UMaine CLAS Advising Center

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

Thursday Tip of the Day

The deadline to drop a class and receive a full refund is this Sunday, January 25, at midnight. After this date, you may still withdraw from a class and receive a partial refund.


So You Wanna Go to Grad School

Many undergraduates, especially those who are liberal arts majors, plan from the start of their college career to go to graduate school. They know that the career they want either requires a graduate degree or at least that a graduate degree will help them land the job they want. And so they know that their undergraduate graduation commencement is not an end to their education, but rather a time of transition, from undergrad to grad school. There is a large body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not to go to graduate school, so rather than address that question, this post will give you some pointers on how to prepare yourself, as an undergraduate, to become a graduate student.

The first thing you need to do if you’re planning on going to graduate school is get good grades. You need to demonstrate that you can excel at the undergraduate level before you should even contemplate graduate school, since grad school is far more difficult and rigorous than most any undergraduate program. Being a B or C student is not a sign of future success in graduate school. Plus, there’s the little matter of grades being important to the application process. For the more elite programs, you’ll be going up against students who have straight A’s, so you need to do that and more in order to stand out.

Pick your major, your minor, and your courses carefully and thoughtfully. Make sure that they work to help you achieve your goals. Plan ahead. Pick a major that sets you up for success in the field you’d like to break into. Pick a minor (or a second major) that either helps solidify your skill set or that demonstrates a breadth of knowledge and the ability to learn new and different things. Choose courses that will help you both now, as an undergraduate, and later, as a graduate student. For instance, depending on your field, many graduate programs have a foreign language requirement. If that’s the case, take those classes as an undergraduate. The earlier you plan ahead, the better prepared you’ll be for graduate school.

Get to know your professors. You want them to know who you are and the quality of work that you do. They may seem intimidating at first, but they’re people too. If you show a genuine interest in their topic or field, they will very often reciprocate that interest in your progress and growth. Remember, the better acquainted you are with your professors, the more they’ll be able to write a good letter of recommendation for you. Plus, they may know faculty at other institutions and provide some guidance as to good programs for you to apply to.

Get involved on campus. That could be getting into leadership roles in clubs or organizations. It could mean getting an internship on campus or working in a departmental office. And it could also mean volunteering at campus events. Campus involvement, and especially in leadership roles, demonstrates dedication and initiative. It shows that you can balance your time commitments and excel in multiple areas. And it shows that you can think beyond a narrowly focused topic.

Similarly, it’s good to get volunteer or internship experience in the field you’d like to work in. During your summer vacation, find a place a place to work that will give you experience in your field. This does at least two things. First, it gives you experience, which will help you rise to the top of the applicant pile when you’re applying to grad school. Second, and perhaps even more important, it broadens your professional network. You’ll know more people in your field who can write you letters of recommendation and help you find open positions. If you need help finding these opportunities, contact your faculty advisor, your major department chair, and/or the Career Center.

Generally speaking, if you’re graduating in May and planning on starting in grad school the following August/September, then you’d better be sending out applications the fall before you graduate. And in order to be ready for that, you’ll need to be taking one of the graduate/professional school exams. That would be the MCAT for med school, the PCAT for pharmacy school, the GMAT for business school, the LSAT for law school, and the GRE for most everything else. The best advice I can give you on these is to prep…a lot. Get a test prep book, study it, learn the test-taking skills it offers, and just go through the whole book. Then get a second one and do the same thing. There are different schools of thought as to the importance of these standardized tests. However, most will agree that while even acing the tests may not guarantee you a spot at an elite grad program, doing poorly on them could well sink your application.

So these are some of the things that will help you prepare for grad school. Just remember, start early, plan ahead, build relationships, and prepare for a lot of hard work.

Back to School Consumer Profile

With the semester starting up, many students are purchasing notebooks and other necessities, making it difficult to find them in large retail stores such as Walmart. Today’s infographic takes a look at how purchases for school are made, so you can become a more informed consumer and prevent the last-minute scramble for school supplies!


Thursday Tip of the Day

Remember that tomorrow, Friday January 16th, is the last day to add a class for the Spring 2015 semester!

General Education Requirements

Every undergraduate student on campus, regardless of college or major, is required to fulfill specific General Education requirements. Interestingly, many students have a very limited understanding as to what these requirements are. So today we’ll go over the purpose of your Gen-Eds and what they are. For easy reference, you can also watch our video on General Education Requirements.

Students often wonder what the purpose of General Education courses are. Why should a student majoring in Chemistry have to take an art course? Or why should a History major have to take a math course? After all, these General Education courses often seem far removed from the courses for one’s major or minor. In a very real sense, though, that is the point. According to the Undergraduate Catalog, “every University of Maine academic program is based upon a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences. The University’s goal is to ensure that all of its graduates, regardless of the academic major they pursued, are broadly educated persons who can appreciate the achievements of civilization, understand the tensions within it, and contribute to resolving them.” To put it more simply, the point of an education is not to give you a vocation, it is to give you a broader world view, to help you understand the world around you and show you how interconnected everything is. This broader perspective will allow you to become a much more critical thinker and to become much more analytical, something very different from any vocational training.

