UMaine CLAS Advising Center

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

Month: February, 2014

Anatomy of a Job Interview

Interviews are an important part of getting started on a future path, whether it be career or some other endeavor. Knowing how an interview works can help you prepare for the expected (and unexpected!) parts of an interview, and help you be yourself, so you can worry less about what to do, and nail that job!

Anatomy-of-a-Job-Interview

Why Get a Liberal Arts Degree? The Cost

We’ve all heard variations on the familiar refrain: to get a good job, you need to major in the right field, and the liberal arts (the humanities and social sciences) are not the right majors. Instead, you need to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field or get a business degree, since that’s where the money is. Lately, we’ve heard the additional argument that the high cost of education leads to considerable debt, and that without the proper major, you’ll be saddled with this debt and you’ll be unable to ever get a job to pay it back. As advisors for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, this is a question we need to address, since, if these are valid points, it would be unethical for us to advise students to major in the majority of our departments.

Popular opinion says that if you want to get a college degree that will be worth its time and money, you need to get something in the STEM fields or in get a degree in business. After all, it’s common knowledge that degree holders in the liberal arts make less money. The problem is that most of the people who argue this point don’t look any deeper, since more money is obviously better. Most everyone in the humanities and social sciences will concede that STEM and business majors generally make more money. After all, according to a recent report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, the median salary for an engineering major is $75,000, for mathematics and computer majors it’s $70,000, and for a business major it’s $60,000. Conversely, looking at the liberal arts, a social science major has a median income of $55,000 and a humanities major has merely $47,000. Since bigger is better, we should then assume that a liberal arts degree is bad. And that’s where popular opinion leaves it.

The reality of the relationship between income and college major is far less horrible than popular opinion would have you believe. Why? Well, let’s look at the some different numbers. First off, the median personal income for an individual in the United States in 2012 was $26,989. That’s right, about $20,000 less than the median income for a humanities major and $28,000 less than for a social science major. Additionally, we see a large minority of liberal arts students getting graduate degrees, which typically boosts their income by between 40-50%. But let’s look at some popular degrees for some more specific data:

Major

Median Income

% Getting Grad Deg.

Earnings Boost

Psychology

$45,000

43%

45%

History

$50,000

46%

60%

English

$48,000

43%

42%

Philosophy

$48,000

53%

36%

Political Science

$59,000

47%

62%

Sociology

$45,000

34%

34%

Communications

$50,000

19%

26%

Studio Art

$40,000

28%

3%

The reality is that even the lowest performing liberal arts majors here at the University of Maine, based on the Georgetown study, still have a median income of $40,000 per year, a full $13,000 above the overall US median income. And looking at some of the highest performing majors, political science at $59,000 and American history at $57,000, they are more than double the overall median income and not far behind the business major. So, based on these numbers, we can see that any college degree, even that with the lowest median income, gives a massive boost to personal income.

The detractors of the liberal arts also like to argue that a degree in the humanities or the social sciences will leave an individual cash-strapped for years to come, having to pay off debt. This can definitely be true, depending on many factors, including the cost of the college/university, the amount of scholarships and grants received, and the amount of loans taken out to pay for schooling. According to a recent survey, 61% of University of Maine graduates finished with average outstanding student debt load of $26,249. The question to ask, then, is whether majoring in a field that interests you so that you can get into an occupation that interests you is worth that potential student debt load.

While popular opinion focuses completely on total salary and says the higher equals better, a recent study by the Center for Health and Well-being at Princeton University explored the relationship between job satisfaction and household income. What they found is that a household income (the combined personal incomes of all members of the household) of $75,000 per year brought the maximum amount of day-to-day happiness or, as they put it in the study, emotional well-being. Below that amount, households may not have enough money to pay for certain necessities, such as quality food, housing, and health care. Conversely, making more than $75,000 has ambiguous benefits in terms of happiness, with much of the extra income going towards buying pleasures, since necessities are already taken care of. Thus, while having a household income in excess of $75,000 may be motivation for some people, especially those who pick a college major based on future salary expectations, those individuals who are not motivated by money, such as many of those students who pursue liberal arts degrees, will likely be completely content with the “meager” earning potential of their humanities or social sciences degree.

What we find, in viewing these studies and surveys, is that while students who get a degree in the humanities or social sciences will most likely not make as much income as their friends in the STEM fields or business, they will likely have enough income to be truly happy. The moral of this story, then, is to go towards what you love. Whether it is a STEM field or business or the liberal arts, you will most likely make the salary necessary to be happy with your life choices.

