PSU Accreditation Scare, Not So Scary

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

The PSU Vanguard recently published an article about PSU’s accreditation status. As of January 2019, PSU has two years to improve how it defines and assesses student learning outcomes. Less than half of PSU’s programs have sufficient plans to assess student learning, and accreditation requires that number to increase above 50% by 2021. If PSU fails to comply with these standards, the university risks probation and after that loss of accreditation. Losing accreditation is a big deal, as it means the loss of federal funding. 

Upon first reading this article and talking about it amongst my peers, we were all under the impression that PSU was already on probation when it is not. In this mix of misunderstanding, I’d started researching what a diploma from an unaccredited university meant for job and graduate school opportunities. All of my upperclassmen friends were thanking their lucky stars that they’d be graduating within a year regardless. In reality, we had no idea what the accreditation process and continuing verification looked like for a university. One thing that the PSU Vanguard article didn’t mention was that accreditation status is evaluated and reaffirmed in a seven-year cycle. PSU was last evaluated in 2015, and the next evaluation is in 2022. Additionally, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities, which governs the accreditation of regional universities, does not have a defined time period for probation. So while PSU has two years to fix the current student learning assessment problem, it could actually amount to several more years.

All in all, I know this article caused a level of fear amongst my peers. I know that I had never even considered what it would mean for a university to lose accreditation and what that would mean for myself and the entire student body. However, looking at the accreditation process as a whole puts everything in perspective. PSU has a lot of time to fix the current issue, and remains accredited at least until 2022—and hopefully for many years to come. 

Homesick? Here’s what I do

By Wiwin Hartini

It’s almost been three years since the last time I saw my family at home in Indonesia. I often think that it’s not that long ago until I suddenly miss home badly. I miss speaking my native language, eating cheap local food, being with my family and friends and enjoying the tropical weather.

It feels funny and lonely sometimes when the people around you speak a totally different language, have hair and skin that are different from yours and find things humorous that  I need to think about sometimes. Is this real? All I want at that time is to be home watching my family’s favorite movie chosen by my younger brothers. It’s good to feel this way to some extent because it makes me appreciate the time I get to spend with people here in the U.S., which will not be forever.

Recognizing this feeling is also hard when you’re trying to look like you’re fine all the time. But I think it is important to be aware of it because it can happen to anyone at any time.

Here are a  few things that I found work for me when I feel like I just want to go back home.

Get busy with activities you enjoy

Getting involved in clubs, organizations or working on campus can shift our thoughts. Working on campus has been a good tool for me because I have to think about getting my work done and learn new job skills.

Try those food carts around PSU

I would say this is my favorite activity when I am thinking about food at home. At least, I get to try different types of food at the carts across Fourth Avenue from the Engineering building. My favorite is Pho, and yes, the first time I tried it was actually in the U.S.

Less social media

It gets frustrating sometimes when you look at your friends’ social media and they seem so happy without you, isn’t it? Well, I’m happy when they’re happy, but I feel like I’m missing something. This feeling can trigger homesickness too. So, use social media wisely; such as actually to communicate instead of looking at people’s posts only.

The U.S. is big, travel if you can!

It doesn’t have to be expensive; small trips with friends can be fun. The idea is to create activities we can look forward to. My friend from China and I are planning to visit San Francisco this spring break. The fun part so far is trying to figure out the places that are worth visiting.

Remember the reason we’re here

Why am I here? Answering this question helps me during difficult times.

There are more to share, but I hope whoever is experiencing homesickness doesn’t feel alone anymore.

The Unspoken Truth Of College

 

adbi2 By: Adair Bingham

Before I moved from home to live in in my own dormitory in September of 2017, my head was filled with false narratives and elaborate ideas about what college life is like. I was always led to believe that it was an endless hustle and bustle: wild parties left and right, new romantic partners at every turn and reckless decisions made just for the fun of it.

I’m in my second year of university, and I haven’t experienced any of these things. What I have undergone isn’t cruel or unusual. It’s simply the strange truths of college life which many students like to sweep under the rug.