So, what are the General Education requirements? There are six categories of Gen-Eds, and though there is some overlap, they are each different aspects of a liberal arts & sciences education. A full list of courses that fulfill each category can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog. The categories are:

1) Ethics. Students must take a minimum of one class that explores ethical issues, discussing society’s conceptions of right and wrong on a moral continuum.

2) Human Values and Social Context. This particular category requires 18 credits and has five subcategories, each of which much be satisfied. While some classes can fulfill multiple subcategories, they only count towards the 18 credit requirement once. The subcategories are:

  • Western Cultural Tradition – These classes explore western thought and ideology from its earliest foundations through its evolution into our present culture.

  • Social Context & Institutions – These courses explore societies on a larger, more global scale, allowing them and their constituent parts to be viewed in context with and/or in juxtaposition of other societies.

  • Cultural Diversity & International Perspectives – These classes expose students to cultures and ideas beyond our own.

  • Population & The Environment – These courses explore the interplay between man and the environment, his influence on the environment and how it influences him.

  • Artistic & Creative Expression – These are classes that require artistic or creative output of some sort, and they range from traditional art courses to writing to theatre or dance.

3) Mathematics. Students must take two courses that are grounded in mathematics, which can include statistics or computer science. Though there are multiple Computer Science courses that fulfill the math requirement, only one may be used for that purpose.

4) Sciences. Students are required to take two biological or physical science courses. One of these classes must have a laboratory component. The other can have a lab component, but it is not required.

5) Writing Competency. It is commonly accepted that good writing is the hallmark of an educated individual. The University of Maine thus requires extensive writing throughout most of its undergraduate programs. As such, all students must take ENG 101, College Composition, plus two writing intensive courses. One of these writing intensive courses must be within your major, and as such, each major has at least one writing intensive course. The second writing intensive course can be chosen from any field.

6) Capstone Experience. Every program contains a capstone experience. The output of this experience is a project that draws together all that the student has learned in their major and would be representative of the work that a professional in that field would do. It is the culmination of the student’s undergraduate career and is typically done during the senior year.

The Office of Student Records website provides a worksheet that lists the different requirements and gives you a place to fill in the courses that you’ve taken. We strongly recommend that you keep up-to-date on where you are in terms of fulfilling each of these requirements. There is little worse than finding on the eve of graduation that you are one Gen-Ed shy of actually being finished.

Calendar for the Week of 1/12/2015 to 1/18/2015

Welcome back, and happy new year! This week’s calendar will be looking a little bit sparse as we are getting situated here in the advising office. We will keep you posted on drop-in tutoring times when they become available. Good luck with your semesters!

Monday, January 12
Classes begin today!

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. Once the full schedule of drop in tutoring times becomes available, look for it here!  

Every Monday through Thursday 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
1pm-2pm – Arabic Table (located in the Memorial Union)

Tuesday, January 13
12pm-1pm – Russian Table

Wednesday, January 14
12pm-1pm – German Table
1:10pm-2pm – Italian Table

Thursday, January 15
12pm-1pm – Spanish Table

Friday, January 16
Today is the last day to add a class for the Spring 2015 semester.

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

Finals and Stress

Today’s the last day of classes, which means that finals are next week! Start studying now so you don’t become too stressed: as today’s infographic shows, it can be detrimental to your health.

Final Exams and Stress

Thursday Tip of the Day

Remember, tomorrow is the last day of classes- so start studying now if you haven’t already!

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

Calendar for the Week of 12/8/2014 to 12/14/2014

Monday, December 8
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:
12pm-1pm – MAT 115
2pm-4pm – PHY 122
4pm-5pm – PSY 100
5pm-7pm – MAT 228

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 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

Tuesday, December 9
Drop-in Tutoring for Tuesday:
11am-12pm – CHY 121
2pm-3pm – SMS 100
4pm-6pm – BIO 100

Wednesday, December 10
Drop-in Tutoring for Wednesday:
9am-10am – PHY 121
10am-11am – AST 109
11pm-12pm – SMS 100
1pm-2pm – BIO 100
2pm-3pm – PHY 121
4pm-5pm – PHY 111

12pm-1pm – German Table

Thursday, December 11
Drop-in Tutoring for Thursday:
10am-11am – CHY 121
1pm-2pm – MAT 232
3pm-4pm -PSY 100
4pm-6pm – BIO 100

12pm-1pm – Spanish Table

Friday, December 12
Today is the last day of classes. Good luck on your final exams!

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