UMaine CLAS Advising Center

Helping UMaine students achieve success. It's what we do.

Month: September, 2013

Calendar for the Week of 9/30/2013 to 10/6/2013

Monday, September 30
Interested in polishing your resume or developing a 30 second elevator pitch? How about sharpening your interview skills, brushing up on your business etiquette, or mastering mingling? The Career Center is presenting Jump-Start Your Career from 3:30 to 5:30pm in the Bangor Room in the Memorial Union. Be sure to bring your resume and dress professionally.

Signups for Small Group Tutoring at the Tutor Program is ongoing.  The Tutor Program is also offering Drop-in Tutoring, located in the Tutor Program classroom on the first floor of the library (between the Research Consultation Area and the Writing Center classroom).  Check out their website for more information and the full schedule.  
Drop-in Tutoring for Monday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-11am – FSN 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12pm-1pm – POS 100
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
3pm-5pm – BMB 207
5pm-7pm – BIO 100
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

Every Monday during the semester the Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers the opportunity to practice conversations in other languages.  It located in Little Hall, Room 207 and is open to anyone who wants to have conversations in the specific language.
12pm-1pm – French Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
1pm-2pm – Japanese Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
4pm-5pm – Chinese Table

Tuesday, October 1
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
8am-10am – Tutor Program – Study Skills Help Sessions
11am-1pm – COS 140
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – PSY 241/245
3pm-5pm – BIO 100
6pm-7:30pm – PSY 100

ML&C:
12pm-1pm – Russian Table – Bring your lunch and join in the conversations

Wednesday, October 2
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – SOC 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12-pm-1pm – MAT 115
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

ML&C
12pm-1pm – German Table – Feel free to bring your lunch and join in

Thursday, October 3
This is the last day to drop a class and have it not appear on your transcript. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, if you drop a class by 4:30pm, it will not appear on your transcript, though you will not be eligible for a refund. If you drop after this date, you will receive a W on your transcript (which simply means that you withdrew from the course further into the semester).

Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-10am – MAT 126/127
10am-11am – SOC 101
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – MAT 115
3pm-5pm – BIO 100

Friday, October 4
Drop-in Tutoring for Friday:
9am-10am – PSY 100
10am-12pm – FSN 101
12pm-2pm – PHY 121/122

If other events turn up, we will be sure to update the calendar.  Have a great week!

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Do You Think Like a Victim or a Creator?

The University of Maine offers a broad spectrum of classes to choose from as you fulfill your general education requirements, no matter the major of your choice. It is important that students understand that the content of these classes are key to their foundational knowledge as a student of higher education. Although knowledge and information form a core piece of your education, there is another aspect that sometimes gets overlooked in the learning process. The language that a student develops over the course of their studies can be as important as the information they gather during their academic career. I am not talking about learning French, Spanish or any other languages (although it is definitely not a bad idea to know more than one language!). I am referring to the language of students who see themselves as victims versus those who see themselves as creators.

Are you in charge of your own destiny? (Hint- the answer is always yes). To use a rather unoriginal but apt metaphor, you are the captain of your own ship. No matter what circumstances threaten to send you off course; winds, storms, bad decisions, etc.- you always have the option to redirect yourself and steer yourself towards calmer waters.

The language of victimhood (and we are talking about victim with a small “v” here) is the language of self-defeat. The types of thoughts that it produces are not conducive to getting ahead in life. For example, if you are late for class is it because of traffic, or no parking spaces, your dog ate your alarm clock, or whatever? Are you certain it isn’t your fault for not getting up soon enough or planning ahead? Victim language seeks to put the onus of the actions that you choose on to someone or something outside of your control. This is what psychologists call an external locus of control. This pattern sets the stage for a lifetime of excuses and missed opportunities.

On the other hand a student that uses creator language believes in his or her internal locus of control (i.e. “I am captain of my own ship!”). Creator language sends a message that there is always room to improve and do things better. Creators seek out opportunities to change their behavior, whereas victims stick with the behavior and continue to get the same negative results. A great example of victim versus creator language can be found here.

Please keep in mind that making VICTIM choices doesn’t make you bad, wrong, stupid, unworthy or any of those things that your inner critic may be screaming at you. On the flip side making CREATOR choices doesn’t make you better, right, smarter, or more worthy. Your focus should be on the outcome of the choices you make and working towards achieving those you most desire. Do not seek to judge whether you are “good” or “bad,” but rather ask yourself if the language you are using will steer you towards or away from the best possible outcomes.

