The Advising Process for HDFS Majors

HDFS Undergraduate Student Support Office


Students may seek general assistance in 119 HHD, which is the administrative center of the HDFS Department and houses the operations of the Undergraduate Student Advisers, the Professor-in-Charge of the Undergraduate Program, the Professor-in-Charge of the Graduate Program, the Head of the Department, and the support staff. Here you will find help and information on advising, drop/add issues, petitions, independent studies, etc.

Students interested in becoming an HDFS major should contact Teresa McGowan. She is also available to assist with students who wish to transfer into the HDFS major.

Responsibilities of Advisers and Students*

Responsibilities of Advisers

The Academic Adviser's Role is to:

  1. Help the student understand the academic and administrative processes of the university and the nature of its academic programs. The adviser also seeks to understand each student's particular concerns affecting academic progress. The adviser neither grants nor denies administrative approval for particular academic actions.
  2. Help the student understand the expected standards of achievement and likelihood of success in certain areas of study.
  3. Discuss the educational and career objectives suited to the student's demonstrated abilities and expressed interests. The adviser helps the student to understand the relationships among the courses, programs, undergraduate research opportunities, internships, study abroad programs, and other academic experiences provided by the university.
  4. Help the student plan a course of study and give advice about courses and the adjustment of course loads. The adviser will inform the advisee about the prerequisites for subsequent courses in the student's program.
  5. Refer advisees to other resources when appropriate.
  6. Participate in the adviser training sessions provided by each college or department to keep informed and current.

Responsibilities of Students

The Advisee's Role in the Academic Advising Process is to:

  1. Acquire the information needed to assume final responsibility for course scheduling, program planning, and the successful completion of all graduation requirements.
  2. Seek the academic and career information needed to meet educational goals.
  3. Become knowledgeable about the relevant policies, procedures, and rules of the university, college, and academic program.
  4. Be prepared with accurate information and relevant materials when contacting the adviser.
  5. Consult with the adviser at least once a semester to decide on courses, review the accuracy of the audit, check progress towards graduation, and discuss the suitability of other educational opportunities provided by the university.

* For the University advising policy, refer to the 2005-2006 University Undergraduate Advising Handbook Senate Policy 32-30.

HDFS Advising Process

As an HDFS student, you have the primary responsibility for meeting program and degree requirements. But help is available. Each HDFS student is assigned an academic adviser and a faculty adviser. Your academic adviser is available to help you with specific administrative and academic matters such as: requirements for the major, course scheduling, drop/adds, petitions, etc. Your faculty adviser, on the other hand, is a resource when planning your career and/or graduate school goals, and discussing research and teaching possibilities as part of your undergraduate degree program.

Student Declares HDFS as Major

See the Academic Adviser for:

  • Scheduling
  • Petitions
  • Transfer credit
  • Requirements for major
  • Degree audit review
  • Education Abroad
  • General Education requirements
  • Drop/Add
  • Minors, etc.

See your Faculty Adviser for:

  • Career Goals
  • Graduate School
  • Independent Study possibilities: Research or Teaching Assistant

Soon after declaring your major, we suggest you schedule an appointment to see your academic adviser (814-863-8000). At this meeting, your adviser will review your degree audit (see "Degree Audits" below) with you and help you plan and schedule your program in order to ensure that major requirements are met for graduation. Use your degree audit to monitor your academic progress. Plan to meet with your academic adviser at least once a semester to discuss your program progress.

Faculty Advisers

It is important to get to know your faculty adviser as well as some other faculty members during your college program. When it comes time to apply for your first job or to graduate school, you will want a faculty member to know you well enough to be able to write a recommendation or letter of support on your behalf. To identify your faculty adviser, review the email sent from the HDFS department once you declared the HDFS major. You can also look up more information regarding your faculty adviser on the HDFS faculty page.

Most faculty members post office hours on their office doors. The support staff in 119 HHD keep a current list of these hours for each faculty member. If you have trouble contacting your faculty adviser please call or drop into the office. Your advisers are resources to help you in making key decision during your education at Penn State, but the ultimate responsibility for your success is with you.

Key points to remember when scheduling an appointment with either your academic or faculty adviser:

  • Keep your appointment. If you can't make it, call to cancel and reschedule.
  • Be on time.
  • Be prepared with questions.
  • Bring any materials which may be needed to have a productive meeting. (i.e., the latest copy of your degree audit, schedule of classes, etc.)

Degree Audits

The University uses a computerized degree audit system to keep track of your program progress. The Program Year and General Year will dictate the policies and requirements for your undergraduate degree. The General Year is the year you entered Penn State as a degree candidate. The Program Year is the year you entered the HDFS major. Your degree audit reflects the particular requirements you need to follow. See the Academic Adviser if you have questions. Degree audits can be accessed online through eLion.

As an HDFS major, you will have to choose one of our two options: Life Span Human Services or Life Span Developmental Sciences (see Degrees and Options). Degree audits are designed for each option and outline exactly which courses you need to take, courses you can choose from, and what requirements have been fulfilled. As stated earlier, it is important to go over your degree audit with your academic adviser at least once a semester.

Remember that degree audits are specific to your Program Year, campus location, and option choice. See the Degrees and Options portion of this site for more information on requirements for the major and specific option requirements.

Advising Resources

The Penn State Advising Web site contains links to the University Undergraduate Advising Handbook and other useful information about academic advising.

College of Health and Human Development Advising Office
005 Henderson Building
University Park , PA 16802


HDFS Advising Office
119 Health & Human Development Bldg
University Park, PA 16802