Meet Sebastian Suarez Hode

Sebastian Suarez Hode

Sebastian is a junior in PSU’s School of Film. He came to PSU as an IB international student from Mozambique. Here’s what he has to say about his journey to becoming a student at PSU:

“Choosing where to go to college can be extremely daunting. For us international students, having to do it from thousands of miles away can make the entire process much more stressful. When my time came to apply to colleges, I considered all options: big city or small town, large university or small college. When I found Portland State University online, it seemed like that perfect balance of what I wanted for my college experience. Situated in the middle of downtown Portland and surrounded by luscious forests, PSU offers the best of both worlds.

When considering Portland State, whatever questions I had about the campus, city or academics were answered quickly. PSU admissions staff and the Film department were always available to answer my questions in a personalized manner. Unlike the other universities I was considering, my correspondence with PSU actually gave me a good idea of what my college experience was going to be like. Even before I was admitted, I felt valued at Portland State.

Today, I am almost halfway done with my undergraduate degree. I feel settled into a diverse community of international and domestic students alike. My classes at PSU have felt like progress towards a career in the film industry. I am learning useful skills for film production and theoretical writing, as well as developing a strong personal style, which I’m conveying through my portfolio of film and video work.

Living in Portland is a breeze! Portlanders on and off campus are welcoming to everyone, and they always share a smile. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city is as easy as a 10 minute train ride, where I can unwind in vast urban parks. Food carts and restaurants, with all types of cuisines, are situated all over the city.There is never a shortage of things to do in Portland!”

Top 12 Questions We Get About Orientation

So, you’ve been admitted to Portland State University and decided it’s the right college for you. Now what?

Attend New Student Orientation! All undergraduate students must attend Orientation before they can start their journey as a PSU student. But attending Orientation isn’t a chore—it’s a celebration of you joining our community and taking the next step in your academic journey! Orientation will help get you familiar with everything PSU has to offer and start connecting with fellow students.

We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and the answers, so you know what to expect. If you have more questions, email us at orientation@pdx.edu.


When can I sign up?

Students who are starting in fall term can sign up for orientation starting May 8. You must confirm your enrollment prior to signing up for orientation.

Do I have to go to Orientation?

You sure do! You will not be able to register for classes until you complete an Orientation program. Besides, there’s no better way to start off your PSU experience. You’ll meet academic advisors, who are ready to support you towards graduation, and current and incoming students. You’ll also learn about PSU’s many resource centers and student groups.

How do I sign up?

Sign up online. Before you can sign up for Orientation, you must confirm your enrollment. There are many Orientation sessions to choose from, so sign up early to get the session that works best for you.

What if I’m an out-of-state student and can’t make it to an Orientation session in Portland?

If you’re from Hawaii or California, we are hosting sessions in your state! Sign up online as soon as possible, because these sessions are quickly approaching. If you are coming from another state besides Hawaii or California, or from outside of the US, contact us at orientation@pdx.edu. International students are required to attend the International Student Orientation.

What if I can’t attend any Orientation sessions?

Contact orientation@pdx.edu as soon as possible to make arrangements.

How long is Orientation?

Freshman Orientation sessions taking place on campus are full day programs. Transfer sessions are half day programs, with morning and afternoon sessions available. Out-of-State Orientations are also full day programs. You will not be able to register for classes if you do not attend the entire session. You must arrive and check in at the beginning of the session. If you miss check-in, you will have to attend another session, otherwise you will not be allowed to register for classes.

What do I need to do to attend Orientation?

After you sign up, make sure you’re ready for Orientation. Check our list of things to do to prepare for Orientation.

Do I need to bring anything?

Yes! Bring a government-issued ID, as you use this to get your PSU ID card at orientation, if you should choose to do so. We strongly suggest you bring a laptop or tablet for course registration (smartphones are not recommended). We’ve made a list of everything you’ll need to attend orientation including how to get to campus, where to park, what you’ll be doing at Orientation, answers to many of your questions and sample agendas!

Can I bring someone with me to Orientation, like a parent or guardian?

Of course! While not required, you may certainly bring a guest or two. Beginning this new chapter in your life is exciting, and we want you to share that experience.

