studentsKeys to Success

1: Set Goals
2: Use Campus Resources
3: Use Technology Wisely
4: Prepare for Your Classes
5: Plan and Prioritize
6: Be a Responsible Member of the Community
7: Get Involved in Campus and Residence Activities
8: Identify Your Strengths and Capitalize on Them
9: Interact with Faculty
10: Make the Most of Your DECs
11: Think Ahead About Your Academic Future
12: Take Care of Yourself and Have Fun

Key to Success #1: Set Goals
Most students enter Stony Brook with a goal in mind–to graduate and become successful in their career or graduate study. To begin to set realistic goals for yourself, first consider what you want to gain from your college experience: Do you want to obtain a certain GPA? Excel in a particular class? Join a club or organization? Get a job? These goals should range from short-term to long-term, and should be based upon what matters most to you. Goals are very personal, so take the time to really think about what motivates you, and how you can get to where you want to be. These steps will help you determine the more immediate tasks that you can begin to help you reach your goals. Just keep in mind that during your undergraduate career, it is likely that one or more of your goals will change.

Back to top »

Key to Success #2: Use Campus Resources
Stony Brook students have access to many resources to help them succeed. During your undergraduate experience, make sure you take time to use these resources. Visit the Academic and Pre-Professional Advising Center, Residential Tutoring Centers, and Help/Skills Rooms on a regular basis. You will find key campus links here. Ask for help. This is a large campus and it takes time to find your way around. Upperclassmen, faculty, and staff are happy to point you in the right direction so you can make it to class on time. Individual departments offer study groups, special get-togethers, and lectures. Make sure to occasionally stop by the departmental office or visit its Web site. Many departments list upcoming events on their home page. Visit your Academic Advisor at least once per semester to ensure you are on track with graduation requirements. First-Year students should see their Academic Advisor to make schedule changes and plan their schedule for the spring semester. For those students who have declared a major, visit your major department at least once per semester. Resident students with questions may reach out to their Resident Assistants (RAs), Residence Hall Directors (RHDs), and Quad Directors. Whether it's a problem with your roommate or you just want to know about an upcoming event, visit your RA for help. Commuter students have the Office of Commuter Student Services and Commuter Assistants (CAs) at their disposal for advising and assistance. The Office is located on the 2nd floor of the SAC.

Back to top »

Key to Success #3: Use Technology Wisely
As a Stony Brook student, it is important that you learn to use all of the technological resources available on our campus. From the SOLAR System (online registration system) to Blackboard (online learning management system) to Google Apps for Education (email and collaboration platform), Stony Brook students must use technology in every aspect of their experience at the University. Having access to these technological resources also brings about added responsibility. Every Stony Brook student, faculty, and staff member is asked to use all campus resources responsibly and in compliance with Stony Brook's Responsible Use of Information Technology Policy.

Computing Facilities and Services for Students
The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) provides students with e-mail accounts and many computing facilities and services. Public computing labs (called SINC Sites) are located across campus and each of these labs has various software applications, Internet access, printers, and scanners. If you need help, student computer consultants are in the labs to answer your questions. These consultants can be reached at 632-9602 or by sending e-mail to Most Stony Brook students are eligible for an e-mail account through Google Apps for Education (Google Mail) which also includes Calendar, Contacts, Drive/Docs, Sites, and Groups among its core set of services. Wireless access is provided through WolfieNet-Secure which is available in the residence halls, academic buildings, and common areas.

SOLAR System and NetID
Log in to the SOLAR System with your Stony Brook ID number and password. You can enroll in classes, drop classes, and swap classes on the SOLAR System. Other registration-related transactions that can be done via the SOLAR System include placing yourself on a waitlist for a class and selecting the P/NC option for a class. You can also view your schedule and run an unofficial transcript in the SOLAR System. SOLAR System messages are frequently sent to your SOLAR account by academic and administrative offices. You are responsible for being aware of any information that is communicated to you via SOLAR messages. There is a link in SOLAR called NetID Maintenance. This is where you find out your NetID is and where you set your NetID password. You need your NetID and NetID password to access a variety of University resources such as Blackboard, Google Apps for Education, Campus Wi-Fi (WolfieNet-Secure), MySBfiles, library databases, and more. It is vital that you regularly log in to the SOLAR System so you don't miss any important announcements, such as when to apply for graduation.

