Why I Save My Course Materials

Finals week is fast approaching, and spring break will be here before we know it! Many students are already thinking about reselling their textbooks and can’t wait to toss their notes. However, I’d argue that there are benefits to keeping class materials.

Old assignments can be useful in future classes

Keeping graded essays from previous courses has been helpful to me in the past, because they can help me ascertain what instructors look for in good papers. Of course, all professors are different, with their own pet peeves and preferences. However, if one instructor makes a constructive remark, chances are that advice can be applied to future assignments with future instructors. For example, in an English composition course I took in community college, the instructor gave us a handout with a list of mistakes English instructors are tired of seeing, ranging from grammatical errors to flaws in logic. This has been an incredibly helpful list to have around as I’ve continued my academic journey. Past research papers have also become a resource — if I didn’t use a source in a previous paper, I can use it in a future paper on the same topic, or use that source as a starting point for future research. 

Keeping old materials can help you get your money’s worth 

Let’s face it: college is expensive, and human brains are flawed when it comes to retaining information long-term. The notes you scrawl in Statistics and the study guide you fashion for French have value in both time and money. Saving materials from a past class is a way of preserving what you’ve learned, especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve taken the class. 

Let’s say you took time off between Class 101 and Class 102. If you kept your course materials, you’d have easy access to what you learned in 101 to refresh your memory before taking 102. Also, you wouldn’t have to pay to take the course again or spend hours combing through Google trying to cobble together a free crash course. Even when you don’t take a hiatus from your education, you forget a lot over school breaks, and having materials around to review before going back can be helpful! Not to mention, the resale value for books is far less than the original price, so if your text has valuable information or you’ll want to read it again, it might be worth it to just keep it. 

Looking over old work can be enjoyable 

It’s validating to look back at my writing from years ago and see how I’ve improved. Depending on the course, re-reading old handouts and texts can also be fun! For example, I’ve kept books from my literature classes I particularly enjoy. A textbook from my Interpersonal Communications class at my last college sits on my shelf, because it holds information on skills and situations that will help me throughout my life — not just within the quarter I took that class. 

How do you select what class materials to keep?

Quality over quantity: it’s important to pare down your notes, books, and assignments to what’s relevant. Here are some tips when deciding what to keep:

  • Is the information novel, or basic? Is this information you could find from a cursory Google search?
  • Is this course relevant to your major? Did you learn things that would apply to future classes?
  • Is this a difficult topic for you, and would it help you to review the concepts before taking the next course in the sequence?
  • Do you enjoy the subject? Were the readings interesting, and if you enjoyed the texts, would it make financial sense to keep them instead of selling them?
  • If it’s an assignment, is the instructor’s feedback constructive? Did you learn something valuable?
  • Do you have the physical or digital space to store old materials?

At the end of every term, I ask myself these questions while I comb through my class materials to help me narrow down what to save. This method has helped me determine what’s useful to toss or sell, and what’s useful to keep around. 

I have a small archive of class materials from previous courses that I keep in binders, and I thumb through everything periodically. Some people might raise an eyebrow at this collection, but this works for me, and a similar system might help you during your time in college.

Spring Cleaning

By: Adair Bingham

Fall and winter have long been my favorite times of the year. For all of my life, I have adored the frosty morning chills, the muted reds and maroons of the leaves, and even the never-ending rainfall. It’s a naturally quiet, almost serene time of the year, and I’m sad to see it come and go so fast.

Although fall and winter are my personal favorite seasons, I will admit that I am cautiously hopeful and optimistic about what’s to come as spring and summer draw near. Fall and winter proved to be quite challenging this time around, and they’ve both left me wanting to change my attitude about some things and start fresh, in a sense.

With spring just around the corner, I want to see it as an overdue way to start fresh, just three months late from the new year. I wasn’t able to get off on the right foot at the start of 2020, despite waxing poetic about how important it is to take on new challenges with a bright and cheery smile, especially at the start of a new decade. Maybe a new season is just the change I need, and I’m going into spring with just that kind of perspective. 

