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Important Terms for Smeal Students

glossary of terms for Smeal students

Important Terms for Smeal Students

This glossary is a reference tool for common Penn State terminology with links to more information.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed.
The University Academic Calendar lists important dates and deadlines for each semester. It is subject to change without notice.
When students fail to make adequate progress towards meeting and maintaining a 2.00 grade-point average as required for graduation, various academic progress statuses are used to serve as notification and to assist the students in correcting their academic difficulties. It is highly recommended to meet with your Academic Adviser if you have any questions about your academic standing.
The pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. It is the basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State. Read about Penn State’s Academic Integrity Policyand the Smeal Honor Code.
An academic or degree plan is a student's intended course schedule for an upcoming semester or multiple semesters.
An Academic Requirements Report is an academic advising working document that maps a student's degree requirements against their academic transcript, listing all requirements for completing a specific plan(s). Also referred to as a Degree Audit.
Your access ID or PSU email ID is usually three letters followed by a 1- to 4-digit number such as xyz101.
The ALEKS Math Assessment is used to measure a student’s readiness for certain math, statistics, and chemistry courses at Penn State.
The main difference between the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS) is the subject matter. BA degree coursework tends to focus on critical thinking, communication, and holistic learning, whereas BS degree coursework tends to focus on logic, reasoning, and quantitative skills. All Smeal majors are BS degrees.
The Undergraduate Bulletin is Penn State’s comprehensive source for undergraduate academic information and program requirements. It includes information on every major, minor certificate and degree program Penn State has to offer.
Smeal is located within the University Park campus. University Park is the largest campus out of the 24 Penn State campus locations (including the World Campus) across Pennsylvania. Need help navigating? Use our interactive maps!
Canvas is Penn State's online system for teaching and learning used by most course instructors.
Smeal students have access to two career centers:

Our Business Career Center (BCC) is located on the first floor of the Business Building and is an excellent resource for Smeal students.

The University Bank of America Career Center is a resource for all Penn State students. It is a short walk from the Business Building, near the University Health Services.

Both career centers offer resume assistance, career counseling, interview preparation, internship and job connections, and host career fairs throughout the academic year. Every Smeal student should access these sites and become familiar with opportunities to learn and grow and prepare for that future interview, internship, or career.
Penn State University is made up of sixteen academic colleges and several additional schools that range from the arts to the sciences with many subjects in between.
Graduation is the completion of all degree requirements as recorded on the official transcript. 

Commencement is the ceremony that celebrates the completion of a degree.

A concurrent course or other requirement that a student must satisfactorily complete either before or during the same semester as a given course.
A Concurrent Majors Program is one in which a student takes courses to concurrently meet the requirements of at least two majors, with graduation for all majors in the program occurring during the same semester. Requests for adding concurrent major(s) require permission from all departments and colleges involved. Students are not permitted to complete two enrollment-controlled majors.
All Penn State courses offered are listed alphabetically with a description and with prerequisites listed. Not all courses in the course description list are offered every semester or at every campus. The academic department through which the course is offered would have information on the frequency of the courses offered in their department. (Example: Risk Management has a few courses only offered during the fall or spring semester. Please check this information when planning courses.)
A course load is the total number of courses/credit hours the student is enrolled in per term. A course overload is anything exceeding 19 credits per fall or spring term.
An offering of a particular course, at a particular time and location, by a particular instructor, during a specific academic term. Some courses will have multiple sections.