Does it cost anything?

Incoming students attending on-campus sessions do not pay a fee to attend Orientation. However, there is a $20 fee for each guest, which helps to cover the cost of the provided meal and materials. This can be paid in advance during the session sign-up process. Incoming freshman and transfers students (and their guests) attending out-of-state sessions in Hawaii and California are each required to pay a $50 fee. These fees support the cost of hosting orientation in your area.

Will I register for classes at Orientation?

Yes! This is why attending Orientation is required. You’ll meet with advisors in your academic area of interest who will give you direction on what courses you should take. You will walk away from Orientation with a completed first-term schedule!

Will I get to tour campus?

Absolutely! We offer campus tours to our incoming students and guests at all on-campus sessions. PSU is about to be your new home, and we want you get a feel for campus!

Will I get to tour the dorms?

Yes. We offer optional housing tours at all our on-campus sessions. Tour times will be on the agenda you receive at check-in.

I’m worried because I don’t know anyone else. Am I going to meet anyone?

Since it’s Orientation, no one knows anyone else yet! You’ll meet tons of other students who will start at the same time as you. You’ll even get to spend time with others who share your major. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with peers you’ll see again on campus in September!

Who should I contact if my question hasn’t been answered here?

If you have any remaining questions after this list, get in touch with us at orientation@pdx.edu. Keep an eye out for Orientation emails. We will send you details about your Orientation session via email, so check your @pdx.edu email account.


Sign up for New Student Orientation!

Freshman Year at PSU: What to Expect

Freshman Year at PSU

So, you’re thinking about going to college. Everyone talks about how different it is from high school, but it’s hard to imagine what it will actually be like. To help you know what to expect from your freshman year at Portland State, we’ve asked some current PSU students what their experience was like when they first started out.


How does being a freshman at PSU compare to being in high school?

Overwhelmingly, the PSU students we talked to said being in college is liberating. You have more freedom, both in your schoolwork and personal life. It can feel like an daunting change at first, but once you find community on campus, you’ll have a support network.

‘It felt more liberating and like I could be my own person and take care of myself. But I felt like I still had support from PSU.’

Check out PSU’s extensive list of student groups, so find one you’re interested in and join! This is a perfect way to find a like-minded community on campus. There are also many resource centers that provide students with services and safe spaces to work on homework or relax.

Check them out:

Favorite part about being a freshman at PSU?

PSU offers many resources for students to adjust to college life.

‘I loved being able to explore the endless amounts of resources at PSU, like the tutoring services and Rec Center. They helped me see everything with fresh eyes and take it all in.’

Even though college coursework can be challenging at first, you never have to feel overwhelmed. You can get help with most subjects in the Learning Center, which offers both in-person and online tutoring. If you need help with any stage in the writing process (brainstorming and understanding assignments included), visit the Writing Center. Schedule an appointment online or visit during drop-in hours to meet with a tutor.

Stay fit by visiting PSU’s Rec Center. Climb the rock wall, swim in the pool, relax in the hot tub, use fitness equipment, take classes (like yoga or Zumba) and much more. You can even explore the Pacific Northwest by going on a backpacking or kayaking trip with the Outdoor Program.

Keep your mind and body healthy by using the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). All students taking five or more credits pay a Student Health Fee, which gives them access to SHAC medical, counseling and dental services, regardless of whether they have PSU insurance. The Student Health Fee covers most medical and counseling services, including the Mind Spa, a space for relaxation through meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massage and light therapy.

Something unexpected about being a PSU student?

In high school, you rarely get to choose what classes you take. Of course, students have to take prerequisites at Portland State, but there’s so much more freedom to choose classes that interest you. The students we talked to were surprised by how much they loved their classes.

‘I didn’t expect that I would love my classes as much as I have. You get out of it what you put in, and I truly enjoy learning now.’

One of the unique things about PSU is that we have advising pathways. Similar majors are grouped together, so you can pick an area you’re interested in and stick with that advisor, even if you change majors. Your advisor can help you figure out your future career and suggest classes for you to take. Find your advisor and schedule an appointment.

