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Academic Advising News

Academic Advising News is published as a service of the Academic Advising Portal, an academic advising and information website maintained by Penn State's Division of Undergraduate Studies.

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Academic Advising News

July 1, 2016

As the implementation of LionPATH and Starfish continues, and related procedures appear in AAPPM, updates will be published in the Undergraduate Advising Handbook following reviews by the Registrar, Bursar, Undergraduate Education, and Faculty Senate offices. Many LionPATH processes, forms, and resources are already included in Registration/Enrollment Information and Schedule Planning. Any handbook comments/corrections,regardless of topic, can be submitted by using SUGGEST A CHANGE found on the menu bar of every page.

Volunteer readers from the Penn State community are invited to take part in choosing the 2017–2018 Penn State Reads common text and completing an opinion survey by August 1. The Penn State Reads steering committee collected book nominations earlier this year and narrowed the submissions to nine books:

— "It's What I Do" by Lynsey Addario
— "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nahesi Coates
— "Evicted" by Matthew Desmond
— "Two Dollars a Day" by Katherine Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
— "Under this Beautiful Dome" by Terry Mutchler
— "Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine
— "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson
— "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man who Left Newark for the Ivy League" by Jeff Hobbs
— "On The Move: A Life" by Oliver Sacks

Academic Advising News: June 2016

June 1, 2016

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) selected Penn State's MajorQuest as the 2016 Advising Technology Innovation Award winner for creative and unique use of technology in support of academic advising. The Division of Undergraduate Studies developed and maintains MajorQuest as an electronic tool to help students find and explore majors that match their interests. Students use MajorQuest not only to discover viable majors but also to inform richer conversations with academic advisers who can guide them in connecting choices to personal interests, life goals, and academic opportunities. ​NACADA’s Annual Awards Program promotes recognition of outstanding advising programs and professionals within higher education with the goal of improving advising resources for students.

The 15th annual Professional Development Conference on Academic Advising will take place Friday, Sept. 30, at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. This year’s theme will focus on "Transitions: Energizing Advising and Student Communities for Change” and will feature presentations, workshops, and panel discussions that highlight relevant research and best practices in the advising community. 

As academic advisers, faculty members, and support professionals learn to work with the new Starfish suite of advising tools, the Starfish for Student Success information website serves as a helpful resource, now including responses to Frequently Asked Questions, images of Student Views of Starfish screens, and a link to log in to the Starfish platform.    

Academic Advising News

May 1, 2016

Penn State’s new suite of academic advising tools, the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform, will go live on May 9 as the University’s single system of advising notes and appointment scheduling, filling gaps left as the legacy systems of eLion, ISIS and EARS are decommissioned.   

The Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies is accepting proposals through May 15 for the 15th annual Professional Development Conference on Academic Advising. This year’s conference will take place on Friday, Sept. 30, at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, and the theme will be "Transitions: Energizing Advising and Student Communities for Change.” Details about the theme and a link to the proposal submission form are available at

Leif Jensen, distinguished professor of rural sociology and demography in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Michael Stella, academic adviser at Penn State Berks, have been selected to receive the 2016 Penn State Excellence in Advising Award.

Students and advisers with questions about course controls, availability, prerequisites, or other details can use the new University Park Department Contacts for Courses and Campus Registrar Contact Information lists as resources. Course contacts also may be available in LionPATH’s Search for Classes (Class Details, Class Notes section).

Academic Advising News: April 2016

April 1, 2016

The Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies is accepting proposals through Friday, April 29, for the 15th annual Professional Development Conference on Academic Advising. This year’s conference will take place on Friday, Sept. 30, at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, and the theme will be "Transitions: Energizing Advising and Student Communities for Change.” 

A new version of MajorQuest, released in March 2016, introduces a contemporary, accessible design plus additional filters that not only allow students to narrow Penn State's 160-plus majors by defined interest area(s) and choice of campus but further narrows the list of potential majors to meet other parameters, such as entrance requirements and math, science, and language preferences. Each major in the list of results also includes hyperlinks to important resources to help students learn more about these programs of study, the colleges/departments that offer them, related clubs or listservs, and advising points of contact.

As the Starfish implementation team continues to configure the new academic advising system to initially provide advising notes, early progress reports, and a student appointment system, key demonstrations across colleges and campuses are preparing users and providing valuable feedback. For regular updates on Starfish features and progress, see  

As Penn State transitions from eLion to LionPATH as its new student information system, Penn State Today created a special issue to help students, faculty, and staff through this period of change.

