Like many fellow students, the prospect of graduation has finally come to resemble something obtainable. For some time now, I have considered such a conclusion to the years spent at Portland State a sort of myth—a reward meant to motivate students, yet so far away it seemed unreachable.
Portland State of mind
Like many fellow students, the prospect of graduation has finally come to resemble something obtainable. For some time now, I have considered such a conclusion to the years spent at Portland State a sort of myth—a reward meant to motivate students, yet so far away it seemed unreachable. But as this reality sets in and the world lying beyond university life arches over the horizon, it becomes apparent that the lessons learned here are greater than previously realized.
PSU provides more than an intriguing class or exercising an enhanced ability to operate through hours of sleep depravation. The skills necessary to navigate this education become engrained and habitual. Without them, one could not succeed in school, especially at PSU.
Portland State isn’t like many other colleges. At first glance it may appear that the urban setting sets it apart from many other universities. But it’s more than that. It only becomes apparent to PSU students that the culture and variety of people here are rather unique. With an average student age of 28, a considerable number of students are not what many envision—perhaps older, parents, professionals or merely those taking the scenic route to a degree—one has to take on the challenge of their Portland State education in a unique way.
Attending college at Portland State means so much more than obtaining a degree. It means embarking on a journey.
Over the years since I decided to finish my degree, I have traveled along an avenue of triumphs and tribulations. I’ve started with a great job, gave it up and have scraped by ever since. I started with intimate and close friends who couldn’t seem farther from me now. I’ve been married and…well let’s just say we had a disagreement—I wanted to be married and she disagreed with me. All this either tied some way or another to my goal of obtaining that college degree or simply reflected the changing seasons of my life as I passed through this institution. And after coming to know many of my fellow students, I just may have had it easy.
However, at PSU I’ve also found new passions and direction. I’ve met a range of amazing people, many of whom I hope remain a part of my life. I’ve taken on new skills, experience and contacts that will benefit me for years to come.
College means sacrifice. Forget any notion of time—you no longer have any. Sleep becomes a commodity traded for writing papers, tackling math problems, tutoring and more. You will face decisions of whether to work a shift or put more effort into an assignment. You will sacrifice a better grade for time with those you love, or vice versa. The job you cherish may not line up with a class schedule. You may not be able to equally juggle family and homework. But you may be able to find compromises.
It means managing expectations and adapting. When I first came to PSU I checked with the career center for some direction. I’ll never forget what the counselor told me. After talking over my plans, she said that I should get a degree in whatever I thought was fun or interesting. I wouldn’t be hired off of my degree, she told me. It’s something that is good to have and employers want to see it, but what they want so much more is experience and skills, and college is a great place to connect to those things. I had walked into PSU thinking that I could nab a degree and in turn nab a job afterward. But it wasn’t that simple.
And it is all for not without determination. Sometime during every quarter a fluttering thought will pass through your mind, perhaps during a test or one of the classes you could care less about but must take to fill a requirement. Even if just for a second, it will tempt you to give it up. Is it all worth the lack of money? Wouldn’t life manage much easier if you could just have a dependable routine—work, dinner, “Daily Show,” sleep…oh, to sleep. Balanced out with a steady and healthy social life it can seem like a fairly nice alternative. However, if you’re like most PSU students, it’s that routine that drove you through the doors of this school in the first place—it wasn’t paying off and hopefully an education of some sort would help.
Portland State is more than a series of courses and checks on a DARS report. From student groups and clubs (I highly recommend them), to jobs, experience and people—it is a whole new life to adapt to. Congratulations to those graduating, and for those who have more credits to knock down, hang in there. ?