DUS News - January 11, 2021

Check Your Email for a Message From Your Adviser

We hope you had a great break! Make sure you read any emails sent by your academic adviser via Starfish recently. These messages include comments about your academic plans and highlight actions you may need to take. These messages are sent to your Penn State email account. 

Alternative Grading: Decision Deadline Tuesday

A reminder that the deadline to make your alternative grading selections is tomorrow, Tuesday, January 12. When making decisions about alternative grading for the fall 2020 semester, you’ll want to consider how selecting SAT, V, or Z grades will impact your academic goals, keeping in mind that the rules for alternative grades this semester are different from this past spring.  

Most notably: 

  • Not all majors will count fall 2020 courses with alternative grades towards entrance-to-major requirements.
  • Courses in which academic sanctions have been received for academic integrity violations will be ineligible for alternative grading this semester.

There are additional considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to take alternative grades such as financial aid status, program eligibility, Dean’s List eligibility, and the perception of alternative grades when applying to graduate or professional school. These are all reasons to use alternative grading very cautiously and only in situations where you faced significant, unexpected academic challenges due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Resources for considering alternative grading include: the Keep Learning website, the LionPATH GPA calculator, and the upcoming DUS alternative grading workshop. If you are still unsure whether you should elect alternative grades after using these resources, please reach out to your adviser. You can also consult the new alternative grading worksheet tool from this week’s Resource Spotlight to make your decision.

Important Dates: 

  • January 12, 2021: All selections must be finalized by 11:59 p.m. (ET).
Leave of Absence: Deadline Friday

Are you considering taking some time off next semester? If so, you may want to think about filing a leave of absence, which allows you to return to the University without having to apply for re-enrollment and without having to change your academic program. If this is something you are pondering, please talk to your academic adviser as soon as possible, as there are still items that need to be considered (e.g. student aid). The deadline to file a leave of absence for spring 2021 is Friday, January 15, 2021.

Remote Start to Spring 2021

Penn State recently made the decision to delay the start of in-person classes and transition to a fully remote learning environment for the beginning of the spring 2021 semester at all campus locations. This decision was made by Penn State leadership following extensive analysis and scenario planning given worsening coronavirus conditions nationally and across the state indicating predictions of rising hospitalization rates. To provide an uninterrupted educational experience for students, all classes will be delivered remotely beginning on January 19 and will continue remotely through February 12. At this time, classes will transition to their regularly scheduled mode and resume across all campus locations on Feb. 15, though this date could change based on health and safety factors and guidance from the state. If possible, students are strongly discouraged from returning to campus, off-campus locations, and group dwellings (e.g., apartments and fraternities) during the four-week remote period. Regardless of return date, all students must complete a COVID-19 test prior to returning to any campus community. Students, including international students, who cannot make alternative housing arrangements and must return to campus during the remote learning period due to extenuating and/or compelling circumstances, should contact their campus housing office. The University will work with students on an individual basis to make special visit or housing arrangements. 

Read the full announcement on the Penn State News page.

Stay up to date by viewing the Virus Info website.

Important Dates: 
  • December 18–January 18
    - Update Academics Unavailable
  • December 23–January 12
    - Alternative Grading Decision-Making Period
  • January 18 (Mon)
    - Martin Luther King Jr. Day - NO CLASSES
  • January 19 (Tues)
    - First Day of Classes Spring 2021
  • January 24 (Sun)
    - Regular Drop Deadline (11:59 p.m.)
  • January 25 (Mon)
    - Regular Add Deadline (11:59 p.m.)
Resource Spotlight: 
Alternative Grading Worksheet

Considering using alternative grades for the fall 2020 semester? Visit the alternative grading worksheet website to find helpful information to use in your decision-making process.

Events and Announcements: 
Quick Question Advising
University Park

Have a question that can be resolved in a short 5–10 minute conversation? Join us for quick question advising via Zoom on the dates and times below. Some of these topics include: discussing adding/dropping courses within deadlines; getting a form signed; using LionPATH; reviewing entrance-to-major requirements; learning about general education information not related to schedule planning; and transferring credits. Quick question advising is not intended for in-depth conversations.

For students enrolled in DUS:

  • Click here for quick question advising via Zoom - Please note that a DUS adviser is only available during the times listed below. All times are Eastern Time. 
    Day Time
    Monday 1:00–3:00 p.m.
    Tuesday 9:00–11:00 a.m.
    Wednesday 9:00–11:00 a.m.
    Thursday 1:00–3:00 p.m.
    Friday 1:00–3:00 p.m. (January 15 only).

For students not enrolled in DUS:

Advising During the First Week of Classes
University Park

If you have any questions related to the spring semester or need help adjusting your schedule, academic advisers in DUS will be available for 20-minute appointments (check Starfish for times) and for quick question advising during the first week of class (January 18–22, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Your academic adviser will send information later this week regarding how to connect with them.   

Remember, you can still adjust your class schedule through next week. Students can drop full-semester courses through 11:59 p.m. on January 24 and add full-semester courses through 11:59 p.m. on January 25. You can make changes to your class schedule via LionPATH.