Frequently Asked Questions | Academic Services | ESF Students
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Frequently Asked Questions Academic Success and Community Service


Indiana University's Plagiarism: What It Is and How To Avoid It

Purdue University's Avoiding Plagiarism.

Use this page to access proven advice on what it takes to succeed at ESF. Most of your classmates face the same concerns and challenges that you do, and thousands have made their way before you.


  • What is it like to be a student at ESF?
  • Who, What, Where, How?
  • I’m Freakin’ Out Here!
  • HELP!
  • Syracuse University Resources Open to You
  • TOP
    What’s it like to be a student at ESF?

    ESF is a unique place. Whether you’ve joined us from high school or transferred from another college, you’ll quickly find that ESF is different. Most of ESF’s courses are tough and require a lot of work. As a student, you’re expected to put in the time, do quality work, and learn big picture concepts.

    You get out what you put in! Your success at ESF is completely up to you. There are lots of resources and tips that can help, but you have to use them. When asked to give advice to new ESF students, freshmen or transfer, veteran ESF’ers offer the following:

    • It’s all you! You have to take responsibility for your learning. No one is going to hound you to go to class or to get your work done.
    • There is a lot of work and it’s hard. Waiting ‘til the last minute to get things done isn’t going to work here. Start assignments as soon as you get them and study for exams well in advance. If you’re used to getting B’s without studying much, you’re in for a shock here. Don’t rely on your old study habits; put in the effort and do it early!
    • Get to know your instructors and advisor. One of the greatest things about ESF is that students can get to know and work with faculty outside of class. Getting to know these folks will send them the message that you’re serious and it could help you now and later as you’re looking to the future.
    • Get involved in something. ESF students work hard and play hard. There are many activities and student organizations to join. This is also a great way to meet other people and interact informally with faculty and staff.
    • Take the time to chill. Everyone needs a break from the stress of academics. Taking a night off occasionally or taking an hour break will actually make you more productive in the long run.

    Who, What, Where, How?

    What is the Curriculum Plan Sheet (also known as Degree Audit Form)?

    This is a tool used to track your progress toward your degree. It shows all the requirements for your particular program and indicates which of these requirements have been completed. Both you and your advisor have web access to your Curriculum Plan Sheet by logging into MyESF.

    How Do I Make Sure I Get All My Transfer Credit?

    Credit hours appropriate to the ESF curriculum can be transferred to the College, but grades and grade points cannot be transferred. Courses to be transferred to meet graduation requirements for any curriculum must be acceptable in content, and credit will be awarded only for those completed with a grade of "C" or higher. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that official, final transcripts or score reports are sent to and received by the College.

    When Would I Use a Petition?

    • To drop or add a course after the deadline.
    • To have additional credits accepted in transfer from another school.
    • To substitute a course for a degree requirement.
    • To have a requirement waived.

    Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s Office. Note: Particular conditions must be met for petitions to be considered. See the Registrar’s Page for specifics.

    How Do I Change Majors/Programs of Study?
    This process starts in the Office of Student Affairs - Career Services iin 110 Bray Hall. Contact the office so a Change of Program of Study Form can be completed.

    What If I Need to miss Classes?
    If you are ill, have a family emergency, or some other circumstance beyond your control that requires you to miss class, please discuss these occurrences with your instructor. If additional assistance is needed, please contact the Office of Student Affairs - Student Support in 110 Bray Hall.

    I Need Accommodations for a Disability, Where Do I Start?
    Please contact the Office of Student Affairs - Student Support in 110 Bray Hall to ensure that all required paperwork has been completed.

    I’m Leaving ESF During the Semester, What Do I Need To Do?
    Please stop in to 110 Bray Hall and complete the Change in Educational Plans Form.

    I Won’t Be Returning To ESF Next Semester, What Do I Need To Do?
    Please stop in to 110 Bray Hall and complete the Change in Educational Plans Form.

    What About Adding and Dropping Courses?
    Students may add courses with the approval of both their academic advisor and the course instructor, and may drop courses with their advisor/major professor’s approval and notification to the course instructor using an appropriate drop/add form until the last day for program adjustments as listed in the ESF academic calendar. Courses dropped during this time will not appear on the student’s transcript. Courses that begin after the published add date may be added prior to the start of the course. Courses that last for less than one semester may be dropped no later than halfway through the course. In either case, the student must submit a completed drop/add form.

    For those students receiving financial support through the college, dropping courses that result in the student being less than full time will have an impact on support received. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for more detailed information.

    See the Registrar's website for add and drop dates.

