Plan a Visit to the PSU Writing Center

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.

The best way to meet with a consultant is to schedule an appointment online. Appointments can be either a half-hour or an hour long.

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.

Don’t hesitate to visit the Writing Center!

Learn more and schedule an appointment.

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.

Support to Help Stand Out

At first, Devyn Yan Radke, a sophomore English major from Portland, Oregon and graduate of Parkrose High School, was unsure about whether or not she wanted to attend college.

“I was worried that I would get lost in the crowd and that I wouldn’t be able to meet people and make friends.”

Looking back now, those anxieties seem so far away. Devyn is a Student Ambassador for the University, helping promote PSU to prospective students and acting as a resource for new students. Next year Devyn is also going to be a Peer Mentor for the Freshman Inquiry courses within the University Studies program, helping ease the transition to college for a new generation of first-generation students.

So what changed?

“I realized how much of a community PSU really is. Everybody is there to help with anything you need. It was all so open.”

Part of what helped Devyn acclimate to life on campus was the plentiful resources available to students. “What really helped were things like the Writing Center and Learning Center. I use both and they really help me do well in class.”

Devyn gets a lot of support from her department as well. “Everyone in the English department was so easy to talk to and all my professors have been really open and encouraging.” Her favorite professor?

“Sarah Ensor for sure.” A past recipient of the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Teaching Award, Ensor teaches literature in the English department. “Not only is she a great teacher but I feel like I can always ask for for help in and out of class.”

Devyn is also a scholarship recipient in the EMPOWER program, a community for first-generation, Asian and Pacific Islander students coming to college for the first time. “The support groups here on campus really highlight how excited people are about getting kids through college and into careers where they can make meaningful impacts in their community.” Devyn will be providing that same kind of support as she is going to be a Mentor in the program, an opportunity she found out about through the Department of Multicultural Student Services.

Where Devyn is now, it’s hard to believe that she was ever apprehensive about going to college. “I have always considered myself an introvert, so programs like Student Ambassadors and being a Peer Mentor has brought out my leadership and communication skills.”

Her advice to students who are experiencing anxiety about going to college?

“Come in with an open mind and really try to get involved. Everyone is super friendly and wants you to join the community here.”

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