Back to top »

Key to Success #4: Prepare for Your Classes
Success in a course does not come merely by going to lectures and reading your assigned textbook chapters. You must learn to note important ideas from your textbook, lectures, and class discussions. Taking good notes is only part of the success equation. As a student, you are responsible for taking time to keep up with all of your coursework. If you are having difficulty with a particular subject, seek out campus resources, and visit your professors during their office hours. For additional assistance with your coursework, visit the various "Get Help for Free" help rooms and tutoring centers on campus. For a complete list, visit the "Tutoring" link at

The Five R's of Note Taking
• Get down the main ideas and facts. Don’t write down everything.

• Pick out key terms and concepts, summarize, paraphrase, and collapse larger ideas into easier-to-remember phrases.

• Review lecture notes soon after the lecture. Recite them to yourself in your own words.

• Take some time after the lecture, during lunch, or later that evening to think about what was said in the lecture or what you just read, and what you think about it.

• Learn when, how, and what to review. Learn your style. However you do it, review often, even if there is no looming exam.

Study Tips
• Plan two study hours for every hour you spend in class.
• Study difficult (or boring) subjects first.
• Avoid scheduling marathon study sessions.
• Be aware of your best time of day.

• Use a regular study area.
• Choose a place that minimizes distractions.
• Use the library or empty classrooms. It’s good to leave your residence hall room.

• Agree with roommates about study time.
• Don’t allow others to interrupt you.
• Don’t make or take phone calls.

Back to top »

Key to Success #5: Plan and Prioritize
The most successful SB students are those who are able to balance their classes, assignments, and activities, and manage their time effectively. To better manage your time, identify a time-management system that is best for you and then use that system to plan your class assignments, activities, and tasks that need to be accomplished. Use the steps that follow to guide you.

Procrastination can be a downfall for students and faculty alike. For students entering Stony Brook from high school it may have been easier to procrastinate because teachers would accommodate the student’s needs and allow you more time to complete an assignment. In college, professors are not as accommodating. With the increase in academic work, students may become overwhelmed. It becomes very easy to find excuses to put off the work you know you can accomplish.

Time-Management Tactics
Set Goals
• What do you want to accomplish today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year?
• Prioritize your goals using the “ABC” method (A=High, B=Medium, C=Low).
• Set an action plan for how to achieve your goals—include a timeline.

Avoid Procrastination
• Slice the task into more manageable pieces; start on the easiest one.
• Set deadlines for completing projects.
• Focus!

Minimize Interruptions

• If necessary, handle immediately.
• If unnecessary, stop it or avoid it.
• If untimely, reschedule it.

Manage Telephone and Computer Time
• Screen calls or forward to voice mail while handling a task.
• Keep personal conversations to a minimum.
• Keep your IM off while you’re working on the computer and keep yourself from being distracted.

Use a Planner
• Find one that works for you (if this one doesn’t have what you need).
• Plot out your week in general on Sunday, and daily specific activities the night before.
• Put everything in the planner—even if it wasn’t plotted originally.

Back to top »

Key to Success #6: Be a Responsible Member of the Community
As a member of the Stony Brook community, you are expected to follow the codes established by the University. Please familiarize yourself with the Student Responsibility Statement and for a complete listing of your responsibilities, visit and click on the "Policies and Procedures" link. Being responsible is more than just following codes. It’s just as vital to give back to your community to help foster its growth. By volunteering at campus events or assisting a club in fundraising for a charity, you not only better the world around you but you better yourself. For more information about volunteering, contact Volunteers for Community Services or call 632-6812.

Back to top »

Key to Success #7: Get Involved in Campus and Residence Activities
You have access to a diverse range of clubs, organizations, and campus activities. To find out more about campus opportunities, ask your RA, RHD, or Commuter Student Services advisor; check out the Bulletin Boards in the Student Activities Center; read student papers; look at the bus zippers; and check out SB TV.

Being involved in student life is a major part of the college experience. It is an experience that will last a lifetime and will have a tremendous impact on the campus community.

How to Get Involved
• Visit the Office of Student Life, Suite 218 in the Student Activities Center. There are more than 300 clubs and organizations on campus. If you have a question about any organization on campus, they can answer it. Also, find out what is happening on campus now by joining the Student Life list-serv.

• The Undergraduate Student Government represents the general student body through class representatives, a senate, and student administration of President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc. Being involved in student government is a great way to meet people and make positive changes in the campus environment.

• Join an intramural sports team or sports club. Campus Recreation offers many ways for you to get involved and have fun while doing it.

• Help out at a campus event, sign up for Habitat for Humanity or spend a day gardening for Pride Patrol. By volunteering, you meet new people, gain experience, and give something back to your community.

• Support our Seawolves. Visit for team schedules. Going to sporting events is a great way to meet new people and become an active member of the Stony Brook community.

• Join a campus-wide committee—they are always in need of student involvement from planning to the actual implementation of the event. You will also have countless opportunities to get involved with exciting events, whether you live on campus or commute. Build a float for Homecoming, perform at Spirit Night, or raise money for ’Tis the Season.

• Check the University Home Page’s Upfront Box for upcoming events.

• First-Year students can also visit their Undergraduate College’s Web site.

Back to top »

Key to Success #8: Identify Your Strengths and Capitalize on Them
Stony Brook has more than 129 majors and minors for undergraduates. With so many options, it is sometimes difficult to find the major that is best for you. As you complete courses to fulfill your Diversified Education Curriculum (DEC) requirements, consider which courses you have enjoyed and how those tie into your academic and professional goals. Be sure to visit the Career Center and use its career resources. Also visit the Academic and Pre-Professional Advising Center or your professors to discuss potential majors.

The Career Center
Career planning starts freshman year and plays an integral role in the academic planning process for all students. The Center offers comprehensive career services: individual counseling; testing and assessment; as well as information about major-to-career connections, jobs, internships, volunteer work, and graduate school. The Career Center offers a Web-based job listing and résumé referral system called ZebraNet; several job/internship fairs each year; a volunteer referral service; an AmeriCorps community service program; workshops on choosing a major, résumé writing, and job hunting and interviewing skills; and an online credentials service for letters of recommendation that can be used to support graduate school applications. Undergraduate peer career advisors are available to assist and make referrals.

The office is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, and located on the lower level of the Frank Melville Jr. Library, at the foot of the Zebra Path walkway between the Library and Old Chemistry.

Back to top »

Key to Success #9: Interact with Faculty
Faculty are some of the greatest resources available to you at Stony Brook. Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and distinguished teaching and research professors call Stony Brook home. Students who interact with faculty outside the classroom are more successful in college. Developing relationships with faculty can help a large university seem much smaller and help you realize your own academic pursuits and goals. Even if you aren’t having difficulty in a class, connecting with faculty can help when it is time to get those important letters of recommendation.

Here are some areas you might want to explore in an informal meeting you set up with your professor(s) to get to know them better.

• Why did you become a professor?
• How did you become involved with your current discipline?
• What was your path to it in college? To use your professor as a resource:
• What can I do to be successful in this course?
• What do you look for when reviewing papers and essay exams?
• What is the most important thing you intend a student to learn from this class?

If you are considering a major or graduate school in your professor’s area of expertise, ask:

• What initially interested you about the subject?
• How did you decide to major in it?
• What other career opportunities exist related to this major?
• What can I do to prepare myself well for graduate school?
• What internship opportunities are available in this area?

Back to top »

Key to Success #10: Make the Most of Your DECs
A general—or liberal—education is required of all Stony Brook undergraduates. Simply, to be liberally educated means to be exposed to, and to have learned from, many different ideas, subjects, and disciplinary approaches to make you a thoughtful, well educated, socially and scientifically responsible, and culturally aware human being.

Stony Brook’s General Education Requirements
General education requirements are fulfilled in part by completion of the Diversified Education Curriculum (DEC), which is designed to ensure that, upon graduation, you have had broad exposure to different disciplines and types of knowledge and have developed the skills necessary to succeed in future endeavors, no matter what your major might be. The DEC is divided into three broad areas: University Skills, Disciplinary Diversity, and Expanding Perspectives and Cultural Awareness. You may choose from a wide variety of courses that fulfill the categories within each area. In addition, you must show that you have satisfied the Basic Entry Skills for admission to the University. For information about completing the Entry Skills and the DEC, consult the Undergraduate Bulletin.

The categories in this group are the essence of a liberal education. These requirements ensure that you have knowledge of the broad categories of disciplines: the social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, and the natural and physical sciences. By taking courses in each of these categories, you learn about the types of subjects these disciplines study and the different ways the disciplines approach them.

