Who are my students?

Discover who your students are

Probe for points of interest

Consider inquiring about students’ interests, motivations for taking the course, and relevant life experiences. Knowing something about them helps you build rapport, connect with students, and even tailor examples to reach different students.

Review information in LionPATH

LionPATH, the Penn State student information system, includes information about students’ majors, minors, semester standing, and more. Review this information in the class roster, so that you know something about student demographics for your course.

Consult suggestions for getting acquainted

See the Getting to Know Students page on this site.

Know the terminology

2+2 Students

A 2+2 student is anyone who is currently, or has been, enrolled at a Penn State campus other than University Park and who will finish their degree at University Park. The 2+2 Plan is the most common path to a Penn State degree. The transition most often takes place at the beginning of a student’s third year. If you teach courses at the 300- or 400-level, you are likely to have 2+2 students in your course.

Transfer Students

Transfer students are students who begin at a university other than Penn State and transfer to Penn State to finish their degree. Typically, transfer students apply to Penn State after their first year of college. They often begin their Penn State studies at other Penn State campuses and either finish there or move to University Park to complete their degree.

First-Year Students

First-year students have completed high school. They typically begin their first year of college in the summer or fall after high school graduation, although some may take a gap year and defer their admission for a year. Sometimes, they begin several years after high school (e.g., students with military service).

Students with Disabilities

If you have a student with a registered disability, the student will contact you and provide an Academic Adjustment letter from the Student Disability Resources Office.  Instructors are legally obligated to make accommodations and ensure equal access to educational opportunities. Consider and make modifications that will ensure the student can take part in the activity or lesson. Visit the Academic Accommodations page for more about the accommodation processes to support students with disabilities. For help, email ISTLearningDesign@psu.edu.

Second Language Speakers of English

Many students who are second language speakers of English have a strong speaking, writing, and comprehension skills. Others, while meeting the requirements to enter Penn State, have difficulty with one or more of these three elements. Consider the following to support your students:

  • Avoid highly idiomatic English
  • Provide visual and oral support during instruction
  • Be clear about grading and assignment expectations
  • Provide varied opportunities to take part in class
  • Refer students to the Writing Center if writing is an issue
  • Refer students to the Penn State English Language Services Program for spoken language improvement

Military-Connected Students

Military-connected students includes students who are active in the military and veteran students who have served previously in the military. Penn State has a long history of serving these students and provides resources to assist them with their studies and their academic plans. Many of these students are older than traditional aged college students and bring a wealth of experience to their courses.