It’s the last day of finals and the end of the academic school year, which means this will be our last post until the fall. Celebrate with today’s infographic on how you can spend the coming months; and from everyone here at the CLAS Advising Center, enjoy your summer!

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.

What is FERPA and Why Should You Care?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) regulates the keeping and dissemination of education records at all institutions that receive federal funds or who have students that receive federal funds. Procedures must be in place to allow a student access to education records. Consent must be obtained to release education records to a third party, with certain exceptions contained in the law. Directory information may be released without permission of the student unless the student has specifically requested that said information not be released. Types of information that may be disclosed as directory information include: student’s name, degrees and awards received, address, most recent previous institution attended, participation in officially recognized sports, activities, dates of attendance, major fields of study, e-mail address, class schedule, full- or part-time status, and photograph. Information which may not be released as directory information includes social security number, race/ethnicity or gender. Sounds like a lot of legal talk right? But what does it actually mean for you?

Colleges and universities have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of your information. FERPA has far reaching legal protection for your privacy and as a student it’s important for you to understand your rights. Now that you’re an adult, you have the right to control who has access to your education records; even your parents cannot have access if you don’t want them to. You are in full control of the disclosure of your education records.

These records consist of such things as grades, class lists, schedules, financial records, payroll records for work study, and disciplinary records. You have the right to control disclosures of these records. Only you can give written permission for your parents, or anyone else, to view these records. Faculty, advisors, and administrators cannot discuss these records with anyone but you unless you have provided written consent or to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent (see section III of Student Rights). When a family member or third party calls looking to obtain your information they must provide the last four digits of their social security number (which you will provide on the Student Consent to Release Information).

The only information that the public may obtain without your consent is what is classified as “directory information.” This is information that wouldn’t generally be considered invasive, such as your name, address, telephone number, enrollment status, etc. However you have control over who sees this information as well. FERPA requires that every institution allow students to block directory information. Students have three choices pertaining to the release of directory information:

  • Do not release any directory information
  • Release all directory information
  • Release all directory information except address

The default setting is set to “Release all directory information,” if you wish to change the setting you may do so in your MaineStreet Student Center. However there are considerations to be made when selecting “Do not release any directory information:”

  • No employee at the institution can acknowledge your existence at the university without written permission for each request stating the exact circumstance and person(s) with whom to share the directory information.
  • Directory information requested by insurance and loan companies will not be provided without written permission.
  • Your existence will not be acknowledged for verification of degree or degree earned which may be requested for employment.
  • You will have your names withheld for distribution to any publication or newspaper which may affect announcements of recognition to local community news outlets

As a university student, you have entered in to the world of adult responsibilities and you should be aware of the choices that you have. Just as you have control over your academic career, such as picking your major and the courses you take, and how you manage your time or who you spend it with, you also control who can or can’t discuss your education. Essentially what this means is that your education belongs to you. You have the right to control access of your records. To sum it up, your directory records can be released if you do not change the settings in your student center, but any other education records won’t be released unless you have signed a waiver.

For more indepth information on FERPA, you can check out Student Records’ site, which explains it all in much more detail.

To test your understanding of FERPA take this pop quiz . I know it’s finals week, but it only takes a minute and when you are finished you can go and enjoy your summer!

Calendar for the Week of 5/5/2014 to 5/11/2014

Take a look at Fogler Library’s extended hours going on until May 9. You can find the full schedule of hours at their website.

Monday, May 5 - Friday, May 10
Finals are being conducted this week, so there are no academic activities. Be sure to check out Stress Free Finals going on all week in the Union. Good luck and study hard!

Friday, May 10
Finals end today. Have a great summer! To all of you returning: We’ll see you in September!

Saturday, May 11
Commencement! Congratulations to all the new graduates!!

In honor of final’s next week, here’s an infographic dedicated to finals and stress. Some stress is good, but too much stress can actually hinder your ability to get work done. So don’t be afraid to relax a little bit and enjoy a break from all that studying! Remember to get lots of rest, and good luck from everyone here at the CLAS Advising Center!

Useful Mobile Academic Apps for Students

The world of mobile apps is constantly changing and growing, with both Apple’s iTunes store and Google’s Android store having over one million apps each. With such a vast number of apps, it can be quite difficult to figure out which are best suited for your needs. So today we’re going to talk about apps for your tablet or other mobile device, specifically those designed to help your academic pursuits here in college.

FirstClass - This free app is a mobile version of the FirstClass email client that you have on your computer desktop and it has much the same functionality. The big difference is that it only has symbols for each function, no written label. But once you figure out what each button is for you’ll be able to get your email on device. It’s available for Apple iOS devices such as the iPad, the iPod Touch, and the iPhone, and for Android devices.