Calendar for the Week of 2/24/2014 to 3/2/2014

Monday, February 24
The Tutor Program is 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:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – PSY 100
2pm-3pm -CHY 121
4pm-6pm – BMB 208
6pm-7pm – MAT 232
7pm-8pm – PHY 122

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday during the semester the Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers the opportunity to practice conversations in other languages.  It is located in Little Hall, Room 207 and is open to anyone who wants to have conversations in the specific language.
12pm-1pm – French Table
12pm-1pm – Spanish Table
12pm-1pm – German Table

Tuesday, February 25
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
10am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 100
1pm-2pm – FSN 101
2pm-4pm – MAT 232
4pm-5pm – MAT 228
5pm-7pm – CHY 122
7pm-8pm – PHY 112

Wednesday, February 26
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
12pm-2pm – BUA 202
4pm-5pm – PHY 122
5pm-7pm – PSY100

ML&C
1pm-2pm – Italian Table

Thursday, February 27
Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
11am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – BIO 100
2pm-3pm – BIO 222
3pm-4pm – CHY 121

Friday, February 28
Today is the last day until Spring Break!

ML&C
2pm-3pm – Arabic Table

If other events turn up, we will be sure to update the calendar. Have a great vacation, see you in two weeks!

10,000 Hours

What’s the key to becoming an expert in a field? Turns out it’s practice. And more practice. And then even more practice. As this infographic discusses, research has shown that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at a specific skill to become an expert at it. It’s hard work, determination, and dedication. With that, you can become an expert at anything. If you’re interested in finding out more about this topic, you should check out Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell, which you can get at Fogler Library.

practice-makes-perfect

Thursday Tip of the Day

Remember, the priority deadline for filing your FAFSA is March 1.

What’s Your Motivation?

Students attend university for various reasons, but the most common reason is that, on average, a student with a college education will make more money throughout his or her lifetime than a student without one. A college degree means increased earning power. Not only does it command more earning power but it can open the doors to many desirable opportunities and professions. According to the Institute for Higher Education, college graduates enjoy…

  • Higher savings levels
  • Improved work conditions
  • Increased personal and professional mobility
  • Improved health and life expectancy
  • Improved quality of life for offspring
  • Better consumer decision making
  • Increased personal status
  • More hobbies and leisure activities
  • Personal satisfaction and accomplishment
  • A More open-minded outlook

With all of these future benefits is should be easy to stay motivated while in school right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, almost a third of first year students do not make it to their second year. The reasons for this can run the spectrum from personal issues to money problems, but undoubtedly the number one barrier to student success is lack of motivation! Student’s who experience Lack of Motivation (LOM) may exhibit various symptoms such as:

  • they arrive late to class, if they even show up
  • they turn in assignments late (perhaps sloppy quality) or not at all
  • they miss appointments with advisors or faculty
  • they ignore campus resources such as the writing center, the tutor center etc.
  • they do not participate in class activities or discussions

All of these symptoms can lead to a widespread outbreak of first year students vanishing from college within the first year.

The good news it you don’t have to be one of those students, you can improve your resistance to LOM and thrive in higher education! Successful students learn to create their own inner motivation, providing the drive to persist toward their goals. They design a life plan and commit to their dreams. Think about it, if your life was as good as it could be, what would it look like? Design a road map that takes you where you want to end up ten years down the road. Keep this map in mind as you make your way through the next four years. The most important thing about motivation is goal setting. So begin to set small goals for yourself such as earning an A on your first Math test, or meeting with your academic advisor early in the semester, or plan on turning all your papers in a day or two early. Once you tackle and master these little goals the larger ones seem more attainable.

It is also equally important to identify what type of motivation works for you, is it extrinsic or intrinsic motivation that keeps you going through the tough times? The primary difference between the two types is that extrinsic motivation arises from outside of the student while intrinsic motivation arises from within.

Examples of extrinsic motivators include:

  • Studying because you want to get a good grade
  • Attaining a high GPA in order to see your name on the Dean’s List
  • Participating in a sport in order to win awards
  • Competing in a contest in order to win a scholarship

These motivators are fine and usually work for students, however they often lack a much needed internal desire to participate in an activity for its own sake.