Introduction to General Education Requirements

An introduction to General Education requirements here at the University of Maine.

Why Should You Meet With Your Advisor?

A question we get asked often here in the Advising Center is: “Why should I meet with my advisor?”  Or, what I hear, since I work with transfer students who meet with me in addition to their faculty advisor: “I’ve already met with my faculty advisor, why should I meet with you?”  These are fine questions.  Students are rightfully protective of their time; in addition to their academic work (theoretically the main reason they are here in college), they have social relationships to maintain (an integral part of the college experience, teaching interpersonal interaction).  Thus, in their free time, students don’t want to have to do something that they don’t feel is useful for them or that they feel will waste their time.  

The reality is that students will only get as much out of an advising meeting as they let themselves.  A popular refrain amongst advisors is that advising is teaching.  And just ask any teacher or college instructor/professor and they’ll tell you, it’s near impossible to teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.  Thus, a student who comes to meet an advisor, who feels they already know it all, that the meeting is a waste of their time, unless they open their thought and make themselves receptive, they won’t learn and they won’t be advised.  And they’ll miss out.  Miss out on what?  That’s what I’m here to tell you.

1) Advisors are aware of the many resources available on campus: academic, personal, and professional.  They can guide you to those which would be best for you, to help you in your current situation.  You should consider your advisor(s) as a hub of information.  Here at the University of Maine, we have numerous available resources, whether for problem situations or just day to day living.  See my previous posts on Important Resources, the Tutor Program, and the Career Center to get a taste of what’s out there.  

2) Advisors can help make sure you’re taking the correct courses.  Some majors have important building-block courses, all of which are required before you can move on to upper level courses.  I’ve had students in such majors who resisted coming to see me for more than a semester, and when they finally did, we found that they had not begun taking the building-block courses.  Over the next few semesters, work on their major ground to almost a halt, as they were able to only take one course in their major a semester until all these courses were completed.  This effectively added an extra year to their college experience.  With the rise costs of education, that’s just not economically feasible for most students.

3) Advisors can help you understand all the University’s General Education requirements and help you monitor your progress in completing them.  This is important on two fronts.  First, your advisor can help you choose the classes that are most relevant to you and your major and/or minor that also fulfill requirements, or that you find most interesting (you’re in college, you should take at least a few classes purely because you find the topic interesting!).  Secondly, your advisor can help make sure you get all the requirements completed before graduating, so that you’re not stuck with a surprise a month or two before graduation of having one or more General Education requirements left uncompleted.

4) Advisors can help you set up an educational plan.  Some majors have very regimented schedules which allow for little deviance if you plan to graduate in four years.  Your advisor will help make sure that you’re following that plan.  Conversely, there are other programs are very open and allow for a great deal of personal customization in your coursework.  Again, your advisor will help you stay on track, so that in spite of the meandering path you may take, you still end up with the necessary requirements to graduate.

5) Though it may seem simplistic, if you are undecided or confused about what major is best for you, or unhappy with your current major and debating a change, your advisor can help you explore the different possibilities that are available to you and direct you towards resources that could help you make a decision.  Again, check out my previous post on Steps For Choosing A Major to get an idea of ways we can help.

6) And finally, going to college can be very fun, but it can also be hard.  Going to a new school, in a new place, surrounded by new people, and facing new standards of rigor can be a very daunting task.  If you let them, your advisor can help you find your place amidst all this newness.  

That, of course, is the trick of it.  Your advisors can only do these things if you let them.  You have to be open to letting someone help you.  Remember, we don’t want to waste your time; if it’s wasting your time, it’s wasting our time, and we’re much too busy to purposefully waste time.  We’re here because we want to help you!

Calendar for the Week of 9/23/2013 to 9/29/2013

Monday, September 23
Signups for Small Group Tutoring at the Tutor Program is currently ongoing. Signup for tutoring while you can!  The Tutor Program is also offering Drop-in Tutoring, located in the Tutor Program classroom on the first floor of the library (between the Research Consultation Area and the Writing Center classroom).  Check out their website for more information and the full schedule.  
Drop-in Tutoring for Monday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-11am – FSN 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12pm-1pm – POS 100
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
3pm-5pm – BMB 207
5pm-7pm – BIO 100
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

Every Monday during the semester the Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers the opportunity to practice conversations in other languages.  It located in Little Hall, Room 207 and is open to anyone who wants to have conversations in the specific language.
12pm-1pm – French Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
1pm-2pm – Japanese Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
4pm-5pm – Chinese Table

Tuesday, September 24
Are you a budding entrepreneur? Interested in starting your own business? The Foster Innovation Center is presenting “So You Want To Start A Business?” from 5:30 to 7pm. The presentation will be at the Foster Innovation Center and will cover topics such as learning how to test your ideas, how to form a company, and how to find funding.

Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
8am-10am – Tutor Program – Study Skills Help Sessions
11am-1pm – COS 140
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – PSY 241/245
3pm-5pm – BIO 100
6pm-7:30pm – PSY 100

ML&C:
12pm-1pm – Russian Table – Bring your lunch and join in the conversations

Wednesday, September 25
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – SOC 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12-pm-1pm – MAT 115
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

ML&C
12pm-1pm – German Table – Feel free to bring your lunch and join in

Thursday, September 26
Have you ever wondered what that modern building in the middle of the woods is? Or what Innovation Engineering is? Interested in finding out more about the Foster Innovation Center? ”What The Heck Is The Innovation Center?” is a lunch presentation that will explore what the Innovation Center is and what they have to offer.

Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-10am – MAT 126/127
10am-11am – SOC 101
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – MAT 115
3pm-5pm – BIO 100

Friday, September 27
Drop-in Tutoring for Friday:
9am-10am – PSY 100
10am-12pm – FSN 101
12pm-2pm – PHY 121/122

If other events turn up, we will be sure to update the calendar.  Have a great week!

Steps for Choosing a Major

» Experience General Education:  General education is your gateway to higher learning.  More than just requirements to “get out of the way,” these courses will expose you to a wide variety of disciplines and put you in a situation to meet other students whose interests may be quite different from your own, effectively broadening your education and your experience.  Through these courses, you can also learn about various majors that you may be interested in pursuing.

» Self-Assessment:  Do some inner-reflection, assessing your interests, values, strengths, dislikes, abilities, personal qualities, and skills.  Evaluate what you find most important for yourself.  Look at what you want.  Try to imagine the setting that enhances who you are, such as climate (hot, cold, dry, humid, etc.) or locale (small town, city, etc.).  The Career Center has assessment tools that can help you pinpoint some of these things.

» Cast a Broad Net:  Don’t think in terms of choosing a major or department.  Think of an area of study that interests you.  There are many jobs out there that you haven’t even thought of and some jobs that haven’t even been created.  Don’t limit yourself.

» Talk with Others:  Talk with your advisor, professors, and professionals in various fields, family, and friends about majors and how they match your interests and skills.  Talk with department chairs and faculty in departments you want to explore.  Talk with people in careers you want to explore.  Make an appointment and see a career counselor at the Career Center.

» Network:  It is never too soon to start building a networking system.  Get to know your professors and academic advisor.  Build relationships with students in your classes.  Join clubs and activities on campus.  Join a professional organization (student often receive discounts) in an area you find interesting.  Work with the Alumni Association on campus to hook up with alumni in areas that interest you or contact the Career Center to get involved in the Maine Mentor Program.  Go to a Career Fair (watch for announcements).

» Set Goals:  Focus on your main goal: graduating from college.  Your indecision about a major should not deter you from moving toward completing your college degree.  Set monthly and weekly goals, go to all your classes, and treat your college education as you would treat your career.

» Gain Experience:  Working in an area you are interested in is a great way of testing whether a job or major is right for you.  You can test your perception of a field against the reality of it.  Working also helps you discover your strengths, interests, and skills.  Don’t overlook the value of volunteering your time.  The Career Center has a job board and information on various paid and unpaid internships.

» Make a Choice:  It is fine to stay undecided for the first year or so of college.  But a point comes when you need to make a decision and work to make it successful.  Indecisiveness can create a lack of motivation and be a self-destructive cycle.  When you are indecisive, you don’t take action, when you don’t take action, you can become depressed and this can lead to missing classes, which results in more depression and inaction.

» Evaluate and Modify:  Get past the fear of making decisions by reminding yourself that few things in life are reversible.  Evaluate your decision as you go along.  You can always change majors again.  Bringing closure to your undergraduate degree in any major is better than going to school for years and living in fear of choosing the wrong major.  You can always go back for graduate work in another area of study.  By focusing on one area now, you can direct your energies.

