Advising FAQs

Tables of Contents:

Coming back to pursue a four year degree
Readmission to a UMaine program
Transfer Admission to a UMaine Program like the one you left in your previous school
Admission to UMaine’s Flexible Bachelor of University Studies Degree
Improving Learning and Grades
Why should you regularly check your MaineStreet Account?
How can I find a major in college that is a good fit for me?

Coming back to pursue a four year degree

Q: How can I be sure that I’m choosing the right path? After all, a college degree can be an expensive investment. I’m not sure what field of study is right for me, and I’m concerned that my study skills are no longer what’s needed to succeed. 

A: You share these concerns with many returning adults. Through our Lifelong Learning Advising Center and a one-credit pass-fail course called Introduction to University Studies (UST 100, offered in a five-week format on line), we offer two ways to explore your skills, values, goals, and learning style and find a good fit at a program at UMaine or elsewhere that will meet your unique needs and address your unique goals. We’ll be happy to talk with you about options and refer you to other people who can help. If you might benefit from taking UST 100, we’ll tell you how to register for that.

Q: When I was in college before, I didn’t do well academically. But I’ve matured a lot since those days. How will my previous record affect my ability to be admitted back to the University or come in as a transfer student? 

A: Many students have overcome a bad start after some time has passed. But each circumstance is different, and we’ll help you check out what you’ll need to do to come back as a degree candidate, if possible in the field of your choice. This may not be possible in highly selective or competitive programs. And in some fields, if you been away for more than 10 years, your knowledge from past courses may have been overtaken by big changes in your former field of study, so you may have to retake a number of courses to be current.

If you were suspended from your college for academic reasons, you can be readmitted after sitting out for one semester. Readmission is not automatic, but it is highly likely for students with 15 to 30 or so credits earned unless there were serious behavior problems.

If you were dismissed, you probably won’t be considered for readmission until at least 5 years have passed. And there is no guarantee you’ll be readmitted; it depends on the case you make that you are now a very different person and a different student, or that external circumstances have changed dramatically for you.

We can help you explore why your earlier attempt at a college degree was not successful and work with you to create a different outcome for you this time.



Readmission to a UMaine program

Q: What can I do to make the process of re-entering my old UMaine major go smoothly?

  • Contact any college you’ve attended since leaving UMaine and ask them to send an official transcript to our Office of Student Records (not needed for UM System institutions). Only you can sign a release form for these records. This process can take time. Normally, you need to start a transfer application at least 30 days before the start of a semester.
  • Find and download the “Re-admit Form” from the web-site of the Office of Student Records. It’s listed in the A to Z UMaine web-site directory under S for “Student Records, Office of.” Find the button for “Forms” in the right hand menu and click on it. Look under the list of forms for students for “Re-Admit Form.” Discuss filling it out with us or with the staff at your former college. [Call us at 581-3143 if you want help finding this or other forms on-line.]
  • Send the form to your previous UMaine college dean’s office as early as you can (so if you are readmitted, you’ll be in time to register for the popular classes). We can help you with this contact information if you have any trouble locating it on the web, or if you don’t find your former department in the college where you think it should be. Over the years, some majors have changed their college home.
  • We’ve listed contact information for UMaine colleges at the end of this section.
  • Even if you no longer want a program in your former college, you need to start there. Make sure that you tell them where you are hoping to transfer after readmission (the B.U.S. program, or a major in another college here). Sometimes, your target college will ask you to establish a semester in good standing (2.0 GPA, no Ws, Ls, or Fs) before taking you as an “internal transfer.”
  • Your academic college may have an advising center that can work with you as you transition back into your degree program. If you find you are waiting to have a faculty or professional advisor assigned, please continue to ask us at the Lifelong Learning Advising Center for help.



Transfer Admission to a UMaine Program like the one you left in your previous school

Q: What if I want to re-enter a field I studied at another college? How many of my credits will count toward the major?

A: It depends on several factors.

Generally, UMaine accepts only credits transferred from an institution with “regional accreditation.” If you studied at another UMSystem school, a Maine community college, or a two-year or four-year program where we’ve worked out an “articulation agreement” or have uploaded some transfer equivalent courses, you can see on-line how your courses will come over to UM (what equivalent courses they will be listed as).