DropBox & Google Drive - These free apps connect you to cloud-based storage sites that allow you to sync your data across devices. And by data I mean any document, spreadsheet, photo, or other file that you want to save. The way they work is that you install the software on your computer and the app on your mobile device and then any data that is saved to the Dropbox or Google Drive folder is then immediately and automatically synced to every device that you have connected. Now what that means in practical terms is that the data will be saved on every computer (whether desktop or laptop) that you have connected and will be instantly accessible on every mobile device. These two are rather similar when used on your computer or your mobile device. Both offer free services. Dropbox is probably a bit more simple to install and setup, though it offers less space in its free package, currently only 2gb. Google Drive, though, provides more space for free (currently 15gb) and offers much more inexpensive packages if you’d like to add more storage space. There are other cloud storage providers and apps, but these two are known for providing quality software for both Mac and Windows computers and for both iOS and Android devices.
Dropbox:
iOS & Android
Google Drive:
iOS & Android

CloudOn - Is a free app for both iOS and Android devices that mimics the Microsoft Office 2010 versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, and includes most of their functionality. When connected to one of your cloud-based storage sites, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, you can create, review, edit, and share your Microsoft Office documents. While Microsoft has introduced Office for both iOS and Android, the free versions are limited and the full versions require a membership to Office 365. CloudOn, conversely, is free, which is great for the budget-minded college student.

GoodReader & iAnnotate PDF - These two apps are PDF readers that allow you to highlight, underline, and annotate your PDFs, quickly and efficiently. Both allow you to save an edited file directly to Dropbox or Google Drive or to create an annotated copy in the app’s file manager. While GoodReader is available for iOS only, iAnnotate is available for both iOS and Android. And while neither is a free app on iOS, iAnnotate is free for Android.
GoodReader:
iOS
iAnnotate PDF:
iOS & Android

ReferenceME - Is a free app for both iOS and Android devices that, when you scan a book’s bar code, instantly creates an easily exportable bibliographic entry in whatever format you need, such as Chicago, MLA, or Turabian. This will save you an enormous amount of time when you’re writing your research papers, since creating a bibliography or a works cited page always takes much longer than most people plan.

iBooks, Kindle, & Play Books - All mobile devices have ebook readers and these three are from three of the primary companies. iBooks is the app for Apple ebooks that you purchased on iTunes and it also allows you to import an *.epub format ebook. It is available only on iOS, though there are other *.epub ebook readers available on Android. The Kindle app allows you to download and read books purchased, rented, or on loan from Amazon.com and is available for both iOS and Android. Play Books connects you to the Google book store and allows you to download and read books that you have gotten from there. It is also available on both iOS and Android.

iTunes U & Khan Academy - These two free apps provide entire college level courses for many topics in the form of podcasts and/or videos. While iTunes U is available only on iOS, Khan Academy is available on iOS and Android. In the Khan Academy app, many of the courses are broken down into bite-sized videos that introduce and explain ideas and concepts, building upon each other as the course moves forward. iTunes U has courses from many different colleges and universities which are broken down into normal class length video or audio. These podcasts and videos are an excellent supplement to your courses and coursework here at UMaine. Just remember, though, these are not UMaine courses and are not a substitute for going to class or doing your classwork.
iTunes:
iOS
Khan Academy:
iOS & Android

Voice Recorder - Both iOS and Android have a number of free voice recorder apps which allow you to make recordings. Since there are a number of different options, your best bet is to find one that works best for you. Just remember, if you are going to record a class lecture, you need to get permission from the instructor first.

Calendar for the Week of 4/28/2014 to 5/4/2014

This is the last week of classes! Take a look at Fogler Library’s extended hours beginning April 30th and going until May 10. You can find the full schedule of hours at their website.

Monday, April 28
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, April 29
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, April 30
No classes today due to Maine Day!

Fogler Library’s extended hours begin today:
Wednesday April 30, 7:30am- Thursday May 1, 2:30am


Thursday, May 1
Fogler Library’s extended hours:
Thursday May 1, 7:30am- Friday May 2, 2:30am


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, May 2
Today is the final day of classes!

Fogler Library’s extended hours:
Friday May 2, 7:30am- Saturday May 3, 2:30am


Saturday, May 3
Fogler Library’s extended hours:
Saturday May 3, 10am- Sunday May 4, 2:30am


Sunday, May 4
Fogler Library’s extended hours:
Sunday May 4, 10am- Monday May 5, 2:30am


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