UMaine CLAS Advising Center

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

Category: Resources

Finals Week- Things to Help

Therapy dogs will be in the library on Dec. 9th from noon to 2:00, on Dec. 10th from 2:00 to 4:00 and on Dec. 15th from Noon to 2:00.

Campus Buyback – Don’t forget to get there early!
Monday – Thursday, December 8th-11th 8:00AM-6:30PM
Friday, December 12th 8:00AM-4:30PM
Saturday, December 13th Noon-4:00PM
Monday – Thursday, December 15th-18th 8:00AM-6:30PM
Friday, December 19th 8:00AM-4:30PM

Cutler Health Center will be offering massage appointments two days this week: Wednesday Dec 10 and Thursday Dec 11. Please call 207-581-4000 to book today.

Buchanan Alumni House is offering a home-like atmosphere to study in during finals week. Come sit by the fire and enjoy some free snacks. Spaces available for study groups and team work. Quiet personal cubbies also available. Please enter through the Visitors’ Center entrance and check in at the reception desk upon arrival.
Sun Dec 11: 11am – 11pm
Mon 15th – Wed 17th: 8am – 11pm
Thurs 18th: 8am – 5pm


Final Exams

The time for final exams is almost upon us and with final exams comes a change in both your class schedule and Fogler Library’s hours. During Finals Week, your final exam will not be at the normal class time. Instead, you will have to check online as to when your exam will be held. Similarly, Fogler Library’s hours will be extended.

Starting the Wednesday before Finals Week and going until the Thursday of Finals Week, Fogler Library is open every night until 2:30am. And then on the Friday of Finals Week, the last official day of the semester, the library closes at 5pm. During these extended hours, while there will not be a reference librarian available, circulation will still be open, as will the IT Support desk.

During Finals Week, your schedule will be different, so you need to check to see when your final exam will take place. Student Records has provided information about the Final Exam period at this useful website. They also have a PDF that provides all of the Final Exam information for every class offered this semester. It includes the date and time of the exam, the room location, and the professor’s name.

Thursday Tip of the Day

If you are struggling financially and are looking for options to help pay your bill, be sure to visit the Student Financial Aid office in Wingate Hall- they have all sorts of resources to help you get rid of those fees!

How to Choose a Minor

You’ve started college. You’ve chosen a major. You’re all set. But then someone blasts your equilibrium and asks, “What’s your minor?” That sets your mind working, making you start wondering if you really need a minor. And if the college doesn’t require one, should you bother having a minor? And if so, what should it be. Well, hopefully this post will help you wade through some of those very legitimate questions and provide you with some guidance on whether to have a minor field, and if so, how to choose it.

A minor field is an area of study that provides a basic grounding in an academic field. Here at UMaine, most are between 18 to 24 credit hour. That’s normally 6-8 classes, about ½ to ⅓ of the credits required for most majors. A minor won’t make you an expert, but if gives you a general understanding of the field. This general knowledge, though, can be important academically or professionally, or even in both ways.

First off, do you NEED a minor? While the University of Maine does not require students to have a minor, certain colleges and programs do. As an example, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) requires a minor for students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and who matriculated effective Fall 2011. So you’ll want to check with your advisor to see whether your particular major or your college does require one.

One way to choose a college minor is to think ahead to possible career paths you’d be interested in pursuing. Often a major is chosen to provide a direct path to that career. But sometimes a little more knowledge or a little more training is necessary or beneficial to achieve your career goals. That’s where a minor comes in. A minor can complement your major field, giving you a broader base to work from when you hit the job market or look into going to graduate school. For instance, there are a number of Psychology majors here in CLAS that are minoring in Neuroscience, providing them with a background in both the psychological and physiological aspects of the human brain. Another popular option, for students interested in going to law school, is to major in Political Science or History or even Philosophy and minor in Legal Studies. Students then gain the analytical and critical thinking skills that the liberal arts provide, plus a contextual background for the legal profession.

A minor can also complement the major in terms of career goals, while being quite different from the minor. A student interested in pursuing a career in marketing could choose a Business Administration in Marketing major and a minor in Graphic Design. Or perhaps a future software design engineer might major in Computer Science and minor in Accounting, providing that student with an understanding of the needs that business field needs in its software. Future K-12 teachers should also not underestimate the importance of a minor field in expanding teachable subject areas.

Of course, a minor does not have to help you towards your chosen career path. Not at all. For some students, a minor field is simply a subject that the student really enjoys and is passionate about. Let’s be honest, college is expensive and few people have the time and money required to obtain degrees in every subject they love. While your primary passion should be your major, if there’s another topic you feel strongly about, minor in it. The University of Maine has over 100 different minor programs, so there is likely one that will fit your passion. Students can theoretically have as many minors as they’d like (I say theoretically because time and money limit the vast majority of students to one or perhaps two minors). And while having a minor doesn’t have to be chosen to help your career, it can definitely demonstrate a breadth of knowledge and experience that can help you stand out from the crowd.

So, choosing a minor field is an intensely personal decision. Some students will choose the minor based on career paths, others for personal edification. Both are completely legitimate choices. If you find that you are having difficulty deciding on a minor, we here at the CLAS Advising Center can help you look through your options. Also talk with your faculty advisor about complementary fields. And don’t forget that the Career Center is an excellent resource and they can help you examine potential minor fields as well. But in the end, the choice is yours. Don’t let anyone choose it for you.

