At orientation, you learned a lot of important information about being successful in your first-year at Penn State. We know there are a few pieces of information that you may want to learn more about before your semester starts. We hope you find this information helpful.
Canvas is Penn State’s online system for teaching and learning. This is where you will access course content including syllabi, grades, and more. You can log in to Canvas by visiting canvas.psu.edu. You’ll need your Penn State Access Account and password to log in. Upon login, you’ll be taken to your Canvas Dashboard, which will show you your active courses. Courses in Canvas will typically appear about one week prior to the start of each semester. Each instructor uses Canvas differently, so don’t worry if not all of your courses are activated before the start of the semester—instructors will likely explain their intentions of using Canvas in the syllabus. The Canvas website offers help and support for students, including a “Canvas Student Orientation” module that overviews the many features of Canvas.
If you’re living on campus, eLiving is where you can check your housing assignment, roommate, and meal plan level/balance. You can also apply for and accept housing contracts for future years. The Room Exchange eBoard is available on eLiving for you to make roommate switches at certain points in the semester. You may want to visit https://housing.psu.edu/undergraduate-housing for more information about living on campus and https://housing.psu.edu/housing-areas for floor plans and pictures of residence halls.
Students living on campus at the Schuylkill campus use a different system. Please check with your campus.
General Education at Penn State
General Education is a corner stone of education at Penn State. Learning about General Education will help you understand that your Penn State degree will help you develop problem-solving, communication, and intercultural skills, along with specific skills and knowledge related to your choice of major and more about General Education.
General Education helps you develop a breadth of knowledge in seven areas:
- Writing and Speaking (GWS)
- Quantification (GQ)
- Natural Sciences (GN)
- Arts (GA)
- Humanities (GH)
- Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS)
- Health and Wellness (GHW)
Watch this short video to learn more about General Education. Then, review the Program Requirements section of the University Bulletin to identify General Education courses prescribed by your intended major(s). General Education courses are identified with a Keystone. Please note: not all majors have prescribed General Education courses.
LionPATH is Penn State’s student information system, where you'll pay your tuition bill, register for classes, and view academic records, among other things. You used LionPATH during NSO to schedule classes for your first semester at Penn State. You can also use LionPATH to:
- Check your financial aid and pay your tuition bill
- Add and drop classes (add/drop period is the first week of the semester)
- Search for and schedule classes for future semesters (the Class Search and Schedule Builder tools will help you do this)
- Check your class schedule
- View your unofficial transcript
- View your “What-if” report (which tells you what classes you have to take to complete you degree)
The LionPATH Student Tutorials will be helpful as you learn to navigate the system: lionpathsupport.psu.edu
MyUHS is the online portal for University Health Services. You can log in to myUHS using your Penn State Access Account. Here, you can upload your immunization records, schedule an appointment, and view communications from doctors and pharmacists at UHS. If you need an appointment and don’t see any listed on the website, call UHS at 814-863-0774.
Office 365 (office.psu.edu)
Penn State uses Office365, which includes OneDrive, the Outlook email client, and online versions of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and more. As a student, you have the option to download common apps directly to your devices at no additional cost.
One part of Office365 that you’ll definitely want to use is Outlook. Outlook is where you can check your Penn State email for official communications from Penn State, as well as from your professors and classmates. You can log in to your email at office.psu.edu using your Penn State Access Account. You can also download the Outlook app to your phone.
Office of the Bursar (bursar.psu.edu)
The Office of the Bursar is responsible for maintaining student accounts pertaining to tuition billing, acceptance fees, charges, payments, posting of financial aid, and refunds of excess funds, when available.
You can find an overview information helpful to new Penn State families here.
Office of Student Aid (studentaid.psu.edu)
Financial aid can come from federal, state, school, and private sources to help you fund your education. At Penn State, the Office of Student Aid manages the awarding and disbursement of financial aid. Aid packages are available for new students via LionPATH. You can see instructions now to view and interpret your aid summary here.
Starfish is the website you’ll use to schedule appointments with an academic adviser. Regardless of your assigned adviser (you can check in LionPATH to see who that is), you can schedule an appointment with any adviser in your academic college of enrollment. It’s a good idea to meet with your academic adviser at least once a semester to make sure you’re on track academically. Your adviser can tell you information specific to your program and general education requirements that you might not be able to find online or on LionPATH.
If you have questions that can be answered quickly by an adviser, many colleges hold drop-in advising hours. Your individual college of enrollment will have more information about drop-in hours. However, drop-in advising is not a substitute for regular, in-depth meetings with your adviser about your degree progress.
University Bulletin (bulletins.psu.edu/undergraduate)
An important part of your orientation to Penn State is to begin to identify your academic goals. These goals will be informed by your intended major(s), career plans, and more. The University Bulletin can help you both research and explore academic opportunities at Penn State. You can learn more about the University Bulletin here.
Here’s an activity that can help you become more familiar with the University Bulletin.
- Visit the Undergraduate University Bulletin.
- Under the Programs Menu, select Baccalaureate Degree.
- Filter majors by selecting areas of interest from the menu on the right side.
- Use the University Bulletin to learn more about these majors by reading the Overview, How to Get In, and Program Requirements.
University Registrar (registrar.psu.edu)
The Office of the University Registrar has responsibility for student academic records and processes. You’ll find helpful information at this site, including the Academic Calendar, Schedule of Courses, and more.