UMaine will generally accept credits taken at another UMaine System institution with a grade of C- or higher. It will consider* credits earned at other regionally credited institutions with a grade of C- or higher. Grades from transfer courses of either type will not be calculated in the UMaine grade point average, and Grade Point Averages do not transfer. *[Some majors will accept only C to better grades to satisfy major requirements, and students must earn a C or better grade in College Composition or the equivalent. Rarely, a B grade is required in some fields.] See next answer for details on the transfer equivalence determination.

Q: Can I check out transfer equivalence before I apply to UMaine?

A: Courses from the University of Maine System, the Community College System of Maine, and many private Maine institutions have been loaded into our equivalence tables. If you go to the UMaine web-site, select our student information system MaineStreet or go directly to You don’t have to sign into the system. Select Transfer Course Equivalents. Select Transfer courses or test credit to the Univ. of Maine System. Select University of Maine at Orono. Find your school from the A-Z list. Select Show all Subjects or select a subject. Minimize the Menu on the left for the best display. Use these tables to see what your credit would look like if you transferred to UMaine. Once you have been accepted and given a MaineStreet User ID, you can view your formal Transfer Credit Report by logging in and going to Student Self-Service. Select Student Center, then Transfer Credit Report in the “academics” area (in the “other academic…” drop down box). If more than one University of Maine System institution has evaluated your coursework, you will need to select University of Maine before proceeding.

Q: What if equivalence hasn’t been assigned?

A: If you do not see your course or school listed, contact the Office of Student Records to determine the UM equivalent. Send school and course information to: or call 207.581.1319. A transfer specialist in the Office of Student Records will look at your course and school information and find a faculty member qualified to assign equivalence in each field. This can take some time. If you feel a mistake has been made, you can send a course syllabus to the Office of Student Records to request an equivalency appeal.

If you want informal advice before you apply to transfer to UMaine, we can help you request an appointment with a department chair in the field you are interested in. Take an unofficial copy of your college transcript(s) and any course syllabi you can get and ask the chair to tell you informally about course equivalence and about approximately how much work would be remaining if you declared a major in that field here. In most cases, the chair can help you avoid signing up for courses where you’ve already completed their requirements and will earn exact transfer equivalence. Be aware that the worst times to ask for such time from a department chair are at the beginning of the semester (add-drop) and during preregistration periods for the following semester. Check the Academic Calendar on the UMaine website for specific dates . Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and Credit for Life Experience and Achievements Q What if I’ve learned in non-academic settings and would like that learning to be considered for college credit at UMaine? A If you have extensive professional, life, or military experience that would translate well into an academic area, we will be happy to explain how UMaine may be able to award you academic credit—through the CLEP program (based on a test) or through assessment of a reflective portfolio that you compile. You can find information about this on the UMaine Admissions site, as well. If you come into the Bachelor of University Studies Program, the BUS Director Barbara Howard will work with you through the process. We can put her in touch with you or you may wish to inquire directly. Her email is, and her phone is 207.581.3146.



Admission to UMaine’s Flexible Bachelor of University Studies Degree Program

Q: What if I have multiple interests, or if I spent a lot of time in the past pursuing several fields but developing a consistent major in none, or I’m looking to complete my degree in a program that will work with my time and place constraints as a busy adult?

A: We’ll be more than happy to talk with you about our Bachelor of University Studies Degree Completion Program. It’s a degree that can work especially well for people who are already employed or self-employed and interested in completing their degree part-time to meet job requirements or fulfill personal educational goals. There are some requirements:

  • Students must have earned at least 18 college credits
  • They must normally take courses on a part-time basis (6-8 credits a semester to be an active degree candidate)
  • They must take a one-credit Introduction to University Studies course (UST 100). This is taught on-line in five week blocks of time.
  • They must develop a Program of Study for approval by a faculty committee, including General Education and an especially tailored individual program of study.
  • In Spring 2014, an incentive program is available to the first 21 students who take UST 100 and matriculate as degree candidates by December 2014. Ask us how this works, or get in touch with Barbara Howard ( or 207.581.3146).



