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FAQ

ADDRESS CHANGES

Q: I'm changing my address or adding a second one. Who should I notify?

A: Please contact the HSC staff regarding any changes to your address. You can also call the Lab's Membership Department at 607-254-2414. Be sure to tell them that you are a Home Study Course Student!


 CHILDREN AND THE COURSE

Q: My child would like to take your course. Do you have a minimum student age?

A: The course has no minimum age requirement, but its vocabulary and detail are on par with an introductory college level course. The course is probably too challenging for most children under the age of 15. You could always give it a try to see if your child can handle the course. If they seem overwhelmed, you may simply save the materials for use at a later date. The class has no start or completion dates, as it is completely self-paced. Some students have taken several years to complete the course.


COMPLETION TIME

Q: How long does it take the average student to take the course?

A: A reasonable time frame for completion of all chapters is 4 to 6 months (or approximately one chapter every 2-3 weeks), but the time required to complete the course is entirely up to each individual student. Since the course is completely self-paced, it really depends on how much time one has to devote to completing the materials.


CORNELL UNIVERSITY GENERAL INFORMATION

Q: Can you provide me with some information about studying at Cornell University?

A: Here are a couple of starting places:

Undergraduate Studies:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
Cornell University
410 Thurston Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850-2488
USA

Telephone: 607-255-5241
Fax: 607-255-0659
E-mail: admissions-mailbox@cornell.edu
web site: http://www.admissions.cornell.edu/index.cfm


Graduate Studies:

Graduate Admissions Office
Cornell University
Caldwell Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-2602
USA

Telephone: 607-255-4884
Fax: 607-255-1816
E-mail: gradadmissions-mailbox@cornell.edu
web site: http://www.gradschool.cornell.edu


CONTACTING THE HSC STAFF

Q: How do I get in touch with the Home Study Course Staff?

A: You may use one of the following methods to contact the staff of the Home Study Course:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology—HSC
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850-1999
USA

Telephone: 607-254-2452
E-Mail: hstudy@cornell.edu
web site: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/homestudy


 CREDITS NEEDED

Q: I'd like to take the course for credit. Is that possible?

A: Cornell University does not offer college credit for this course.

Many students have arranged to receive credits through other institutions. The Lab is happy to recommend that three college-level credits be awarded following the completion of the final exam, and we will write a letter of support on behalf of course graduates.

Although graduates have had little trouble with colleges or universities agreeing to grant credits, we always suggest checking with a local adviser before signing up for the course. This is particularly important if you need the credits, as each institution has its own policies regarding what is accepted toward a degree program.

Also, please note that this type of course is usually taken at an undergraduate level in college, though a few people have taken it (and have arranged to receive credit for it) at higher-levels of education. Many students have arranged to take the course as independent study, by speaking with their local advisor prior to enrolling. This route may be the best way to obtain credit for your efforts.


CREDIT VS. NONCREDIT PRICE

Q: If I take the class for no credit, do I get I get a price break?

A: Cornell University does not offer college credit for this course, therefore, price does not differ for credit or non-credit students.

Some people do request to take the course for credit (either as an Independent Study opportunity or as a general biology course through a local college or university), in which case we would offer to write a letter on their behalf after they have successfully completed all the exams. Many colleges, universities, and workplaces have agreed to accept this letter in the past and allow credit to be awarded for completion of the course, however we always suggest checking with a local advisor before signing up for the course, especially if it is a course that you need for credit, because credit granting policies vary greatly among institutions.

If you would like a list of the places that former HSC students have requested we send "for credit" letters to (and therefore may have accepted our course for credit), please contact the HSC staff.


DISTANCE LEARNING AT CORNELL

Q: What courses does Cornell offer online?

A:  We offer a shorter, online course "Investigating Bird Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds" that premiered in the fall of 2009. This five week course uses videos of bird behavior, online discussions, and interactive tutorials to interpret whether birds are flirting or fighting, and why. As you progress from exploring the displays of backyard birds to examining how scientists answer questions about the most exotic birds on earth, you'll build a collection of skills and resources to continue investigating and appreciating bird behavior long after the course is over.

For more information visit www.birds.cornell.edu/courses and watch the introductory video.

FIRST vs. SECOND EDITIONS, vs. TEXTBOOK FORMAT

Q: What is the difference between the material from the First Edition and the material from the Second Edition? How is the Textbook Format different from the first printing of the Second Edition?

A: The Second Edition of the course is a complete rewrite of the First Edition materials (basically, a new, rewritten textbook). We decided that it was time for a revision since some of the materials were getting a bit outdated.

Each chapter was written by an author whom was considered to be an authority on that topic. We tried to make sure that the new material was more "user-friendly" and easier to understand than the First Edition. The Second Edition text is also double the First Edition's length—over 1,000 pages! There are many new photographs and beautiful new illustrations by renowned bird artist N. John Schmitt.

