Writing is something all college students will have to do for most of their classes. That’s why PSU has a Writing Center, which is designed to help students at any writing level, and at any stage in the writing process.
How do you know if you should go to the Writing Center? Well, everyone should go! Whether you’re struggling with grammar, don’t know how to write a particular assignment for a class or want feedback on a scholarship essay, the Writing Center can help.
One unique thing about PSU’s Writing Center is that all consultants have earned or are working toward their Master’s in Writing or English, and many also teach writing classes. There’s even an ESL specialist and dedicated graduate student drop-in hours.
Here’s what you should do to get the most out of your visit.
Step 1: Decide what you want to get out of your session.
When you go into your session, your consultant will ask you what you want to get out of it and will tailor their feedback accordingly. Make sure you have a few specific questions or issues in mind.
Have a tricky essay assignment and don’t know where to start? They can help you brainstorm and write an outline. Finished your paper but think you didn’t use commas correctly? Let your consultant know, and they can point out recurring issues and show you how to fix them.
Step 2: Schedule an appointment or visit drop-in hours.
If scheduling an appointment won’t work for you, stop in during drop-in hours. Remember to show up early to sign in because drop-in hours fill up fast. The Writing Center (located in 188 Cramer Hall) holds drop-in hours Monday through Friday from 12 to 2 pm.
You can also stop by the Writing Center Outpost on the second floor of the PSU Library. Outpost hours are from 9 am to 12 pm.
Step 3: Come prepared.
Print out two copies of your paper, so both you and your consultant can easily read it. Make sure to also bring in your assignment sheet. Time is limited, so if your paper is long, have a couple of sections you want to focus on, in addition to some specific questions.
Step 4: Become a better writer!
Remember that Writing Center consultants will not “fix” your paper for you. They won’t copy edit your writing, but will point out things you can improve and give you the tools and advice to do it yourself. This means you shouldn’t bring in an assignment an hour before it’s due—you won’t have enough time to work on it before turning it in.
Once you leave your session, revise your work! Consultants even suggest you bring in the same assignment multiple times throughout the writing process. That way, you can really see your growth.
No matter your skill level, it can be helpful to get feedback on your writing, especially if it is from someone experienced.
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.’
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!’
Portland State’s urban campus is a big departure from home for many students. Growing up in a small town of about 5,000 in Georgia, Dustin Rozier never imagined he’d end up in Portland, let alone go to college.
“Where I grew up, I didn’t know anyone who went to college. No one in my family went to college, and very few graduated from high school. The idea of college didn’t seem like a feasible option,” says Dustin. And now, he’s making the most out of being a student at PSU, following his interests across many programs. He couldn’t settle on just one! Dustin is a senior finishing his bachelor’s in English and Creative Writing in fiction, with minors in French and Philosophy and a Comics Studies certificate.
Dustin’s path to PSU was not simple. Right out of high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. “At that time, we were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought I had this duty to serve, but it was also a way for me to get out of my small town. I left when I was 18, then spent six and a half years in the Marines.” Joining the Marines and seeing many parts of the world exposed Dustin to people from diverse backgrounds. His mind was opened to new ideas. It got him thinking about going to college.
“I had never lived in a city outside of the military. While I was on leave, I visited Portland and really liked the Pacific Northwest. I identify more with the social and political environment here. I’m vegan, for example.” Dustin initially planned on working security jobs. He knew he would get money for college from GI Bill Benefits, so he decided to take the plunge and apply to PSU.
Dustin got involved with the community of veterans at PSU by working in the Veterans Resource Center. The VRC provides a comfortable and supportive environment for veterans, including a student lounge, computer space, leadership opportunities, student employment and programs.
Like many students, Dustin wasn’t sure what major he wanted. He tried the Anthropology program and enjoyed it. But when he took College Writing (an introductory writing class), he found the right fit for him. He was always a big reader and did some writing. His professor helped him connect with the English department and suggested he meet with his advisor. PSU has Advising Pathways that groups similar majors together, so students can stay with their advisor, even if they switch majors. “I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without the support from my advisor, Roxanne James, and the amazing faculty in the English department.” Says Dustin, “They helped me figure out what topics I was interested in and pushed me to pursue them.”
Dustin’s passions moved from wanting to help veterans through social work to helping them deal with trauma through his writing and scholarly work. “I’m interested in trauma theory and ecocriticism,” says Dustin, “like looking at how comics can display personal and environmental trauma, and how that helps people cope.” He decided to study Creative Writing and Comics Studies, in addition to English, so he could both learn about comics and write them.
He even joined the University Honors College, so he could connect with other dedicated students. Honors students work one-on-one with faculty on research projects, internships and a senior thesis.
His dreams just kept getting bigger. “When I first started, I had no idea I would even get a degree. Then it slowly formed into the idea of getting a PhD in English Literature. I decided I wanted to teach in a university.”
When Dustin found out about the Peer Mentor program, he thought it was the perfect opportunity to gain teaching experience and get more involved with PSU students. Peer Mentors are part of PSU’s unique University Studies program. University Studies is a nationally recognized approach to education that gives students an integrated learning experience, critical job skills and lifelong connections. Students choose a theme-based class and work on a project that addresses a real problem in the Portland community. Peer Mentors work with professors to design lesson plans and lead small group sessions with students outside of the main class. These group sessions help students get more individualized feedback and build community.
