Alex Wittwer/PSU Vanguard

Transfer and Returning Student Center opens at Portland State

A new resource center comes to campus

Making up the majority of the student population, it’s easy to find transfer and returning students in every corner of campus—in classes, in clubs, in housing and any other campus center. Now, transfer students have a center to call their own. 


Portland State held the grand opening event for the new Transfer and Returning Student Center on Feb 6. Located on the third floor of Fariborz Maseeh Hall, the resource center was created to specifically cater to the needs of students from other colleges or students returning to school after a break, providing and connecting them to resources on campus. 


The event included multiple speakers, including Randi Harris, the director of the Transfer and Returning Student Center.


“This newly established Transfer Returning Student Resource Center will give our students a supportive home base to help them transition to PSU,” she said. “This is one of the many ways that our caring and faculty and staff can connect students to the opportunity and support they need to realize the transformative power of a college degree.”


According to Harris, 60% of students at PSU transfer from another college. However, while PSU has had readily available resources for students transitioning from high school to college, there are fewer specifically for students transitioning from another university. 


“What I think can be tricky for students sometimes is that transition when you’re used to being at one institution, you get used to all their systems and all of sudden it’s very different here,” Harris said. “So how can we help students know that that’s a normal experience.”


The new center will provide a variety of services for students, including advising. Where students would currently see separate advisors based on specific subjects, the advisors at the Transfer and Returning Student Center will help students plan a complete path to their chosen degree and career. For the questions they can’t answer, the center will serve as a starting point for transfer students and connect them to the campus resources that will best help them. 


“We offer academic advising to prospective transfer students, we serve as a bridge between admissions, and then bringing in matriculated students to help transfer and returning students with that transition to PSU,” Harris said. “We also provide workshops, a social space, a place for students to ask questions if they are current PSU students and they identify as a transfer or a returning student, [and] we can help students get connected to resources.”


A lack of condensed information is one of the first issues with the current transfer process, according to Jeannie Balenger—a PSU student who transferred from Portland Community College—who spoke on her experience through the transfer process.


“What would have been the most useful is to have more information condensed versus having to contact one person for one thing and another person for another thing, and trying to just keep track of all the steps I needed to do and all the different places I needed to go and people I needed to contact,” she said. “It’d be nice if there was one central place.”


“I wish I would have had more resources for transfer students [specifically]. So when I did hear that there was a transfer resource center that just was implemented, I was really happy for fellow transfer students,” said Victoria Solares, a transfer student from Chemeketa Community College. “I really wish I would have had a sense of community with transfer students…even just a resource on how to easily transition for that first year. Because for me, I was moving from Salem, all the way to Portland, so I didn’t know people here. I didn’t have a sense of community of transfer students [and] I didn’t really know much about resources, so I kind of had to figure out all of that myself.”


A space tailored specifically to transfer students was also important to Balenger, who explained, “I think it would be nice to see some type of, not necessarily a resource center, but a place where non-traditional students might feel a little more welcome to or comfortable, because when you’re not 18 to 25, you do feel a little out of place, especially at resource centers.”


Despite the current difficulties of the process for transfer students, they still make up a majority of the student population on campus and have come to define part of PSU’s culture. While the current center is still incredibly new—it plans on holding a second grand opening in March, that will be geared more towards current and prospective students—it is already ready to help the student population that needs them there.


“The experiences that our students have and the things that they have done, and how they’ve navigated these systems, is what makes some really awesome students,” Harris said. “They’re incredibly resilient and have a lot of skills and talents and abilities that they bring to the work that they do…that large majority of our students is what makes this such an awesome place for all students to learn.”