Introduction To The MyCampus Portal

The MyCampus Portal is a single sign-on for students, faculty, and staff here at the University of Maine that is integrated with BlackBoard, MaineStreet, and the individual’s University-provided Google account, allowing users to navigate quickly and efficiently to wherever they need to go on one of those systems or the University website.

This video provides a quick introduction on how to log in and what the main components of the system are.

Why Go To The Career Center?

Many times students become so focused on earning their degree that they forget about life beyond the walls of the University.  The University of Maine Career Center is a helpful resource to explore the ways in which your degree might be applied in the “real world.”  It also offers vital tools for students who are undecided.  Students can explore their academic interests as well as the relationship between a major and various career opportunities.  It is never too early to think about a career after college and the staff members at the Career Center can provide individual counseling to help students explore career options, set career goals, and devise strategies for reaching these goals.

As we all know, the job market these days can be highly competitive and employers are looking for employees with both soft skills and hard skills.  If you do not know the difference between the two you should.  Hard skills are specific abilities that are based on a person’s knowledge and occupational skills.  Some examples include: speaking a foreign language, customer service experience, public speaking experience, or a specific degree.  Accordingly, having at least a rough idea of a possible career path is very helpful, so as to begin gaining requisite skills and experience and a suitable employment background as early as possible.  The Career Center can help with this.  During individual counseling meetings, they can help give you some suggestions on possible career paths based on your interests and desires.  They can also help you set up a plan to obtain that goal, providing you with ideas for potential internships, volunteer opportunities, or part-time jobs that will give you a good background to make you a successful job candidate after you graduate.

Once you are gaining the valuable experience, you will need to have a proper resume to show off your background and skills.  A resume will often be the first impression future employers will have of you, so you want to be sure that your resume is professional and complete.  The Career Center can help you polish your resume to professional standards.  A sharp, clear resume can make the difference between a call for an interview or sitting in filing cabinet gathering dust.

While hard skills will get you the interview, it is the soft skills that will land you the job.  Soft skills are much more personality based and more intangible.  They include such characteristics as having strong communication skills, being a strong team leader or being a good team player, having great organizational skills, and being reliable and responsible.  These are skills that you want to be able to exhibit during an interview.  Accordingly, being fully prepared to show off your soft skills is essential.  And again, the Career Center can help.  They offer the opportunity to have mock interviews between you and a staff member.  As an added bonus, they video tape the entire interview so that you can go back and critique your performance, see what you did well and where you need to improve.  Having a mock interview with a Career Center specialist is an excellent way to gain experience in being interviewed, to help prevent “first interview jitters.”

In addition to all of the in-person resources, the Career Center website is full of information and helpful links.  The centerpiece of the website is CareerLink, a student career management system.  There you will find jobs and internships, for both during your college career and after.  You will also find background information about the different companies and institutions that are looking for employees.  Partnered with CareerLink is Going Global, which provides international employment and internship information.  For students who are still undecided or on the fence about a chosen major, there is What Can I Do With This Major, which shows various employment opportunities that are open to specific majors.  And then there is the Maine Mentor Program, which matches students up with alumni from their field of choice, so that they can get an inside view of what working in that field is really like.  These sites are just the tip of the iceberg.  Explore the entire site and find out all that the Career Center has to offer.

Although you should be focused on your academic career while you are here at UMaine, it is wise that you also look ahead to the future and understand where you want your degree to take you.  Remember, it is never too early to begin planning for the future.  The earlier you begin planning, the more experience you will have to offer.  So schedule an appointment to meet with a staff member at the Career Center today and get started on your future!

Calendar For The Week Of 9/16/2013 to 9/22/2013

Calendar for the Week of 9/16/2013 to 9/22/2013

Monday, September 16
This is the last day to drop classes via MaineStreet and it is the last day to drop wherein you will still receive a refund.  Additionally, classes dropped by this day will not appear on your transcript.

