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Frequently Asked Questions About Academic Advisement

The Academic Advising Office receives 1000s of email, phone, and walk-in questions about a wide variety of matters. Some of them might be unique to a particular case, but more often than not others have asked your question, too.

Below are brief answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) of our office. The FAQs are divided into categories. We encourage you to scroll through the questions and answers. You might learn information to questions you didn't know you had!

New Student Summer Orientation: Before & After Questions

I want to change my major before I come to college. How can I do that?

If you are a NEW student who has not yet started here, call Admissions (518-564-2040) to inform them of your desire to change majors. Note: Some majors may be "closed;" they are full to capacity at this point or have additional admission criteria. Inquire with the Admissions Office. If you are already registered for courses in your old major, you will most likely need to drop those courses and replace them with introductory courses in your new major. Contact your new department chair for help with courses for your new major.

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I could not attend a summer orientation session. How may I register for courses?

Unless you were just admitted or just paid a deposit, you are probably already pre-registered for a few courses. We will contact you to add courses to your schedule during late July or early August. To register for the remainder of or adjust your schedule, you must come to the Course Advisement and Registration session that we host the Sunday prior to classes beginning -- at 10am sharp in the Learning Center (on the first floor of Feinberg Library). Deans, department chairs, academic advising staff, and registrar's office staff will be on hand to assist you. See extensive details on our New Student Advisement & Registration page.

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I want to change my courses around. May I do that?

Courses recommended for you by academic advisors and other professional staff generally fulfill GenEd or major requirements; it is NOT advisable to alter your schedule too much just for personal preferences (like time of day or to be with your friends). Dropping your courses will vacate those seats; if you don't find anything more desirable you might not get them back. (Unlike high school, college courses vary greatly in their time of day and length of class. No two of your semesters will be the same; you will come to appreciate the variety and flexibility.) If you must change your schedule, such as for employment or sports practices, you may add/drop classes on Banner during the summer.

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I got special accommodations for my learning or physical disability before college. Should I do this at SUNY Plattsburgh?

Absolutely, yes. If you have needed accommodated educational services in the past, chances are good that your educational experience in college would benefit from them as well. Contact Student Support Services (SSS) immediately (518-564-2810). They will: inform you of what paperwork you need to submit (e.g., IEP, 504 Plan, medical documentation), set you up with an advisor to determine your needs, and most likely register you for courses that are exclusively for SSS-eligible students.

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General Advising, Registration & Academic Policies

What is Banner? And MyPlattsburgh?

Banner is Plattsburgh's online system for registering for classes -- searching for, adding, and dropping courses. Banner is available on your MyPlattsburgh account. MyPlattsburgh also connects you to your SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinal Cloud Email, provides important announcements, and allows you to access your student account, Degree Works audit report, advisor's name, and much more.

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What is a Degree Works audit report?

A Degree Works audit outlines degree requirements specific to your academic major(s)/minor(s). This Degree Works audit, in conjunction with the College Catalog, are your absolute most important tools for keeping track of course work and requirements toward degree completion.

Learn about the sections on the report and what the notations mean from our Degree Works audit guide webpage -- and especially by clicking on the "Help" button on the top of your report. Pay particular attention to any red box on your Degree Works audit. A red box indicates that you have not yet fulfilled that requirement. View and print your Degree Works audit at least once per semester, preferably before the course advisement period to help you plan your next semester of courses.

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I think there is a problem with my Degree Works audit? How may I get it fixed?

The Registrar's Office administers and updates Degree Works audits. Questions regarding Degree Works audits may be directed to [email protected] or handled by visiting the Registrar's Office (3rd floor of Kehoe).

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Who is my Academic Advisor and how do I locate him/her?

One option is to view your Degree Works audit. Your academic Advisor's name is in the upper left hand area under your name, BannerID, and level. A second option is to find your Advisor's name within your MyPlattsburgh account by following simple instructions.

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How and when do I meet with my Academic Advisor?