    What’s Up With Email?
    ESF relies on email a lot to communicate with students. All ESF’ers receive a "MyMail" account through Syracuse University. This is the email address instructors and school officials will use to communicate with you. YOU MUST CHECK THIS EMAIL REGULARLY or you will miss out on important stuff!

    Can I Study Abroad?
    Yes. There are various study abroad opportunities. These options are offered by particular academic programs/courses, via Syracuse University’s Division of International Programs Abroad, and via SUNY. Chat with your academic advisor about your interests and check out this website for general information. Note: There are academic requirements for study abroad participation, so not every student will be eligible.

    Can I Repeat a Course If I Think I Can Do Better?

    Students may repeat any course previously taken, either to earn a higher grade or because of a previous failure.

    Courses taken at ESF or Syracuse University that contribute to the GPA may be repeated. Ability to repeat a course may be limited by available space, providing priority for first-time registrants. Upon completion of the repeated course, the grade earned will be included in the semester and cumulative grade point averages. The original grade received in the course will be shown in parentheses following the R [e.g. R (C)]. The cumulative grade point average will reflect the grade for the second time the course was taken if the course was repeated once. Grades for all subsequent attempts (including failed attempts) will be included in the calculation of grade point average. Semester and cumulative grade point averages will be calculated in accordance with SUNY and college policies. The course's credits can count only once toward degree requirements. The “R” grade may be applied to replace initial course grades higher than “F” only if the course was initially taken in the Fall 2009 semester or later.

    For state-based financial aid, repeated courses in which students have received a passing grade will not count toward full-time status. Students retaking courses may find their financial aid reduced if they fall below 12 credits when the retaken courses are not included. Students should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine the impact of retaking courses on their financial aid.

    What Does It Mean to Be Academically Dismissed or Put On Academic Probation?
    Students who earn less than a 2.000 cumulative grade point average are placed on academic probation and are subject to suspension from ESF when their cumulative grade point average falls below the minimum values in the following index:

    Total Hours applied Toward Degree [1] Minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average [2]
    0-18 1.0
    19-30 1.4
    31-45 1.5
    46-60 1.6
    61-75 1.7
    76-90 1.8
    91-120 1.9
    >120 2.0

    [1] Includes credit hours accepted for transfer to ESF degree program and courses taken while matriculated at ESF.
    [2] Credit earned while matriculated at ESF, including SU courses.

    If you are placed on academic probation, you will only be allowed to take 15 credits, you may not be an officer in any student organization, and you must raise your cumulative GPA accordingly to the chart above.

    Can I Appeal My Academic Suspension?
    Each student suspended will be given the opportunity to appeal this action based on any extraordinary conditions that may have contributed to the unsatisfactory performance. This appeal must be made in writing and submitted within the stated time limit in accordance with guidelines provided by the Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies. Every appeal will be reviewed by the Faculty Subcommittee on Academic Standards, which will recommend to the Dean of Instruction and Graduate Studies either to accept the appeal or sustain the suspension. The Dean of Instruction and Graduate Studies will inform the student in writing of the final action. There is no appeal beyond this process.

    Students who have been academically suspended may not enroll in any courses at ESF or Syracuse University until at least one semester has elapsed. If suspension occurs following the Spring semester, suspended students may not enroll in a summer program at ESF or SU.

    Suspended students who wish to be reinstated must apply for readmission through the Office of Counseling Services. Students academically suspended a second time without successful appeal will be dismissed from the college and may not be considered again for readmission.

    Is there an honor's program at ESF?
    Yes. Visit the Honors website for details.

    How Do I Change Advisors?

    If you change your career goals or after several meetings with your current advisor you find that you cannot work with him or her, you may need to change advisors. The process of changing advisors varies in each department. Speak to your curriculum coordinator or department chair to find out the correct procedure. See “How do I contact faculty offices” on the Registrar’s page.

    Why Should I Join a Club or Organization?

    Clubs and organizations not only look good on a resume and allow you to find peers with similar interests, but they also allow you to gain valuable skills that your future employers want to see. Skills such as communication, teamwork, organization, leadership, and diversity appreciation are gained through club involvement. Check out the ESF clubs and organizations at ESF's Student Involvement & Leadership webpage, and the more 300 clubs and organizations at SU that you can join here.

    Where do I find information about Off-Campus Housing?

    Check out the Syracuse University Off-Campus Housing site.

    I’m Freakin’ Out Here!

    When asked why they don’t do as well academically as they could, ESF’ers’ had three answers: slackin’, not studying as they should, and getting sick. Knowing these reasons, they offer the following advice.

