Snow at PSU

Snow Sculpture

All Portlanders have their fingers crossed that we won’t get another snow storm like 2016, which is still referred to as the “Snowpocalypse.” Even though snow in Portland is uncommon—the campus has only been closed a few times over the years—it’s important for PSU students to know how to deal with snow if it happens.

PSU Alert

PSU’s first priority is keeping students safe. If the weather conditions make getting to and from campus dangerous, PSU will close for part of the day or completely, canceling classes and events. Notification of closures will be posted to the website, notified to the media and sent through the PSU Alert system to all students, faculty and staff. The PSU Alert system will send you updates through the contact information you provide in Banweb (PSU’s information system where students find their records, register for classes and manage their financial aid information), so make sure your information and contact preferences are up to date.

Class Cancellations

Keep an eye on the weather reports and check your pdx.edu email frequently.  Even if PSU does not close, some professors cancel class preemptively or because they can’t make it to campus. If campus is open, but you can’t make it to class safely, contact your professor ASAP—professors will accommodate students who miss class because of the weather. You should prioritize your safety and comfort over getting to class. Check out PSU’s list of emergency and public safety resources.

Transportation

Stay off the roads by taking public transit. Inclement weather can cause the transit to run behind, but the Portland’s public transit is so extensive that it can help get you to class and back home safely. Check out our blog all about TriMet’s public transit options.

The Campus Public Safety office stays open during closures, so you can reach out to them for help.

 

New Student Guide to Portland Transit

The beauty of Portland State’s location in the center of one of the best cities for public transportation in the U.S. is that students have easy and affordable access to all that Portland has to offer. And Portland’s public transit system (TriMet) is not limited to downtown, but stretches far and wide—from Forest Park to the Portland International Airport to the many towns surrounding Portland. With all of the buses, the trains and even a bike sharing system, PSU students can get around without the hassle or expense of a car.

TriMet is an easy system to use, but it can be confusing at first. That’s why we’ve compiled everything PSU students should know about TriMet and the transportation options in the Portland metro area.

Transportation Options

PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services is an excellent source of information. Check out their outline of all the ways new students can get to campus.

By Car

Commuting by car can be the most expensive transportation option—since PSU is located in downtown Portland, parking is extremely limited. PSU has a variety of parking permit options.

  • Carpooling: Students can reduce costs and emissions by carpooling, signing up for a Carpool Permit or sharing rides with Drive Less Connect (a free service offered by the State of Oregon that helps coordinate carpooling).
  • Carsharing: Students can use car-sharing services rather than own their own cars. Zipcar has nearly 30 cars, trucks and vans available for rent by the hour, day or weekend. PSU students are eligible for discounted membership. Car2Go and ReachNow also provide on-demand carshare vehicles in Portland.

TriMet

TriMet provides bus, light rail and commuter rail service in the Portland metro region. TriMet’s transportation options connect people with their community, while easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution—making the region a better place to live.

  • Buses: TriMet offers almost 80 bus lines, with many buses running every 15 minutes or less during most of the day. There are multiple bus lines with stops at PSU.
  • MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail: Like the buses and streetcar, the MAX lines run frequently throughout the day. The five color-coded MAX lines connect the far corners of Portland and surrounding suburbs. There are even convenient park and ride locations that make it easy to drive part way and hop on the MAX, enabling commuters to avoid the struggle of limited downtown parking. The Orange Milwaukie line, Yellow Expo Center line and Green Clackamas Town Center line make stops at the South end of campus and at Urban Center. Riders can connect to the Blue Hillsboro/Gresham line and Red Beaverton/Airport line just North of campus.

Streetcar

Portland Streetcar: This streetcar system offers two loop routes around downtown Portland, with streetcars running both clockwise and counterclockwise. The Portland Streetcar runs through the center of PSU campus, including stops in the Urban Center Plaza and Park Blocks. The Portland Streetcar is FREE to all PSU students—the PSU ID card is valid fare.

Other Transportation

BIKETOWN: This bike-sharing program has 1,000 bikes at over 100 stations around Portland available for rent. PSU students get 90 minutes of ride time on BIKETOWN bikes per day FREE. To take advantage of this, students must sign up for a PSU Student Plan.

Portland Aerial Tram: This tram is as much a tourist destination as it is practical transportation, carrying riders 500 feet above the city with breathtaking views. It connects the South Waterfront district to the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus.

LIFT Paratransit Service: TriMet offers shared-ride public transportation services for people with a disability or disabling health condition that makes them unable to use regular buses or trains. Rides are arranged in advance by reservation.

WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail: Unlike the MAX, this rail line only serves commuters West of the Willamette (Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville), running during morning and afternoon rush hours every 30 minutes.

Cost

The TriMet system allows people to ride all buses, Streetcar, MAX and WES with a single valid TriMet fare. Individual adult tickets can be purchased at $2.50 for 2.5 hours or $5.00 for all day.

The TriMet Hop card allows riders to tap their card on the green Hop reader when they get on. The Hop card charges riders and keeps track of their fares—Hop card users never pay more than a day pass in a day or month pass in a month ($100 per month). A monthly pass is also valid on the Aerial Tram. The Honored Citizen Hop card gives reduced fare to low-income riders, seniors and riders with disabilities. Honored Citizens pay up to 50% less than standard adult fare.

The Hop card can be purchased and reloaded at hundreds of local stores, including supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. They can also be reloaded online or by app, making them convenient and easy to use. Android users can also download a virtual Hop card, so they can tap their phone on the Hop reader to purchase fare. The TriMet Tickets app allows users to purchase single day tickets on their phone.

PSU students can also get the Student FlexPass, a reduced-rate, quarterly transit pass valid on all TriMet buses, MAX trains, Streetcars, WES train, Aerial Tram and C-Tran local bus services (buses running in Clark County, Washington, and into Portland). The 3-month FlexPass costs $174, compared to $100 per month for public TriMet rate. The pass is a sticker applied directly to the PSU ID. The FlexPass, unlike the Hop card, is not scanned when riders enter transit, it just needs to be displayed to show valid fare.

Navigating

The PSU Campus Map is a good place to start to get a sense for the transit options and where they stop on campus.

Google Maps is an excellent app to use in determining your the best route to campus. It has fairly up-to-date arrival times and allows for trip customization, like prioritizing shortest walking distance or fewest transfers.

TriMet has an extensive list of third-party apps that can help show real-time arrivals and plan trips.

The BIKETOWN app allows users to find bike stations and pay as they ride—remember PSU students get 90 minutes per day free.

Tips and Tricks

TriMet buses often have many small stops along their routes, so they do not announce every stop. Riders unfamiliar with the area may find it helpful to watch their movement and track stops on a map app or tell the bus driver where they want to get off.

Bus drivers check fares as riders get on, but there is no consistent system for checking fares on MAX and Portland Streetcars. Transit police officers periodically check fares and issue warnings, citations and exclusions for riders without a valid fare, so riders should remember to always have valid fare on them.

Most of Portland’s public transit does not run between midnight and 5 a.m., so riders should make sure to understand the schedules and know how they will get to their destination ahead of time.  

TriMet periodically offers free transit rides and extended late-night hours on holidays to keep Portlanders safe, so stay informed about these offers by following TriMet on Twitter.

Check out PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services to learn more.

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.

Know Your Dates: Freshmen

Of all 365 days in the year, there are some that tend to carry more weight. You’ve got your birthday (that’s a big one), the first day of summer (can’t forget that), and of course 7/11’s Free Slurpee Day (we know that’s really important).

At PSU, we can think of a few more. The college application process can be confusing—so many dates and deadlines swirling around. But we will make it easy.

We’ve compiled a list of all the dates you should have on your calendar. Save them in your phone now (or on paper, if you’re old school).


AUGUST 1

The PSU Admissions Application is available! This is where it all begins. We start accepting applications early so you can have as much time as possible to complete yours. Even though the deadline seems far away now, it will sneak up on you. You should get a head start on your application, so you can focus on connecting with an advisor, deciding where you’ll live and figuring out how you’ll pay for college.

OCTOBER 1

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available. This is the form that lets you know what financial aid options you are eligible for—you’ll also need to fill out a FAFSA in order to submit a scholarship application at PSU. This is a crucial step in getting the money you need to pay for college. When you fill out a FAFSA, remember to add PSU as one of your colleges.

The PSU Scholarship Application. If you haven’t already started your Scholarship Application, now is the time. The scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references, so you won’t be able to wait until the last minute to complete it. Apply early so you can be sure you get the most money possible to help pay for college.

DECEMBER 1

Your Honors College Application. This is a priority deadline for freshmen. Students who apply by the priority deadline will get an Honors College admission decision by March 1. Though this is not a hard deadline, applying after December 1 makes students far less likely to get Honors scholarships.