You will need to make an appointment with your advisor, at the very least, once a semester during the Course Advisement period. Course Advisement period is the designated two weeks prior to course registration when advisees meet with advisors to discuss their academic progress, course selection for the next semester, etc. You should, however, take the initiative to meet with your advisor and establish a meaningful relationship with him or her. The advising process is central to your education here.

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Is my Academic Advisor the same thing as a Guidance Counselor?

No! In high school (and even other community colleges), guidance counselors picked classes for you and ensured you had enough credits to graduate. In college, YOU are in charge. You are fortunate to have an advisor in your major or special program to "guide" you, and suggest a category of classes or specific courses. But you are ultimately responsible for tracking your progress toward a degree, for monitoring courses on your academic record, and for staying on top of deadlines associated with your academic affairs. 

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What is a "hold," and why do I have one on my account?

A hold indicates that there's something you must do (such as pay a bill, update your contact information, etc.) in order to regain full access to your MyPlattsburgh account, like viewing your grades and registering on time. There are many types of holds (e.g., unpaid parking tickets, a student code of conduct to acknowledge, incomplete medical records). If you think you have a hold, use the MyPlattsburgh portal to find out more information. From the portal, login to Banner, access the Student Menu, then the Registration Menu, and finally, Administrative Holds. You will be able to view brief descriptions of any holds and what to do to resolve them.

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Sometimes people tell me to go to the "Registrar's Office." What is a Registrar? I've never heard of that.

The Registrar is a college official who oversees all student academic records and keeps a permanent record of your grades. The Registrar's office staff maintain an accurate account of class rosters, process all grades and grade changes, facilitate the course registration process, enforce policies for adding or withdrawing from a course, update Degree Works audits, and perform a degree audit prior to your graduation - and that's only part of it!

There are numerous reasons you might be directed to the Registrar's Office throughout your college years. All course withdrawal forms must be submitted there for processing. The same is true if you are filing a permission form to take a course at another institution, to complete an independent study, or to inquire about an error you sense on your Degree Works audit report. Also, you might need to request an official transcript for a scholarship, an employment opportunity, or grad school.

Our Registrar's Office is located on the 3rd floor of Kehoe. Most Registrar's College Forms are available online (by each category or all alphabetically). Inquiries can also be directed to [email protected].

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How will College staff/offices reach me if they need to?

We all rely heavily on digital communication. The College has accommodated by making e-mail the official form of College communication. Critical information is sent to you via your Cardinal Cloud g-mail account. Your advisor, professors, and the College, will communicate with you this way. You are held responsible for all information sent to your Plattsburgh email account.

Other than routine communication, various offices on this campus might have to reach you about an important matter. To do so, they consult Banner. It is YOUR responsibility to update your account with your accurate phone number and address (if that's changed). Otherwise, time-sensitive or personal information may be sent home or phoned to your family's number that you submitted at the time of your admission to SUNY Plattsburgh.

To make any changes, login to your Banner account and access the "Personal Menu." You will then be able to choose either "Update Address(es) and Phone(s)" and "Update e-mail address(es)" to enter your new contact information. It's good practice to routinely check this information for accuracy, as well as the numbers and e-mail addresses to which you would like any Emergency Alerts be sent.

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Declaring/Changing a Major or Minor

How do I declare a major? Or change the major/minor/advisor I have now?

Pick up a Declaration or Change of Major/Minor/Advisor form in the Academic Advising Office, Feinberg 101, and ask for instructions, or read the instructions and download the form from our declaring a major webpage. Complete the identifying information and take the form to the department chair of the major you would like to declare. The department chair will review your request (you may be asked for a copy of your transcript), assign you to an academic advisor within the major, and sign the form. Return the form to the Academic Advising Office for official processing.

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I've taken a lot of courses in a subject. How do I find out what I would need to declare a "minor?"

The course requirements for minors are listed in the College Catalog. Compare the requirements with your current Degree Works audit to get an idea of what else you might have to take. For more specific information, or to declare a minor, contact the coordinator of the minor (whose name is listed next to the minor in the College Catalog).

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Should I just get all of my Gen Eds out of the way now and worry about courses in my major later? OR I'm currently Undeclared -- is it a good idea to declare my major now, or wait until my sophomore year?