As much as I enjoy dark and frosty weather, I do think that I’m in dire need of some sunshine. Its been proven that weather can have a profound impact on not only your mood, but also your emotional state, so it’s a good idea to understand how the weather may impact you by being in tune with not only your body but also your mind. With the way things have been going for me recently,  I think a little ray of sunshine is all that I need, and maybe something that we could all use, too. 

I’m assuming that I’m not only one, so with beaming and dazzling weather on its way, I’d also say it’s for the best if we all take some initiative to welcome spring with open arms. So start your spring cleaning a little early, start picking your favorite flowers for your garden, and get ready to welcome in a breath of fresh air!

Springtime in PDX

By Maya Young

It’s that time of the term again. Finals are right around the corner, assignment deadlines are looming, and the time slot to complete all of these tasks is decreasing with each passing day. Now here we are, nine weeks into winter term with only two more to go. For some of us, myself included, these upcoming weeks bring in an odd combination of stress and excitement as we look forward to the completion of a term but worry about the process getting there. To take some much-needed rest and decompress before spring term, here are some fun examples of what I like to do in Portland as it gets warmer.

1. Try new food

Portland is well-known for its food carts, and with so many to choose from, it is very easy to get out there and try new things. For me, I love some of the local food carts on-campus including Poompui Thai, Portland Gyro, and La Casita. 

2. Go to the Portland Markets

Portland has a large community dedicated to homemade goods, crafted products, and locally sourced ingredients. Two of my favorite markets are the Portland Farmers Market at PSU and the Portland Saturday Market down at the waterfront. For foodies who want to try new cuisines and get freshly grown ingredients, the farmers market is the place for you! The market at the waterfront is an excellent spot to listen to music, try new foods, and explore works from many local artists.

3. Take a hike

Portland has so many scenic hikes that are worth going on, and some are very close to campus! Take a trip to Council Crest, Washington Park, and even hike up to the Pittock Mansion. It’s great to take advantage of the nice Portland weather to explore what the city and surrounding areas have to offer.

Having a Pet in College

By Maya Young

In my initial years at PSU, I lived in the Ondine Residence Hall. With newfound independence of living “alone” (or rather with a roommate and not with my parents), I wanted to get a pet to keep me company. One of the major difficulties as an out-of-state student, however, is having to travel more to go home and visit family. Because of this, my parents advised me against getting a pet as I frequently took the bus to go home over long weekends. As this is my last year, I decided over the summer to finally get a pet; a little 10-week-old kitten named Bella. I have not regretted this decision and love her so much, but there are many considerations that should be taken before getting an animal.

For those who are interested, consider both your current and future housing status. The PSU dorms do not allow animals unless they are emotional support or service animals. Additionally, many other off-campus housing options do not permit pets either. This is a major consideration, as getting an animal may dictate your ability to rent in both the present and the future. 

Another factor in making this decision is the financial implications. Having a pet is very rewarding but can be very expensive. In my case, I adopted a kitten and had to pay for numerous shots and treatments that are necessary for them. In addition, it was quite pricey to pay for the essential items including a litter box, litter, food, toys, and more. 

Finally, do you have time for the pet? In my early years at PSU, I certainly did not. Pets, especially in their early years, require a lot of playtime and attention. This is definitely a major consideration as you do not want your pet to feel neglected.

While there is a lot to consider, having an emotional support animal has been very beneficial to me in my last year at school. Do what is best for you and your future animal.

Tips for Trouble-Free Transit Travel

Untitled design-3 By Claire Golden

One of the main reasons I chose PSU is because I could live at home and commute to college. I didn’t want to live away from my family for that long, and the dorms were too expensive, so commuting was the perfect solution. After three and a half years of taking the bus, I’m far from a master of public transportation, but I’m much more comfortable with it than I was when I started. And I have some tips to share with anybody in the same shoes.

The best tool you can have as a commuter is a good bag. My backpack has held up through my entire college career, and I suspect it will keep going for many more years. As cool as messenger bags look, they’re terrible on your back. For me, nothing can take the place of a reliable backpack. Mine has side pockets to store my water bottle.