So What exactly is Intrinsic Motivation? Here’s how some experts define it:

“Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation to engage in an activity for its own sake. People who are intrinsically motivated work on tasks because they find them enjoyable.” –Paul R Pintrich & Dale H. Schunk, Motivation in Education

“Intrinsic motivation is the innate propensity to engage one’s interests and exercise one’s capacities, and, in doing so, to seek out and master optimal challenges.” –John Marshall Reeve, Motivating Others

“Intrinsic motivation is choosing to do an activity for no compelling reason, beyond the satisfaction derived from the activity itself–it’s what motivates us to do something when we don’t have to do anything.” –James P Raffini, 150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom

“Intrinsically motivated action is that which occurs for its own sake, action for which the only rewards are the spontaneous affects and cognitions that accompany it. Intrinsically motivated behaviors require no external supports or reinforcements for their sustenance.” –Raymond J. Wlodkowski, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn

Intrinsic motivation is not only a harbinger for success, it is also more psychologically rewarding. Psychologist Edward Deci completed research with two groups of children to see the effect of extrinsic rewards on learning. Group one received an extrinsic reward (money) for solving a puzzle; the second group received no rewards. Afterwards, both groups were left alone and secretly watched. The group that was paid stopped playing; the group not paid kept playing. Deci summarized his findings: “Stop the pay, stop the play.” He concluded, “Monetary rewards undermined people’s intrinsic motivation…. Rewards seemed to turn the act of playing into something that was controlled from the outside: It turned play into work, and the player into a pawn…. Rewards and recognition are important, but as the research has so clearly shown and I have reiterated many times, when rewards or awards are used as a means of motivating people, they are likely to backfire.”(Edward Deci, Why We Do What We Do)

So what works for you? Immunize yourself against LOM, find what keeps you moving towards your goals and cultivate these actions. Know your motivators; whether they be extrinsic, intrinsic or a combination of both.

Calendar for the Week of 2/17/2014 to 2/23/2014

Monday, February 17
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:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – PSY 100
2pm-3pm -CHY 121
4pm-6pm – BMB 208
6pm-7pm – MAT 232
7pm-8pm – PHY 122

Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday during the semester the Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers the opportunity to practice conversations in other languages.  It is located in Little Hall, Room 207 and is open to anyone who wants to have conversations in the specific language.
12pm-1pm – French Table
12pm-1pm – Spanish Table
12pm-1pm – German Table

Tuesday, February 18
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
10am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 100
1pm-2pm – FSN 101
2pm-4pm – MAT 232
4pm-5pm – MAT 228
5pm-7pm – CHY 122
7pm-8pm – PHY 112

Wednesday, February 19
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
12pm-2pm – BUA 202
4pm-5pm – PHY 122
5pm-7pm – PSY100

ML&C
1pm-2pm – Italian Table

Thursday, February 20
Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
11am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – BIO 100
2pm-3pm – BIO 222
3pm-4pm – CHY 121

Friday, February 21
ML&C
2pm-3pm – Arabic Table

Sunday, February 23
Drop-in Tutoring for Sunday:
4pm-6pm MAT 228
6pm-8pm BIO 100

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

Thursday Tip of the Day

Today, February 13, is the last day to drop a class and have it not appear on your transcript (after today, you can still withdraw). The deadline for this is 4:00pm, moved up from 4:30 pm due to the University closing.

What is a GPA and How do I Tell What Mine Is?

Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are often used within schools as a standard way of measuring academic achievement. They may also be used to determine scholarships, graduation honors, and other academic awards. GPAs are often the most efficient way to quantify a student’s perceived ability when it comes to academic success. Most graduate and professional schools consider GPAs when making admission decisions. Additionally, UMaine requires that a student must have a GPA of at least 2.0 in order to graduate.

GPAs are based on the number of credit hours (the number of degree credits completed in courses numbered 100 and above) in which a passing grade was earned. Each course typically ranges from 1 to 4 degree credits, which are the equivalent of credit hours. Your GPA is calculated by dividing the total amount of grade points earned by the total amount of credit hours attempted. Your grade point average may range from 0.0 to a 4.0. The grades A-F have the following numerical values used in calculating a student’s GPA: A = 4.00 A- = 3.67 B+ = 3.33 B = 3.00 B- = 2.67 C+ = 2.33 C = 2.00 C- = 1.67 D+ = 1.33 D = 1.00 D- = 0.67 F = 0.00.

