College Success FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Can I have access to a sample syllabus?

Below is an abridged version of the Winter 2021 College Success 194/394 class syllabus. Note: the Winter 2021 class is 100% online/remote because of PSU's campus closure in response to COVID-19.

Sample Syllabus

UNST 194 & 394 College Success 
Instructor: Jenna Geracitano 
Credits: 3

Course Description 

College Success will help you develop the skills and competencies necessary to be a successful student. We will be investing in your mindset by exploring seven non-cognitive competencies, or “soft-skills”, that are fundamental to success in college and life. These include Self-Advocacy, Confidence, Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Growth Mindset. In this course, you will first learn to understand the importance of exploring who you are now and who you are becoming as a critical component of your student success. You will also learn to recognize the unwelcome influence of self-doubt and how it can shape your beliefs in who you are. From there, you will explore each of the steps that lead to creating your game plan for successfully navigating the various challenges of school and life. 

Course Outcomes/Learning Objectives 

In this course, you will:

  • Understand the barriers that may get in the way of successfully reaching your goals;
  • Learn how to apply the seven non-cognitive competencies that are the most fundamental to student success and serve as a launching point for more expansive narratives to flourish: Perseverance, Confidence, Resilience, Self-Advocacy, Emotional Intelligence, Self-Control, and Growth Mindset;
  • Learn how to recognize and manage feelings and emotions -- especially uncomfortable feelings and emotions -- using mindfulness and meditation practices;
  • Have the opportunity to learn and apply theories of thinking and learning that focus on student capacity rather than deficiency;
  • Engage in reflective writing experiences to grow more comfortable expressing yourself in writing and begin to use writing as a reflective practice self-coaching practice;
  • Explore your skills, values and interests and how you connect with them.

Required Materials 

  • Access to a computer, laptop, or tablet
  • re:MIND textbook
  • Internet connection
  • Webcam and PSU Zoom account recommended for optional weekly class meetings (activate your PSU Zoom account by visiting and logging in with your PSU credentials) 

Attendance and Setup

This class will be fully online/remote for Winter 2021, and will begin Monday, February 1. You should plan to spend 5-10 hours a week on this course since it is a late-start accelerated format. Every Monday, we will have a class session via Zoom during our regularly scheduled class time. If you have the ability and technology to attend, it is my expectation that you will be there. However, attendance will not be taken for a grade. All sessions will be recorded and provided to you to re-watch.

If you cannot attend Zoom class session due to technology, connectivity, or other issues, please let me know as soon as possible. To activate your PSU Zoom account, visit and log in with your PSU credentials.

Assignments and Grading 

Below you will find a description of each of the types of assignments in this course. All assignment due dates can be found in the Canvas course modules or on the calendar. In general, all assignments in each weekly module are due by 11:59pm Sunday night of that week unless otherwise specified. No late work will be accepted. If you have questions or concerns about an assignment, please email your instructor as soon as possible. 

Required Textbook Reading 

Each week, you will be responsible for reading the assigned chapters from our textbook, re:MIND. In each weekly module, the textbook chapters can be found under the “Required Reading” section and will have the phrase “(Guided Learning)” next to them. To read the chapter, click on the link and it will open in a new tab in your browser. Then click the orange “Start New” button to launch the chapter. You must read and click through the entire chapter to receive full credit. 


This is a 2-part weekly assignment. For each chapter, you will have one discussion topic to respond to. In each weekly module, these can be found under “Week X Discussions”. Read the discussion prompt, and then click the “reply” button when you are ready to post your response to the prompt or question. Discussion posts should be thoughtful, thorough, and deep. After posting your own response, you will need to respond to 2 other classmates’ posts. All responses must be thoughtful and complete. Your original posts and your responses to your classmates’ posts are due Sunday nights each week. (3 pts for your own post and 1 point each for responses to classmates)

Weekly Journal Reflections 

Each chapter of the textbook will have a related journal entry prompt to which you will need to respond. You can find these assignments in each weekly module labeled “Chapter X Journal” under the “Assignments and Activities” section. Journals are an opportunity for you to reflect on what you read and learned in the chapter and apply it to your own life. In each journal response, you should answer ALL the questions presented in the prompt thoroughly and thoughtfully. Journals should incorporate what we call the “4 E’s” in college success: 

  1. Experience: Your response is written from your own experience and perspective 
  2. Evidence: Your response includes evidence or support from the chapter or the course 
  3. Example: Your response uses examples from your own life 
  4. Explanation: Your thoughts or opinions are clearly and thoughtfully explained

Your journal responses should include at least ONE of the FOUR E’s, but I encourage you to use as many as you can. Journals will be assessed on thoughtfulness, thoroughness and writing conventions using the journal rubric on a 0-10 point scale. There is no minimum word or page count for these assignments, but you are expected to answer each prompt in depth. 

PSU Virtual Choose Your Own Adventure 

Each week, you will be responsible for attending a virtual event, workshop, or other gathering at Portland State University. Some examples of events you may attend include Career Center events, a tutoring session, an academic coaching appointment, virtual office hours with your instructor, and many more (examples and links listed in the Canvas assignment folder). 

After attending the event, you will write a thoughtful summary of the event. To submit your summary, click on the “Week X: PSU Virtual Choose Your Own Adventure” assignment in each weekly module, and submit via upload or copy and paste into the text entry box. You will be graded using the same rubric used for Journal Reflections. Please be sure to include: 

  • The name of the event or meeting and when it was held (date/time)
  • Who or what department hosted it. If it was a 1:1 meeting with someone, provide their name and email address.
  • What you did or learned. Please be thoughtful and thorough.