FEBRUARY 1

Your PSU Scholarship Application, essays and references. This is a hard deadline, so you must get all your documents in by February 1. Get started early!

The FAFSA. We have a rolling deadline for FAFSA, but like all parts of the application process, it’s best to do this early. February 1 is also the deadline to submit the FAFSA to be eligible for Four Years Free (Oregon residents only).

Last day to apply to PSU to be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Luckily, there is no separate application required—you will automatically be considered for WUE when you turn in your PSU Admissions Application.

Admitted Student Reception sign ups open!

The hard part’s done, but once you get an admission decision, there are a few important dates you’ll need to know!

APRIL 1

New Student Orientation sign ups open. We recommend signing up for Orientation as early as possible. To gain access to sign ups, you’ll have to confirm your enrollment.

MAY 1

Last day to apply to PSU to be considered for Four Years Free (Oregon residents only). There’s no separate application—you will be automatically considered when you submit your Admissions Application.

Confirm your enrollment to PSU. May 1 is National College Decision Day, so students all around the country are making the big decision about where they will attend college. Apply early so you have enough time to weigh your options and make the choice that’s right for you. As soon as you confirm your enrollment, you can sign up for New Student Orientation and start preparing for your first term as a PSU Viking!

Apply for on-campus housing during your first year. This is the final deadline.

AUGUST 1

Final high school transcripts are due.

YOU’RE DONE!

Now you can sit back, relax and take a big sigh of relief. As long as you start early, completing your PSU application is painless. Applying to PSU is quick and easy because we do not require an essay or letters of recommendation!

Review PSU’s freshman admissions requirements.

Know Your Dates: Transfer

Alright, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to transfer to PSU and finish your degree. It’s time to start getting your application together. We know at times the process can be confusing, so we’ll go through each important date and deadline to explain what is needed from you.

Let’s get started!


AUGUST 1

The PSU Admissions Application is available! We begin accepting applications early because we want you to have the most time to submit your application. We get it—life happens, but remember, if you can get your application submitted early, then you can focus on connecting with an advisor, deciding where you’ll live and figuring out how you’ll pay for college.

OCTOBER 1

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available. This is the form that lets you know what financial aid options you are eligible for—you’ll also need to fill out a FAFSA in order to submit a scholarship application at PSU. This is a crucial step in getting the money you need to pay for college. When you fill out a FAFSA, remember to add PSU as one of your colleges.  

The PSU Scholarship Application. If you haven’t already started your Scholarship Application, now is the time. The scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references, so you won’t be able to wait until the last minute to complete it. Apply early so you can be sure you get the most money possible to help pay for college.

FEBRUARY 1

Your PSU Scholarship Application, essays and references. This is a hard deadline, so you must get all your documents in.

Your Honors College Application. This is a priority deadline for transfers. However, after February 1 students are far less likely to get honors scholarships.

The FAFSA. We have a rolling deadline for FAFSA, but like all parts of the application process, it’s best to do this early.

Last day to apply to PSU to be eligible for the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). Luckily, there is no separate application required—you will automatically be considered for WUE when you turn in your PSU Admissions Application.

Admitted Student Reception sign ups open!

The hard part’s done, but once you get an admission decision there are a few important dates you’ll need to know!

APRIL 1

New Student Orientation sign ups open. We recommend signing up for Orientation as early as possible. To gain access to sign ups, you’ll have to confirm your enrollment.

MAY 1

Confirm your enrollment to PSU. May 1 is National College Decision Day, so students all around the country are making the big decision about where they will attend college. Apply early so you have enough time to weigh your options and make the choice that’s right for you. As soon as you confirm your enrollment, you can sign up for New Student Orientation and start preparing for your first term as a PSU Viking!

Apply for on-campus housing. This is the final deadline.

JUNE 1

Last day to apply to PSU to be considered for Transfers Finish Free. There’s no separate application—you will be automatically considered when you submit your Admissions Application.

AUGUST 1

Final high school transcripts are due.

YOU’RE DONE!

Whew. We know, it’s a lot, but if you start early it’s a breeze. Applying to PSU is quick and easy because we do not require an essay or letters of recommendation!

Review PSU’s transfer admissions requirements.

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.

Pell Grant Review

Three students thinking about their future.

Figuring out how you will pay for college is stressful and exhausting. There are many funding opportunities, and it’s difficult to determine what you qualify for and how to apply. The Pell Grant, a federally-funded grant, is an excellent source of money for students with high financial need. In order to get the Pell Grant you must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We recommend completing the FAFSA ASAP so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Over 8,500 students attending PSU received the Pell Grant in 2016-17 academic year.