After learning about the different disciplinary ways of thinking and knowing, you move on to the four categories in this last group, which apply the material of the earlier courses to broader societal issues. Courses in the category Implications of Science and Technology develop an understanding of the social and global implications of science and technology and build on courses in the social, natural, and physical sciences. Courses in the category European Traditions build on what you have learned from the social sciences and humanities to examine European civilizations and cultures, while courses in the category The World Beyond European Traditions build on that same learning to examine cultures and civilizations of Asia, Africa, South and Latin America, and aboriginal peoples. The two categories are distinguished so that you may heighten your understanding and appreciation of each through your knowledge of the other. Finally, the DEC culminates with courses in the category American Pluralism, which apply knowledge of these diverse traditions to the understanding of the unique social and cultural diversity of the United States, a principal source of its strength.

Students entering as freshmen typically devote a significant part of their first two years here to taking courses in the various DEC categories and completing any unsatisfied entry skills requirements. This is a good time to explore new areas and begin to focus on a major.

Transfer students often have completed many DEC requirements through courses taken at previous institutions. All students are encouraged to meet with their First-Year Seminar instructor or an academic advisor when planning courses for the following semester to develop a coherent approach to general education and prepare for coursework in the major. Students who have a declared major should consult the advisors in the department that offers the major about satisfying major requirements.

Academic Advising
Advisors can assist you with your DEC requirements to ensure that you fulfill all the necessary categories as well as help you to remain in good academic standing by earning and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 (C average). Freshmen who have course and scheduling questions should contact their Undergraduate College Advisor at (631) 632-4378. Transfers who have course and scheduling questions should visit the Academic and Pre-Professional Advising Center, E-2360 Melville Library, (631) 632-7082. Transfers who have questions about transfer credits and course evaluations should visit the Transfer Office in Room 134, Administration Building, (631) 632-7028.

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) students should go to the CEAS Undergraduate Student Office for assistance with course scheduling, DEC requirements, and major-specific academic advising. The office also offers help with internships, scholarships, and more. Call (631) 632-8381 or visit 127 Engineering Building.

The Health Sciences Center Office of Student Services provides direct service to students in the Health Sciences Center and also assists the Schools of Health Technology and Management, Nursing, and Social Welfare, and in some cases, the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine, with the processes leading to admissions, registration, and financial aid. Call the office at (631) 444-2111 or visit the staff in the Health Sciences Center, Level 2.

If you are a student-athlete, EOP, Honors College, University Scholar, or WISE student, you will receive advising from your individual program.

Back to top »

Key to Success #11: Think Ahead About Your Academic Future
As you prepare your academic plan for the Spring semester, consider your short-term and long-term goals. Stony Brook students have access to many opportunities, both academic and social, and to faculty and staff who can help you fully realize these opportunities. Also, be sure to pay attention to all of the leadership opportunities that begin to emerge at this time of the year.

Registrar’s Office
The Registrar’s Office is located on the second floor of the Administration Building. The Registrar’s Service Counter is where you go for assistance with registration, to obtain enrollment certifications, request an address change, a suppression of directory information, order a transcript, file for graduation, or file an academic major/minor change. The Registrar’s Office also collects final grades, maintains the permanent academic record (transcript) for each student, and certifies degree candidates’ eligibility for graduation. To check the hours, contact the office at (631) 632-6175, and select option 1.

Class Schedules
The Schedule of Classes lists the days, times, locations, and instructors of each course offered. You can also do a "Class Search" on the SOLAR System to view course offerings. Course descriptions can also be found on the SOLAR System by clicking "Course Catalog."

Academic Calendar
The Academic Calendar lists all relevant deadline dates. It is your responsibility to be aware of these and any repercussions that result if the deadlines are not adhered to.

Bursar/Student Accounts Office
You are required to pay your account in full in a timely manner. Billing statements are mailed to the home address on record with the Registrar’s Office. You are responsible for notifying the Registrar’s Office of any change of address. Late fees will not be waived for failure to receive a bill due to an incorrect address. Students who do not receive a bill within 30 days of registration should call the Student Accounts Office at (631) 632-2455 for a billing packet.

