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?

Keeping Calm & Carrying On

Being a post-baccalaureate student has its perks. For example, I don’t have to take University Studies courses so I can focus on the classes that are directly related to my major, saving both time and money. I have priority registration so I always get into the classes I need. I know how I learn best, how to manage my time, and I don’t make a lot of the same mistakes that many first-time college students make, both socially and academically.Image

Although those benefits are fantastic, there are serious downsides to being a post-bac. My financial aid is terrible. Because I am not a graduate student, but I am also not considered an undergraduate, there are no scholarships or grants available to me. My tuition is higher than a regular undergrad because I am charged special “post-bac fees” which amount to hundreds of dollars every term. I am required to submit a “post-bac plan” at the start of every year stating my long term plans and intentions. When I reach 90 credits, which will be after next fall term, I will have to submit an appeal to be allowed to continue taking out the student loans that I need in order to finish my degree. This is standard procedure for all post-bac students. If my appeal is denied, I will have to drop out until I can find work because I cannot afford to pay my tuition, rent, or bills without student loans.

My situation is not unique; I know many other post-bac (and traditional) students are experiencing the same frustration and anxiety.