Don’t be nervous about your classes. Advisors, tutors, resource center staff and your professors are here to help you succeed.

‘I didn’t expect to succeed as well as I am. It’s nice to know that passing classes isn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, especially since all professors have office hours and are willing to help students whenever they need extra assistance or clarification.’

You can find your professor’s office hours and contact information on their syllabus. If you can’t make their office hours, don’t hesitate to contact them to schedule an appointment.

What do PSU students wish they knew during freshman year?

When you’re worried about getting settled in, it can be stressful figuring out how you’ll pay for college. But there are so many opportunities at PSU and through the connections you’ll make here to find jobs and internships.

‘I wish I had known more about Handshake and other resources for finding jobs and internships.’

Handshake is an online application that helps you apply for jobs and internships at PSU and beyond. Getting a job on campus is a great way to connect with other student workers. And the best part is that on-campus jobs work with your school schedule—their first priority is helping you succeed as a student.

There are many other opportunities for you to pay for college at PSU.

‘I wish I knew more about how to get the most financial aid!’

Connect with the Financial Aid office and apply for financial aid every year. PSU also has an extensive list of scholarships. October 1 is the scholarship application deadline, so get a head start. Scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references.

Read our blog about understanding financial aid.

Major takeaway?

College is worth it! At Portland State, you’ll make lasting connections with people from diverse backgrounds. You’ll learn and grow as a student and person.

‘College is worth it, not just the academics, but the whole experience of meeting new people and gaining new experiences.’


Worried you’ll be homesick your first year? Check out our blog outlining all the PSU resources that can help ease homesickness.

Admissions Events Breakdown

Admissions Events

Every year, we host many events to welcome prospective and admitted undergraduate students to Portland State. But what do all the admissions events mean? We’ve compiled a list of all the admissions events, so you can figure out which ones you should attend.


For Prospective Students:

Campus Tours

PSU hosts guided campus tours most weekdays. Prospective students and their families will learn about the admissions process and go on tour around campus, led by one of PSU’s Student Ambassadors. Tours take about 75 minutes, and you will get to walk through the Park Blocks, tour some of our historic and renovated buildings, see the PSU Library and Viking Pavilion and check out campus housing. Sign up!

Honors Visit Days

If you are a prospective or recently admitted honors student, you can attend an Honors Visit Day, which includes an information session, campus tour and visit to the Honors Commons and Honors College housing. Register by selecting a visit labeled “HN.”


For Prospective Freshmen:

Preview Day

In the fall, high school seniors and their families are invited to this event on PSU’s campus to participate in fun activities and speak to current students, staff and faculty. You’ll get to hear about different academic departments and tour our 50 acre campus. You’ll also get to eat lunch on us at the farmers market or one of our many food cart options, which are set up along the Park Blocks. Learn more.

Bridges

High school students who are first generation and/or from ethnically diverse backgrounds are invited to this annual event, which happens in November. Students must attend as part of a school or organization. At this event, you will take part in a series of workshops and tours designed to help you make an informed decision about what career path you’re interested in and where you’ll go to college. You will learn about the admissions process, financial aid, scholarship opportunities and how to be a successful student at PSU! Learn more.

Viking Scholars

PSU hosts this event every May to honor high-achieving Oregon high school juniors. You must have a GPA of 3.50 or higher and be nominated by your high school counselor to attend. Nominated students and their families are invited to the Viking Scholars Reception, where they will be served dinner and celebrate their achievements. All students who attend will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be applied to their first term of full-time enrollment at PSU. Nominated students can register here.

VIP Vikings

Attendees to the Viking Scholars Reception who are also admitted to and enroll in the University Honors College will be invited to this event, which is held in August. Prospective Honors students and their families will enjoy an ice cream social and meet with current Honors students, faculty and staff. To top it off, all students who attend will be awarded an additional annual $3,000 scholarship. Qualifying students will receive an email invite.  


For Prospective Transfers:

Transfer Open House

These monthly events are for students interested in transferring to PSU. You will get to know PSU’s campus and meet with admissions and financial aid representatives. If you bring your official transcripts and apply to PSU 48 hours before attending, you’ll get an instant admission decision and have your $50 application fee deferred! See schedule.

