Have you learned about AURORA?
This page covers information regarding SIRIUS, AURORA’s most accessible expedition that takes place virtually. To learn more about AURORA in general, visit the AURORA FAQ.
SIRIUS offers the social and academic benefits of all AURORA programs, while also providing access for those with differing abilities and levels of desire to participate in a backpacking expedition. Our mission to ease your transition is more important than ever, and we will use all tools available to us to deliver those world-famous AURORA outcomes: a sense of belonging at Penn State; insight into college from the leadership and facilitation of upper division students; strong connections with other new students; and an improved sense of personal wellness.
I’ll get 3 GHW credits from a virtual “hiking” class?
As a 3-credit course, SIRIUS has a few requirements. You will complete virtual hikes, watch Leave No Trace lesson videos, and engage in real outdoor experiences — of course, all of them come with a short assignment. Additionally, you will engage with group members and leaders via Zoom discussions. Positive participation during all components is required, as is providing timely, insightful responses to questions and prompts. A few additional course assignments and meeting times will be required.
We are taking advantage of high-quality digital resources to give you the experience of visiting and hiking through some of the world’s most beautiful places. Have you ever hiked down into Bryce Canyon? How about along the glaciers of Alaska? Now you can explore some of the places you’ve always wanted to visit!
Real outdoor experiences?
We know that SIRIUS participants have varying levels of access to the great outdoors. With that in mind, we have planned activities with a wide range of acceptable approaches. Whether you explore your yard, take a lap around the block, visit the park, or even hit up a secluded trail, you will be able to participate in what we have planned.
How will I know how to find the virtual hikes or Zoom calls?
More information will be sent your way upon registration and throughout the months leading up to your experience. The SIRIUS team makes use of Google Classroom to manage our online resources and help you keep everything organized.
How much time is required to participate?
Each day, your asynchronous virtual hikes and outdoor experiences will take a combined 3-4 hours to complete. Each evening, your Zoom calls will run 1.5-2 hours in length.
I don’t have internet access or a reliable device!
Should this apply to you, we strongly encourage you to log in to the IT service portal. Fill out the Penn State Mobile Technology Request Form or call 814-865-4357 to formalize your computer/access request prior to the start of the program. Penn State IT is continually working on the availability and distribution of equipment. Information about your request can be provided via the phone numbers in the request form. Once you receive equipment, you will be able to contact the IT Service Desk for 24/7 support.
I can do this if I’m enrolled at any campus?
Yes! SIRIUS expeditions are available for Penn State students enrolled at any campus — including World Campus. We believe SIRIUS is just too fun and too good, so we made it available for all. No matter where you’re enrolled, you’ll have the exact same virtual expedition, and the exact same virtual experience!
Does it cost money?
SIRIUS is a 3-credit course. Tuition rates will vary depending on enrollment status, campus of enrollment, and other potential variables. Students registered as full-time receive no additional tuition fee up to 18 credits. At 19 credits and above, students are subject to Penn State’s tuition surcharge. All SIRIUS expeditions are billed to the fall semester. For details regarding your specific tuition charges, please visit tuition.psu.edu to explore the tuition calculator or to find contact information to reach out to the Bursar Office with questions.
There is a class fee of $25 for all SIRIUS participants. This amount covers program materials while still ensuring accessibility. This fee will be billed directly to your student account at the start of the fall semester.
If you must cancel, please do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cancel on or after June 1, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $25.
I registered! Now what?
You will receive, via email, the Essential Information Packet containing all necessary information, including detailed travel information and a list of required items.
Pay attention to your course schedule. Due to the nature of Penn State’s registration policies and timeline, KINES 89 will be added to your LionPath schedule no later than then first week of classes for the semester in which you are enrolled. KINES 089 is SIRIUS. If you have submitted your application and received confirmation of your acceptance into the program, consider yourself registered!