    Don’t Be a Slacker!

    • Schedules and Lists—make ‘em and use ‘em! Start with a semester calendar. Take the important dates and assignments from the syllabus of each class and put them on one calendar—this is a great way to see the big picture! From there, make a weekly schedule and follow it! This could also involve daily to-do lists that prioritize your requirements and assignments. SET DEADLINES AND MEET THEM!
    • Get Moving! Don’t waste that “spare” time between classes. Review notes, read for tomorrow’s lecture, or work on an assignment. You’ll see many ESF’ers with homemade “flash cards”; a great study tool and easy to use while waiting in line, eating lunch, or chillin’.
    • Get ‘er done! Don’t put off that dreaded or boring assignment. Attack it and get it over with so you can concentrate on other things. Remember, one thing at a time with short breaks is the most effective way to tackle the load.
    • Make class time your best study time! Really prepare for class and be attentive to the content. If you play this one right, this could be your best strategy for success!
    • Morning, noon, or night? When’s your best study time? Figure it out and capitalize on it! Find a place to study that isn’t distracting. Turn off the AIM, cell phone, and Playstation and FOCUS!


    • Start by going to class…hmmm…No kidding! Really pay attention and engage. You’ll get more out of each class if you’re active.
    • Change it up! Sit in the front of the classroom or sit with different people. Something this simple could make a huge difference. Put yourself in the best position to learn!
    • Notes: Take ‘em and review ‘em. Too often students try so hard to write everything down that they miss the most important points. The goal of notes is not to record every word, but to get the major concepts and ideas. Listen to what’s being said, write down the important stuff and review your notes everyday. Did you know that you’ll forget almost half of what you hear within 24 hours if you don’t review it? If you review each day, you’ll remember more and you won’t have to cram just before the exam.
    • Study the tough stuff first and stay organized.
    • GPA Calculator—How are you doing? How well do you need to do? Check out this site!
    • ESF's Academic Success Center offers a variety of workshops to assist you in your academic success.
    • SU’s Tutoring and Study Center offers lots of great stuff about how to study and do better.

    “I didn’t copy it exactly…so it’s not plagiarism, right?”

    • Instructors at ESF know their stuff, so be sure you do too! Instructors expect you to do your own work and properly cite materials used.
    • “I didn’t know” is not an excuse that will fly when it comes to plagiarism.
    • “Copy and paste” will likely result in an “F” and low GPA!
    • Check out these two sites to help you better understand the concept of plagiarism. Read Indiana University's Plagiarism: What It Is and How To Avoid It and Purdue University's Avoiding Plagiarism.

    Eat, Sleep, and Be Healthy!

    • Eat Right: The more balanced your diet, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll perform academically. Make the effort…it’s important!
    • ZZZ’s: Brain function is tied to sleep. The more you get the better you’ll do! Typically a person needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Too often students “sacrifice” sleep in the name of studying...bad decision; make the time!
    • Exercise Reduces Stress! Take ½ hour each day to visit the gym or to go for a walk or run. Your body and brain need the break!
    • Alcohol and Drug Use: Yep, here we go again! Abuse does negatively impact grades. Don’t be that kid!
    • SU's Nutrition Services offers an abundant amount of information on nutrition and provides ways
      to get nutritional counseling.

    Instructors and Advisors: Speaking a New Language …over and over again!

    Instructors at ESF are a great resource for students. They know their stuff and are willing to share their know-how and resources with you. All they require in return is for you to hold up your end of the bargain! Here are some hints to maximize your relationships with professors:

    • Know “the rules”: Every instructor has unique guidelines about communication, office hours, and other requirements. Don’t make assumptions; know their rules!
    • Go to class…regularly! ESF is not a big place. Instructors will note who attends and who doesn’t. This could make the difference for you if that grade is on the borderline.
    • Arrive on time and be polite! Turn the cell phone off, don’t have side conversations.
    • Read and follow the syllabus…duh!
    • Understand requirements for assignments and complete work on time. If you don’t get something…ASK!
    • Participate in discussions, labs, and field trips.
    • Remember, instructors are there to help you learn. This could involve conversations beyond the particular content of class on a given day. If you want to learn more, or if you have questions, go see your instructors during office hours. You might learn about job or internship opportunities, or course and career related stuff!
    • Your behavior and actions form your instructors opinions of you. If you communicate regularly with your faculty, he or she will be able to attach a face to your name and you will benefit!

