The Challenges of Continuing Education: Pennsylvania State University

Making the decision to go back to school, or start your education later in life, is a big one. You must factor in your day-to-day responsibilities, which could include family time, children, and a regular 9-to-5 job, and then figure out when to study for school. Most people decide not to go back to school because they fear they won't have time for it all. Those who go back work hard to find the time to study and attend classes. They have a unique drive to pursue a more robust life by expanding their education.

At Pennsylvania State University, the continuing education department is committed to providing opportunities to adults, and children, looking to expand their professional and personal abilities. These programs are designed to help individuals from all walks of life excel. As such, the university has high expectations for their students, including upholding their code of conduct. Students suspected of violating this code of conduct could be referred for disciplinary action and dismissed from the program.

If you are a continuing education student at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), working with an attorney-advisor from the moment you are notified of the issue is the best way to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Call Lento Law Firm today.


PSU Continuing Education offers over sixty programs for adult learners looking for professional and personal development in such business areas as:

  • AutoCAD
  • Digital marketing
  • Information technology
  • Human resource management
  • Leadership and supervision
  • Project management
  • Real estate
  • Supply chain

They also offer programs for Allied Health programs such as:

  • Assisted Living Administration
  • Certified Recovery Specialist Certificates
  • Core Medical Interpreter Training Program
  • EMS/Paramedic Training
  • Nursing Home Administrator Training
  • Personal Care Home Administration
  • Practical Nursing (LPN)

Degree and Certificate Programs

PSU Continuing Education department offers loads of classes, certificate programs, and both undergraduate and graduate degrees at multiple campuses around the state and online.

Each of these programs and certificate training courses has particular standards incoming students must meet in order to get admitted to the program. For instance, if you are pursuing a fast-track MBA from PSU, you must have completed an undergraduate business degree at PSU within the last five years, completed a one-semester internship or one year of full-time work in that field, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Also, for adult learners over the age of 24, they can take classes at the university prior to applying for admissions, and their SAT or ACT scores can be waived if they have been out of high school for more than five years or serve in the military for four years and received an honorable discharge.

For certificate and training programs, students are admitted on a rolling basis, but the exact requirements will change from program to program, so it is important to check with PSU before applying. Generally, these programs only require that you finish them with a particular grade before being issued the certificate or training license. For example, in the Enterprise Resource Planning with SAP software certificate, students must complete each course with a "C" or better to receive their certification.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

Every college or university requires that students proceed through their programs in a certain amount of time. For instance, at PSU, the Information and Sciences Technology Certificate has to be completed within ten years, and the student must have gotten a "C" in each course for it to count. If you wait that long between courses, you will have to repeat them for the university to issue you the certificate. And the MBA program gives students up to eight years to complete it before requiring that they repeat courses.

In continuing education, student files are reviewed to ensure they are progressing through the program at the correct pace. If the university notices that a student is having a hard time keeping up with their assignments, or constantly failing exams or courses, they will reach out to the student to check-in.

If a student's academic progress, or cumulative GPA, drop below a certain point, PSU will notify the student and potentially put them on academic probation. Additionally, depending on how often they fail their courses, they could be dismissed from the program without reapplying later. An attorney-advisor can guide you through the grievance process for being dropped from the program without the opportunity to defend yourself.

Attendance Policies

PSU has a strict attendance policy for all students, including continuing education or adult learners. There is more flexibility in the continuing education department, but they do expect students to attend every scheduled meeting, or at least provide a solid excuse for their absence. If a student misses too much class time, they could be dismissed from the program or course without credit.

Academic Misconduct

PSU outlines specific academic integrity guidelines for all students, asking them to refrain from certain behaviors, including academic misconduct. Students are expected to always act responsibly and honestly, but especially on their coursework, exams, research or other academic activities.

At PSU, academic misconduct includes:

  • Copying another person's assignment or exam.
  • Using notes or other materials during an exam without permission.
  • Submitting work multiple times for credit.
  • Giving or taking copies of previous exams without permission.
  • Attempting to change an exam result.
  • Using someone else's words or ideas on an exam, research, or assignment as if they were your own.
  • Not citing resources properly on any academic assignment, exam, or research project.
  • Falsifying data or reporting dishonest investigative results in a research project.
  • Stealing someone else's data and using it as if it were your own.
  • Misusing human subjects on a research project.
  • Knowingly publishing false information or research.
  • Violating the confidentiality of others.
  • Misusing computers.
  • Fabricating transcripts, grades, or letters of recommendation.

Academic misconduct is strictly prohibited at schools like PSU, where academic integrity is essential to their campus culture. Students who are accused of academic misconduct will be punished accordingly. When this happens, it can prevent them from pursuing their career and potentially cause them to lose their jobs.

