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!

Portland: A Comics Hub

Comics in Portland

Portland is a city full of creative people. It should be no surprise, then, that it’s a hub for comics lovers. Portland is home to some of the best indie comics publishers, numerous comic book shops and endless events. And Portland State helps foster this vibrant community, offering one of the only programs in the nation where students can learn about and make comics.

We’ve compiled a list of all the things PSU and Portland have to offer for folks interested in the comics scene.


At PSU
Comics Studies Program

PSU students can earn a Comics Studies Certificate. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach, getting students hands-on practice to create comics, learn theory and make connections with the publishing industry. This is a 24-credit undergraduate certificate that can be fulfilled in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree. Students studying related topics, like English or Graphic Design, would be a great match for this program. The Comics Studies program helps students get internships with local companies, like Dark Horse and Oni Press.

The Comics Studies program has professors who are accomplished professionals in the comics industry. You can learn writing from Brian Michael Bendis, who has won five Eisner Awards and is the primary architect of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. He is the co-creator of Miles Morales, the character who was recently adapted into the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie. You can also take a class from Shannon Wheeler, acclaimed cartoonist for The New York Times and creator of the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man.

Portland State is inspired by the creativity and innovation coming out of the comic-book scene in Portland. PSU’s mission is to connect students to the local comics community. Comics Studies students are taking what they learned at PSU and getting jobs doing what they love in Portland and beyond, as comics artists, writers and scholars.

PSU Comics Club

PSU has an active community of comics makers and enthusiasts. Many of these students are members of the PSU Comics Club, a student organization dedicated to connecting people interested in comics through reading discussion groups and other events.

Library Collection

PSU’s Millar Library has an extensive Dark Horse Comics Collection—so extensive that they have a copy of EVERY Dark Horse comic book, graphic novel, poster, figure, etc. the press has ever produced. PSU takes care to collect, document and make the collection available because of Dark Horse’s value in Oregon history. But it’s also important because Mike Richardson, founder and creative mastermind behind Dark Horse, graduated with a degree in art from PSU in 1977.

The Dark Horse Comics Collection includes a research collection and browsing collection. The browsing collection is on the third, fourth and fifth floors facing the curved windows. These books are easy to find and pursue, and you can read them in the library or check them out. If you want to look at the research collection for scholarly reasons, you’ll have to make an appointment in Special Collections.


In Portland
Comics Publishers

The comics produced in Portland run the gamut from zines printed in garages by small artists to the most popular comic series and graphic novels in the nation by local publishers.

  • Dark Horse Comics: We’d be surprised if a comic book reader hadn’t heard of Dark Horse. They’re the publisher behind many critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful comics, like Sin City, Hellboy, Aliens and Star Wars, just to name a few. We love that PSU alumnus, Mike Richardson, is the founder of Dark Horse! Their headquarters are just South of Portland in Milwaukie.
  • Oni Press: Located just across the Hawthorne Bridge from PSU, Oni Press publishes a different kind of comic—they avoid publishing anything superhero. Instead, you’ll find comics like Rick and Morty, Invader Zim and Scott Pilgrim.
  • Image Comics: One of the biggest comics publishers with numerous imprints, Image Comics recently moved their headquarters to Northwest Portland. Since their imprints feature so many genres, it’s hard to sum up their titles, but The Walking Dead, Saga and Unnatural are some of their most popular.
  • Microcosm Publishing: Granted, Microcosm publishes more than comics, but they do have an impressive number of totally unique zines and graphic novels. They’re known for their punk approach to publishing, featuring titles about art, radical politics and odd humor. They also boast way more women authors than the industry standard. Their headquarters are in Northeast Portland.
Comic Book Stores

We’d need a pretty long list to feature ALL the comic book stores in Portland, so we’ve compiled just a few of our favorites.

  • Books with Pictures: Their mission is to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race or disability status. They stock everything from indie to LGBTQ to all-age comics. You can find them near the famous Ladd’s Addition neighborhood on Division Street.
  • Bridge City Comics: In North Portland, you’ll find Bridge City Comics, which offers both new and used comics and a large Portland-based creators section.
  • Cosmic Monkey Comics: Everyone from new comics fans to avid collectors can find something in Cosmic Monkey Comics’ huge selection of comics and collectibles. They’re located in Northeast Portland.
  • Floating World Comics: Located in Chinatown, Floating World Comics carries more than comics, offering records, original artwork and kids titles. Their online shop is also impressive and gives you an idea about what you’ll find in store.
Events

Author signings and comic book releases happen frequently, so follow comic book shops and publishers online to see what’s coming up.

  • Wizard World: This comic con is coming up—February 22-24. Wizard World boasts impressive celebrity guests and outstanding vendors.
  • Rose City Comic Con: In September, you can go to this annual comic book and pop culture convention. Tens of thousands of people attend each year, many of whom dress up in comic-inspired cosplay.
  • Kumoricon: If anime and Japanese pop culture is more your speed, check out this convention in November. Attendees dress up as their favorite anime characters, play games, watch panels and more.
  • Meetups: Portland hosts an impressive number of comics-related meetups, boasting hundreds of members.

So, go read a comic, preferably one made by a Portland publisher, found in the PSU Library or purchased from an independent shop. Make connections and be a part of the thriving comics scene.

Learn how you can apply to PSU and enter the Comics Studies program.

Dark Horse Comics Collections
Memorabilia and comics in the PSU Library Dark Horse Collections.

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.

Four Years Free

Earning a college degree is one of the best ways to access a fulfilling career path, and graduating with as little debt as possible gives you even more freedom to pursue your passions.

Let us introduce you to Four Years Free, a new program with a bold commitment: If you are an eligible Oregon resident, PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for all four years of your bachelor’s degree, plain and simple.

At PSU, we are committed to your success and we want you to join the ranks of PSU graduates who are making a difference, whether that means you’re designing at Nike, innovating at Intel, or winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Current Oregon residents are eligible for Four Years Free if they are:

  • Current residents of Oregon and graduate from an Oregon high school
  • Admissible to PSU as a first-year freshman for fall term
  • Have a 3.4+ cumulative unweighted high school GPA
  • Eligible to receive a federal Pell grant as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Enrolled, full-time at PSU (12 to 15 credits per term)

National data shows that students who start at a four-year college are more likely to graduate in four years. This is why we’ve made the commitment to help Oregon students earn a bachelor’s degree and set them on the right track for their careers.

There is no age limit, as long as you can be admitted as a first time freshman, you could be eligible for Four Years Free.

Your next steps:

  • Apply to PSU  (no later than May 1)
  • Submit your FAFSA by February 1 (don’t forget to add PSU: school code 003216)
  • Submit your final high school transcripts to PSU by August 1

Four Years Free means not having to worry about paying for tuition. Instead, you can focus on getting an internship, joining a club, attending events and getting to know downtown Portland.

Learn more about FYF

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.