Improving Learning and Grades

Q: What are some characteristics of a successful adult learner?

  • Successful adult learners take a course load that works well with other responsibilities and priorities in their lives. Have you spoken to family members and co-workers about how your studies may impact them? Have you allowed for the unexpected in making your plans?
  • If you are starting to take college courses or coming back to finish a degree, you may need to experiment to find the best load for you, but keep a successful academic outcome in mind as you schedule your time. The best and safest course is to remember to use the “2 for 2” rule of thumb: For every live face-to-face class, double the time in class, and add that to your class time as preparation/homework time you need to devote to the class. So if you’re in class approximately three hours a week, add six more for preparation time for a good result. Total per week for the class: 9 hours. For a 4 credit course, the total is 12 hours. For 15 credits, 45 hour., the equivalent of a full-time job and more. Do not try this combination at first, but step up gradually as you see how it goes. Remember that upper level classes (300-400) and some lecture courses (especially in the sciences and math) require much more time than many 100 level courses.
  • Successful learners mark out good spaces for study (free from distractions, quiet), and keep needed books and supplies handy in that space. If studying at home is too distracting, they find other spaces (community libraries, Tim Horton’s, etc.) where they can work without interruptions.
  • They identify regular and consistent work times that harmonize with work and family obligations—whenever possible at times when they aren’t exhausted. Many adult learners have found that the early morning hours (before children wake up or neighborhood traffic picks up) work best for them. Others get help from family and friends to have extended study hours on the weekend protected.
  • They vary their studying with frequent short breaks, and they start with the hardest subjects when they are fresh, saving their favorite or easiest courses for last.
  • When reading, they avoid passivity. They don’t study lying down; they don’t just highlight lots of text but find ways to interact with what they are reading—raising questions for the professor in the margins, having a dialog with the textbook in their notes, frequently closing the book and writing out their sense of what it is saying about the subject.
  • Successful adult learners make sure to include self-motivating, exciting, and personally rewarding courses in the mix along with required courses that will build foundations for academic success. Don’t feel that you have to complete every required course before you get to study what you feel passionately interested in, but also don’t put off building confidence in your verbal and quantitative literacy skills. Keep things in balance. This is sort of the Mary Poppins recipe: a spoonful of sugar and a little medicine, too.
  • Successful adult learners reflect usefully on their preferred learning styles, as well as identifying learning environments that offer them particular challenges. They develop strategies to help them lead from their strengths when they can (for example, drawing diagrams of important concepts in their notes if they are visual learners, or talking about what they are reading with friends and family members if talking helps them grasp complex processes). And they try to strengthen weak areas—taking more writing courses and writing-intensive courses, not fewer, if they struggle with writing, for example.
  • If they are entitled to learning accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they pursue their rights:
    • They contact Disability Support Services well before a semester begins to provide documentation of the disability, and they work with the professional staff there to make sure they have the accommodations they need to succeed, whether that involves getting captions for photos on the course web-site, or a classroom accessible with a wheelchair, or extra time for proctored exams.
    • Contact Disability Support Services by phone at (207) 581-2319. Their web-site ( has a lot of useful information, including the University’s policies, procedures for accessing accommodations, and Frequently Asked Questions. If you are a multi-campus student, remember that you need to contact the home campus office for each course. The University of Maine cannot offer services to support a University of Maine at Augusta course, and vice versa.
  • Successful students seek out and use available courses and programs that focus on building skills and competencies for the long haul:
    • The UMaine Tutor Program ( has a very useful on-line guide to help you assess your strengths and find areas where you can profit from academic support: “How do I know if I need academic assistance?” The Tutor Program web-site also has helpful pages on working with college professors, taking notes from lectures and readings, understanding how to study for various kind of exams, and so forth. Adult students who are near the Orono campus may wish to sign up for a Tutoring Group associated with a large live lecture class. This site can also direct you to student tutoring in writing and math.
    • For distance students, the on-line CSP 101 Student Success Course, which can be taken for 1 to 3 credit hours, is worth looking at, especially if you have credits that place you in the first or second-year student category (zero to 54 hours earned). If you are pursuing a degree through the Bachelor of University Studies Program, you should take the 1 credit on-line course UST 100 Introduction to University Studies, which overlaps in a number of ways with the Student Success Course, but is focused on students who have already earned at least 18 college credits.