So, what is a grant? Unlike loans, grants are not expected to be paid back. That’s free money to help you achieve your education goals! And unlike other federal student aid, the Pell Grant can be used to cover more than just tuition and fees, like books, transportation, housing and other living expenses.

How to Apply

First, complete the FAFSA! Remember to add PSU as one of your colleges when you fill out the FAFSA (if you’ve already submitted it, you can go back in and add us).

The amount you can receive with the Pell Grant is based on financial need, cost of enrollment, and the length of time you will be in college. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2018-19 academic year is $6,095 (this amount changes each year). If you’re not ready to complete the FAFSA, you can still estimate your Pell Grant award with the FAFSA4caster.

Check out our blog post dedicated to demystifying the FAFSA.

Eligibility

The Pell Grant provides funding for students to get their education. Here are the eligibility factors:

  • Financial need: Financial need is calculated based on cost of attendance and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is not a number you have to come up with on your own—it’s calculated when you fill out the FAFSA. Once you complete the FAFSA, it will tell you (and PSU, if you add PSU as one of your schools) if you are eligible.
  • Enrollment: You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at a participating institution—PSU is one!
  • Student status: You must have earned a high school diploma, completed an approved home-school education through the high school level or earned a GED. You must also be an undergraduate student who has not yet earned a bachelor’s, associate or professional degree.
  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.

* Undocumented students cannot receive federal grants, but they can receive state grants by filling out the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA).

Other Ways PSU Is Making College Affordable

Pell Grant eligible students may be able to defer their application fee, meaning they can apply to PSU and pay the fee on their first tuition bill. Students who are Pell Grant eligible are often eligible for other funding programs through PSU, including:  

  • Four Years Free: PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for the first four years for income-eligible Oregon freshmen.
  • Transfers Finish Free: PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for income-eligible Oregon transfers.

Our goal is to have students graduate on time with as little debt as possible. So if you qualify for the Pell Grant, don’t forget to check out other scholarships we offer.

You can always contact us for more information about the Pell Grant and other sources of funding.

Winning with WUE

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is a decades-old program that aims to make colleges such as Portland State, more affordable for nonresidents. Qualifying students pay 150% of in-state tuition. Resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the course of your degree. And the best part—all students are automatically considered for WUE if they apply to PSU by February 1.

Portland State University is proud to be the only research university in Oregon that participates in the WUE program.

Cost of Annual Tuition and Fees at 15 Credits Per Term (2018-19)

In-State WUE Out-of-State
$9,223 $13,107*  $27,437

*Does not include room and board, books or personal expenses.

What Is It Like Being a WUE Student?

Right now, there are over 2,000 WUE students attending PSU, 1,728 who entered as freshmen and 323 who entered as transfers. Students from almost every WUE locale attend PSU, our largest groups coming from California and Washington. But those are just the numbers. We asked Fernando Gomez, new transfer from Arizona studying film, what his WUE experience has been like.

“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!”

Because Portland is a cultural hub, students have easy access to many events. Just hop on the amazing public transit from campus—the Portland Streetcar is free to students—and get anywhere in Portland in no time. “Living on campus puts me right in the center of the city, which makes it possible for me to pursue my passions on and off campus.”

Fernando is excited that WUE is helping him afford college in a city that allows him to work toward his dream career. “The weather is cool, the city is culturally diverse, and it’s cheaper than all the other big cities that would allow me to pursue my film studies.” PSU’s Film Program, the most comprehensive film program in the Northwest, is always pushing Fernando to get involved. “PSU has great equipment available for students. There are also lots of companies in Portland that offer internships to PSU students, so they can get hands-on experience.”

WUE is just the ticket to get the out-of-state college experience without paying those prices.

Eligibility

  1. Apply for fall term by the WUE deadline: February 1 is the deadline for both freshmen and transfer students.
  2. Be a legal resident of one of the following states or territories: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  3. Meet PSU’s academic requirements for WUE:
    • Freshmen Academic Requirements: 3.5 cumulative unweighted high school GPA or 1270 SAT or 27 ACT composite
    • Transfer Academic Requirements: 3.0 cumulative college GPA

Learn more about WUE

Making Art…Into a Career

Katie sits in the Park Blocks drawing in her sketchbook.

It’s pretty common to hear people say that getting a humanities degree is pointless. Well, Katie Pearce, a transfer student in her senior year studying Graphic Design, is here to tell you that’s wrong.

