An Ode to the Deviants

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

I posted a picture of my graduation from community college on Instagram almost exactly two years ago to the day. The caption for my photo read, “official graduate of @inverhills with my associate of arts in gender and women’s studies. @portlandstate I’m coming for you next!” It wasn’t particularly unusual that I transferred to PSU from a community college, but what makes my situation a bit different than most is the fact that I earned my associate’s degree before I’d even earned my high school diploma. This means that when I graduate from PSU next month, I’ll only be 20 years old.

My educational path has not been traditional and I’m rather proud of that. Most of my immediate family has also taken a nontraditional path to higher education. My mom went back to school to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees when she was a single parent in her 30’s. My brother switched his major twice and was a super, super, super senior by the time he graduated. They inspired me to pursue higher education and assured me that it was OK to take a path less traveled.

In part thanks to them, I’ll be the youngest person in my family to graduate from college with my bachelor’s degree. So to my mom, to my brother, to myself, and to anyone else who deviates from the four years that it’s “supposed” to take to graduate: this is an ode to you. There are plenty of ways to go about getting your degree, and as long as you do it in the way that makes the most sense for you, it shouldn’t matter if it takes you much less or much more time than the usual allotment of four years.

Here’s looking at you PSU

By: Sharon Jackson

A year ago today I made my way to the streetcar on a very Portland rainy morning. It was packed and muggy – full of people’s breath and their steaming hot coffees. There was a tightening knot in the bottom of my stomach, that my breakfast lay precariously on. We pulled to the Market Street stop, and I stepped down cautiously in my worn brown oxford shoes and brand new dark jeans. I gently placed my hand on my head to check if my recently curled hair was still in place. I was ready, and excessively nervous, as I proceeded up the Park Blocks for the very first time. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship – at Portland State University.

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Tomorrow, I will be venturing out on the same route. Streetcar to Park Blocks and to begin with old-fashioned Cramer Hall. I am still nervous, but this time I am comforted with familiarity and wisdom. I will hold on dearly to the most important things I learned last year that made me a successful Viking:

Know PSU – and the various resources available that are usually FREE such as Buddy Up and the PSU Library.

Stay organized – keep your head above water, use Google Calendar or the inexpensive PSU Handbook to stay on top of your work.

Get involved – be a part of a group; Student Organizations and REC Clubs are easy to join and keep your mind from temporary insanity.

Be bold – and open minded; expose yourself to new Events, Performances, Lectures, etc. and be outspoken in your classes – it is the only way to be well-rounded.

Take care of yourself – you only do your best when you are at your best; we are lucky to have Portland Farmer’s Market at our doorstep and a state-of-the-art Campus Rec free with tuition.

What are some other ways that make You a successful Viking?

“Man, I Wish I Knew This When I Started!”

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    Here are some academic tricks I’ve learned at Portland State. I hope these hints help you become a stellar Viking scholar:   

Calendar Your Studies. Enter ALL assignment and exam deadlines into your calendar or organizer. Planning ahead saves cramming later!

Don’t be a perfectionist.  I don’t advocate skipping readings, but when an exam is upon you, there may be more benefit in reviewing your notes, lecture slides, and other class materials than in every precious word in the readings.

Be succinct on essay tests and class presentations.  Being long-winded won’t help your grade, but your grade will drop with unfinished essay exams.  An instructor will cut you off in class if you go over time on presentations.

Demand rigor in your education:  Ask everyone who the best professors are. Can’t hear student comments in class?  Ask the professor to repeat them. If your professor is doing something wrong or inaccurate with grading, points, or on the syllabus, approach them about the matter.  You will usually get satisfaction.

You have a right not to be distracted in class by your classmates’ smart phone and Facebook fetishes.  Complain to your prof after class or during office hours; they will respond.  And don’t BE that in-class surfing addict. It’s distracting and rude to fellow students. Go in the hallway.

For now, avoid online PSU classes like STDs.  Nonverbal communication is 66 percent of all communication, and online classes remove almost all live teacher-student contact and student-to-student contact. Plus, PSU charges you an extra $160 in “online learning fees” for the privilege. Learn more in my Vanguard story “Clicking for Classes” here.

Need a quiet study spot?  The Quiet Study Lounge on the 4th floor of Smith features the soft, rustling leaves of Park Blocks trees, cushy furniture, and seriously quiet students.  Another seriously quiet spot is the 7th floor mini-library in the Urban Center Building.

Concerned about negotiating this university?  Consider taking the well-run College Success courses (UNST 199 and UNST 399).

Local hangout hint:  25-cent coffee all the time at Big Town Hero, 1923 SW 6th Ave., between College and Hall.

         Also, check out my Vanguard article on the “Top 20 Big Words You Need In College” for more help!