Wise Up: PCC

A Beginner’s Guide to Portland Community College

Ninety thousand students. Four main campuses. PCC can be tough to navigate, but here are three tips for taking the leap back to school.

By Webb Wright November 14, 2016 Published in the December 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

Drones tfi2mz

If you want to learn to fly a drone, PCC can help.

It’s not all organic chemistry and econ. If you’re more interested in expanding your mind than knocking off prereqs, PCC offers a long slate of noncredit courses. Want to write YA fiction? Study Swedish? Learn about Islam? Deepen your tai chi practice? Nail the basics of woodworking? Explore shamanic healing? Make your own bacon? Seriously—from mah-jongg to Mandarin, money management to metalworking, PCC probably has it. Courses take place across the city—in senior centers and high schools as well as at PCC campuses—and range from one-day workshops to three-month terms. These noncredit classes tend to be cheaper, too: roughly $30–140, versus $340 for the average for-credit course.

Bust out of the classroom. Lectures not your speed? Check out PCC’s Community-Based Learning program, which transforms Portland (and beyond) into your classroom. An ethics class might team up with the Meals on Wheels People to deliver food to homebound seniors, while a course on hazmat awareness sends students to clean up illegal dump sites. 

Leave the car in the garage. So you live in North Portland but want to take a class at the Sylvania campus, deep in the hills of Southwest. Easy: a free shuttle service runs between PCC campuses from morning till night—it’s about 30 minutes from the Cascade campus on N Killingsworth to Sylvania, for example. You can track the shuttle online with an interactive map, and there’s even a route to Portland State University. Those who’d rather pedal to class but lack their own wheels can rent a sturdy mountain bike for $15 per term—a steal compared to Biketown’s $12 monthly fee.

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