Online Exclusive: Just what is it you have that we don’t?

Many high school graduates, after experiencing the most restraining educational experience of their lives, yearn to escape into faraway college towns to start a new, independent marker in their lives.

Many high school graduates, after experiencing the most restraining educational experience of their lives, yearn to escape into faraway college towns to start a new, independent marker in their lives. You will be here while your friends bask in Pottery Barn-furnished dorms with colorful crates and bulletin boards with a plethora of inside jokes that weren’t that funny but were written down for bonding purposes.

So, what are transfer students saying about the pros and cons of Portland State University versus the traditional route your older sister was raving about?

Junior Lauren Grant, a transfer student from PSU currently attending University of Oregon explained that although FAFSA estimated roughly equal attendance costs for both schools ($21,231 and $21,416 for University of Oregon and Portland State, respectively) for the 2010-11 fiscal year, Grant was awarded more financial aid from Portland State. This is because Portland State is deemed to have higher living costs ($918 more in books and supplies than University of Oregon and $921 more in room and board). These are things that are truly estimated, whereas tuition costs are stagnant ($8,625 and $6,162 for University of Oregon and Portland State, respectively).

“PSU may be slightly cheaper [than U of O], especially when factoring in living expenses—for example, paying rent instead of living at home for free,” said Stefan Andreev, an anthropology major and current student at University of Oregon.

Grant similarly commented, “Living at home and going to PSU is definitely the cheapest option, or living in the suburbs within the greater Portland metro area.”

Undoubtedly a less expensive option if you are staying at home, PSU still fails to claim the hearts of traditional-college bound students. What is it about Eugene that reels these education-seekers in if living on one’s own at PSU and U of O costs roughly the same for an in-state student? What does Eugene have that Portland doesn’t?

“I prefer the University of Oregon overall experience [compared to the Portland State experience] because of the facilities, and admission was a lot smoother there,” said Jinney Briggs, a post-baccalaureate transfer student from University of Oregon currently attending Portland State University. Although Briggs ended up paying more for U of O, it was worth the extra money, she explained, both because of independence and U of O’s well-established business program.

“I think Eugene could be seen as a Portland with a more small-town feel. Eugene has less of a night life, but has three well-established…venues where well-known bands come to visit,” Briggs said.

“I do think that Eugene is going to start being the ‘hip’ city,” replied Andreev. “Portland is becoming too gentrified and commercialized; the rich are ruining the city by criminalizing everything that made Portland ‘weird’ to begin with. ‘Keep Portland Weird’ is beginning to look like ‘Keep Portland White.’ I think that strict zoning codes and a relatively small population keeps Eugene hip where it counts, but still livable.”

Despite the sentiments stated above, Andreev found both schools to be equally valuable.

“PSU was right for me at a time in my life when I wasn’t yet ready to move out, financially or otherwise. It was a way to test the waters before really diving into the traditional college experience at U of O,” Andreev said. Along with the traditional social scene, Andreev ultimately chose to finish his degree at University of Oregon for its renowned anthropology program.

“The professors here are well-known for their experience in the field of archaeology. This was a major reason for my transfer. Also, I just wanted to experience the typical college experience like living with people my age, being away from my home-town, living near campus, etc.”

Geoffrey Smoke, a senior who has attended PSU, U of O, and University of Portland, on the other hand, enjoyed the Portland State experience the most of the three. “Mainly because of [PSU’s] affordability, the location and the number of opportunities it offered me,” Smoke said.

“U of O definitely has the traditional college atmosphere to it: A young student body with an eclectic background and a strong following of school sports. Parties are in high number across and beyond campus, and PSU is well, PSU…much older and mature crowd with an extremely diverse student body. Let’s just say you’re more likely to meet up with a friend or two at local pub or café than attend an 100-person house party,” Smoke said.

“I left to [go to] University of Oregon for a change of scenery, mostly,” said Grant of her recent transfer. “I’ve lived in the Portland area my whole life so it has been nice to move someplace new, though admittedly it was not a major move. I’ve also been wanting to try out the stereotypical college experience with the huge football games (U of O is currently ranked fifth), beer pong tournaments and frat parties.”

Grant explains that while appreciating “the diversity that PSU has to offer and the different perspectives that the students bring,” she personally finds it “easier to relate” to students her age with similar backgrounds to her own.

“I’ve been going full steam ahead academically for the past several years [at PSU] and my time at U of O is sort of a break for me. I’m going here more to have fun than anything else. I know that PSU has a lot less distractions and the students are a lot more serious and concentrated on their schoolwork and that feeling rubs off on me. I know that it will be faster and easier to finish my Bachelor’s at Portland than here,” Grant said.

Ultimately, advantages are a personal preference.Briggs gives two thumbs up for PSU’s location, tuition cost, and established credentials while booing PSU for transportation and housing costs. The pros of University of Oregon are its recognition, great business program, variety of established majors, cheaper housing and free transportation while a con is that “the football team scales our reputation,” Briggs said.

Andreev loves PSU’s urban setting, cost of tuition, diverse student body and South Park Blocks, but isn’t an avid fan of a “commuter school with no real sense of school spirit or community, the University Studies program, the unviersity’s underfunded-ness and constant construction.”

Eugene does have a more culturally, racially, socially and economically homogeneous student body than PSU, along with higher tuition and an over-emphasis on sports and an under-emphasis on academics, according to Andreev. “[But] Eugene is an awesome city, easy to get to and around in, has great professors, student community, a great anthropology program and an amazing library and campus in general,” he said.

For Smoke, PSU is a favorite for offering “an easy, affordable way in which to earn your degree in a nice setting in downtown Portland. However, it lacks the traditional college experience a place like U of O would offer. As far as which [school] is better, it really depends on personal preference and individual situation.”