Why should you regularly check your MaineStreet Account?

Did you know that on MaineStreet you can:

  • find information about your academic advisor(s)?
  • verify the contact information that the University has for you (and make sure it is always up to date)?
  • find classes based on day and time, type of delivery, General Education credit, instructor name?
  • create a Wish List before registration opens?
  • add and drop classes (before the term begins—after that, check with our student service staff or your advisor)
  • verify that you are registered as you wish?
  • look up your weekly schedule, remind yourself of the names of your faculty members?
  • look at your University billing account and student financial aid details so you can avoid financial penalties and correct mistakes?
  • find “service indicators” that warn you of problems so you can deal with them right away?
  • be directed to important messages from the University that might affect your academic or financial status?
  • look up details of past semesters—whether information about classes (including instructor names) and your record?
  • check your progress toward graduation?



How can I find a major in college that is a good fit for me?

  • First step: don’t panic. You can still be a matriculated but “undeclared” student for a year or two in at least two of UMaine’s academic colleges (Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), which allows you some time to explore before you commit. But you should not persist beyond 60 credit hours of exploratory and Gen Ed work until you’ve found a good major where you are happy and academically successful. Should you find yourself not drawn to a college major, take a time out for a semester and consider your options. If you take on too much debt or watch your GPA suffer because you don’t feel strong interest in your field of study, that may close some doors for you in the future. Most college loans give you a six-month grace period before payments are due, and if you return to a program of study before then, you won’t have to start repaying them.
  • Second step: take responsibility for finding a clear sense of direction for yourself. It doesn’t happen instantly, and only you can ensure you find what will work for you.
  • Third step: seek advice and information about your choices from many sources.
    • Schedule some sessions with a career counselor. If you are currently a UMaine degree candidate, you can ask to work with an individual counselor at the UMaine Career Center. Phone the Center, explain that you are an adult seeking to complete a degree, and ask if you can be given access to resources that they have. Much of their web-site is open to all.
    • Find an on-line Career Inventory at the Career Center site. If you recently graduated from high school, you may find such an inventory in your file there. These inventories will ask you questions about your knowledge, skills, interests, and values.
    • Conduct informational interviews with people in fields that a career inventory indicates might be of interest to you. Many professionals are happy to offer to talk with you if you are clearly not a job candidate and if you are polite, if you are business-like (perfectly proofread email or letter, appropriate office attire if you meet at the professional’s office), and if you are flexible about fixing meeting or phone meeting times.
    • Ask your instructors and the people you interview: how did you get into your current work and position? what credentials are required to do your job? what skills, knowledge, and values do you bring to your work? how do you spend a typical day at work? what would you recommend to an entry-level colleague about how to succeed in this area? Be sure to send a mailed (not emailed) thank you note with your contact information.
    • Volunteer your time to serve people different from you or (if you can afford it) travel to see the world and the many challenges facing the people of the world and your generation. There will be jobs for people who are working on those challenges.
    • Consider where you want to live, and identify the special challenges of that place (for example, in Maine we have a rapidly ageing population).
    • Read as much as you can from a variety of contemporary sources to learn as much as you can about those challenges and about the kinds of skills, knowledge, and values that will help meet them. You can generally find national newspapers like the New York Times or the Washington Post in most town libraries, in digital or paper form. Become a regular reader, and you’ll learn a lot about the world and your potential to enter the global economy.
  • Reflect on what makes you happy and pursue that, whether it requires a four year academic program, a technical/professional program, or immersion in the arts.
  • Get volunteer or paid work experience that will help you become acquainted with what makes you happy and how you can make a contribution to the planet and the future.
  • Of course, some students get lucky and while taking a well-balanced and somewhat adventurous general education curriculum end up tripping over a field that engages their passionate commitment. To maximize your long-term gains while taking General Education courses , take them as seriously as you take major courses.