First Year Students: Start Here

Welcome to Stony Brook University! You will be meeting your Undergraduate College Advisors at both Orientation (mid-July/early August) and Opening (the Saturday before classes begin). During Orientation, you will take your first steps towards graduation by beginning the advising relationship, learning about what is expected of you as a Stony Brook student, and registering for your first classes.

Important Information

Orientation Process

Orientation for freshmen begins with fun activities to help introduce you to your Undergraduate College. The afternoon is devoted to course registration. For more information, please see the orientation website.

  1. Before you arrive
  2. Transcripts from other colleges and universities
    • Have an official copy of any transcripts from other colleges or universities sent to Stony Brook’s Transfer Office:
      • Stony Brook University
        E-2360 Melville Library
        ​Stony Brook, NY 11794-3353
    • Bring an additional copy of those transcripts with you to Orientation to ease the enrollment process.
  3. Official AP scores
    • Make sure all of your AP scores are sent to Stony Brook. Please submit all Advanced Placement scores to Stony Brook ELECTRONICALLY. The AP Services phone number is (609) 771-7300. Stony Brook's school code is 2548. Bring any official paper copies of your scores with you to Orientation to ensure a smooth enrollment process.
  4. Placement Exams
    1. Math Placement Exam
      • This exam determines which Math and Science courses you can enroll in. The exam must be completed two business days before you arrive to Orientation.
      • While some AP score and transfer credits from other colleges and universities may override the Exam score, the Math Placement is the BEST indicator of success at Stony Brook, and we STRONGLY recommend all students take the exam.
      • Please do your very best on the exam. Failure to perform well on the exam can slow a your progress toward your degree. You can prepare for the exam here.
      • Please note, books, formulas, and calculators cannot be used on the exam. More information about the exam.
      • See here for Math Placement chart.
    2. Writing Placement Exam
      • Most students will not have to take a Writing Placement Exam. Their writing placement (ESL 192, ESL 193, WRT 101 or WRT 102) will be based on one of the following test scores, including their SAT Combined Critical Reading and Writing score (1050 or higher), ACT Writing score (24 or higher), or AP English or English Literature score (3 or higher). If students get below these thresholds, their SAT or ACT essays will be evaluated and placed accordingly. If we do not have the SAT or ACT scores or essays available, we will ask the student to take a brief Writing Placement exam during Orientation.
      • See here for the Writing Placement chart
    3. Language Placement Exams
      • All students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), College of Business (COB), and School of Journalism (SOJ) are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. If you intend to take language courses above the introductory level (111 or 101) courses at Stony Brook, you are encouraged to take the Language Placement Exam before your Orientation date. Language placement exams are offered in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. See here for exam times.
      • For all other languages, speak to the department about placement and official permission to register. See here for contact information.

Student Orientation and Family Programs offer checklists that will help you monitor your progress through completing all the steps that will lead you to begin your career at Stony Brook. Keep these handy to make sure you stay on track as you move forward!

High School vs. College

Becoming a Stony Brook student is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter of your life, and as with any transition, there is change. There are many differences between high school and college. The key difference is you!  College requires more independence and responsibility.  You are responsible for your education.  You are the one responsible for getting to class, managing your time, and fulfilling your graduation requirements.   Advisors, instructors, teaching assistants, tutors are there to help, but you have to ask for it!


You spend 6 hours each day (30 hours per week) in class.

You spend 12 to 16+ hours each week in class

Teachers check your completed homework.

Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.

Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students.

Teachers have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research.

Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook.

Teachers  may not follow the textbook. Instead, to amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide background information, or discuss research about the topic you are studying. Or, they may expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.

Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.

Teachers expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.

You may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.

You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.

You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.

You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.

Guiding principle: You will usually be told in class what you needed to learn from assigned readings.

Guiding principle: It's up to you to read and understand the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that you've already done so.

Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.

Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material. You, not the professor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test. A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.

Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve.

Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you've learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.

Consistently good homework grades may help raise your overall grade when test grades are low.

Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.

Guiding principle: "Effort counts." Courses are usually structured to reward a "good-faith effort."

Guiding principle: "Results count." Though "good-faith effort" is important in regard to the professor's willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.

Classres generally have no more than 35 students. 

Classes may number 100 students or more. 

Your Net ID

Your Stony Brook University Net ID is a login that will grant you the ability to access many campus computing services. This username/password is different from your SOLAR login, but is utilized for common services such as Blackboard, your Stony Brook University e-mail, and logging on to library computers.

Please remember that is important that you keep track of your different usernames, passwords, identifications, etc. and maintain them in a safe place hidden from others.

For more information about your Net ID and other computing services, please visit the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) website