What is the Summer Scholars Program?

Summer Scholars is a program offered to eligible incoming undergraduate students to support the transition to Portland State University.

The First Year Summer Scholars program, a two-course, three-week program, is designed to introduce students to PSU and the resources that we offer, and offer support in exploring majors. The program is FREE and will provide students with up to 4 credits upon completion. A Transfer Summer Scholars program is also available for incoming transfer students.

Previous students who have participated in the Summer Scholars program describe a positive and valuable experience. We sat down with two Summer Scholars from 2022, Harmony and Micah, and asked them about their time in the program.

Students in a classroom work on a project together.

How was your experience overall?

Harmony: I loved being in the program. I got to meet some wonderful staff and students here at PSU. One of the highlights was getting to know one of my professors, Sally Eck—she was an outstanding professor. I loved going to her class because she made sure that we knew she cared.

Micah: Overall, it was really great. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I think that everybody should have the opportunity to be in Summer Scholars. The academics were cool to get a little bit of a sneak peek of what college life is like, without too much pressure. But the most impactful thing was definitely the social element. I made a lot of friendships that have lasted. It was good to get a feel of what it’s like to navigate relationships and friendships at college, and how that is different from high school. Living on campus, and what that feels like, too—that was all super great. 

How did the program help prepare you for college?

Harmony: I feel like the program helped me prepare for college a lot. My high school didn’t prepare us very much, so the program was helpful on that front. I learned study tips, research tips, and ways to reach out for help. It helped me decide if I was on the pathway I was meant to be on.

Micah: On paper, [I might have already known] some of the college study skills and readiness skills that they taught, but I think there is something different about being taught them in the college environment. Now that I’m in this new stage of my life, it was really beneficial to be reminded of those things. I felt like it really set me up to be like, okay, yeah, I can do this whole college thing. It was just like when you’re riding a bike without the training wheels for the first time, and then they give you that final little push. That’s what it felt like. Another great thing is the peer mentor aspect of the program. It was really cool. They were willing to help out and answer any questions about any of the assignments we were doing, and also questions we had about college. It was nice to be able to see people close to our age, who could still be mentors and help us out. My peer mentor—I still see her around on campus, and we always say hi. That was a really cool element to the program.

What was the most fun thing about the program?

Harmony: The most fun thing about this program was meeting new people. You don’t  have the stress of the first term, but you still have classes to help you prepare. You have free time to go to different events and get used to the campus before everyone shows up. For me, it was the first time I was truly by myself, but I never felt like I was alone because of the support I was given by the program.

Micah: The most fun thing for me was the last day of class. Our professor didn’t want to make us do any work, so we all got doughnuts and coffee, and then went to the art museum and walked around and then ended the day on the rooftop of the College of Urban and Public Affairs building, looking out on the city. It was really fun.

What are a few skills you feel you learned or grew during the program?

Harmony: I learned new study skills, how to take notes, and where to find the help I needed. I have never been one to take notes and study because I never knew how. I learned how to do that while in this program.

Micah: It was a lot of self management, and keeping yourself in check. And more than just time management, it was self advocacy. There are so many hands outstretched toward us willing to help, and so many on-campus resources, but we have to take that first step. It instilled confidence in us: we don’t have to know all the answers, but we have the power to find them. We can find somebody who knows the answers and get the help we need.

What was it like to be on campus early?

Harmony: Being on campus early was really exciting. Not getting overwhelmed by the hundreds of other students that were normally there as I learned my way around was really nice. I can safely say that I know my way around campus from this program alone. Being on campus early gave me a sense of comfort, because I knew that I wouldn’t be as stressed in the first few days of term.

Micah: By the time that real school had started, I felt like I knew the campus pretty well. And more than just the campus, but the greater downtown Portland area as well. That was really cool, especially since I’m not from here. This was a real head start in becoming familiar with PSU as a school and then also Portland is a city. The fact that they allowed us to live on campus really helped with all of that.

Students cross a street in downtown Portland.

Incoming first-year students with a GPA of 2.99 or lower are required to participate in the program (international students are exempt from the requirement, but may participate if able), and will receive an email with information about the Summer Scholars Program.





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