After I graduated from high school, I was playing my faux “cool guy” persona, trying to fool myself into believing that I was prepared to live on my own.  If I had the power to turn back time and let myself know what college life is truly like, I think that I’d be both relieved and horribly confused.

One thing that definitely seems to be a disregarded problem is laundry. Everyone is well aware of the fact that college isn’t cheap, and if you’re living in the dorms, this fact hits even harder. College students want to save as much money as they possibly can, leaving some people to skimp out on weekly laundry hauls. Nobody ever told me to prepare for the fact that you may have to wear the same outfit for two or three weeks on end. Granted, nobody is going to say anything (hopefully), but you’ll definitely feel like you perpetually stink.

Another thing people conventionally forget in their college stories is what can only be described as the gladiator battle for seating in classes. One thing that I have discovered (and seems to be a universal experience amongst my peers) is that if someone happens to sit in your typical seat, your entire day is thrown off balance.

In the same vein, one key piece of advice that I would give to upcoming college students is to always scope out your classes prior to the first day. I cannot even begin to describe the primal sense of fear that surges through your body when you cannot find a class. It is one of the worst things to experience.

Another thing that many neglect to tell you is that literally nobody is going to pass judgement onto you for what you wear, what your interests are, or anything of that superficial nature. I came into college fearing disdain from my peers, but no one has batted an eye at me for any of my interests, tastes, or anything of the sort.

If I could go back in time to tell myself one thing, it would be to not be afraid of the people, the atmosphere, or living on my own. You’ll encounter bumps in the road and minor hiccups along the way, but you are prepared to be in college and you’ll be just fine, despite your doubts.

 

Getting Tatted at 21, Regretting it at 22

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

When I turned 21, I got three tattoos within two days. I got a huge flower along my collar bone, my name spelled in Vietnamese on my chest, and an arrow on my arm. This was a time where I was rebellious and wild. I got a lot of piercings done, too. I wanted to have a “bad-ass” reputation and be covered in tattoos to look cool and hardcore. I was living my life recklessly and didn’t think about the consequences that may come from my actions. But now I want to rip all my tattoos off.

I have become more serious about my studies and career goals. Unlike the person that I was when I was 21 (even though that was only a year ago), I’ve matured a lot and take my life seriously now. I’ve come to realize that having huge tattoos on my body could potentially get in the way of my career path, and that’s part of the reason why I want to take them off. The other reason is that I don’t find tattoos aesthetically pleasing anymore. I no longer like the look of having drawings and symbols on my body.

My nose piercing, which my parents hated and served as a symbol of my rebellion, was easily taken off. Only in my dreams would it be that easy to take my tattoos off. I guess it’s OK to be young and make mistakes, but I wish my mistake wasn’t so permanent. I do plan to have all four of my tattoos removed in the future, but from my research, it would cost a lot and be very painful.

Until I am financially stable enough to go under a laser, I will just have to suck it up and live with the consequences of my irresponsible actions. The person that I am now would never get any tattoos. She is goal driven and only cares about graduating and building a successful career. But when I’m old and wrinkly, I will (hopefully) be tattoo-free and will look back and laugh at how dumb I was when I was 21.

Portland area winter hikes. Part 1

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Josh McCarroll

One of the many things that make hiking in the forest such a beautiful experience is the knowledge that it is far older than us and the perception that it will be around long after we die. This perceived permanence always allows us the space to appreciate Oregon’s forests some other day. However, any of them could burn away by next summer.

I was born and raised in Oregon but since I started school I have used it as an excuse to be less adventurous. In light of the Eagle Creek and subsequent fires, I have made an effort to explore more and appreciate the beauty Oregon has to offer before it disappears.  

This post is the first in a series of three winter hikes. Many hikes become inaccessible or too dangerous in the winter time, so I will focus on hikes that are not only safely accessible and trekkable, but still beautiful during the cold months.  

Macleay Park

On a snowy Tuesday morning, I opted to go on a hike that requires no driving for Portlanders or park fees whatsoever, and I found Macleay Park.

