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Undergraduate Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions. If we are unable to answer your question with this page, please contact us via email at or by phone at (585) 275-9049.

Appointments at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

What is the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL)?

CETL is a resource for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in Arts, Sciences & Engineering (AS&E), providing a range of programs to enhance both instructional practices and approaches to study. In addition, CETL provides study skills support to graduate students in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Simon Business School, and the Warner School of Education.

What services are available at CETL for students?

If you are a undergraduate student in AS&E, you are welcome to participate in our student services like:

Graduate students in AS&E, the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Simon Business School, and the Warner School of Education can benefit from our graduate Study Skills Consulting program.

How do I set up an appointment at CETL?

There are a number of ways to do this:

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Study Groups 

How do I sign up for a CETL Study Group?

You can sign up for Study Groups on Blackboard. You will automatically be enrolled in a Blackboard Organization if one of your courses has a Study Group during a particular semester, and you can access sign-ups through that Organization. Organizations show up on the right-hand side of the Blackboard interface on a laptop or desktop and near the bottom if scrolling through the mobile view.

What is the difference between CETL Study Groups and the Study Zone?

Study Groups are course-specific collaborative study sessions led by a near-peer who recently completed the course. Please visit our Study Groups page for more information.

The purpose of Study Groups is to provide an opportunity to connect with other students in your courses who are also motivated to study consistently each week. One the other hand, the Study Zone is a quiet study location in the CETL suite where near-peer leaders help students set studying goals and plan their path to achieving them through their individual study sessions. So, in summary:

  • Study Groups are collaborative, course-specific, and content-knowledge-focused.
  • The Study Zone is individual, generally applicable to any academic work, and study-skill-focused.

Any student can benefit from both resources in their coursework.

How many students are usually in a CETL Study Group?

There can be anywhere from a single student to as many as 15 in any given Study Group session.

What if I want a CETL Study Group for a course that does not have one?

If you are taking a course you feel would benefit from having an accompanying Study Group, please contact Kyle Trenshaw so that he can look into recruiting a new Study Group leader for the course. In lieu of a Study Group, CETL offers several other resources for students looking to improve their study habits and academic performance in general. Check out our Tutoring and Study Skills Consulting pages for more information.

Why should I sign up for a CETL Study Group?

Beyond just getting your questions answered by the near-peer leader, Study Groups are a great way to meet other motivated students whom you would not otherwise have a chance to get to know, for example because the course lecture is large and impersonal, or the students are not in your PLTL Workshop, recitation section, or lab group. Further, the students you meet during Study Groups can also become study partners outside of Study Group sessions, and having a dedicated study partner has been shown as one of the most productive and effective ways to succeed in college overall. Finally, Study Groups are a great way to make sure that you are staying on top of your coursework because they occur weekly throughout the semester.

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The Study Zone - General Program Information

Where is the Study Zone located?

The Study Zone is located in the CETL suite in Dewey Hall. If you are entering Dewey from the tunnels, you can access the Study Zone by turning to your left and entering the CETL main office (Dewey 1-154) during office hours of 8 AM to 5 PM. If you are coming from Dewey 1-101 or if you turn to your right after exiting the tunnels, you can turn toward the grey pillar in the hallway with the vending machines and continue through the door past the pillar to reach the CETL suite side entrance (on your left as you pass through the door), which is open during evening hours in addition to regular CETL office hours. Once you pass through this side entrance, you can find the Study Zone at the end of the L-shaped hallway that makes up the CETL suite on your righthand side.

How do I apply to enroll in the Study Zone?

You can apply to enroll in the Study Zone online through the application page. Enrollment is on a first-come/first-served basis, and applications are usually open a week or so before the semester starts for early access.

When is the Study Zone open? Why are there no morning hours?

The Study Zone is open Sunday through Thursday from 2 PM to 9 PM and on Friday from 2 PM to 7 PM excluding holidays and finals week. There are no morning hours because when we piloted them in a past semester, they were poorly attended. If you would like to advocate for the return of morning hours, please contact Kyle Trenshaw so that he can take your request into consideration for planning future semesters.

Where do I check in for the Study Zone?