First of all, try not to think of GenEd classes as something to "get out of the way." General Education classes help you learn about many academic areas and build a foundation for more advanced coursework. Your academic Advisor can assist you in deciding what combination of major, elective and general education courses is best for you. Most of your General Education requirements are meant to be taken within your first two or three years. And, you still have space built into your schedule to take the introductory or prerequisite courses in a major you are thinking about.

While it might seem admirable to neatly clean up your Gen Ed requirements first, you are delaying natural progression through your major. At times, it is through taking the first courses in your major that you decide whether or not you actually want to continue in that field of study.

There is no "one-size-fits-all" answer to when you should declare a major. Some programs have a series of courses that must be followed very closely, but other majors are more flexible. Some programs have a minimum required GPA; others have prerequisites you must complete before declaring the major. The best thing to do is talk to your current academic Advisor and/or the department chair of the program in which you are interested. The feedback you receive should help you to make the decision.

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I think I know what I want to major in, but I'm not 100% sure. What happens if I declare now, and change my mind later? If I change my major, can I still graduate on time?

Majors are not written in stone. You can change or add a major at any point. It might still be possible to graduate on time if you change majors within the same broad disciplinary area, such as Biology to Chemistry, or Sociology to Gender & Women's Studies. (Use your current Degree Works audit and your college catalog to compare your current program and the one that interests you.)

However, depending on your year in college, and the differences between programs, it might take you longer than four years to earn your degree. For example, if you are a junior wanting to change from Political Science to Ecology, or Biochemistry to Finance, you might need a full semester or more of prerequisite courses before you advance to upper-level major courses. We understand the extended time can be a deterrent, however it is important for you to be interested in and excited about your chosen area of study, especially if you expect your new major to take you in the direction of a career field you'll enjoy.

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I'm really interested in a major, but I'd like to talk to someone about what kinds of jobs I can find after I graduate. Where can I go to find out more?

The Career Development Center (118 Angell College Center) has many resources for students to explore majors, careers, and personal goal setting. While certain resources are available to you online through your own exploration, you will get the best access and information by making an appointment to meet with a career counselor!

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Academic or Personal Difficulties

I need to drop a class. What do I need to do?

First, check the official Academic Calendar to be sure that the deadline to drop a course has not passed. For a full-term course, the withdrawal deadline is the last day of the 2-week course advisement period. For a part-of-term course, like LIB, some PEDs, and MAT104, the withdrawal deadline is sooner. You will need to get a Schedule Adjustment form, available at Academic Advising (Feinberg 101) and the Registrar (3rd floor of Kehoe). Complete the top portions, and obtain the signatures of the course instructor and your academic Advisor. Take the completed form to the Registrar's Office on or before the deadline.

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What happens if my cumulative grade point average (GPA) falls below 2.0?

At the end of a semester, the College conducts an academic progress review of all students' records based on their cumulative GPAs. Students who have cumulative GPAs below 2.0 fall under "academic progress review." This review is essentially the College's way of insuring that students meet our minimum academic standards and make timely progress toward degree completion (e.g., graduate within four years).

Academic progress review notices are sent to students via e-mail (Plattsburgh e-mail account) and in hardcopy to home addresses. These notices include guidelines about the process to submit written appeals of the academic review. The Academic Progress Committee (APC) reviews appeals and determines whether to allow a student to return on academic probation or to academically dismiss the student from the College. All details about the academic review process, submitting appeals, deadlines, decisions, etc. are included in the notice students receive.

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I've missed a lot of classes because I've been sick or because of personal reasons. What should I do? OR Something serious has happened at home. I really don't know if I can stay and finish the semester. Who can I talk to about this?

If you have been missing classes, such that your grades are in jeopardy, you should consider a college withdrawal. Students who withdraw from a semester will receive a grade of "W" in all courses for that semester.

There are two different procedures for processing a withdrawal and for re-admission to SUNY Plattsburgh, depending on the circumstances of your withdrawal:

  • For all medical and/or psychological withdrawals, please contact the Student Health and Counseling Center, 518.564.2187.
  • For college withdrawals for other reasons (e.g., military deployment/enlistment, financial, family, personal), please contact Academic Advising, 518-564-2080.

