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Questions about courses and scheduling

One of the most critical parts of consulting and advising relates to academics. At FTCAP you will learn about the academic environment at PSU, requirements and expectations, and begin to plan your college program. In consultation with an academic adviser, you will select and register for your first semester’s courses. As part of this process, you will take mathematics, and chemistry placement tests prior to arriving at the Lehigh Valley campus for a half day of academic orientation. When you leave your FTCAP scheduling session, you will be registered for classes.

What if I can’t make my scheduled FTCAP day?

If there is an emergency that prevents you from attending the FTCAP day you selected, please contact Mike Hertel at 610-285-5126. Be aware that canceling or changing your appointment may result in difficulty in scheduling your preferred courses.

What dates are the placement tests online?

Penn State testing services will be notifying you of your deadline to test online.  You will receive notification from University Park with your student ID, deadline date, website for accessing the Educational Planning Survey and Placement Tests, and necessary phone numbers in the event you need assistance.  The first group of postcards will be mailed beginning March 19th.  New first-year and provisional students admitted after March 19th should receive notification of his/her testing deadline within five to seven business days from the date the acceptance fee is paid.

When will I find out the results of the placement test I took?

You will receive your results of your placement tests on the day that you are scheduled for your FTCAP session.  These results WILL NOT be available to you before your FTCAP advising day.    

Can I retake the FTCAP tests if I am unhappy with the results?

You CAN retake the math portion, but you are not eligible to do so until three weeks from the date you initially tested.  You can access the re-test, by visiting the same website you previously tested on.  

How do I know what math to take?

Your math placement will be based on the results of your math placement test scores, your intended major, and your past high school record. Your adviser will help you make the right choice for a math course.

How will I know the courses, grades, and other requirements in order to be admitted to the major in which I am interested?

Most first-semester baccalaureate degree students are admitted to the University and to a specific college or to the Division of Undergraduate Studies, not to a specific major within the college. It is very important for academic advising and planning purposes for these students to identify and record on the eLion advising system their intended majors or major preferences, in order of priority.

What do I do if I have Special Needs?

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Linda Rumfield at 610-285-5124 at least two weeks before your participation. 

Three Major Preferences:

You are encouraged to explore majors of interest to you by discussing alternative majors with your academic adviser and by accessing the Exploring Majors application on eLion. You will update your three major preferences to reflect any changes using the eLion Major Preferences application. By keeping your major preferences up-to-date, you will be informing your academic adviser and your college of your current academic plans and goals. Be sure to discuss requirements with your academic adviser.

What if I’m not sure about a major?

The Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) is Penn State's enrollment program for students who want to explore the University's academic opportunities before deciding on a field of study and for students in transition from one college or major to another.

“In DUS, your major is looking at all the majors and deciding which one you want.” –Rebecca (After exploring in DUS, Rebecca majored in nutrition.)

What is eLion and how will it help me?

Penn State's eLion is an expert-based, empirically-grounded interactive system that is delivered by the latest technologies to supplement student-adviser relationships and engage students in interactive inquiry for informed educational planning, facilitate faculty's access to student information, and allow prospective students to explore Penn State. The purpose of eLion is:  to provide current, prospective, and former students access to the information and services needed to initiate and complete academic programs; provide faculty access to the information needed to successfully advise and teach students; and provide advisers access to the information needed to successfully advise students.

You will need an access account in order to access eLion. This account will be assigned to you on your FTCAP day.


What will my first semester schedule look like?

The typical first-year student schedule will consist of five or six courses, usually including an English composition course, a math course, a first-year engagement and, perhaps, a foreign language course. The remaining two or three courses will usually be general education courses. You will get help from academic advisers in making your course selections.

Your college schedule will be very different from your high school schedule. College courses do not usually meet every day of the week. Most classes meet two or three times a week. Even though classes meet less frequently, you will be responsible for learning much more material. Because of that, you will have to put in a lot more study time than you did in high school to get the same grades. Your classes will probably not be back-to-back throughout the day as they were in high school. Most students have gaps in their class schedules. You may have evening classes as well as early morning classes. As you can imagine, one of the biggest challenges you will have is learning how to manage your time.  You will have more choice in setting your schedule. Although there are many required courses in college, you still have more choice than in high school about what courses to take and when to take them.

Try to remain flexible in making your schedule. As entering first-year students, you may not be able to get your “dream” schedule. Remember that all the rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors have already registered. As you gain seniority, getting your ideal schedule will get much easier.   


Can students get on a waiting list for courses that are closed?

No, but there are two options:

  1. Go to eLion, select "course watch" for daily updates.
  2. Courses may open during the regular drop/add period in the beginning of the semester. During this time, you may have an opportunity to select the course you want.

What is a first-year engagement?

The First-Year Engagement (FYE) is a course to be completed by students within their first year of enrollment at Penn State. This requirement can be met by enrolling in a three-credit general education course that has been designated as a FYE.

What is general education?

The inclusion of General Education studies in every degree program reflects a deep conviction by the Penn State faculty, as well as by leaders in all professions, that successful, satisfying lives require a wide range of skills and knowledge. These skills include the ability to reason logically and quantitatively and to communicate effectively; an understanding of the sciences that make sense of the natural environment; a familiarity with the cultural movements that have shaped societies and their values; and an appreciation for the enduring art that expresses, inspires, and continually challenges these values. General Education, in essence, augments and rounds out the specialized training students receive in their majors and aims to cultivate a knowledgeable, informed, literate human being. For more information on general education, go to: www.psu.edu/dus/ge/

Will my FTCAP adviser continue to be my adviser after I start my first year?

Perhaps, but not necessarily.  You will be assigned an academic adviser from the academic advising center staff or a faculty adviser. Check on the eLion system to find out who your adviser is and how to get in touch with him/her. Your adviser assignment will be on eLion a few days before classes start.

Can parents meet with advisers without the student?

Advisers need written permission from the student in order to discuss specific academic issues regarding the student with his/her parents. The Penn State policy on Confidentiality of Student Records is designed to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This federal law also requires that the student be informed of the existence and location of records as well as define the purpose for which such information is obtained; to provide security for such material; to permit student access to, disclosure of, and challenge to this information and to discontinue such information when compelling reasons for its retention no longer exist. For additional information, you may access our University Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records.

Can parents get grades, transcripts?

The University does not release grades to parents. The sharing of grades between parents and the student is a family matter. Students have access to their semester grades:
• on the World Wide Web using eLion
• or requesting to have their grades mailed to their home address

Parents may obtain a copy of their son's or daughter's academic transcript by (1) obtaining the son's or daughter's authorizing signature on the transcript request or (2) providing proof that the child is your dependent by submitting a copy of your previous year's Internal Revenue Service 1040 form which must include the student's name along with the transcript request. See the Registrar in room 103 for more information.

When do I pay my tuition bill?

Tuition bills are now online and available through eLion.

What do I need to get my Penn State photo ID?

Penn State photo IDs will be taken on FTCAP day. You need some type of valid photo identification, usually a driver’s license, passport, or official state ID, to get your Penn State ID.

No pressure math refresher