Advising News, April 2016: Closing Windows and Wide-Open Opportunities

Dear Social Science Students,
Writing this advising newsletter to you on the last weekend of Spring Break, I’m watching the birds fly to the feeder at my kitchen window and pick out sunflower seeds.  It’s so exciting to see old “friends” come back who were gone from the feeder.  The chickadees were always there, even when the temperatures dropped below zero, but yellow finches, nuthatches and cardinals tell me Spring is here. As time passes at UMA, keep in mind that new opportunities are opening up while some windows are about to close! Keep the news items below in mind as you think about the future.
As always, I invite you to get in touch with me if you have any questions or need help making decisions about your path to graduation with a Social Science major.  My phone number is 207-621-3190 and I welcome your call.  You can also send me an e-mail message at james.m.cook@maine.edu.  Finally, you’re welcome to drop by unannounced to my office hours, which are Wednesdays from 12-2 PM in Augusta Jewett Hall 122 and Thursdays 8-9 AM and 12-2 PM at University College Rockland.

Look Out! These Social Science Courses are Almost Full
We’re about three weeks in to registration season, and some courses are nearly full.  If you haven’t registered yet and the following courses are on your must-take list, don’t wait until summer.  Jjump on the opportunity now before it’s too late:
SSC 320: Research Methods in Social Sciences — this course has 28 registrants out of 30 slots — only 2 spots left!  This course does fill every year, it’s only offered in the fall, and it’s a requirement for all Social Science majors.  Jump in and register, especially if you think next year will be your last!
SOC 316: Criminology — this course has 23 registrants out of 30 slots — only 7 spots left.  This is a popular course because it pertains to a very practical topic, especially for the United States (did you know the U.S. has the highest rate of people in prison out of 222 countries around the world?  Source: http://www.apcca.org/uploads/10th_Edition_2013.pdf online).
SSC 100: Introduction to Social Science — this course has 16 registrants out of 20 slots — only 4 spots left!  Like SSC 320, this course is a requirement for Social Science majors, and it’s a good one to take relatively early because the course tackles the challenge of showing how the wide variety of social science disciplines all matter put together.

Hidden Social Science Gems
 
Our social science major has some pretty typical courses — human development, social problems — that you might expect.  We also offer some pretty unusual courses that you might not find elsewhere.  Consider:
SSC 360: Qualitative Methods
It’s fair to say that in the social sciences, quantitative methods based in numerical representation of counts and categories is dominant.  But there is a a strong second tradition of qualitative research in the social sciences.  Assistant Professor Kati Corlew has this to say about the course she’ll be teaching in the fall: “Qualitative methods are a great way to explore a topic in great detail. Someone checking boxes in a survey may be thinking, ‘yes, but…’ or ‘not really, but close enough’ and we would never know it. Qualitative methods often have space for participants to push back and say their piece. Interviews, for example, allow people to tell their stories. But wait, how can gathering stories be ‘science?’ In this course, we’ll learn about the theories and requirements for creating scientifically sound, valid, and elucidating qualitative research. We’ll learn about the varieties, the exceptions, and the possibilities of qualitative research. And we’ll get to have fun — trying out qualitative research interviewing and observation in your own personal research topics. I can’t wait for this fall!
SOC 315: Deviance
Why be normal?  The very concept of “normal” and its counterpart, “deviant,” lie at the heart of this course taught by Associate Professor Lorien Lake-Corral.  If you’d like to take a walk on the wild side and examine why some things we do cross the border between acceptable and unacceptable, this is the course for you.
PSY 489: The Psychology of Evil and Humor
When you think “clowns,” do you see something funny, sad, … or downright creepy?  Have you ever noticed the stories we tell about one another, humor and evil sometimes are placed against one another, and are sometimes allies?  What are humor and evil for?  As Professor Ken Elliott explains, “This course is offered for students having a serious interest in understanding both malevolent behavior and humor as coping skills. Students will study these with an emphasis primarily on individual and secondarily on collective behavior.

