Ira Kortum

Have you ever wondered where our school stands compared to others? What our rank is? Well, think about it. U.S. News and World Report came out with its annual report on who’s who in the world of higher education. Ours is a young university. It’s only been around for about what, 50 or 60 years? That includes going back to when its name was PSC (Portland State College) and then to it’s original title, Vanport College. “Vanport? What?” you may ask. Come on, people, go and learn your history.

Anyway, the point is while PSU scored high in a number of areas of the report’s criteria, it failed to even be listed or ranked. Why? Is it because we’re a state university? An inner-city university? Go down to Powell’s Books and find a book that lists colleges and universities and try to find Portland State University. Now let’s not get upset about it. It’s a good thing, and here’s why. That report shows we’re getting a good education while at the same time showing we don’t fit in. We don’t fit the proper cookie-cutter guidelines.

So what if as PSU students we don’t get the prestige that other people get when they go to big name school or a “ranked” school?

Some of those schools are not all they’re cracked up to be. In effect, they’re more show than substance. So, those who are up for name-dropping and being superficial please step to one side of the room, and the rest of us, who are concerned with self-investment, enrichment and personal growth will move to the other side.

Yes, this response is a bit extreme, but don’t you ever get tired of the game? What game, you ask? Come on, you know: the game where you can only take what they give you or allow you to find. The game where we’re all brought up being bombarded with brand names and jingles and what’s “cool” and what’s not.

What’s in a brand name, anyway? Does anyone remember Morris the Cat, an icon for a cat food company’s advertising scheme? Well, there was this cat in the commercials named Morris. Stuck up, snobbish and egocentric, this cat was. He would eat nothing but his own brand of cat food, the one with his own face on it, turning up his nose at all others. The damnable thing of it was that, in truth, the cat food wasn’t just the same as other cat foods, it was worse. After purchasing one can of that brand, I pitched it out. Why? Because it made my cat sick.

So, packaging isn’t always everything. What a single report from some magazine, no matter how reputable, has to say to us doesn’t always hold accurate or true. Not being ranked doesn’t actually say anything about our school, it just leaves us pretty much in a position unto ourselves in the world of higher education. Besides, it’s kinda cool not being one of the herd.