Academics: What Could Go Wrong?

If you are accused of violating academic integrity, you could find yourself in serious hot water—both at school and at work. Most companies require their employees to fulfill continuing education credits or pay for them to attend continuing education programs in the hopes that this new knowledge and skill set will help them excel in their corporate role. As such, employers are not too keen on their students being caught cheating or plagiarizing. When they find out, they could punish you internally.

Further, if you are distance learner, you might experience instances where the weather in your location has knocked out your Wi-Fi during an online examination and professor refuses to offer you a second attempt. Or, if you cannot make it to class in person because of a sick child or a work deadline, your instructor may not provide you with a way to make up the lecture.

An attorney-advisor can help navigate you through any of these issues, whether they include misconduct or personal concerns. They understand your responsibility and will be able to negotiate with the administration on your behalf to get you the help you need. Additionally, if you are required to participate in a more formal hearing, an attorney-advisor will be able to help you gather evidence and witnesses to really set yourself up for a strong and concise defense.

Disciplinary Misconduct

At PSU, the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) oversees student conduct on campus. PSU is a community of like-minded individuals who are hoping to broaden their skills and pursue bigger professional dreams. As such, the administration puts a lot of effort into making sure their campuses are safe environments for their students. When the OSC learns of a student violating the code of conduct or making a space unsafe, they will address it immediately.

The code of conduct at PSU prohibits the following behaviors:

  • Causing another to ingest controlled substances or alcohol without their awareness.
  • Excessively consuming substances like alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving under the influence.
  • Manufacturing or distributing substances, alcohol, or prescription medication.
  • Destroying university property or the property of another.
  • Engaging in behavior that disrupts classroom instruction, research, or the ability of other students to sleep, study, or participate in programs freely.
  • Encouraging or inciting prohibited conduct.
  • Knowingly presenting or creating materials or documents to get someone else to surrender a right or piece of property.
  • Harassing another person.
  • Hazing.
  • Physically harming someone else.
  • Stealing from others or an entity.
  • Tampering with safety equipment.
  • Discriminating against others
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Title IX violations

PSU's student code of conduct extends to continuing education and adult learners in online classrooms. Online classes and web conferences should be treated the same way as in-person ones.

Disciplinary Action Resolution Process

Whenever a student is accused of disciplinary misconduct, the Senior Director will determine whether the issue should be reviewed. If they believe it should, the Senior Director will then determine what type of resolution process should be pursued. At PSU, there are two options: an adaptable resolution pathway or a formal student conduct action.

In an adaptable resolution pathway, the accused student must agree to this resolution process. If they do, the student participates in mediation, or other forms of informal resolution, and their adjudication would be delayed (or voided if they make progress in the mediation).

But if the Senior Director believes a formal student conduct action is necessary, they will notify the student. The university is required to find proof of a violation. If they can, they will determine if the student could be suspended or expelled for the accused conduct.

A case manager will schedule an informal meeting with the student to review the issue and understand the student's reasoning for the conduct. The case manager will determine whether a violation agreement should be issued or if the issue should proceed to an administrative conference.

During the administrative conference, the accused student will have a chance to present their side of the story, including witnesses and evidence to testify on their behalf. When they have finished, the hearing committee will decide if they are responsible for the alleged conduct. Students who are found responsible will be punished or provided with an action plan.

Action plans are intended to help the student reflect and grow from the incident. Some examples include:

  • Completing a project or activity designed to promote learning and behavior changes.
  • Completing a project or activity designed to help them reflect on their actions and how they impact others.
  • Completing a project or activity that addresses the impact their behavior had and helps repair the harm it caused others.

More traditional punishments include:

  • Formal warnings
  • Conduct probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Housing reassignment
  • Loss of housing
  • Loss of privileges

Additionally, the university does provide continuing education students and adult learners with opportunities to appeal the hearing committee's decision. Appeals must be made within five business days of receiving notice of the decision and can only be made on the following grounds:

  • To determine if there was a procedural irregularity during the original hearing that impacted the outcome.
  • To determine whether an action plan imposed was appropriate.
  • Considering new information that was not available before is likely to change the original decision.

The Appeals Body will review the appeal and decide whether the hearing committee's decision should be upheld, modified, or reviewed a second time.

How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help

Code of conduct and academic misconduct accusations can wreak havoc on your continuing education pursuits. Not only can they prevent you from graduating on time, but they can also inhibit your professional growth at work.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have experienced attorneys who have spent years helping students in similar situations. They understand how much time and effort goes into being an adult learner with the responsibilities and stress of an adult. They will work diligently to help you strategize a strong defense that is sure to guarantee you the best possible outcome. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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