In her hometown of Pendleton, Oregon, Katie felt there weren’t many opportunities to pursue an art career. “In high school, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t figure out how to make art into a career choice.” Katie decided to attend Blue Mountain Community College while she was figuring out what she wanted to study. But when it came time for her to transfer her credits to a university and finish her bachelor’s degree, she realized that PSU’s Graphic Design program was the perfect next step.

“When I was in community college, it felt like an extension of high school, but when I got to PSU it felt more like a professional environment that still allowed me to make art.”

So what prompted Katie to commit to studying graphic design? “For me, graphic design is such an important thing. It’s in everything that we do, and if we didn’t have it, we’d notice.”

Katie’s journey to a career in graphic design has been in the works since she was little. “I grew up using technology and am an aesthetically-minded person. I’ve been using Photoshop since I was nine years old, and I never really put it together that this is a skill.”

For Katie, graphic design is that perfect balance between the technical and the artistic. PSU is challenging her to apply those skills in her graphic design coursework. “The portfolio review is something all graphic design students have to pass to advance in the program. You compile eight to ten of your best projects. It’s a good assessment of your skills and forces you to learn to analyze your own work.”

It’s not just the coursework that makes PSU an excellent fit for Katie. “I love that campus is in downtown Portland. There are so many interesting people, and it’s such a lively campus.” The Portland Streetcar runs right through the center of campus, and it’s one of Katie’s favorite parts, “I need to say how much I love the streetcar. I recommend riding it all the way around to see what’s in Portland!” The Portland Streetcar is free to PSU students―just one of many transportation resources that make it cheap and easy to get around the city.

So what is Katie doing to get closer to making a career out of art? “Recently I started a graphic design internship at CD Baby Publishing, a music publisher here in Portland. I’m already getting to use skills I learned in school.”

Katie emphasizes that transferring to PSU was a great decision because, not only is she truly enjoying her coursework, but she has already made connections in her industry. PSU’s location in the heart of Portland gives students access to local companies and opportunities to learn from professionals in their field.

And Katie’s not alone—PSU enrolls around 1,800 transfer students every year! If you’re considering transferring to PSU from a college in Oregon, or even out of state, there are lots of resources available to make completing your degree easy. You may qualify for Transfers Finish Free, a program that covers standard tuition for Oregon residents.

Check out how you can take the leap and transfer to PSU.

Photo of Katie at Be Honest, the PSU Graphic Design student portfolio showcase, standing behind her work.
Photo of Katie at Be Honest, the PSU Graphic Design student portfolio showcase. Check out Katie’s work!

8 Things to Do to Prepare for a College Fair

Who doesn’t love a fair? I sure do, but I know I’m biased. A college fair is a useful start for considering the next step for your future, but truth be told, a college fair can be overwhelming. There are ways, however, you can prepare for these informative events. These steps will help you get the low-down on colleges that pique your interest and help you make meaningful connections with admissions counselors.

Here are eight things you can do to get the most out of your time at a college fair:

1. Do Your Research

Think about what is most important to you in a college or university beforehand and talk with your family about what qualities would make the best fit. Want to live in the city? Are you interested in an all-star soccer team? Do you have concerns about tuition costs? It may be helpful to make a list and prepare questions you want answered to save time.

2. Get Organized 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, so you won’t want to lose the contact information of a school or admissions counselor you really liked. Also, you can save yourself the time and pain of handwriting your contact information on interest cards by preparing 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

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

4. Arrive Early

Come early, check out the scene, and then decide who you are going to talk to. This will give you ample time to assess the scene and get more one-on-one time with counselors, allowing you to meet more people and get more questions answered!

5. Introduce Yourself and Exchange Information

Never be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself—and using firm handshake is always a nice touch! One of the best parts of my job is meeting new people, so let us get to know you. We expect students to ask questions and will need help getting through this process, and it’s our job to help! If you find a college counselor you really like, ask for their business card and give them your information. This 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, remember that this is your college experience, so don’t hide behind your parents.

7. Follow-up

Send thank you cards or e-mails with follow up questions. I love hearing from students I meet at college fairs! Putting in that little bit of effort makes you stand out from the crowd. Admissions counselors meet a lot of students, so it makes us more willing to advocate for students we remember well.

8. Take Time to Reflect

Dedicate time after the event to organize your thoughts and contact information. There is a lot of information exchange at college fairs, making it easy to get lost in the shuffle. You can keep track of all this information by making a spreadsheet and ranking your schools by your interest level. This will help 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!