Signups for Small Group Tutoring at the Tutor Program begins on September 16.  The Tutor Program is also offering Drop-in Tutoring, located in the Tutor Program classroom on the first floor of the library (between the Research Consultation Area and the Writing Center classroom).  Check out their website for more information and the full schedule.  
Drop-in Tutoring for Monday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-11am – FSN 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12pm-1pm – POS 100
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
3pm-5pm – BMB 207
5pm-7pm – BIO 100
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

Every Monday during the semester the Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers the opportunity to practice conversations in other languages.  It located in Little Hall, Room 207 and is open to anyone who wants to have conversations in the specific language.
12pm-1pm – French Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
1pm-2pm – Japanese Table – Feel free to bring your lunch
4pm-5pm – Chinese Table

Tuesday, September 17
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
8am-10am – Tutor Program – Study Skills Help Sessions
11am-1pm – COS 140
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – PSY 241/245
3pm-5pm – BIO 100
6pm-7:30pm – PSY 100

ML&C:
12pm-1pm – Russian Table – Bring your lunch and join in the conversations

Wednesday, September 18

Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – SOC 101
11am-12pm – AST 109
12-pm-1pm – MAT 115
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
7:30pm-9pm – BUA 201/202

ML&C
12pm-1pm – German Table – Feel free to bring your lunch and join in

Thursday, September 19

Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
8am-9am – CHY 121
9am-10am – MAT 126/127
10am-11am – SOC 101
1pm-2pm – BUA 201/202
2pm-3pm – MAT 115
3pm-5pm – BIO 100

Friday, September 20
Drop-in Tutoring for Friday:

9am-10am – PSY 100
10am-12pm – FSN 101
12pm-2pm – PHY 121/122

If other events turn up, we will be sure to update the calendar.  Have a great week!

The Wise Choice Process

What is the Wise-Choice Process and how can it help you make responsible decisions?

Many students do not understand the relationship of their choices to their success and happiness in life.  They make many decisions, sometimes daily, that negatively affect their lives, such as choosing the wrong class, not registering for classes on time, not doing homework, missing classes, etc.  The Wise-Choice Process encourages students to think through their choices in a manner that promotes a deeper understanding of their own actions and the consequences of their choices.  The Wise-Choice Process can be a powerful decision-making tool and often helps highlight the relationship between choices and consequences in life.  It is an important concept for students to master in college as well as life.  

There are six questions a student needs to answer to effectively address a problem

1.  What’s My Present Situation? (Describe the problem objectively, completely and truthfully.  Since this process is for you, you would only be lying to yourself if you are not truthful.)
2.  How Would I Like My Situation To Be?  (What is your ideal future outcome?  In a perfect world, where would you like to end up?)
3.  Do I Have A Choice Here? (The answer is always “YES”!  You ALWAYS have a choice.)
4.  What Are My Possible Choices? (Create a long list of specific choices that might create your preferred situation.  Think creatively here.  Explore every possible alternative.)
5.  What’s the Likely Outcome of Each Possible Choice? (How do you think each choice is likely to turn out? If you can’t predict, stop and gather more information.)
6.  Which Choice(s) Will You Commit to Doing? (Pick from your list of choices in Step 4.  Remember, committing means giving that choice your all.)

Let’s look at how this works in a real world situation.  For example, say your present situation is that you are enrolled in a class that you do not like, that you feel is too difficult and beyond your capabilities, and that you feel as though you are failing or will fail.

First, objectively describe the situation: Are you really failing?  Have you spoken to the instructor and/or the teaching assistant?  What about the class do you not like? etc.  Clearly define the problem.
Second, ask yourself what would be your optimum end result: “I would like to achieve a passing grade and enjoy the class I am enrolled in.”  Be specific.
Third, ask yourself if you have any possible choices.  Of course you do, there are always choices.  Sometimes you just have to look deeper.
Fourth, list the choices you have: You can drop or withdraw from the class.  You can speak to the instructor and/or the teaching assistant about the situation.  You can visit the Tutor Program for help.  You can make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss the situation.  You could take advice from friends.  Or you could even choose to ignore the problem and push through hoping for the best. The list goes on.
Fifth, now go through the list and imagine the likely outcomes of each scenario: If you drop the class do you have an alternative class to choose from?  Is it too late in the semester to drop? (See our earlier blog on drop and withdrawal dates.)  If you see a tutor is it possible that you may begin to feel better about the class and your progress?  Talking to an advisor may help you think through the process more thoroughly.  If you listen to your friends, is it possible that they may not know what is best for you? Their past experience with a class does not mean that you will have the same experience.  If you choose to ignore the problem and hope for the best will the problem just go away?
Sixth, go through the list and make a choice based on achieving the optimal end result you decided on back in step two.  Remember, not all choices are mutually exclusive.  Sometimes you can do two or more at the same time.

Going through the list of possible outcomes helps you identify the choice that best leads to the outcome you desire.  The Wise-Choice Process is a tool which can help you to uncover your own ability to make productive and wise choices, a skill that will serve you well in college and beyond.