of like-minded people and form friendships. Joining a PSU student group that matches your interests is an easy way to find that community—a whole group of people passionate about the same thing as you! With everything from a PC gaming club to an environmental club, you’re bound to find something that peaks your interest.

At PSU, there are thriving communities you can connect with in our many Resource Centers. In addition to fostering community, these centers provide services to students in their population that make PSU accessible. Check them out:

At many of these Resource Centers, you can even become a volunteer. In fact, there are many volunteer opportunities at PSU—check out the Student Community Engagement Center for more information and their event calendar. If you want to connect with fellow students while making some money, getting an on-campus job could be a great option too.

If the big groups intimidate you, reach out to a peer or roommate to see if they’re interested in seeing a movie at the 5th Avenue Cinema, a student-run cinema on campus that’s free for PSU students.

Stay Active

It’s widely known that getting exercise helps release chemicals in the brain that boost your mood, so get active! PSU has a large Campus Rec Center that’s free for students to use at any fitness level or ability—all you need to do is sign an electronic release form and bring your PSU ID when you go. Campus Rec offers exercise equipment, a pool, a rock climbing wall, a hot tub and more.  In addition to having awesome gym equipment, Campus Rec hosts classes and special events on and off campus. You can even sign up for trips to explore Oregon’s beautiful landscape.

Sometimes all it takes is getting out of the house. Traveling around Portland can be tricky—there’s all the bridges, traffic and weather to deal with—but fortunately the public transit options can get you around town without the stress. A day pass that works on all Trimet vehicles costs about the same as a fancy-coffee-shop drink, and the Portland Streetcar is always free for PSU students. Students can even get reduced-rate transit passes.

Eat Familiar Foods

Missing that Frito pie, breakfast taco or latke? Portland may be a foodie city, but it may be hard to find your favorite foods from back home. Fortunately, there are so many restaurants and food carts around Portland and on campus that cater to every type of food, so you’ll find something that hits the spot.

For students, money’s can be sparse, so making familiar foods at home may be the best option. Grab some free food from the PSU Food Pantry and the Harvest Share Free Food Market, both programs dedicated to making nutritious food available to students at no cost. With all that great food, you can plan a potluck to connect with friends. It’s the perfect opportunity to have everyone fix their favorites from back home.

Make Video Chat Dates

Even though these are all great options, there’s nothing that beats spending time with your parents, siblings or friends who live far away. When you can’t travel to see them, video chatting is often more personal than just a phone call. Most phones now have the ability to make video calls, and there are so many free services to use: Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Skype, just to name a few. Schedule a time to talk with a family member or friend (accounting for any time difference, of course). You can even plan a movie date, starting the movie at the same time and talking while you watch.

Use Mental Health Resources

Sometimes homesickness stems from deeper issues. In that case, these little comforts can only do so much. You should take advantage of any counseling services available. PSU students taking five or more credits have access to free counseling services through the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), regardless of whether they have PSU insurance. SHAC offers individual and group counseling, crisis counseling, LD/ADHD testing and more. When PSU is in session, they even have a Mind Spa, a space for relaxation through meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massage and light therapy—during those rainy Portland months, getting a little extra light can help a lot.

If you can’t make it to SHAC during their office hours, you can reach out to the Multnomah County Crisis Line or check out more Portland-based or national resources.


At PSU, we have a diverse, accepting population of students, faculty and staff. So even though homesickness happens when you’re away from family, friends and that familiar environment, we know you’ll be able to make a home at PSU as well.

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.

The Guide to Campus Life for a Successful 1st Term

Campus Housing

For many students, moving into a dorm may be their first time living on their own. Here are a few of the Orientation Team’s tips to make that transition less overwhelming, and will make it much smoother.

Communicate

Swap school and work schedules with your roommate as soon as possible. The better communication you have with your roommate early on, the better your relationship will be throughout the year.

Know your Neighbors

Make an effort to know your neighbors. This may be easy if you are living on a First-Year-Experience floor because you will have a year-long class with the people on your floor. Knowing the people living near you may just get you an automatic study group and you all can watch Netflix and play video games later.

Connect to Home

If this is the first time away from home, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with parents or loved ones back home about making scheduled time to call or text. For many parents, not knowing what their student is doing and having poor communication may stress them and their student out. To avoid over or under communication, scheduling a weekly check-in may be helpful.

Know your Skills

The first time you go grocery shopping for yourself, you may feel the urge to test your inner MasterChef. Take it easy. A common problem for students is buying a huge amount of groceries their first week that ends up expiring before they can use it. Most dorms only allow microwaves so maybe for special occasions, you could try out some of these mug recipes.

Sleep

Get acclimated to your new sleep schedule during Viking Days. You will thank yourself later.


Read about more resources in our blog about ways to ease homesickness on campus.