When searching for a course on Lion PATH, multiple sections of the same course may appear. Be sure to review the ‘Enrollment Requirements’ and ‘Class Notes’ information, as each section may be controlled for particular student populations.
Total credits earned are used to determine a student's semester classification. Cumulative credits are used to calculate a student's grade points when the grade point average (GPA) is determined. Total credits and cumulative credits are calculated every semester and reported on the student's grade report and transcript. In Smeal, cumulative Penn State credits are used to calculate the credits for the credit window.
A college Dean is an academic administrator with significant authority in a specific unit or area. The Smeal College of Business has multiple deans responsible for different areas, including Dr. Charles Whiteman, the dean of the college as a whole.
This occurs traditionally during the student's second year of study and when all requirements to declare are met.
A degree audit is an academic advising working document that maps a student's degree requirements against their academic transcript, listing all requirements for completing a specific plan(s). Also referred to as an Academic Requirements Report.
Registration is a continuous process at Penn State, beginning with the student's first day to register and continuing until the first day of classes for the semester. Once the semester begins, the process of changing a student's course schedule is referred to as dropping/adding courses. The drop/add period occurs around the first week of classes for the semester.
A course outside of a school's core curriculum that a student can select to take by personal choice. Generally, students take Gen Ed courses to fulfill their electives. Some courses do not count as electives for certain majors (example: MGMT 100 or MKTG 221 for Smeal majors). Check with your Academic Adviser if you have questions as to what will count as an elective.
Entrance to Major is the process through which students complete the requirements needed to apply for their intended degree program. Please talk with your Academic Adviser about these requirements to ensure that you are on track!
Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students use this form to apply for financial aid for undergraduate or graduate school. To apply for any type of aid, including scholarships, a FAFSA form must be submitted.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. FERPA is a federal law that was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records. All educational institutions that receive federal funding must comply with FERPA. According to FERPA, a student's education records may be disclosed only with the student's prior written consent. This includes disclosures to parents, guardians, or other outside sources.
Penn State defines First Generation College Students as any student whose parent(s)/guardian(s) have never completed a 4-year college or university degree.
Students must maintain 12 or more credits to be considered full-time during the fall and spring semesters. Anything below 12 credits is considered part-time. Falling below full-time status can affect things like financial aid, housing, and health insurance, so be sure to contact the Student Aid Office if you plan to be a part-time student.
General Education is the heart of the undergraduate experience. From the sciences to the arts and humanities, General Education at Penn State prepares students to thrive personally and professionally in our diverse global society.
Guided Study Groups @ Penn State Learning (GSGs) are part of a collaborative learning program designed to support students who are seeking additional support for larger lecture courses.
An academic, administrative, conduct, financial, or health hold may prevent a student from registering or adding courses for current and future semesters.
Hybrid courses meet in-person and remotely. The percentage of a course that is in-person vs. remote varies by course.
Instruction Mode indicates how instruction is delivered for each class section during a semester. The assigned instruction mode can be found in the Lion PATH Schedule of Classes, within the "Class Details" section of each class.
International Student and Scholar Advising (ISSA) offers advising, immigration services, and training to support our international students, scholars, and faculty. Contact information can be found here.
Multiple component classes consist of more than one type of class that must be taken together to satisfy a requirement. An example is a science class that has a lecture class and lab or recitation class to be completed for one grade. Students must schedule both at the same time.
LionPATH is Penn State's student information system, which provides access to academic, registration, and financial records. This page includes support and tutorials for students.
A major is a specific subject area college students choose to specialize in related to interest, career goal, or as preparation for further education.

A minor, which is secondary to a major, is declared and committed to by a bachelor's degree student.

A certificate can be pursued whether or not a student is an undergraduate or in college or not. Both a minor and a certificate can be taken concurrently with a bachelor's degree.

Minors generally require more credits than certificates. Both are valuable assets to your overall degree.
Professors and teaching assistants schedule time (office hours) outside of class to meet with students. Office hours are times when you can meet with your professors and teaching assistants to discuss the material being presented in class or other related interests you have. Usually, office hours are posted in Canvas, on a syllabus, or on an instructor’s website.
New Student Orientation provides a chance for incoming students to explore the campus, meet faculty, and talk to an academic adviser before registering for classes.
Your ID number is important to memorize and is used often to identify you at Penn State. It can be found on your Penn State ID card.
At Penn State, we use the ALEKS Math Assessment to evaluate your readiness to take college-level math.

English placement is based on SAT and/or ACT scores (although these scores are not required for admission to Penn State).