“I worked with one professor on a class with the theme ‘Portland,’ then another with the theme ‘The Work of Art.’” Says Dustin, “Being a Peer Mentor helped me learn how I could transfer a lot of my skills I developed in the military, like leading people, public speaking and problem solving, to the educational environment at PSU.”
When Dustin decided to apply for grad school, he knew Portland State was the only place he wanted to go. He felt supported by the faculty and staff at PSU, but he also knew he would be still be challenged in the English program. And he was accepted! Next fall, Dustin will be starting his master’s degree in English and teaching at PSU as a Graduate Assistant.
“I’m not in the same demographic as most undergrads,” says Dustin, “being a veteran and a first-generation college student. Going to PSU and living in Portland has helped me look back on my past in a different way. It helped me realize how I can use my background and interests to teach others.”
Dustin is excited he gets to stay at PSU and explore the Pacific Northwest more. When he’s not busy with classwork, Dustin is a part of the motorcycle culture in Oregon. He builds motorcycles and rides them around the state, taking in Oregon’s natural beauty.
Composer Stephen Paulus wrote, “There is no such beauty as where you belong.” Finding where you belong is a hard, arduous process, but once it happens there is no greater feeling. For many, that place is Portland State.
Rina Alazas, a senior Community Development major from Hillsboro, Oregon, didn’t start college at PSU. “Initially, I committed to Oregon State, but after my first year, I found that something was missing.” Sometimes that missing thing can be intangible, felt more than seen.
“I didn’t feel connected to any of my professors or fellow students.”
After looking for a university that allowed her to interact more with her peers and professors, Rina transferred to PSU, a process which proved candid and intimate because of the rich community on campus. “I talked with admissions counselors and they simplified the transfer process so much for me.”
There was enough to worry about with school and work, so Rina was happy that the Admissions Counselors at PSU took time to help her understand the transfer process. “The counselors and representatives broke it down so well.”
The day that Rina chose to transfer to PSU, she decided that she would get in touch with anyone she could to help make the process easier. “I got in touch with anyone PSU-related. Student employees, random mutual friends, current students—they all gave me specific, helpful advice, everything from where the microwaves were, to the best study spots, to resource centers.”
And when she finally got here, what was different? In short, everything. “There’s just something about Portland that you can’t get anywhere else.”
The bustling, urban center is complemented by the presence of nature everywhere you look. The rich cultural diversity present all over Portland extends into PSU, making Portland State the most diverse university in Oregon. Looking for a job, internship, or community service opportunity? Portland has them all, and some are just a quick trip on the (free to PSU students) Streetcar away.
Rina’s advice to students interested in transferring? Don’t be scared to get in touch.
“Schedule a session with an academic advisor and learn how your credits transfer. The academic counselors at Portland State are very approachable and energetic people. They definitely have your back.”
Happy Mother’s Day! We know that parenthood can be both rewarding and challenging experience, especially when juggling multiple responsibilities and roles. At PSU, we strive to support our students with children through various programs and resources so that they can be effective parents and achieve academic success. In dedication to all of the hardworking parents who are also students, we asked Lisa Wittorff, Director of Services for Students with Children, to share the support services offered here on campus.
PSU Admissions (PA): Tell us a little bit about how the program was started.
Lisa Wittorff (LW): Student parent services initially started in 1989 through various grants given to the school. A major improvement occurred between 2010 and 2011 when the president of PSU conducted a study to see how families on campus were doing. The results showed that more services were needed, so services were expanded to build up the program allowing the university to serve the needs of more students and their families. Today, we have more resources for students than children than most campuses in the Pacific Northwest and serve a wide variety of family needs.
PA: What are some of the resources offered here on campus for students with children?
LW: We offer a wide variety of programs and resources, let’s start with here in our office. Our office is place that students can come for help if they have questions about financial aid, admissions, or outside social resources. We offer a physical space here that serves as a study lounge and play area with computers so that students can study while keeping an eye on their children. Additionally, we have a children’s clothing closet and a library of parenting books that work on a donation basis.
PA: What childcare programs do you offer?
LW: Our main program called Little Vikings. It’s a flexible childcare service that can be reserved online although we also take walk-ins when there is room. It can be used 5 hours per day for 20 hours per week. Its main purpose is to cover gaps in childcare. For example, a student could have class when other child care programs or school are not in session. There are special camps on days that PSU is in session but Portland Public Schools are not. We also offer the Jim Sells Childcare subsidy program that can pay for up to 50% of childcare costs based on financial need. We have many other resources as well, including a list of recommended child care facilities around PSU, other financing child care programs on and off campus, and a database of babysitters.
PA: Are there events for students with children?
LW: We want children and their student parents to feel that they are an important part of the PSU community so we offer multiple events throughout the year. Our main events are Winter Wonder, an annual giving event before Winter Break and a Family Friendly Commencement featuring a bounce house and a cap and gown for the little ones to match their parents. Other activities include parent social hours, happy hours, game nights, and a Dad’s breakfast.
Lisa Wittorff, LCSW is the Director of Services for Students with Children. Lisa has her Master of Social Work from California State University Sacramento. Her favorite childhood memory is of using a piece of rope and her dad’s old Army blanket to make a “tent” between 2 trees in the backyard and “camping” in it with her sister. Her mother brought out some warm gingerbread for them to share. It was a perfect summer day. Lisa loves helping students with children find the resources they need to stay in school and complete their degrees. She also loves to see the students’ children grow and change. She has a fantastic staff who make her work possible
Want to know more? Visit them online, stop by Smith Memorial Student Union, Suite 462 or call (503)725-9878.