#33 Portland State University

Nestled above Broadway Avenue, Portland State University’s motto sits transcribed into one of the campus’s many skybridges. That’s right, I said skybridges … on a campus. Because what else can you jump off of when stressed about midterms and/or suffering from seasonal affective disorder from the area’s lack of sun? The urban, public university is in the most unappealing setting for the college bound – full of continuous concrete, constant construction, and congested traffic. One thing that PSU proves is that nothing screams “college” more than the sound of jackhammer intermixed with the sweet serenade of garbage truck.

If the State of Oregon was a set of parents and its public universities were their children, Portland State University would be the unattractive, overweight, emo, possibly-adopted bad egg in that picture perfect, khakis/polo, All-American family. There’s little Benny and Donald: the all-star athletes who are set to be an engineer (OSU) and a lawyer (UO). Then there’s the set of quintuplets who are each destined to be an accomplished actor (SOU), a prominent teacher (EOU), an advocate for the deaf (WOU), and a computer designer (OIT).

PSU touts themselves as Oregon’s “most diverse college.” But all that means is that you can walk into any given classroom, find a black and a white, a Latino and an Asian, a Mennonite and a Muslim, and a granny and a tranny. These distinct groups of people would never otherwise talk to one another but are forced to have a discussion on topics they could care less about and are only there to fulfill a worthless general core requirement.

Let’s get some real stats, shall we?

  • The average age of PSU students is right around 54.5*
  • It’s the fallback school for when Portland area high school students get denied at OSU and UO*
  • The cost of parking for a month is roughly the same rate as in-state tuition for a school year
  • Half your classes will be at night to accommodate the full time single mother of three who sits next to you (and brings her children to class)*
  • You’ll watch some sub-par sporting events*
  • You’ll see on average seven hobos a day who will beg you for a cigarette or change or will be urinating in the breezeway of the student union.

Yes, let knowledge serve the city.

*Not a real stat but definitely a real opinion

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43 Responses to “#33 Portland State University”


  1. 1 emwells 07/16 at 5:21 pm

    Hmmm.. written in 2008? I think a lot has changed since this post was published. It’s not a thing about Portland that is spectacular, but it certainly doesn’t suck.

    I guess if you don’t go to the school you could see it as a useless thing in the way. And, if you get a degree here in, lets say, acting, your life isn’t going to amount to anything.

    However, the school of business at PSU is a high ranked SBA that has actually prepared me for my advertising profession. It has also given me the opportunity to give back to the community. For my senior capstone I am working with a team of SBA students to create a business strategy for a local nonprofit.

    Also it is no longer hobos we have to worry about, but fucking professional panhandlers (people like Save the Children, Green Peace, ect). In fact besides that the only other complaint I have is the older students that are in my classes. They havent been in school for so long they sometimes ask the stupidest questions, and waste our teacher’s time.

    That’s all!

  2. 2 desack 12/19 at 2:07 am

    I have a feeling the author would include the major university regardless of the city they were writing about. I am surprised this isn’t in the top 10, but maybe throwing in a “college educated…” bash into every other article, like it is a bad thing, makes up for it.

  3. 3 Natasha 10/07 at 3:52 pm

    Well, I would argue that Portland State sucks but for different reasons. It has a 35% graduation rate. There’s your hard data. http://www.campuscorner.com/oregon-colleges/portland-state-university.htm

    I wouldn’t necessarily bash it’s location. It’s nice being downtown.

    Lastly, it isn’t diverse. Seriously. It’s white hipsters. Look at the stats in the above link. My advice – don’t go there. It has such a low graduation rate for a reason – you’re on your own there and the professors can’t be bothered with their students.

  4. 4 $$$ 09/21 at 8:10 am

    the skybridges are a god send cause i don’t have to deal with any of the pushy street walkers and drivers and bikers and jerks with their clipboards. its one of the only places you can actually walk from point a to point b without worrying about who you are or aren’t making eye contact with.

    the campus is as old as 1946 in some parts and as new as still being built in others. i know opinions over art and beauty of this time and then differ, but ill attack that the art building still looks like crap and we have a problem with the homeless coming in to sleep inside the building and smear their shit all over our juvenile bathroom walls. having attended 4 universities before psu, i can attest that the majority of the campus is beautiful, has better alternatives for getting work done, but probably not in the department you’re majoring in. and those new computers you saw in the pictures? they’re gone now.

    at the heart of education, its the teachers that suck the most. the cost of education is already insanely high once i moved to oregon, but teachers lack that reminder and are constantly giving us the day off to complete work. hah. as if slacking our education is a way to support us. here, ill just piss on my money and stick it to the windows for anyone who wants it.

    • 5 Ben 12/30 at 6:53 am

      I suspect that you are not doing very well. PSU is not perfect, but it is a good school and it offers enrichment to those who pursue it. I have been going for 3 years and I have really enjoyed and appreciated the professors that I have worked with. The majority of the professors I have had seem to genuinely care about my education and most are willing to put in time above and beyond what is expected or required.

      I suggest that if you insist on complaining about something, start with world hunger, and the problem with getting non-poisoned drinking water in so many developing nations.

      From where I sit, your complaints are at best opaque and not persuasive. At worst unintelligible, unsubstantiated whining.

      I am not involved in any extra-curricular activities as I spend every spare minute with my children. I am not a dogmatic supporter of all things PSU. (a second floor swimming pool?) I say sell the rec center and use some of the money to lower everyone’s tuition and the rest to give the professors more money.

      PSU pays the lowest professor wages of any university. I’ll give a teacher some leeway if they are less than pleasant. They are grossly underpaid and then to add insult to injury, many professors ride the bus or drive a 1987 Camry to get to work and then they see a student driving a brand new Porsche Cayenne or a new gleaming white Maserati – these two cars, and many more of similar expense, can often be seen around campus.

      However, I believe that you get out of any university what you put into it. So my advice would be to look for and spend time thinking about the good things at PSU. I have grown to respect and appreciate many of my professors. I suspect that if you quit being such a grumpy pants, you might connect with some of your professors. Those relationships are rewarding. Earning the respect of most professors is tough, but then most things that are rewarding are tough.

      Buck up kiddo. Things will get better. If they don’t, there is always the skybridge.

  5. 6 medoo 08/08 at 12:58 am

    i am international student i have been at psu for 2 y . in my opinion psu is not that pad of place to study in. psu has some normal problems that you can find it anywhere such as parking and this big problem because psu is located in down-town. anyway as i said all these problems that you guys talked about are normal problems. i wanna add that i am business student so i dont know about other department may they have problems.

    my best !


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