The academic advising team at Penn State World Campus recently participated in a team-building project in which they circulated a small cutout of the Nittany Lion mascot, which they dubbed the Flat Lion. The idea was inspired by the Flat Stanley Project, a literacy initiative in which schoolchildren send a Flat Stanley cutout to a school, celebrity, politician, family member, or another recipient, who would then take a picture with the cutout and pass it (along with some inspirational thoughts) on to the next person in the chain.
As the Flat Lion made his way around the advising team in the World Campus version of this concept, the advisers took this opportunity to compile tips and information they thought would be helpful for students.
Some insights from World Campus academic advisers
Maintain regular contact with your adviser — and ask for help with any issues you may have. “Advisers can help with a multitude of things! If you’re ever unsure about a requirement, policy, or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s a good idea to check in with your adviser at least once a semester to talk about degree progress, upcoming course schedules, or any difficulties you may be facing. Even if we’re not the one with the answer, we’re here to help you find it!”
It’s easy to connect with your adviser. “World Campus students are encouraged to ‘stop in’ to see their academic adviser on a regular basis. You can connect by sending an email to your adviser or scheduling a phone or Zoom appointment via Starfish.”
You can take a semester off, if needed. “Prepare to take your next spring or fall semester off by submitting a Leave of Absence form to the registrar. Keep your adviser in the loop and let them know — we are here to help!”
Research your upcoming courses (or courses you are considering taking). “Two pages should be read before scheduling any course. First, click the Class Number on the Class Search result [after searching for a course in LionPATH] and read the Class Details page. Go to ‘View the course materials’ at the top of that Details page to get to the Catalog page. Read the remarks and see what materials and software may be needed. You also want to click on the link for the Sample Syllabus and read what the class will entail, including group work, frequency of homework, number of exams, number of papers to write, and what work grades will determine the final grade in the class.”
Support is available for students with disabilities. “The best place to start is our World Campus Student Disability Services page. We support multiple means of communication to ensure that your needs are met. Let us know how you would like to communicate, whether it is through email, Zoom, phone, or your specialized device. Once you connect with a student disability specialist by completing the form on the website, you will have a partner that will assist you throughout your time at World Campus!”
There are many ways to get involved with the World Campus community. “Student Affairs supports student organizations and student government, and also organizes leadership development conferences, virtual events, and more! World Campus student organizations provide a great way to connect virtually with students who share the same interests or help you explore other interests. You can even work with your fellow students to start a new organization if you don’t see one that quite fits! Explore the Student Affairs site today to learn how to get involved!”
Take required actions if you will be graduating soon. “At the beginning of your last semester, make sure that you apply for graduation in LionPATH. This lets Penn State know that you are finishing the requirements for your degree. If you’d like to attend commencement, visit the World Campus commencement page for updates. We’d love to see you there! Diplomas are generally mailed to your permanent address in LionPATH within 4 to 6 weeks after graduation.”
We encourage you to attend commencement (and our celebration event) in person if you are able. “Celebrating the major milestone that is graduation is even better when you walk across that stage to make it official! World Campus hosts a wonderful open house–style celebration event where you and your guests can drop by, get pictures, mingle with your peers, and meet your academic adviser and other staff who have helped you along your academic journey. Depending on the semester, you may be able to plan to walk at any of the Commonwealth campuses, if one is closer to you. Your graduation is worth celebrating, and we’d love to have you here to join in the festivities with us!”
Other helpful content
- Tips From World Campus Academic Advising for New and Returning Students — review more helpful advice from academic advisers
- A Conversation with Donna Anderson, Recently Retired World Campus Academic Adviser — Donna Anderson recently retired after spending more than two decades supporting students at Penn State and shared some insights from her experience