Plagiarism means using someone else’s work without giving them proper credit. In academic writing, plagiarizing involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without citing it correctly. Plagiarizing is a crime and an Academic Integrity violation at Penn State. These violations are subject to a variety of sanctions.
A prerequisite is a course or other requirement that a student must satisfactorily complete before the start of a given course. Some exceptions may be made where appropriate, but are not guaranteed. Exception requests can be submitted via LionPATH (see Why Can’t I Schedule This Course and Prerequisite Overrides).
The Professional Attire Closet at Bank of America Career Center exists to serve students and recent alumni in financial need and limited geographically with professional event attire needs like career fairs, interviews, and networking events. These services are free of charge.
Most of the time, “professor” refers to a tenure-track professorship appointment. “Instructor,” similar to “lecturer,” covers everybody else who teaches in universities, with jobs that are contract, time full-time, or part-time. For most universities and colleges, an assistant professor is the first rank.
Re-enrollment allows a former degree candidate to resume a degree program. It is requested via this process.
The Registrar has University-wide responsibility for student academic records and related processes including registering for courses, academic transcripts, the confidentiality of student records, grade reporting, degree audit, graduation, diplomas, verifying enrollment, scheduling final exams, withdrawing, re-enrolling, academic renewal, scheduling classrooms, publishing the schedule of courses, academic calendar, university bulletin and athletic eligibility.
Registration is the process by which students enroll in courses for a given semester. Information on how and when to register for courses can be found here. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic adviser before completing any registration activity.

The Registration Timetable provides a schedule of when students can begin registering for classes for a specific semester. The Registration Timetable is subject to change without notice.
Class meets remotely. 100% of the class will be taught asynchronously, meaning there is not a common time that students are required to log in to class.
Class meets remotely at specific days/times listed in LionPath.
Students use Starfish to schedule appointments with academic advisers and, in some cases, instructors. Advisers use Starfish to record advising notes, filter for students who need outreach, and manage advising appointments. Instructors use Starfish to give students feedback on their performance in a course.
When students have questions about financial aid, Student Aid is the office to contact. They offer assistance in every aspect of student aid.
Summer courses are offered across several sessions: Maymester (early May to early June), Summer Session I (mid-May to late June), Summer Session II (late June to mid-August), and Regular Session, which spans the length of Summer Sessions I and II (mid-May to mid-August). Students may take summer courses to get ahead on credits, stay on track with rigorous programs, or catch up if they have fallen behind. For students who have fallen behind and have financial need, scholarships may be available to help pay for summer courses.
An outline of the subjects in a course of study or teaching. Courses usually have a syllabus outlining assignments and other pertinent information, including course policies, grading scales, and instructor office hours.
Experienced undergraduate students and graduate students are employed to assist in teaching courses along with a course professor or instructor, often hosting office hours to assist students with course material. When courses offer TA office hours, it is appropriate and encouraged to attend to ask questions and to get assistance with course information.
A transcript is an official document that provides an inventory of courses and grades earned by a student throughout their academic career. Students can request both official and unofficial transcripts through LionPATH. Official transcripts include the University seal certifying the accuracy of the information provided on the transcript.
An undergraduate degree is a series of higher-level studies culminating in an associate or bachelor’s degree.

A graduate degree is any study after the undergraduate degree that trains professionals at a specialized level.
The Smeal College requires that all upper division courses within the department sponsoring the major be completed in-residence at University Park under the instruction of Smeal College faculty. For example, Marketing majors must complete all Marketing courses through the Smeal College.
Students can choose to enroll in a Wait List when a class is full. The Wait List is like a line. When a seat becomes open, the student at the top of the list is automatically enrolled in the class, and everyone moves up a spot.

If you are adding yourself to the waitlist for a different section of a course you are already enrolled in, or for a course that is at the same time as a course already on your schedule, you must set it up as a ‘Swap’ in LionPATH. If not set up as a Swap, you will not be added to the course even if you reach the top of the waitlist.
A What-If report shows how a student’s completed and in-progress courses will apply toward requirements for any major or minor.
If you are unable to complete the semester, you may choose to withdraw from the University. Withdrawal will terminate enrollment in all courses for current and future semesters except in the case of "summer-only" withdrawal. Withdrawal results in a "W" symbol recorded as the course grade(s) on your transcript.
Work Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. All students who have submitted their FAFSA by the University’s recommended deadline and have indicated an interest in work-study on the FAFSA will be considered during awarding. Penn State does not require a separate application for Federal Work-Study. Due to limited funding, not all students who are eligible will receive an offer of Work-Study. If you are awarded work-study, it will appear in your Student Aid Summary in LionPATH. Your work-study award must be accepted.

Work study funds are only earned when a student applies for a Federal work study position, accepts, and begins working within a specific work study position. Although a form of student aid, Federal Work Study earnings are not applied as credit on your tuition bill. All wages earned are directly deposited into your checking or savings account every two weeks according to Penn State’s Bi-Weekly Pay Schedule.