Academic Advising News

March 1, 2016

LionPATH gives students access to their academic, registration, and financial records via the Student Center. Faculty and staff in advising roles can access academic information and resources through the Advisor Center. 

As the implementation of the Starfish suite of academic advising tools progresses to ensure its integration with LionPATH in time for New Student Orientation this May, periodic posts on the Starfish for Student Success now document important steps. To date, these published steps address key goals of initial phases of Starfish, the roles and relationships that are central to adviser and instructor interactions with students, and the development of the Student Success Network that will connect students to key offices and individuals.

Nominations are being accepted by the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) for an award that honors Penn State staff members who go above and beyond their routines to resolve difficult dilemmas or who have been exceptionally creative and responsive to the needs of others. To submit a nomination, members of the Penn State community may use the USAC Awards Nominations Form. The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 11. Honorees will be recognized at a special ceremony in May.

Readers from across the Penn State community are invited to submit book nominations for the 2017–2018 Penn State Reads program. Nominations from anyone are welcome and can be sent to After nominations are received, the Penn State Reads steering committee will narrow the submissions to a short list and then send out a call for volunteer readers to narrow the list to a final book. Anyone who would like to be a reader can volunteer by emailing or by including a note when submitting book nominations.

Academic Advising News: February 2016

February 1, 2016

Starfish for Student Success at is a new web resource to help the Penn State community learn more about the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform that will integrate with LionPATH to provide academic advising tools in time for New Student Orientation 2016.

Sponsored by the Division of Undergraduate Studies, the Academic Advising Noon Seminar series serves as a forum for the discussion of academic advising issues. These events are open to all interested Penn State faculty and staff. The February session offers limited seating and is also available via Adobe Connect:

College Student Mental Health: Equipping Advisers to Refer and Care for Students
Noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12
C-9 Atherton Hall, University Park
Hosted by Schreyer Honors College

Prerequisites for calculus-sequence math courses will be enforced at the time of registration for students scheduling fall 2016 courses. Students must either have earned credit for the prerequisite course or have a qualifying ALEKS score in order to schedule MATH 004, 021, 022, 026, 040, 041, 110, 140, or 141. Students who are currently enrolled in the prerequisite course may conditionally enroll in the next level, but will be disenrolled if they fail or drop the prerequisite course.

New students admitted for summer and fall 2016 will access ALEKS via LionPATH and must complete an ALEKS assessment before receiving a date to attend New Student Orientation. Students can continue to use ALEKS to review their math skills and complete up to two additional assessments until the end of the drop/add period of fall 2016. At that point, ALEKS math assessment is no longer available and students will need to abide by their ALEKS placement in scheduling calculus-sequence math courses.

Members of the LionPATH project team will be holding several regional events throughout the Commonwealth this spring to provide project updates, show a demo of the new system, and give the Penn State community an opportunity to ask questions about the project. These events are open to all staff and faculty.

This issue of LionPATH Email Updates announces the formation of a specific advising team within the LionPATH project and gives tips and tutorials to help the advising community prepare for the mid-February release of the Advisor Center. Also in this issue are links to two blog posts of particular importance: New Enrollment Process Replaces SCHED to REG and Looking Toward Academic Advising Go-Live

To see current and archived LionPATH advising updates and/or to join the advising listserv, visit LionPATH Email Updates.

Academic Advising News: January 2016

January 1, 2016

Any faculty, staff, student, or community member may nominate a Penn State undergraduate student from any campus for the annual Rock Ethics Institute Stand Up Award. This award honors students who have demonstrated courage, fortitude, and ethical leadership by taking a stand for a person, cause, or belief. This year’s nomination deadline is January 29, and the nomination form is available at 2016 Stand Up Award Nominator. Students selected for the award will be honored at a ceremony in spring 2016 and will also each receive a $1,000 award.

Although enrollment in Penn State’s Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) initiative is optional at this time, all Penn State faculty and staff will be required to fully enroll and use the added security measure by the end of spring semester 2016. Answers to many questions about 2FA are available at WebAccess Rollout.

Visitors to Penn State University Libraries’ website may start to notice a few changes by the end of 2015. The Libraries will receive a new home page in advance of the spring 2016 semester, marking the halfway point and the first public phase of a two-year, iterative process to migrate its web content to a new responsive design and Drupal content management platform.