Transfer Workshops

If you can’t make it to PSU’s campus for Transfer Open House, see if there’s a Transfer Workshop happening near you. PSU admissions counselors travel to community colleges around the Portland Metro area to answer your questions and help you with the admissions process. If you bring your official transcripts and apply to PSU 48 hours before attending, you’ll get an instant admission decision and have your $50 application fee deferred! See dates and locations.

Transfer Consultation

Admissions counselors frequently hold Transfer Consultations on community college campuses and at PSU. This is your chance to meet one-on-one with a counselor, who can answer any questions you have about becoming a PSU student. See Schedule.


For Admitted Students:

Admitted Student Reception

Admitted students are invited to celebrate their acceptance to PSU! At this event, you get to meet future peers and learn about the next steps for enrollment, financing your education, campus housing and more. These events are held at different locations around the country, including one on PSU’s campus. Sign up!

New Student Orientation

All new PSU undergraduate students are required to attend Orientation before they can register for classes. At Orientation, you’ll get to know the campus, learn about student resources and support services, register for your first term of classes and more. Before you can sign up for Orientation, you must confirm your enrollment. Sign up for Orientation!

Viking Days

PSU kicks off each school year by hosting this big celebration the week before classes start in September. The schedule of events includes a lip sync battle, SHAC block party, a drag show and more! This is the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow students and make PSU your new home. Learn more.


Make sure to take advantage of PSU’s many admissions events! They’re designed to answer your questions and welcome you to our diverse student body at PSU.

Still trying to decide where you’ll go to college? Check out our blog about National College Decision Day and tools to help you decide.


The Easiest Way to Save Money: Graduate On Time

We know there’s more than one way to pursue college.

For some, the route leads them right from high school into a four year school. There are also those who enroll in community college with the goal of transferring to finish their bachelor’s degree.

Each path has their pros and cons, but they all share a common goal: getting a bachelor’s degree as fast as possible.

Studies from The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center have shown that students who start at a four-year college as a freshman are more likely to graduate on time.

Here’s what’s so great about graduating in four years:

1.  You also will save money.

That same study showed that students who stay in school for more than four years can end up paying up to 40% more. Yikes! Surely transferring from a community college is more economical? Well, it is and it isn’t. Let me explain. Although Oregon Promise, and other state-sponsored programs like it, can help ease the cost of the first two years of your bachelor’s degree at a community college, transfer students tend to fall behind when coming to a four-year university. Sometimes credits don’t transfer over perfectly, or maybe it’s just problems with adjusting to a new school, but it all means taking more time to graduate, and that can cost a lot.

Plus, PSU now offers programs to help you graduate in four years if you enroll as a freshman.

  • Four-Year Degree Guarantee means that, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you will graduate in four years or we will pay for any extra courses you have to take.
  • Four Years Free is a program that allows eligible students to go to PSU for free. You heard that right. If you are an Oregon resident and meet the eligibility requirements, PSU will pay for your tuition and fees for four years.
  • PSU offers scholarships, work study and financial aid to those who qualify, all of which can help to ease the cost of college.
  • PSU’s Diversity and Multicultural Student Services offer amazing retention programs for students in their first year at PSU to help in the transition from high school to college and they provide scholarships!

2.  You get to start your career sooner, and start making an impact.

Evelynn Moz, a recent PSU graduate, was able to work while attending PSU, knowing that she would still graduate on time. Now she’s ready to take on the world as the International Merchandising Coordinator at Columbia Sportswear.

3.  You’ll be able to develop relationships early on with our expert faculty and staff.

You’ll get to take advantage of our incredible University Studies program which helps you engage in the community and get real-world experience for the start. If you’re interested in joining the Honors College, then doing so as early as possible is the best option. You’ll get the most out of it and have a lot more to show for it when you graduate.

But what about the cost?

Choosing a college is a big choice, we get it, and regardless of where you go, it’s going to be expensive. At PSU though, what you are paying for is an investment, something that will allow you to thrive after you graduate. 

Learn about ways PSU can help you graduate in just four years!