    Academic Advisors: At ESF every student is assigned an academic advisor. This is the person that will help you get through all the red tape of registration, adds/drops, petitions, and degree requirements. It is important that you get to know your advisor so that he or she can get to know you and your interests. If you do it right, your academic advisor could become your mentor; an influential force in your professional life. Every advisor has his/her own way of doing things. It is your responsibility to know how to communicate with them and know what their expectations are of you. Below are some tips to help you maximize the relationship with your advisor:

    1. Keep your appointments. Your advisor is a very busy person, so be on time. If you can’t make the appointment, give notice in person or by phone or email, as far in advance as possible, so that he/she can make schedule adjustments.
    2. Be prepared. You aren’t expected to know everything, but your advisor will expect that you are familiar with the general requirements of the degree.
    3. If the meeting is about registration for courses...
      1. ...have a preliminary plan. Don’t just sit down and say “what should I take”? Have some options in mind, and ask your advisor for recommendations or alternatives. Pay attention to course restrictions and prerequisites.
      2. ...check the Registrar’s website for course availability and times. The printed schedule from Syracuse University has ESF courses, but it goes to press months before it is used, and many things change in the interim. Don’t depend on your advisor to notice such changes.
    4. If the meeting is about a petition...
      1. ... take a form. They can be obtained from the Registrar’s office. Your advisor probably does not have a supply. Fill out all the top personal information before coming, but leave the “request” and “justification” sections blank.
      2. ... have a clear idea of what you are asking for, and bring some draft wording. Get approval of the draft text before copying it to the form.
      3. ... take any necessary information.
    5. Be respectful and take responsibility for your own academic program.

    Since the advisor relationship is an important one, your advisor should be someone that is directly related to your program of study. Your advisor should also be someone that you trust and can communicate with comfortably. If you change your career goals or after several meetings with your current advisor you find that you cannot work with him or her, you may need to change advisors. The process of changing advisors varies in each department. Speak to your curriculum coordinator or department chair to find out the correct procedure. See “How do I contact faculty offices” on the Registrar’s page.


    Career Services: Our career services are available to students, alumni, and employers. You can get help with resumes, cover letters, interviewing strategies and networking tips. For more information, stop by the Green House to speak with Casey Duffy, (315) 470-6660,

    Student Support:

    Academic and personal counseling services are provided to SUNY-ESF students through the office in 110 Bray and with Syracuse University. For more information contact Ms. Mary Triano at (315) 470-6660,

    Internships: ESF’s Internship Program provided by ESF's Career Services, assists students with every stage of the internship process. From planning the preferred semester to pursue an internship, to researching internship options, to outlining the process, and how to make the most of an internship experience, you will find every piece of the internship puzzle here! Contact Career Services in the Green House to speak with Casey Duffy, (315) 470-6660,

    Library Resources: Contact Mr. Stephen Weiter in the Moon Library, (315) 470-6712,

    Inclusion, Diversity and Equity provides support to underrepresented students and to foster a campus community where cultural diversity is appreciated and cultural competence is valued. Contact the Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion

    For information about CSTEP and EOP, contact the CSTEP Coordinator Eileen Baldassarre at (315) 470-4895 and the Director of EOP John View at (315) 470-4863.

    Tutoring: Through the Peer Tutoring Program, the service of a qualified undergraduate or graduate student tutor may be available to any ESF undergraduate student who feels a need for academic support in meeting the demands of ESF courses in which he/she is currently enrolled. Contact the Academic Success Center in Centennial Hall B014 or 110 Bray Hall for more information, (315) 470-4909 or at

    Writing Center: The ESF Writing Resource Center (WRC) is located in 13 Moon Library. The WRC is staffed by both professional and student consultants to assist all students in any discipline with their writing. Stop in today to make an appointment! Contact the WRC by visiting their website: .

    Math: Many individual math course offer math labs designed to help students succeed academically and gain confidence in math. See instructors for details.

    Syracuse University Resources Open to You!

    SU Tutoring and Study Center (LRC): The Tutoring and Study Center selects and trains undergraduate and graduate student tutors. Students may request one-on-one tutors or study group facilitators for undergraduate level SU courses. The Tutoring and Study Center also works closely with academic departments and disseminates information regarding campus-wide academic resources. Ms. Jane Neuburger, (315) 443-2005

    SU Office of Disability Services (ODS): The Office of Disability Services provides support services for students with documented disability-related academic impairments. The goal is to facilitate equal access to all academic programs and services for students with physical, psychological, and learning disabilities. ESF students must go through the Counseling Services Office for an initial referral.