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What is Academic Advising?

Academic advising is a form of teaching. As an activity, its intention is to maximize student understanding and use of Penn State resources. Frequent and constructive interaction between adviser and advisee is essential to promote the student's successful completion of educational goals.

What are the responsibilities of advisers and advisees?

To protect the rights and responsibilities of both student and faculty, the adviser neither grants nor denies administrative approval. The student must assume final responsibility for the successful completion of all graduation requirements.

The Adviser’s Role

  • To understand University procedures and the academic concerns of students
  • To understand the expected standards of achievement and the student’s likelihood of success
  • To discuss suitable career objectives as demonstrated by student abilities and interests
  • To plan a course of study and advise about courses, adjustments, prerequisites, etc.
  • To refer students to other resources when appropriate
  • To keep informed and current regarding the specific college and department

The Advisee’s Role

  • To acquire information for course scheduling, program planning, and graduation requirements
  • To seek academic and career information needed to meet educational goals
  • To become knowledgeable about University and college policies, procedures, rules, etc.
  • To be prepared with accurate and relevant materials when meeting with the adviser
  • To consult with the adviser at least once a semester

Why is Academic Advising Important in College?


The Eberly Campus is small, 1,000 - 1,200 students, but the Penn State system is large: approximately 93,000 students! As a Penn State student, you are part of a large system as well as a smaller system and you need help to negotiate both systems in the best way possible for you. You also need a guide to benefit from the advantages of such a large system while navigating its complex requirements. That guide is your ADVISER.


THE FIRST YEAR IS THE MOST CRITICAL YEAR OF COLLEGE! All recent research points to this. Students succeed if they become attached to the institution, get to know people, get involved, believe that others care about them and their progress.

Advisers are not like high school guidance counselors who are often responsible for 300 or more students. Advisers are mainly faculty members who usually have no more than 20-30 advisees, sometimes fewer. Since advisers and students are matched for areas of interest, very often students will also have their advisers as professors, so there is real opportunity for students and faculty to form a collaborative relationship. This very special kind of relationship that benefits the adviser and student. Students can test their ideas on someone skilled in the profession and can have a wise guide/coach who has been through the process the student is just starting. Faculty benefit by staying in touch with what is newly thought and with having their favorite ideas tested-again!


While getting help from other students is widely practiced, it is not always wisely practiced.

Advisers are not perfect (we sometimes make mistakes), but students all too frequently give each other bad advice because they do not realize the limitations of their personal experiences in a system so complex.

Some Real Examples:

  1. “If you stop going to class, the instructor will take you off his list.”
    Wrong! That “F” on your grade report is the sad result.
  2. “Don’t take that class; the instructor is too tough. Wait and take it with ___.” Result: an expensive summer course because the student is now out of sequence which may result in you graduating a semester later.

BE WISE: Test your friends’ advice with your adviser before using it!



After the Angel Academic Beginnings Session, you will meet with a New Student Orientation adviser, who is probably not going to be your “regular” adviser. Your NSO adviser is a faculty or staff member who enjoys working with new students and has chosen to spend part of the summer getting you off to a good start. You will meet your official adviser in the fall.

Your NSO adviser has these main goals:

  • To get to know you a bit in person, as well as from what you have written on the Educational Planning Survey, and to know something about your past academic achievements and current needs.
  • Based on this knowledge, to help you choose an academic direction or college.
  • To assist you in setting up your first schedule of classes, including making a judgment about the number of credits you can carry.
  • To pass on to your regular adviser useful information to assist you.

Plans can be changed during and after the New Student Orientation interview. You may have changed your mind about a particular major or direction after the General Session or from things you learned since you filled out the Educational Planning Survey, for your testing session, or after your interview with your NSO adviser. Your class schedule is still flexible. If you need or want to make changes, call the Undergraduate Studies Advising Office at 724-430-4123.


As soon as you learn who your regular adviser is, check his or her office hours, then go and introduce yourself. 

Your adviser is a faculty or staff member who knows your main area of interest and can help you with it. Unlike a high school guidance counselor, your adviser will usually have only 20-30 advisees and will make time for you. Every adviser has regularly scheduled office hours, which are posted outside of room 201 Eberly Bldg., in a glass case. Most advisers also see students by appointment, so if your hours do not coincide, leave a note on your adviser’s door or send an email. Remember your adviser is a valuable resource to you. The adviser wants to be a part of your success in your academic journey at Penn State Fayette.

MAKE THE EFFORT TO MEET WITH YOUR ADVISER FREQUENTLY! Your adviser knows the campus, the University, and his or her professional field. He or she can refer you to sources of help and information. Some advisers will help you with study skills if you are having difficulty or will refer you to help in The Learning Center or elsewhere. Many students also find that their advisers are wise counselors in personal situations. Your adviser will provide you with advice and help you stay on track with your education and graduation goals.

Once in a while, a student and an adviser are not a good match. If you feel it would be a help to have your adviser changed, call the Undergraduate Studies Advising Office at 724-430-4123. Advisers are sometimes changed when you change programs. Check each semester on eLion for your current adviser.