How to Research

Do you have a big paper that is due soon? Or maybe you need to do some research to prep for an exam or group project? Either way, today’s infographic keys you in to some websites that you may not be aware of- as well as some you didn’t know could be used for research.

How to Research

“Should I Study Abroad?”

A topic that comes up often in advising meetings is whether a student should study abroad. Doing so is something that many students think about, and every year between 120 and 150 University of Maine students actually go through with it. Typically, if a student asks for my input, I tell them that if they want to go abroad and can afford it, they should do so. That, of course, is a rather simplistic response. But here’s some legitimate reasons why studying abroad is a great idea.

1) Probably the best reason to study abroad is that the experience will broaden your horizons and your perspective of the world. It’ll open you up to different ways of thinking and acting, helping you to examine differing values and beliefs. Few students come back from their study abroad experience the same person they were then they left. Most come back with greater maturity, greater self-confidence, and greater ability to tolerate and deal with ambiguity.

2) Another important reason to study abroad is that it provides you with the opportunity to travel. First, you’ll be going to another country, another culture. You’ll be experiencing that daily. But then during weekends and breaks, you’ll be able to travel and explore the region, seeing even more of the differing culture. For most students, studying abroad is the best and easiest way to travel overseas. It’s an opportunity that many students may never have again.

3) Studying abroad is also a great way to learn a new language. Immersion into a language and culture is the most effective method of learning possible. Being in a foreign land, surrounded by other students and faculty and everyday people who are speaking the language of the country you are in will force you to learn to speak that language. And being multilingual is great for both personal and career growth.

4) Studying abroad will give you skills that translate into those skills future employers are looking for. Being alone in another country, you will be forced to take responsibility for yourself. So, in addition to gaining practical knowledge about a specific culture and language, you’ll be more apt to be able to creatively problem solve and to adapt to diverse cultural experiences. You’ll have learned leadership skills. And most likely, you’ll have demonstrated strong listening and communication skills.

5) Studying abroad will also make you more employable. Why? Well, only about 4% of U.S. students study abroad. Yet with the world becoming more globalized, American corporations are looking for students that have global experience. Studying abroad puts you in a position to stand out from the crowd.

There are, of course, many other reasons to study abroad. You may have others of your own to add to these five. Whatever your reasons are, I will say it again, I highly recommend that you study abroad if you’re interested in doing so. So, contact the Office of International Programs. Talk to a peer advisor about locations and the experience. Check out how study abroad relates to your major. Find out about finances and financial aid. And most of all, have fun.

LinkedIn for College Students

Have you heard of the social networking site LinkedIn? Today’s infographic gives five reasons why it is one of the most valuable online tools for college students:

Linkedin for College Students

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!

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!

Using Google Calendar

One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from numerous students is that they have a hard time keeping track of assignments and appointments. I average probably 4-5 missed advising appointments per week, with the student later telling me that they completely forgot about it. The reality is that I used to miss appointments and would lose track of when assignments were due. And then a friend introduced me to Google Calendar. It changed my life. And it can change yours, too.

All students (and employees, too!) at the University of Maine are provided a Google account. That’s actually what the account is. So there’s no legitimate excuse for any and all students to not use Google Calendar to help them organize their life.

First and foremost, Google Calendar can help you visually keep track of meetings and assignment due dates. You have three different viewing options for the calendar, either the daily view, the weekly view, or the monthly view. And you can easily switch between the views for whichever is most convenient at that time. You can use the daily view to keep track of appointments and meetings for that specific day. The weekly view lets you know what’s coming up throughout that week. And the monthly view puts all your assignments in perspective so that you can plan your time accordingly.

Another benefit is that you can create multiple calendars. For instance, you could create a new calendar for each course you are taking. You have the ability to have them all showing at the same time, however, and use different colours for each. Thus you could visually see the amount of work and due dates for each class.

Once you have your assignments and meetings in Google Calendar, you can set up reminders for each and every entry. These reminders can be either pop-ups (it shows up on your screen), text messages, or emails, and you can set them to be sent out a certain number of minutes, hours, days, or weeks in advance, or even a combination of those. For instance, if you have a paper due on a certain date, you could set up a reminder email or text to be sent to you a month in advance, two weeks in advance, one week in advance, three days in advance, one day in advance, and then 12 hours in advance. Then you’d have no excuse to forget about it or not get it done in time.

In addition to sending reminders, you can also receive daily agendas via your email. Once you set it up, Google Calendar will send you an email with your schedule for that day. And it can include any and all of your calendars. Once set, you will receive an email at about 5:30am that will include everything on your agenda for that day.

For the more advanced user, Google Calendar also gives you the option to share your calendars with other Google Calendar users. You can give them ability to simply read your calendar or give them progressively more rights, up through the ability to edit your calendar appointments and settings. This can be very useful in a group learning setting, so that everyone has access to the same due dates and the same reminders.

And for those students who use a smartphone or a tablet, you can sync the calendars directly with iCal on your Apple products or link to it directly on your Android phone, so you can access it any time you’d like.

So set up a Google Calendar for yourself and give it a try. Used correctly and consistently, you’ll find that you get assignments done in a more timely manner and you will not miss appointments. It will help you on your path to academic and career success.