From campus you can take the NS streetcar line to the NW 23rd and Marshall stop. From there you can make your way through a cute neighborhood by foot until you reach NW Upshur Street. The west end of this street dead ends at the park. After walking under the Balch Gulch Bridge, you will find the entrance to the trail, which has very clear instructions on possible routes depending on how deep into Forest Park you want to explore.

The great part about this hike is you can easily add it to the beginning or end of a busy day with not much preparation or planning. The trail is wide, easy to walk and is in excellent condition. I was able to hike the entire 2-mile loop comfortably in everyday tennis shoes. Same goes for the 6-mile loop: no hiking poles or fancy boots needed.

The small 2-mile loop brings you back to the top of the historic Balch Gulch bridge which is the route I enjoyed on my quick excursion before class. One of the things I found lovely about this hike was the structures. The beauty of this hike doesn’t necessarily rely on the lush greenery that comes about it in summer. The Lower Macleay trail runs along Balch Creek, and hikers encounter several wood bridges across the creek before they reach the Stone House.

The Stone House, known by some as the witch’s castle, is about fifteen minutes in. It is the point where the Lower Macleay trail intersects Forest Park’s Wildwood trail.

This trail is popular for Portlanders that want to get out of the city for a quick escape. However, this may make it a bit crowded on weekends. I would recommend visiting it on a weekday before the locals from the surrounding neighborhood get off work. I only encountered a handful of hikers during my visit on a Tuesday morning.

So Long Social Media?

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

I don’t keep up-to-date on Apple’s software, but I kept hearing about its new Screen Time feature. It lets you know how much time you spend on apps and social media and will set limits if you want it to. I personally did not turn it on or give it a try, but I increasingly found my friends talking about it and social media’s effect on a person’s outlook on life.

With books like The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas and similar studies and articles in circulation online, it’s no secret that social media is linked to feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with one’s own life. Even weirder, they say receiving “likes” triggers a dopamine high equivalent to hugging. Reading things like this make me want to delete everything but my contacts from my phone—but it’s always a fleeting feeling because I’ll end up distracting myself on Instagram.

Only one of my friends goes sans social media. She has accounts, but long ago deleted the apps from her phone and nearly never chooses to check social media elsewhere. For me, social media is a platform that allows me to stay connected with distant friends and family. I look at my friend though, and she has no trouble keeping in contact with the people that matter to her. Another friend of mine recently deleted all social media from her phone and is going on a two week purge. The goal is that after two weeks, she won’t have any desire to re-download those apps. I’m genuinely curious to see what changes she sees in herself, if any. 

Meanwhile, I actually turned on Screen Time to satisfy my curiosity on my own app usage. In the past seven hours, I’ve spent 40 minutes on my phone and 28 of those were on social networks. Not even 24 hours have passed, and I’m disgustingly well on my way to wasting hours of time on my phone. 

Midterm pressure? Use the 5-minute rule

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wiwin.png

By Wiwin Hartini

I just realized it’s week five already and midterms are coming up and lab reports are due the same week. It seems as if a 24-hour day is not enough.

I used to panic more as midterms got closer even though I tried not to. I felt as if everything was coming at me all at once, and I didn’t know what exactly I was worrying about.

It was last quarter when I learned to change my perspective from the professor who taught my Microprocessor class. It was the most difficult class I had ever taken. I worried all the time, wondering if I could understand the class or not and if I would have to retake it.

Apparently, I was not the only student who felt that way. One day, the professor told a story about his grandchild who would panic every time she was assigned homework. To solve this problem, he told her that she could panic or freak out, but only for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, she had to face her homework and start doing the problems she recognized.

He introduced this rule to the students who were taking his class. It even came up as a question on our finals. There was a day in the lab when I heard my classmates remind each other about this rule because a project was taking a long long time. We had to remember to focus on doing what we recognized.  

The rule now applies to almost everything I do. I can really see the difference between what I was like a year ago in dealing with exams, and what I do now when faced with challenges.

Also, If I want to do something fun before a midterm, I know that PSU offers an event called “Midterm stress relief,” where students can try Thai massage, eat food, and play with Corgis for free. It’s Feb. 6 and next term it is May 1.

[link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PortlandStateU/events/?ref=page_internal%5D