You can check in at the Study Zone leader desk, which is located in Dewey 1-160D at the end of the L-shaped hallway that makes up the CETL suite. If you enter the suite through Dewey 1-154, the staff at the CETL front desk can direct you back to the Study Zone to check in. You cannot check in to the Study Zone at the CETL front desk, and you must check in at the Study Zone leader desk in order to have your hours count toward the 3-hour-per-week minimum.

When does the week start for the Study Zone's 3-hour-per-week minimum expectation?

The week starts on Sunday and ends on Friday each week. Weeks that include holidays are not counted in this expectation (e.g., Fall Break, Spring Break, Thanksgiving Break, etc.), and any hours you attend during those weeks will usually be counted into the next week's expectation. For example, the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of the week of Fall Break would count along with the subsequent Sunday through Friday of the next week, giving you 9 days to fulfill the expectation instead of just 6 that week.

Do I have to attend the Study Zone for 3 hours every day?

No, the 3-hour-per-week minimum applies from Sunday to Friday each week of the semester, and the 3 hours can be made up of one large session or as many shorter sessions as work for your schedule in a particular week. There is no daily requirement.

Do I have to reapply to the Study Zone every semester?

Yes, we clear the enrollment at the end of each semester and reopen the application process so that as many students as possible get a chance to try the Study Zone and see if it works for them. However, if you have been enrolled in the Study Zone in a previous semester, you will receive an invitation to reapply the following semester before the general call for applications has gone out through The Report.

How do study sessions in the Study Zone work? How do we set goals before and debrief after?

The Study Zone is staffed by Study Zone leaders who will guide you through the process each time you visit the space. When you check in for a session, the Study Zone leaders will ask you a few questions about what you plan to work on, how long you plan to study, and any studying goals you have for the session. Your responses to the questions will be added to your session report, which will be emailed to you for your reference after your session. When you have finished studying, the Study Zone leaders will follow up with you about your plans and goals and ask about any next steps for your studying to be included in your session report. This process is designed to be judgement-free; the Study Zone leaders do not place any "ratings" or other value judgements about your session in your session report unless you supply them yourself (e.g., "I feel like I had a really great session!" or "I was pretty distracted today, so it did not go so well."). In fact, sometimes the sessions you feel are least productive have the most to teach you about your own study habits, and the Study Zone leaders will be there to help you process non-judgementally and be compassionate with yourself.

Can I check my phone with the Study Zone leaders before entering the main study space so that it does not distract me from my work?

Yes, what an excellent study habit! The Study Zone leaders are happy to hold your phone at the check-in desk during your study session. Note that you may be asked to show your student ID card at check-out to receive your phone back in the case that the Study Zone leaders on shift have changed since you checked in.

Is collaborative/group study allowed in the Study Zone?

In general, the Study Zone is designed to a be a quiet space, so only silent collaboration, such as using a chat client or shared Google Doc, would be acceptable between students. If you are interested in joining other students for collaborative study in a particular course, please visit the CETL Study Groups website to see if your course is supported this semester:

Is there a computer that I can use inside the Study Zone?

Yes, there is a desktop in the center of the room that is designated for student use. As long as it is unoccupied, you are free to use it.

Does the Study Zone have windows?

Yes, although the windows are shaded for most of the day and do not receive much direct sunlight.

In the Virtual Study Zone (offered online via Zoom), am I being recorded?

No, no part of the Virtual Study Zone is recorded on video or audio, not even the check-ins and check-outs. Further, all CETL services are completely voluntary and guaranteed to be confidential, so recording our student participants without their consent would violate those policies.

If I know that I will not be able to attend during a particular week, what can I do? Will I be unenrolled?

If you contact Kyle Trenshaw, he can note your situation in his records so that you do not receive a notification that you did not meet your 3-hour minimum attendance requirement for the week. Additionally, you can "front-load" or delay your attendance by attending for 6 hours the week prior or afterward to ensure that you maintain your studying progress despite the disruption. Kyle is always willing to find a flexible alternative to attendance during a particular week that fits your schedule and studying needs, so there is no need to stress about getting unenrolled due to travel or illness.

If I decide that the Study Zone is no longer working for me, can I unenroll from the program?