In addition, the Second Edition of the course includes an audio CD of birdsong (produced by our Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds), which accompanies Chapter 7 (Vocal Behavior).

The textbook contains the same material as the binders; the only difference in the newer materials is that they are now delivered in a new format.


LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY MEMBERSHIP

Q: What are the benefits of Lab Membership?

A: There are many benefits! Beginning at the $40 Supporting Level, Lab members receive:

  • Living Bird, our award-winning quarterly magazine, packed with stunning color photographs of birds, articles by top experts in birding and ornithology, reviews of the latest books, binoculars, and equipment,and advice on how to improve your birding skills.
PLUS discounts on:

By becoming a Lab member, you would join thousands of other birders who support Lab of Ornithology efforts in research, education, and conservation. And, since the Lab is a non-profit, self-supporting unit of Cornell University, your membership gift is tax deductible! http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Membership


NON-COURSE-RELATED QUESTIONS

Q: I have questions for the Lab that are non-course-related. Who should I contact?

A: To contact the Lab with general questions regarding the Lab of Ornithology and its staff, you may use one of the following methods:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850-1999
USA

Telephone: 607-254-2473
(within the US, you may call toll-free at: 800-843-2473)
E-Mail: cornellbirds@cornell.edu
web site: http://www.birds.cornell.edu

You may also want to try to research the answer to your questions via one of the web sites listed below:

ALL ABOUT BIRDS: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/

BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA (acccess requires a fee): http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/BNA


ONLINE AVAILABILITY

Q: Will the course ever be available online as an Internet-based course?

A: At the present time the text of our course is only available in printed form.

We do offer a shorter, online course "Investigating Bird Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds" that premiered in the fall of 2009. This five week course uses videos of bird behavior, online discussions, and interactive tutorials to interpret whether birds are flirting or fighting, and why. As you progress from exploring the displays of backyard birds to examining how scientists answer questions about the most exotic birds on earth, you'll build a collection of skills and resources to continue investigating and appreciating bird behavior long after the course is over.

For more information visit www.birds.cornell.edu/courses and watch the introductory video.

OTHER COURSES

Q: Do you know of any other correspondence courses that I can take?

A: The Lab also offers a shorter, online course "Investigating Bird Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry in Birds" that premiered in the fall of 2009. This five week course uses videos of bird behavior, online discussions, and interactive tutorials to interpret whether birds are flirting or fighting, and why. As you progress from exploring the displays of backyard birds to examining how scientists answer questions about the most exotic birds on earth, you'll build a collection of skills and resources to continue investigating and appreciating bird behavior long after the course is over. For more information visit www.birds.cornell.edu/courses and watch the introductory video.

If you are local to the Central NY area, you might be interested in participating in our LOCAL spring birding course held here in Ithaca: Spring Field Ornithology.

The Lab also offers an annual Sound Recording Workshop through our Macaulay Library. The workshop is not a correspondence course, however, and you must travel to a specified location to participate.

PURCHASE TEXT OR COURSE ONLY

Q1: I would like to purchase the course for use as a reference textbook. Is there a special price?

A1: No, the Handbook of Bird Biology is out of print and is no longer available.  A full-color and extensively updated revision of the handbook will be available in 2015.

Q2: I purchased the textbook already, and just want to purchase the course. Is there a special price?

A2: The course may be purchased independently of the textbook for either $200.00 (non-members) or $170.50 (Lab members). For this price, you would receive exams and instructor support, however no textbook would be provided.


REFUND/RETURN REQUESTS

Q: I need to get a refund or I need to return the course. How do I go about this?

A: Please contact the HSC staff. It is not always possible for us to give a refund or accept a return, especially if the materials have been opened. We will make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.


REPRINT REQUESTS

Q: I would like to reprint or reproduce part of the course. Is this possible, and if so, what do I need to do to obtain permission?

A: Please note that our course and all the materials within the course are copyrighted. If you are interested in reproducing all or part of the course, you must first contact the HSC staff. Permissions are granted on a case-by-case basis. Please note that some of the material presented in the course is not available for reprint in any form.


SCHOLARSHIP FUND

Q: Is there a scholarship fund available? If so, am I eligible, and how would I apply (or donate funds)?

A: Generous donors have provided scholarship funding to be used for assistance to individuals who have no means to pay for enrollment. For more information about the program and application instructions, please visit the following web site page: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/homestudy/HSCScholarshipInfo.html

Or, contact the HSC staff for more information.


TEXT FOR TEACHING PURPOSES/REFERENCE

Q: I would like to purchase the course for use in teaching purposes only, or to use for reference purposes only. Is there a special price break since I won't ever be submitting any exams or need instructor support?

A: The Handbook of Bird Biology is currently out of print.  A full-color and extensively updated revision of the handbook will be available in the summer of 2014.


THIRD EDITION (FORTHCOMING)

Q: How soon before you release the 3rd edition?

A: A full-color and extensively updated revision of the handbook will be available in 2015.