If you are feeling torn about whether or not to withdraw from college, please see immediately either your academic advisor or Academic Advising staff. If you have been missing many classes, but choose not to process a college withdrawal, there could be serious consequences upon your GPA. It is often best to preserve your GPA by voluntarily withdrawing from college versus facing academic dismissal if your cumulative GPA should fall below a 2.0. If you have any questions or concerns, it's always best to ask!

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I have to leave campus for just a little while due to an emergency. I don't have time to tell my instructors that I will be absent. What should I do?

Contact the Student Affairs Office (6th floor of Kehoe). The Student Affairs Office will send your instructors and academic advisor an e-mail explaining that you will be absent and the general reason (e.g., death in the family, surgery, acute illness). However, it is your responsibility to follow up with your instructors afterwards to make up for your absences and/or missed work/notes. Note: If your emergency situation may be more prolonged than originally anticipated and/or it is taking time and attention away from your studies once you return, you might consider a college withdrawal to avoid your grades slipping beyond repair. (For college withdrawal information, see the question above this one.)

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I'm having a really hard time in some classes I need for my major. They're harder than I expected. What should I do?

If you are struggling with one or more courses, you may seek the assistance of the instructor(s) at their office hours. They might provide you the means of learning difficult material. There is also free tutoring available to all students in many subjects at the Learning Center, Feinberg Library 103. If you are struggling in many required courses for your major, you may want to talk with your academic advisor, the Academic Advising Office staff, and/or the Career Development Center counselors to determine if your current major is the best choice for you.

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Transfer/AP Credit, Repeat Coursework

Can I repeat a class I failed by taking it at another institution, like a community college near home?

Only courses that are taken at SUNY Plattsburgh will count towards your grade point average (GPA). Therefore, if you repeat a failed course somewhere else, it will not affect your GPA (positively or negatively). You may take the course at your community college, but if you are repeating the course in order to improve your GPA, you must take it at SUNY Plattsburgh (onsite or via the web).

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I want to take a summer course or two at my community college near home. How will I know if these courses will count?

If you plan to take one or more courses at another institution, you must first complete a "Permission to Study Off-Campus" form, available in the Academic Advising Office (Feinberg 101). That form tells the College what you plan to take and what you believe it should count as (e.g., a course in your major, a Gen Ed, etc.). There is an important checklist of items on the form that you should consider before taking the summer course.

To know what the course equivalency is at SUNY Plattsburgh, visit our Admissions page for Transfer Credit Equivalencies.

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I think I want to transfer somewhere else. How do I know which credits will transfer?

The new institution will determine how credits will transfer. You should contact their admissions or registrar's office for more specific information. Also, if you are not returning to SUNY Plattsburgh, you must complete an official College Withdrawal form for SUNY Plattsburgh, available at the Academic Advising Office (Feinberg 101).

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I took an AP or college course in high school. Why isn't it anywhere on my Degree Works audit?

If you don't see a transfer credit (TR) on your Degree Works audit that you believe should be there, you should ask your high school guidance counselor or the institution from which you received credit to send an OFFICIAL transcript or score report to the SUNY Plattsburgh Registrar's Office. Only credits that have been officially processed through the Registrar's Office will count toward your degree. Until then, you will probably see your AP/Transfer course listed in your MyPlattsburgh account, Student Services tab, "Degree Audit/Information" section, "My Transfer Credits."

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Who is responsible for making sure I complete all my degree requirements?

You are. Your academic advisor will assist you to with understanding degree requirements, college policies and procedures, and how to best utilize college services and resources. The responsibility of meeting graduation requirements at the intended graduation date, in compliance with any applicable financial aid compliance, both with respect to selecting courses and to completing them satisfactorily, rests with the you - the student.

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Did you have a question that is not listed above?

If so, please feel free to visit the Academic Advising office for assistance, or e-mail your question to [email protected]

Contact Information

Academic Advising
Office Location: Feinberg 101-103
Phone: (518) 564-2080
Fax: (518) 564-2079
Email: [email protected]