Yes, you can unenroll at any time by emailing us at Similarly, if you change your mind, you can reapply to the program at any time. However, later in the semester we sometimes have a waitlist for enrollment, so you may not always be immediately reenrolled depending on demand.

What is the difference between the Study Zone and CETL Study Groups or CETL Tutoring?

The Study Zone is a quiet study location in the CETL suite where near-peer leaders help students set studying goals and plan their path to achieving them through their individual study sessions. Please visit the main Study Zone page for more information.

The purpose of the Study Zone is to provide accountability and light structure around students' studying each week to help prepare them for independently organizing their time and planning their studying outside of the space. One the other hand, Study Groups are course-specific collaborative study sessions led by a near-peer who recently completed the course, and tutoring is course-specific one-on-one troubleshooting. So, in summary:

  • The Study Zone is individual, generally applicable to any academic work, and study-skill-focused.
  • Study Groups are collaborative, course-specific, and content-knowledge-focused.
  • Tutoring is individual, course-specific, and content-knowledge-focused.

Any student can benefit from all three resources in their coursework.

The Study Zone - Study Zone Leader Information

Who can serve as a Study Zone leader?

While Study Zone leaders are usually undergraduate students, we also have graduate student leaders on occasion. All of our leaders, regardless of where they are in their academic journeys, are trained to support anyone who enrolls in the program.

What is the time commitment for being a Study Zone leader?

Study Zone leaders can expect to work about 5 hours per week starting in the third week of the semester and running through Reading Period. New leaders will also need to enroll in a 1-credit training course (during their first semester serving in the position only). The training course, CASC 319, meets for 50 minutes each week through the semester and includes the regular amount of out-of-class work expected for a 1-credit course. Note that graduate students serving as new SZLs will need to pay tutition for the credit and cannot elect to be paid for their time taking the training course.

How can I apply to be a Study Zone leader?

All open CETL student employee positions are posted through JobX and advertised on our jobs page. We accept applications from rising sophomores through graduate students for the Study Zone leader position. Look for postings in early November for spring-semester openings and early April for fall-semester openings.

What is the interview process when hiring for the Study Zone leader position?

Like many other CETL student employee positions, the interview process is carried out with a group of applicants so that they can showcase their teamwork and communication skills.

When can I start work as a Study Zone leader? Can I take the training course concurrently with working for pay in the Study Zone?

Generally, the Study Zone opens during the second or third week of the semester, and new Study Zone leaders can start taking shifts as soon as they have received training on the fundamental logistics of the program (the first two to three lessons of the training course, CASC 319). The course is taken concurrently with working for pay, so there is no need to have completed the course in a previous semester.

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Study Skills


What is "study skills support"?

Study skills support is a confidential service provided by CETL. It involves individual discussion with a consultant about ways to improve your academic performance and efficiency.

What topics does "study skills" include?

Lots! Your study skills consultant would be happy to talk to you about issues like:

  • Finding and maintaining motivation
  • Time management
  • Stress management
  • Taking better notes
  • Increasing reading comprehension
  • Handling multiple choice questions more successfully

Are my study skills appointments at CETL confidential?

Absolutely. Our policy is to maintain the confidentiality of all our study skills consultations with students.

How long does each study skills appointment last? 

Each individual appointment lasts about an hour. Occasionally, students meet with us for a single study skills appointment; more commonly, our work together takes place across a number of conversations.

What can I expect from a study skills appointment at CETL?

We usually begin by just getting to know you! You may have a particular study problem that you would like help solving, or you may just wish to find out if there are more optimal ways to go about learning. Either way, we would be happy to talk with you.

How much do study skills appointments cost?

All study skills appointments are free of charge.

How often can I meet with a study skills consultant?

You may meet with a study skills consultant for a one-time trouble-shooting session or on a continuing basis. You will decide this together with your consultant.

Is study skills support only for people who are doing poorly? 

No. We see students who are on the dean's list, as well as students who are on academic probation. The determining factor isn't whether or not you're doing well academically; it's whether you feel you could be getting more from your studies or using your time more effectively.

If you have a concern and wonder whether we can help, just give us a call at (585) 275-9049.

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