Last Reminder: Apply for Graduation!
If you are ready to graduate this Spring or Summer, the deadline to apply for graduation was April 1st.  That was this past Friday!  If you have missed the deadline, it might not be too late; I urge you to call the UMA advising office first thing Monday morning (they open at 8 AM) to check in and see what’s possible.  The UMA advising office’s number is 207-621-3149.
I hope this information is helpful.  As always, please get in touch if you have any questions about registration and the road to graduation.  Enjoy the Spring!

Best Regards,
James Cook
UMA Assistant Professor of Social Science

Advising News, March 2016: Great Courses, Timing Courses for Graduation, and a Must-Do-Pop-Up

Dear Social Science Students,

Can you feel Spring coming from where you are?  It’s sunny, it’s (almost) warm, and that means it’s time to start thinking about the future. In past semesters, I’ve relied on pro-active students to get in touch with me with question about advising.  Starting this semester, I’ve decided to actively reach out with periodic newsletters.  I’ll share important information about deadlines, extra-curricular opportunities, new courses and graduation strategies.
As always, I invite you to get in touch with me if you have any questions or need help making decisions about your path to graduation with a Social Science major.  My phone number is 207-621-3190 and I welcome your call.  You can also send me an e-mail message at james.m.cook@maine.edu.  Finally, you’re welcome to drop by unannounced to my office hours, which are Wednesdays from 12-2 PM in Augusta Jewett Hall 122 and Thursdays 8-9 AM and 12-2 PM at University College Rockland.

Registration Starts Monday — Check Out These Two Crucial Fall Social Science Courses
Don’t forget to register for classes starting Monday, March 14!  Classes fill up fast, so be sure to put in your requests quickly.  There are a lot of super courses for Social Science that you might enjoy, but one is new and one is really important for majors.
  • SSC 320, Research Methods in Social Science, is absolutely necessary for you to graduate as a Social Science major, and it’s only taught once per year in the fall.  If you plan to graduate soon, please be sure to sign up for SSC 320 as quickly as you can, before the class fills up to capacity.
  • SSC 360 is a new course in Qualitative Research Methods being taught by Social Science faculty member Prof. Kati Corlew.  This course will help you practice systematic interviewing and observation skills, develop questionnaires and protocols for field notes, and apply scientific rigor in method to analysis of results.
  • This fall, I’ll be teaching SSC 320, SOC 316 (Criminology), and SOC 375 (Social Networks) in addition to SOC 101 (Introduction to Sociology), a course that most of you should have completed by the fall.  I’d love to have you in class!  Ask me a few questions if you’d like to know more about these courses.

Important: New Requirement When Registering
Staring this year, you’ll be asked to sign a Financial Responsibility Statement in MaineStreet on your ‘To Do’ list before you complete registration.  This is a legal agreement between the student and the University of Maine System explaining that you are financial obliged to pay back whatever loans you receive.  It may sound like a boring hurdle, but if you don’t agree to the statement before you try to register, you’ll be blocked from registering!  Please make sure you sign in to MaineStreet and agree to that statement.

Time to Apply for Graduation! DUE: April 1
Are you ready to graduate this Spring or Summer?  If so, you need to apply for graduation by April 1st.  To apply, visit http://www.uma.edu/about/offices/registrar/graduation/ on the web. Once you register for graduation you’ll receive cap & gown and ceremony information via email.

Looking for Scholarships? DUE: March 25
Unlike financial aid (loans that must be repaid), UMA scholarships are outright grants that you don’t have to pay back.  For a list of scholarship opportunities (more than $1,000,000 available), and to apply for those scholarships, visit http://www.uma.edu/admission/financial-aid/scholarships/.  The due date for UMA’s easy Universal Scholarship Application is March 25.

I hope this information is helpful.  As always, please get in touch if you have any questions about registration and the road to graduation.

Best Regards,
James Cook
UMA Assistant Professor of Social Science