In high school, a student's records are considered their parents' property as much as their own. In college, a students' records are considered the student's property. Penn's policy regarding student information is that students are adults, and the University generally will not share their academic and other records (apart from directory information) with third parties without their explicit consent. This is in accordance with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Though there are situations in which the University can choose to divulge information without a student's consent (for example, if they are listed as dependents on their parents' tax returns), for the most part, students must decide who has access to their academic record. They can indicate whether or not they wish their parents or others to see their educational records using the Privacy Settings screen on Penn InTouch.

By Dr. Alice Kelley, Former Associate Director of Academic Advising and Assistant Dean for Advising

When my younger son was entering MIT, I found myself attending a parent orientation as a mother rather than as an academic advisor, and I’ll never forget the first thing the Dean said as he faced our proud, but anxious group: “I need to warn you,” he intoned solemnly, “that fully fifty percent of your sons and daughters will be in the bottom half of their class!” We were silent a moment, and then laughed nervously, realizing that what he said was self-evident, though it obviously hadn’t struck any of us before. But he faced us then with an issue that every Ivy League parent and student will need to confront: straight A’s are no longer the norm for a student entering a place like Penn and, in fact, are very rare. C’s show up often on transcripts here, and failure is possible. So it is well to recognize that both you and your student will have a new set of expectations to meet and manage over the next few years.

How can you help your student as they face the fact that everyone at Penn has come to the University with similar academic success, but often different gifts and degrees of preparation?

  • Remember that your student may be even more nervous than you are about mastering Penn work. Most first-year Penn students have never had to ask for help and many will be hesitant to let you know that they are having trouble for fear that you will be angry or disappointed.
  • Try not to insist that your student follow one non-negotiable path when courses toward that goal continue to lead to poor grades. To get a sense of jobs held by students graduating with different majors, see First Jobs & Grad Schools by Major to see how students in different fields enter the working world with triumph.
  • Help your student find their special gifts. Remember that Penn has a number of resources to provide aid before a small problem grows large.
  • And, should your student emerge at the end of the first semester with grades that disappoint both of you, try to be helpful rather than fierce. A small blot on the transcript is not death. Students get into graduate and professional schools and find career success even if they get off to a rocky start.

We know that each of our students will be able to make Penn work academically for them, once they get the hang of things and find their areas of strength, and that their parents can be an invaluable support in the process.

Support for academic skills

Students will be responsible to know and adhere to the College's policies and procedures. A general listing can be found in the Policies and Procedures section of this site and in the pdf published for their specific class.

Additional Resources

In addition to their network of academic advisors, students have a broad range of resources available to help them thrive and succeed.

The College Curriculum

The College of Arts and Sciences curriculum provides an academic framework for becoming an educated and successful citizen of the 21st century. Its flexible structure is designed to inspire curiosity and frame opportunities while drawing the student toward two distinct goals: general education across the wide range of the arts and sciences and specialized education in a major.

The curriculum is made up of three components:

Academic Options

College Students are encouraged to extend their learning beyond the classroom and the basic curriculum.

Each Fall, the College hosts events designed for the families of College of Arts and Sciences students. Please join us for this year's College-Sponsored Family Weekend Events happening the weekend of October 28, 2022.

The following will give you a sense of what happens when during the next four years,

Incoming students will receive two emails from the College Office in June:

In early June, the Dean of the College will welcome incoming students to the steps they will need to take for academic advising and planning through Compass, the primary guide for incoming students throughout the summer.

The second email in mid-June contains contact information that students will use to contact their peer and pre-major advisors. Advising sessions begin in mid-June and continue through the summer.

Students should:

  • Have a discussion with their pre-major advisor during the first few weeks of the semester and again during Advance Registration in October and November, to discuss course selection for the upcoming semester. Incoming first-year students will be on registration hold, which keeps them from being able to participate in Advance Registration, until they meet with their advisor.
  • Let their pre-major advisor know of any problems they are having that are affecting their academic work.
  • Investigate study abroadresearch and other academic options.
  • Apply to become a peer advisor and help a new student entering Penn.

Students should:

  • See their pre-major advisor before Advance Registration in March and April to discuss courses for the fall semester. Incoming students are on registration hold for their first semester until they have an advising discussion with their advisor.
  • Investigate majors of interest. Start talking to faculty and students in their prospective majors. Attend one or more of the College’s Majors and More Dinners to learn about programs of interest. Attend classes in the major and get the student’s perspective through the Major Advising Program (MAP).
  • Investigate study abroadresearch and other academic options.

Students should:

  • Meet with their pre-major advisor to discuss progress toward finding and declaring a major and meeting the degree requirements during Advance Registration in October and November. This meeting is also an opportunity to explore options such as minors, research and study abroad. Until meeting with their advisor, Sophomores will be on registration hold which keeps them from being able to participate in Advance Registration.
  • Become completely familiar with the rules and requirements for their potential major. These are available on the department websites.
  • Investigate study abroadresearch and other academic options.
  • Apply to become a peer advisor and help the next incoming class.

Students should:

Students should:

Students should:

Students should:

  • Meet with their major advisor to make sure all requirements for the major will be completed and to discuss future plans.
  • Review the degree audit in Path@Penn to check their progress toward fulfilling requirements before the end of the Course Selection period.
  • Confirm that their intended graduation date and local address are correct on Path@Penn.
  • Visit the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) if considering research or information on post-graduate fellowships and scholarships.
  • Consider applying for Senior Awards.
  • Check with Career Services for information about graduate study and applying for jobs.
  • Consider sharing their major with underclassmen by becoming Major Advising Program (MAP) advisors.

Students should: