Illustration by Camden Benesh

PSU students navigate enrollment

Students and faculty talk about degree planning challenges

When Xen Lapshin went to register for classes as an incoming freshman, they were surprised to find a limited number of options for credits which qualified for Portland State’s most recent general university requirement, race and ethnic studies. According to the new requirement, students entering PSU with less than 90 credits are required to take two classes which fall into this category. The issue is that right now there aren’t many options.


“I registered for one, for my major, which is online next term,” Lapshin said. “Though I didn’t want to take classes online. But that’s what I have to do with other classes.”


Crafting the ideal course schedule is no easy task. Mitham Lawati, a junior at PSU, said that despite the couple years of academic experience under his belt, he still struggles knowing all the course requirements for his degree.


“Sometimes I don’t know what classes I should be taking to finish my degree,” Lawati said. “But that’s why advisors are here.”


Last month, Lawati met with advisors on two separate occasions in order to help determine his academic plans. Now, he said, he feels comfortable knowing that he’s on the right track.


“Everything was clear and really simple,” Lawati said. “I feel really comfortable with it now.”


Zoe, the reuse coordinator at PSU’s Planning and Sustainability office, also keeps a busy schedule balancing working for the school and staying on top of her classes. She said that with a busy schedule, keeping up to date with course requirements can be difficult.


“It’s hard to keep track of course requirements when you’re so busy,” Zoe said. “There’s so many different requirements that it’s so helpful to have someone. It’s crucial.”


Advisors can help with anything from class registration, academic planning, understanding graduation requirements to accessing other resources at PSU to help students along their academic journey.


Assistant Registrar Luke Norman oversees registrations and services at PSU. He said he’s seen waitlists become another big point of confusion. Once on a waitlist for a class, students may be dropped after a 24-hour period if they do not respond to notifications requiring them to accept the class in time.


Norman recommended meeting with an advisor at least once a year—though PSU only requires students to meet with an advisor during their first year—along with utilizing the school’s other resources when experiencing uncertainty in relation to academic planning.


“Registrars are unique to academic services,” Norman said.  “They tend to be a hub that a lot of other departments have to work through, and can be a good resource for other resources as well.”


In response to concern about the lack of classes that can satisfy the new race and ethnicities requirement, Norman said to expect more classes to appear on the schedule in the upcoming months.


“Because it is so new, not all departments have had a chance to evaluate their classes to the requirement goals,” Norman said. “Expect that there will be significantly more to come.”


Lapshin met with their advisor about the new requirements, who recommended that in the meantime they double up on some of their classes.


“It didn’t quite help resolve the issue, but my advisor pointed out that there were a few classes on the list that could double-count for my current major,” Lapshin said. “I did learn that students can find a way to double-count the classes for other requirements, but they have to be very strategic about it.”

For students looking for assistance registering for classes, visit to get a hold of your advisor, or visit the Office of the Registrar in FMH from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.