Billing packets include the billing statement listing the payment deadline, an insurance enrollment form, and the Dollars and Sense Guide The guide has additional billing information, the semester’s tuition and fee liability, and a TOPP (Time Option Payment Plan) application. You are required to make full payment by the payment deadline to avoid the assessment of a $40 late payment fee. You are encouraged to use the TOPP feature as you wait for financial aid to be finalized. Failure to apply for financial aid in a timely manner does not relieve you of meeting all payment deadlines. For further information about Bursar Office services, call (631) 632-6117.

International Academic Programs
Participating in an International Academic Program allows you the opportunity to experience another culture firsthand. Why not spend a semester studying in Europe or Asia for the same price as attending Stony Brook? Through the International Academic Programs, you can see the world and take classes unique to that university and country while earning credits towards graduation. Some of the summer programs are unique because they offer students the opportunity to complete an entire semester’s worth of credit (12-15) in only a few exciting weeks abroad. You can access application forms here Summer programs require only one academic reference form and do not require the Foreign Language Proficiency Form.

Exchange Programs
Exchange Programs allow you to register for classes in foreign universities, which will count as Stony Brook University credit. All classes taken in exchange programs help students complete their SB residency requirements. Coursework may also be evaluated for DECs and Major/Minor/ Upper-Division Credit. Grades received will not factor into an SB GPA, but all official transcripts will include a supplement listing performance in the exchange program. You may also take classes at other campuses in the U.S. and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the National Student Exchange Program.

Back to top »

Key to Success #12: Take Care of Yourself and Have Fun
Did you know that Stony Brook students have access to a massage therapist, nutritionists, and state-of-the-art exercise equipment? Many students choose to work out in their residence halls or in the Wellness Center in the SAC. Additionally, counseling facilities and support groups are run through the University Counseling Center. These are just some of the resources available to help you stay healthy and keep in shape.

• The Paul Simons Memorial Bicycle Path–six miles of well-lit, paved trails that encompass the campus–is used year-round by cyclists, skaters, runners, and walkers.

• Venture off campus for great hikes or swimming at the beach. The University is minutes from North Shore beaches and local parks.

• Take a ceramic, photography, or painting class at the Crafts Center located on the lower level of the Stony Brook Union.

• Remember to visit the Office of Student Activities to pick up a list of all the student clubs and organizations available to you.

• Take in a show or a movie at the Staller Center for the Arts.

Students receive discount tickets to Staller events. A film series is offered each semester with a $25 student film pass good for all movies.

• Check out the Events Calendar for a current listing of campus activities.

Student Health Center
If you are not feeling well, visit the Student Health Center The Center offers comprehensive and cost-effective health services for both medical and psychosocial health problems. The staff includes physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, a pharmacist, laboratory technologists, a social worker, health educators, a nutritionist, and a substance abuse and addictions counselor. All registered students are eligible for medical care. In addition to treating general medical problems, the Student Health Center provides care in specialty areas such as: gynecological services, dermatology clinic, and a laboratory, pharmacy, and self-care center. Prescriptions are filled for students at substantial savings, and many over-the-counter medications are provided at no cost. In addition, Student Health Services offers support groups (Eating Disorders, Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Smoking Cessation) and management workshops. The Student Health Service hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. Appointments can also be scheduled for Tuesdays, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The Center is located behind the Student Union.

The University Counseling Center
The University Counseling Center provides consultation, crisis intervention, brief psychotherapy, group and couple’s therapy, and psychiatric services for students currently registered for six credits in a degree program at Stony Brook. All information about counseling at the Center is strictly confidential with the rare exception of that needed in situations of imminent danger. You can call (631) 632-6720 to speak to the counselor on call. Being in a new place can be stressful. The Counseling Center is here to help you be the best student you can be. So if you are feeling stressed or just want to talk to someone, call or stop by. The Center is on the second floor of the Student Health Center, located behind the Student Union.

Ombuds Office
The University Ombuds Office is available to assist students (as well as faculty and staff) in resolving difficult problems or disputes related to your life or work at the University. Located in W-0505, Melville Library, they’re here to listen with an open mind and to help resolve problems fairly. All matters handled by the Ombuds Office remain confidential. Depending on the nature of the concern, the Ombuds Office staff might offer specific advice or mediation, provide information, or make the appropriate referral to facilitate resolution—sometimes all you need is someone to point you in the right direction.

Back to top »