If a student passes 4 – three credit classes that student has earned twelve credit hours. If he or she received 3 As and 1 C then those grades are added, together based on the values listed above, (12.0 + 12.0 + 12.0 + 6.0) for a total of 42.0. This number is then divided by the 12 credit hours for a GPA of 3.5.

Although recent studies emphasize the value of qualities such as emotional intelligence and other soft skills in determining future success, the value of a GPA is rarely something students can ignore when they first leave college. Most entry-level jobs want to see school transcripts, and employers make hiring decisions influenced in part by academic success. Of course, there will be a point at which your GPA might begin to lose its value. Over time your professional record will have to stand for itself.

But for now, as a student, your job is to make sure you are putting your best effort forward and that means keeping your GPA up. This begins by knowing what your GPA is. The easiest way to figure out your GPA here at UMaine is to go to the Student Center in your Mainestreet account and look at your Degree Progress Report or your Academic Summary. If you want to figure out what your GPA might look like at the end of the semester you can use the Semester and Cumulative GPA Calculator.

This calculator will compute your GPA for a single semester or, if you know your current GPA and total number of credits, it will compute your cumulative GPA. It is fairly self-explanatory and you can use either upper- or lower-case letters for the grades. It will also compute your new GPA after a semester’s grades, providing you know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve taken.

For example: John took four classes last semester and his final grades have come in. He received an A in Psychology 101, a B- in Art 100, a D in Anthropology 101, and a C+ in Math 122. By filling in the corresponding letter grade with the correct amount of credit hours he can find his semester GPA by hitting the calculate button.

GPA Image 1

He will get a message that looks like this.

GPA Image 2

This means that his GPA for the semester is 2.49.

If this is not his first semester then he will already have an existing GPA and that can be factored with his most recent grades to arrive at his cumulative GPA. For example to calculate his cumulative GPA with the four new classes John would enter his GPA prior to this semester as well as the total number of credit hours earned prior to this semester.

GPA Image 3

If John hits the calculate button he will see that his cumulative GPA is 2.87

GPA Image 4

If a student has a certain goal GPA they would like to reach they can utilize the Target GPA Calculator. This calculator will tell you what GPA you will need for your next semester, year, etc. to reach a GPA goal. You just need to know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve already completed, then choose a target GPA and a number of credits in which to attain that target!

Another useful calculator is the Course-Repeat GPA Calculator. This calculator will allow you to compute the effect of retaking a course with the new grade replacing the original one. Note: If you retake a course, do not list that course in the Cumulative GPA Calculator, this calculator will just add it as if it is a new course. To find your actual new GPA, use the Cumulative GPA Calculator inputting the non-repeated courses and then use this one to see the effect of the repeated course. Here you need to know your current GPA and the number of credits you’ve completed, and, of course, the number of credits and the two grades (as always, you can input either upper- or lower-case grades) for the course in question. Before deciding to retake a course, please review the University’s course repeat policy.

Some may argue that a good GPA is not the most important thing in life, but as a student, your GPA is a reflection of how well you manage your time, how well you follow directions, and how serious you take yourself. For student’s, school is their job, so they should make sure they are putting forth quality work. A high GPA shows a student’s ability to dedicate themselves to academic success. And let’s face it, a decent GPA is a great confidence builder!

Calendar for the Week of 2/10/2014 to 2/16/2014

Monday, February 10
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:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – PSY 100
2pm-3pm -CHY 121
4pm-6pm – BMB 208
6pm-7pm – MAT 232
7pm-8pm – PHY 122

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, February 11
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
10am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 100
1pm-2pm – FSN 101
2pm-4pm – MAT 232
4pm-5pm – MAT 228
5pm-7pm – CHY 122
7pm-8pm – PHY 112

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

Wednesday, February 12
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
10am-11am – MAT 115
11am-12pm – BIO 208
12pm-2pm – BUA 202
4pm-5pm – PHY 122
5pm-7pm – PSY100

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

Thursday, February 13
Today is the last day to drop a class and have it not appear on your transcript. After today, dropping a class is considered a withdrawal, and will result in a W on your transcript. This is not a penalty, it merely means you were in the class for between one-third and two-thirds of the semester and decided to leave for an unspecified reason.

Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
11am-12pm – SOC 101
12pm-1pm – BIO 208
1pm-2pm – BIO 100
2pm-3pm – BIO 222
3pm-4pm – CHY 121

Friday, February 14
Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunday, February 16
Drop-in Tutoring for Sunday:
4pm-6pm MAT 228
6pm-8pm BIO 100

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