Some Appropriate Advising Topics:

  • your current interests and directions
  • campus resources
  • scheduling
  • university resources
  • academic or personal difficulties or achievements
  • interpretation of University rules and policies
  • study time and skills
  • changes in academic plans or schedules
  • job or other recommendations
  • career choices
  • the adviser’s interest and areas of expertise
  • awards and scholarships
  • academic progress
  • major choices
  • adding and dropping courses


As soon as the next semester schedule is published, students may print one from the web. The student should then make an appointment to see his or her regular adviser in order to plan a schedule. Since courses sometimes close (become full) before a student has the opportunity to sign up, it is wise to plan a few alternative courses if that is possible.

Registration is completed on eLion or in the Registrar’s Office according to the published schedule with seniors registering first, then juniors, and so on.

Sometimes a course will be full (closed) before a student gets to schedule it. If there is another section open, you may schedule that one. Also, Elion has a ‘course watch’ option that you can select to be notified when an opening becomes available in class.

It is important to realize that advance registration is held before current semester courses are completed. Changes that need to be made because of failed courses are the student’s responsibility!

Your adviser will not have information on current grades as quickly as the student. Do not remain in a course if you have failed a prerequisite! See your adviser about the problem. Is a change of major something to consider?



This may be possible. You must get approval from the course instructor in order to accomplish this. It is not as difficult as it sounds, since there is a lot of turnover at the beginning of semesters and some instructors will allow their courses to increase in size in order to accommodate students. Persist pleasantly, but realize that sometimes “NO” is necessary!!



A student is considered full-time if registered for 12 or more credits.

A student is considered part-time if registered for 1-11 credits.

Some student aid is dependent upon full time registration.

Any student considering dropping below full time because of failed or dropped courses should consult their academic adviser first and then the Student Aid Office, 110 Eberly Bldg., before dropping any course!


During the first ten calendar days of each semester, a student can add or drop a course without the change being noted on his or her permanent record. If you drop a course during this time period, the credits will not be deducted from your allotted ‘late drop credits’.


  1. Talk to your adviser regarding the change you are planning to make (if your adviser is not yet assigned, go to the Undergraduate Studies Advising Office, 202 Eberly Bldg.).
  2. Go to the Registrar’s Office (201 Eberly Bldg.) and get an add/drop slip.
  3. Return the form to the Registrar’s office before 5 pm by the 10th day of the semester.
  4. Or you can drop your course on eLion - drop/add before the deadline (typically the 10th day of the semester.

DROPS PROCESSED IN THE REGISTRAR’S OFFICE AFTER THE TENTH DAY AND BEFORE THE END OF THE 12TH WEEK ARE LATE DROPS. There is a $6.00 fee charged for each course processed as either a late add or late drop and can be paid in the Finance Office (Williams Bldg.). Late drops are noted on a student’s transcript with a grade of WN (withdraw no grade), WP (withdraw passing) or WF (withdraw failing).

Late drops are limited in number. Students pursuing associate degrees are allowed a total of 10 late drop credits. Student pursuing baccalaureate degrees are limited to 16 late drop credits. These are totals for the time a student is in attendance at Penn State!



Course Instructors

Getting lost in a course? Not sure whether your notes are accurate? Missed some classes unavoidably? Ask the instructor. Many Fayette faculty spend hours and hours helping students. At the very least, instructors will be sure to mention and recommend some sources of help, including referral to The Learning Center.

The Learning Center—Library Lower Level

The Center is an academic learning environment available to all students regardless of age, education background, or academic standing. Our trained tutors are available during daytime, evenings, or weekend hours. They provide individual and group sessions. The Learning Center is not a substitute for regular class attendance and participation. There is no fee for using the expertise of the tutors in the Center.

Study Groups

Many research studies have documented the value of study groups, especially in the sciences. These are usually student-formed groups and are a valuable supplement to individual study. Some instructors assist in-group forming. The Learning Center also utilizes some group study.

Other Sources

Examples of other sources are: Network Services, The Library, Career Services, Undergraduate Studies Advising Office, and the Student Affairs office. Referral among sources is frequent.

All students will have questions or need help during their academic journey. The sooner you ask for help the sooner you will get it!


Listed below are “advising tools” that every well-equipped Penn State Fayette student should possess and be able to refer to.

eLion.psu.edu—The eLion system is an electronic gateway for students to access their academic record. A wealth of information and capabilities, including online registration, grade point calculations, etc. are presented to the student. This service provides opportunity for interactive inquiry to assist students in formulating informed decisions regarding academic planning.

Degree Audits are available through eLion. The degree audit is an academic advising document that maps a student's degree requirements against their academic transcript. The purpose of the audit is to provide information to assist in academic planning and appropriate course scheduling (Policy 32-50). All students should generate their degree audit and take it with you to your adviser meetings throughout the semester.

http://www.registrar.psu.edu/—The Registrar's office home page provides a broad array of information related to enrollment, courses, programs, and various academic issues. This is also an alternate source for current “Schedule of Course” information.

http://www.psu.edu/ur/academic.html—The various program bulletins of the University are published at this site. Included are associate degree programs, baccalaureate degree programs, and graduate degree programs.

www.psu.edu/ufs/policies/—Student Policies and Rules. Must read the section on Academic Integrity (Policy 49-20).

http://www.psu.edu/oue/aappm/—This site provides access to the various policies and procedures related to student enrollment.

http://www.fayette.psu.edu—Penn State Fayette’s home page.

http://www.psu.edu/advising—This site is designed to help students navigate through the Penn State system.

For more information about any aspects of advising, please contact:

Dr. Myrna A. Covington, Coordinator
Division of Undergraduate Studies and Advising Program
Penn State Fayette