Academic Advising News: December 2015

December 1, 2015

Following collaboration between the University Faculty Senate and the Division of Undergraduate Studies, Policies and Rules for Undergraduate Students and the Undergraduate Advising Handbook now have notations alerting readers to policy changes that are pending implementation. A red asterisk in the handbook index indicates a pending change. The corresponding handbook section includes the Faculty Senate policy number and a link to the current policy, which leads to the legislative report showing the policy revision. For example, in the handbook index entry for Class Attendance, readers will see a red asterisk in the margin and the following statement in the related handbook section:

Current policy reflected below. Changes to Faculty Senate Policy 42-27 (Class Attendance) pending implementation.

By instituting this alert system, the handbook can continue to reflect current academic information and at the same time help the advising community prepare for upcoming changes to policies. As procedural changes are implemented, the handbook will be updated accordingly.

Marc Lowenstein’s guest remarks during Penn State’s Sept. 2015 academic advising conference focused on “Predicting and Envisioning the Future of Academic Advising” and encouraged the advising community to contribute directly to the teaching and learning mission of higher education. In a recent article published in The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, Dr. Ilya Winham of the University of Georgia offers an enlightening report and commentary on Lowenstein’s keynote address.  

In remarks to University administrators on Oct. 21, Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones introduced the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform, a Hobson, Inc., suite of academic advising tools selected by Penn State to integrate with LionPATH and replace current ISIS and eLion advising features that deliver advising notes, early progress reports and online scheduling of advising appointments.

A mid-February LionPATH release will introduce several key advising features, including Class Search (will allow users to search for classes within a specific term), Schedule Builder (an interactive way for students and advisers to compare possible scheduling combinations), and the Advisor Center (will include academic, biographical, and demographic student-level information; a Catalog Search; and Faculty Search). Though not all advising functions will be available with this roll out, future releases will provide more. To see current and archived LionPATH advising updates and/or to join the advising listserv, visit LionPATH Email Updates.

Academic Advising News: November 2015

November 1, 2015

The LionPATH advising team successfully advocated for resources to fill gaps between current advising tools, early progress reporting needs, and delivered functionality in LionPATH. After a Request for Proposal process, the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform (which includes Early Alert, Connect, and Advising solutions) has been selected to meet the University’s advising and early progress reporting needs and will replace eLion and college-hosted advising systems while complementing the delivered LionPATH Advisor Center. An implementation team is being assembled under the leadership of David Smith, associate dean for advising and executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. 

The opportunities and resources students have to help enhance their undergraduate experiences will be discussed during the next episode of WPSU Penn State’s “Higher Education in Focus” with Penn State President Eric Barron. The show will air at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 on WPSU-TV and WPSU-FM.

On Monday, Nov. 16, noon–1:00 p.m., in the Mann Assembly Room of the Paterno Library at University Park, the advising community is invited to learn about the English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center (EPPIC) and how it promotes advanced English communication skills for international students, faculty, and researchers across the University. Meredith Doran, Ph.D., administrative director of EPPIC, will discuss the center's offerings and how advisers may refer students.

Through Friday, Nov. 6, students may nominate advisers for the 2016 Penn State Excellence in Academic Advising Award. Sponsored by the University Advising Council and the Office for Undergraduate Education, the award recognizes advising excellence. One award is given annually to a faculty member who advises and one to a staff academic adviser. All current full-time University employees with advising responsibilities and two years of experience are eligible. Students who wish to nominate an adviser may complete a short, online form at

Academic Advising News: October 2015

October 1, 2015

Every semester the Division of Undergraduate Studies invites the Penn State community to hour-long presentations featuring academic advising topics. These sessions provide opportunities for professional development, networking and advising discussions. No registration is necessary, and all faculty and staff members are welcome to attend.

The first year of college can be trying for many students; new responsibilities and expectations in a new environment can be overwhelming. “During this time, students may experience five transitional stages,” according to Kendra Sites, academic support center director at Penn State Mont Alto, “and helping them to understand that what they are experiencing is normal, is key to helping them transition and adjust to college life.”

As the 2015 Penn State class comes together to explore the rise of fracking in the United States, students are invited to meet Wall Street Journal senior energy reporter Russell Gold, author of this year’s Penn State Reads book, “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World.”