Tips From World Campus Academic Advising for New and Returning Students

Academic advisers support students as they begin their Penn State World Campus journey and are there as a resource through graduation. They collaborate with students to develop tailored plans of study geared toward their educational goals. Advisers help students choose courses that meet degree requirements and match their interests and help them find answers to any questions they may have.

We asked our academic advising team to share some advice for new and returning students. Here are some of their insider tips: 

Building connections

Academic Adviser Dina Liberatore encourages students to interact with their professors — assuring them that professors can offer support, further guidance, or tutoring if they’re struggling with course materials.

If you are having an issue in the class, be specific about your concerns and what you could use to be successful. You won’t get any help or flexibility if you don’t ask! And even if you are doing well in the course, introduce yourself! Talk to your professor about your goals and get to know them. You might apply for a scholarship or graduate school someday and a professor is a sought-after recommendation!

— Dina Liberatore, academic adviser 

Academic Adviser Shawna Culp reminds students that while connecting with your adviser via email is easy, talking on the phone allows you to ask questions and get direct and timely answers. Shawna believes that having good communication with your adviser and preparing ahead for appointments are powerful tools for success.

Going into an advising appointment, be aware of where you are in your degree progress. Review your Degree Checksheet or Academic Requirements report in LionPATH before the appointment and have an idea of how many courses you would like to take the next semester. Be prepared to discuss future semesters, whether you’re planning your Entrance-to-Major courses or your last couple of semesters before graduation.

— Shawna Culp, academic adviser 

Managing your time

Penn State World Campus Academic Adviser Mandy Biddle highlights the importance of managing your time through the week.

Figuring out how many classes you should take during your first semester is an important decision that will be a great topic of discussion with your academic adviser. Your adviser will encourage you to think about a typical week and how much time you can realistically dedicate to your school work after considering your work, home, and personal commitments. Expect to spend 8 to 12 hours per week on each 3-credit course. Managing your time is a skill that you can build and practice before classes even begin. The Academic Success Kit is a great resource to get you started.

— Mandy Biddle, academic adviser 

Preparing for your courses

Kate Elias presents a great tip to get ahead of planning for the semester using sample syllabi, even before you have full access to courses.

While students generally receive access to courses on the first day of the semester, many courses have a sample syllabus available for you to review. The sample course syllabus provides students with the opportunity to ‘dig deeper’ into what courses could be like. It often provides detailed learning objectives, sample learning activities/lessons, and sample grading/assessment information. Having this information before the semester starts can be a critical tool to help you understand and proactively plan for your weekly expectations and time commitment!

— Kate Elias, academic adviser 

Barbra McDill wants students to look ahead and make sure they plan their schedules in a way that they’re not caught by surprise as deadlines approach.

At the start of the semester, look at the syllabi for all courses you have scheduled. Put major assignment due dates and exams into your personal or work calendar. That way you can look ahead through the whole semester to see where there are conflicts such as crunch times at work, vacation plans, medical procedures, events with the kids, and so on, then plan how you will fit the school work in around those things.

— Barbra McDill, academic adviser

Getting involved

Lastly, Dina shares an excellent suggestion about how to use any extra or free time you may have once you’ve given attention to your  course work.

Your calendar is probably pretty busy with classes and other commitments, but if you have some time, need a break, or are between semesters, take some time to learn about everything that Penn State has to offer OUTSIDE the classroom! Check out the calendar of events in the Student Portal or join a student organization. Getting involved outside of the classroom is a great way to learn about yourself, meet others, and grow your Penn State pride!

— Dina Liberatore, academic adviser