44 glamour shot

TriMet is a great way of getting around Portland. They recently started a low-income fare program. If you’re a broke college student like me, you just might be eligible. You get to ride the bus, Max, and streetcar for half the price, which has been a lifesaver for me. (Don’t forget you can ride the streetcar for free with your PSU student ID!) The TriMet transit tracking app is useful for knowing when your bus will show up, which means you can time your commute so you don’t have to wait outside for so long.

If you’re going to be walking around after dark, it’s important to have a light – you can clip it to your backpack for easy access. You also may want to consider self-defense, whether that’s taking a class or getting some pepper spray. For safety reasons, I always make sure somebody knows where I am and when I plan to be home. I encourage you to make a safety plan, too. 

Another thing I like having in my backpack is my Kindle, which I use to read ebooks while I commute. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done that way. Or you can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or your favorite music. It makes the commute go by much faster. Now I look forward to my bus rides…they’re a fun part of my day.

Changing the Way you Study

By: Ragan Love

In my recital class, I get to hear many speakers talk about different aspects of music that will help in our practice routine and professional careers. One topic that has really stuck with me was about ‘mindful practicing’. This is when you think and plan out what your goals are, instead of going to a practice room and setting a timer for two hours. 

What the professor said next surprised me: if you don’t feel like practicing at all, go into a practice room and set a timer for five or ten minutes. In that time, play something very simple. If the timer goes off and you are still unmotivated, you should put away the instrument and try again later. If you push yourself farther than your body wants, it will stop being productive and will actually hurt your progress for the next few days.

There were two big takeaways that I saw in this lesson. I have not only applied them to my music school work but also my academic work. Mindful practicing taught me how to be productive on my non-productive days. 

Another key aspect that I took away from this lesson is how to rethink your practice routine. Before this, every music teacher told me that I need to practice for 60 minutes a day but didn’t tell me how to efficiently practice my material. When you put a timer on, you think about what you can do to fill that time instead of what you need to work on. This is why you should go into your practice routine with few set goals, like working on a certain section or one specific piece. Sometimes with your specific goals you won’t hit that standard two hours a day but it’s ok because you benefited more by focusing on goals rather than time.

I think that it is important to acknowledge that there comes a time when we all run out of motivation and energy to push through some assignments, and if you try to push through an assignment, you burn out. So when you have a day where you can’t focus, try to study for ten minutes then when the timer goes off and you aren’t motivated, its best to step away in order to be more productive later on. 

Translating mindful practicing to mindful studying is a bit more abstract. Before applying mindful studying, I would get a writing assignment and plan on getting in completely done at one time. But when you spend hours on a paper, your brain can get fried. You should plan on getting certain sections done over a couple of days. Yes, this does mean that you need to stay on top of your work, but it allows you to replenish your thoughts and look over with a productive brain. 

Mindful practicing has not only aided my musician skills and practice time, but has also helped me when it comes to my academic life.

Study anytime, 24/7 on Campus

By Wiwin Hartini

When school starts, everyone gets busy working on assignments. It’s week 5 already and we’re getting closer to midterms. I’m nervous just to think about that because I know assignments are due soon and exams are coming up. Stress level is increasing while time is still constant. This is when I try to break down every task into a smaller task and focus on finishing it rather than to sit down for hours trying to finish one assignment all at once. 

A study place becomes critical because there is always that “one place” where I can be more productive without a lot of distractions. It’s tricky to find a comfortable place to study because I do need that “studying atmosphere”. And each individual definitely has different preferences.

What’s nice about PSU is that I can study pretty much in almost all buildings 24/7 with the card access on our IDs. I found this very helpful because I like to stay late and I enjoy doing homework when people are sleeping. For example, I can actually go to the Power Lab in the engineering building and use it anytime, 24/7. I’ve seen other students utilize the facility around 3-4 AM which impresses me because as a student, I like to be surrounded by other motivated students.

I think it’s a luxury and asset for students to have access to campus facilities 24/7. The library opens until 12 AM on weekdays too. I’ve used the study rooms in the library and KMC to prep for presentations. I’d say that it’s fun to explore other buildings to find study spots because it’s easy to just spend the whole quarter in one or two buildings where our classes are thus missing out on other things provided by PSU.