Primary responsibility for the successful completion of a degree program lies with the student. The key to meeting this responsibility is personal involvement in academic program planning. To plan a program of study that will best meet individual goals and interests, students must know the requirements and restrictions of the department, college or other degree-granting unit, and the University; know the sources of academic information; work closely with an adviser in examining programs and course requirements and alternatives; and consult the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin.
The University comprises a family of campuses located throughout the Commonwealth. For most degree programs, a student may begin his or her studies at any one of the campuses. More than 160 baccalaureate majors, more than 25 associate degree majors, and more than 7,000 undergraduate courses are offered by the University. Clearly, each campus cannot offer every academic program or every course. As a result, admission to several academic programs is restricted, and students selecting these programs may be required to begin their studies at a specified campus. In other cases, admission to certain academic programs must be approved when a first-year student enters the University; transfer into these programs at a later point in a student's career is not possible. For these reasons, it is imperative that a student understand both program and course limitations at the campus of enrollment.
The many programs at Penn State allow varying degrees of flexibility. An early decision to pursue a highly structured program enables the student to complete the program in the optimum length of time by taking the required courses in a sequence that allows the smoothest progression from one level to the next. Even the most regulated programs, however, allow choices within given boundaries. Other programs allow a considerable range of choices in the completion of the requirements. Students should be aware of possible difficulties in transferring from a flexible program to a more highly structured program. Whether a program is highly structured or quite flexible, it is extremely important that the student understand program requirements when enrolling in the University.
Information concerning the University, its academic programs, course offerings, campuses, and academic organization is available from the following sources:
NEW STUDENT ORIENTATION--Penn State provides all new students the opportunity to attend a comprehensive orientation program, which is organized by the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs (SOTP). SOTP partners with the Division of Undergraduate Studies and other units to offer new students a thorough introduction to life on campus, an overview of General Education requirements, and the opportunity to actively discuss individual academic plans with an academic adviser. In addition to registering students for classes, the overall objective of New Student Orientation is to establish the academic expectations and community standards that shape and inform the learning environment at Penn State.
INFORMATION FOR NEW STUDENTS--The Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs provides first-year students, advanced standing, and change-of-campus students at the University Park campus with comprehensive information regarding the essential academic and student development opportunities of the campus and the University in general beginning with a new student's acceptance to a campus and continuing through completion of his/her first semester.
Through programs offered in cooperation with the colleges' academic units and various student service operations, new students are introduced to the intellectual and scholarly expectations of the University, to the skills needed for advanced study and lifelong learning, and to the student development opportunities with academic merit. In addition, this office helps inform students of the required procedures for matriculation and offers a perspective on college life, including practical information about important dates, times, and locations (e.g., arrival day, first day of classes, course drop/add).
During Welcome Week each semester, new students receive instruction and advice about their courses of study, including help with registration and class schedule adjustments, and they participate in special activities.
ACADEMIC ADVISERS--Each student is assigned a primary academic adviser in his or her college, school, or the Division of Undergraduate Studies. Students can find their adviser's name and contact information using the Academic Advising Portal. The adviser is available to help a student plan an academic program, schedule each semester's courses, and provide information about majors. The adviser will also refer a student to other appropriate sources of information.
ACADEMIC ADVISING CENTERS--Academic advising centers are located in every college at University Park and at all other Penn State undergraduate locations. Centers provide advising and information about academic programs. Lists of University Park centers and centers at other locations are available online. University Park: http://handbook.psu.edu; other locations: http://dus.psu.edu/advisers/advising_centers.html.
WEBSITES--Penn State's home page provides access to information about the University and each of its colleges.