Other Assignments and Activities

There may be other assignments or activities you need to complete for each week/module. Check you Canvas course weekly to see what else is due. 

Final Project for ALL Students

Pick 1 of the 7 non-cognitive competencies AND 1 of the Success Skills we have covered in class this quarter. Think of a way to teach the competency and skill to a brand new college student in 5 minutes or less using a creative means. (See Module 6 for all instructions and details).

To turn in this assignment, you may film yourself presenting it and turn in the recording or provide the content in written or visual form (depending on the creative means you chose) and write a 1-page description of how you would present it to a new student.

Final Assignment for UNST 394 Students ONLY

Essay and Career Plan – see Module 6 for instructions and details. 100 points total. Only students registered for UNST 394 need to complete this additional assignment.


To estimate your grade in the course, add up the points you have earned and divide it by the total number of point possible (300 for UNST 194 or 350 for UNST 394). 

Flexibility Statement 

The instructor reserves the right to modify course content and/or substitute assignments and learning activities in response to institutional, weather, or class situations. 

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What textbook is used for this course?

Once enrolled in the course, your instructor will give you access to our new electronic textbook re:MIND. You can purchase your access code from the PSU Bookstore. The cost is $35.

Remind electronic textbook cover

"re:MIND: Empowering YOU to BELIEVE in YOU."
Taylor, K. (2019).
Published by Perceivant
ISBN 978-1-7326888-9-6

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What information will be covered and what will I learn?

Created in 2002, and now offered through the Learning Center, College Success (UNST 194/394) builds on the best wisdom from innovators in psychology, education, business, sports, and personal effectiveness using the On Course Success Principles which represent eight of the essential "things" that good learners believe and do.

Founded on these timeless principles, the College Success course gives students a collection of practical success tools to empower students by giving them the outer behaviors and inner qualities to create greater success in college and in life. The course is woven around the belief that the most effective learners are empowered learners, those characterized by having emotional intelligence, confidence, resilience, perseverance, self-control, self-advocacy, and a growth mindset. 

Students will also participate in guided journal writings, learn essential success strategies, discover critical resources, and actively engage with the PSU community.

Designed with both a lower and upper division option, this course is available for every student at PSU. Don't get left behind - these classes fill up fast!

In this course you will learn how to...

  • Accept personal responsibility. You will learn how to take greater personal responsibility, gaining more control over the outcomes and experiences that you create both in college and in life.
  • Increase self-motivation. You will learn to create greater inner motivation by, among other things, discovering your own personally meaningful goals and dreams.
  • Improve personal self-management. You will learn numerous strategies for taking control of your time and energy, allowing you to move more effectively and efficiently toward the accomplishment of your goals and dreams.
  • Develop interdependence. You will learn how to develop mutually supportive relationships with people who will help you achieve your goals and dreams as you assist them to achieve theirs.
  • Increase self-awareness. You will learn how to understand and revise your self-defeating patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion as well as your unconscious limiting beliefs.
  • Maximize your learning. You will learn key research on how the human brain learns. You will apply this knowledge to develop your own learning system, giving you the keys to learning important course content in college as well as becoming a more effective lifelong learner.
  • Develop emotional intelligence. You will learn effective strategies for managing your emotional life, decreasing stress while increasing your inner sense of well-being.
  • Raise your self-esteem. You will learn how to develop self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-respect.
  • Engage in reflective writing experiences. You will grow more comfortable with expressing yourself in writing and begin to use writing as a reflective practice.
  • Improve creative and critical thinking skills. You will learn how to enhance the thinking skills essential for analyzing and solving problems in your academic, professional, and personal lives. You will also develop reasoning skills that will help you both construct persuasive arguments and deconstruct illogical arguments intended to persuade you to think or act against your own best interest.
  • Develop effective study skills. You will learn how to raise your grades in college by improving essential skills such as reading, taking notes, studying, memorizing, taking tests and conquering test anxiety.
  • Appreciate diversity and raise cultural awareness. We will create a classroom community with people who have ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are different from our own and learn about how our own beliefs impact our interactions with other in college.
  • Learn how to access your resources at PSU and increase your engagement inside and outside the classroom. You will know where to go when you are having difficult and the many resources PSU offers for your success both inside and outside the classroom, including becoming an engaged member of the PSU community.

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Whom may I contact to learn more information or if I have more questions?

Shoshana Zeisman-Pereyo, Ed.D.
(503) 725 - 2952
2nd floor, Millar Library

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What are other students saying about this course?

  • "You are in luck with this class, every assignment is designed to help you succeed at PSU!" - Jenn, Junior
  • "This class leads you down the path of self-knowledge." - Bre, Senior
  • "You are so lucky if you take this class! I had a good experience. I learned about how to organize my school work, as well as knowing more about myself." - Nasser, Freshman
  • "This class not only builds your skills as an individual who can get things done on time, but it also builds your trust and interdependency on others. You are not Batman; sometimes you just can't do things alone." - Ronald, Freshman
  • "I would recommend this class to anyone that is willing to put effort in and that can be responsible for their own assignments. I hope you will enjoy this class as much as I did." - Aubrey, Freshman
  • "ROCK ON COLLEGE SUCCESS!!" - Tommy, Freshman

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