New Student Orientation Part 1 - FAQ

New Student Orientation Part 1 - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

At NSO1 you will learn about the academic environment at PSU the requirements and expectations, and begin to plan your college program of study. In consultation with an academic adviser, you will select and schedule your first semester's courses. Here are some commonly asked questions:

What if I can't make my scheduled New Student Orientation Part 1 (NSO1) day?

If there is an unforeseen emergency that prevents you from making your assigned NSO1 day, please go on-line and change your date. Be aware that canceling or changing your appointment may result in difficulty in scheduling your courses.

What dates are the placement tests on-line?

Penn State NSO1 operations will be notifying you of your deadline to test on-line. The first group of letters will be mailed mid-March. New first-year and provisional students admitted after March 15 will receive notification of his/her testing deadline after the acceptance fee is paid.

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

The results of the placement test will be distributed to you on your NSO1 advising day.

Can I retake the NSO1 math test if I am unhappy with the result?

Yes; however, you must spend at least 10 hours in the learning modules and wait 24 hours, before your second attempt. If you want to try a third time, you must spend another 10 hours learning modules. Learn more at  

How do I know what math to take?

Your math placement will be based on the results of your Math placement test score, your intended major, and your past high school record. Your adviser will help you make the right choice for a math course on your NSO1 day.

What if I have a question about my English Placement?

Students will be evaluated in their Fall English composition course and referred by the instructor, based on a writing sample, to make changes in their in their English placement if indicated. 

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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 a college or to the Division of Undergraduate Studies, not  a specific major within a college. It is very important for academic advising and planning purposes for these students to identify and record on the LionPATH advising system their intended majors or major preferences, in order of priority.

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 applications and major themes on LionPATH. You will update your three major preferences to reflect any changes using the LionPATH 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.

More information regarding entrance-to-major requirements »

What if I'm not sure about a major?

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.)

Check out the following web site to get started on the exploratory process:

What is LionPath and how will it help me?

LionPATH is a web-based service for students, advisers, faculty, and parents. LionPATH provides secure real time access to academic and financial records.

You will need an access account in order to access LionPATH. This account will be assigned to you on your NSO1 day.

    Visit LionPATH »

    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, and a first-year seminar. The remaining  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 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 probably will 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 choices 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. Getting your dream schedule will get much easier in future semesters, as you gain seniority.

    Try to remain cool. Because everything is brand new to you and because you will have to absorb so much new information in such a short period of time, you may find yourself getting a little stressed during the advising and scheduling process. We will be there to help you and answer all your questions. And, if it takes you a little longer to register than some others, that's fine, too. By the end of the day, you will have the courses that you need, and you will complete the scheduling process in plenty of time for you and your family to get on the road for home.

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

    There is a "Course Watch List" feature in eLion that provides students with the opportunity to be notified when a seat opens in a full section. Students select up to ten sections per semester to watch and may be notified of an open seat via a Penn State email account and/or a text message to a mobile phone. Students may then attempt to schedule the section through the normal avenues. Seats are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

    What is a first-year seminar?

    More information about First Year Seminar »

    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.

    Will my NSO1 adviser continue to be my adviser after I start my first year?

    You will be assigned an academic adviser from the academic advising center staff or a faculty adviser. Check on the LionPATH system to find out who your adviser is and how to get in touch with him/her. Your adviser assignment will be on LionPATH 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. It is recommended that students always attend any meeting between parents and institutional personnel.

    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 LionPATH.

    Parents, guardians, or other individuals can view student grades on eLion with student authorization.  To grant access to your Student Grades, please follow these steps:

    1. Parent/guardian/other individual obtains a Penn State User ID through a Friends of Penn State account at  Select Parent/Other then Create an account.
    2. Parent/guardian/other individual provides you with his/her Penn State User ID.
    3. You grant access via LionPATH by first selecting Student then Parent/Other Access from the menu.

    When do I pay my tuition bill?

    Most bills will have a due date of the second Friday in August. You are not officially registered until your bill is paid.

    I have a question about my bill, where should I call?

    For any questions related to the bill, call The Penn State Berks Bursar Office at (610) 396-6040.  

    Can parents or other individuals have access to my online semester bill?

    Parents, guardians, or other individuals can view financial information on LionPATH with student authorization.  To grant access to your Semester Bill, Bursar Account, PLUS request form, Hope/Lifetime Tax Credit information, and/or Academic Verification, please follow these steps:

    1. Parent/guardian/other individual obtains a Penn State User ID through a Friends of Penn State account at LionPATH Select Parent/Other then Create an account.
    2. Parent/guardian/other individual provides you with his/her Penn State User ID.
    3. You grant access via LionPATH by first selecting Student then Parent/Other Access from the menu.

    When can students move into the residence halls?

    First-year students can move into the residence halls on the Saturday before the start of classes. Letters will be mailed to students giving specific dates and times for move-in.

    If a student lives off campus can he/she still purchase a meal plan?

    Yes. Information will be available at the Housing and Food Services table at the Student Services Fair on your NSO1 day.

    Parking permits will be available when students come to campus in the fall. Police Services will have a website for you to complete and print out a form with the following information in order to get your permit: license plate number, make and model of car. There is no charge for permits, but vehicles do need to be registered. Check out the following web site for more information regarding traffic and parking regulations: Police Services

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

    Penn State photo IDs will be taken on NSO1 day. In order to obtain a Penn State id+ Card, students must present one of the following forms of photo IDs:  A state issued drivers license or ID card, a passport, or a U.S. Military Photo ID.

    What food services will be available on-campus on NSO1 day?

    Tully's Cafeteria in the Perkins Student Center will be open from 7:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and available for lunch.

    For more information on our housing and food services, go to

    What happens after New Student Orientation Part 1?

    When you leave your NSO1 day you will have your schedule of classes. Review this checklist for countdown to college.

    • Pay tuition bill.
    • Buy books, if not already done on NSO1 day.
    • Attend New Student Orientation Part 2: Introduction to College (materials will be mailed to you by the end of July).
    • Check your schedule to be sure there have been no changes.
    • Check LionPATH for your adviser assignment by the first week of classes.
    • Begin classes on Monday, August 21, 2017.
    • Do well!

      Learn more about NSO2.