UMaine makes en­tic­ing of­fer to po­ten­tial UConn fresh­men

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Luther Turmelle

Cor­po­ra­tions aren’t the only thing that other states are in­tent on woo­ing to leave Con­necti­cut.

The Univer­sity of Maine wants our high school grad­u­ates as well. For the past sev­eral years, the univer­sity’s flag­ship Orono cam­pus has taken out bill­board space along a num­ber of high­traf­fic ar­eas, in­clud­ing along in­ter­states 95 and 91 in the New Haven area and near the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut cam­pus on I-84 north.

“Go to UMaine,” the bill­board says in big, bold let­ters.

Then in smaller let­ters, it con­tin­ues: “For the in-state cost of UConn.”

Univer­sity of Maine Provost Jef­frey Hecker said the re­cruit­ment ef­fort, which the school calls The Flag­ship Match, is now in its third year.

The pro­gram doesn’t lower the tu­ition for out-of-state stu­dents, Hecker said. In­stead, it of­fers merit awards for out-of-state stu­dents in amounts that are tied to rates at other states’ flag­ships schools.

“Fi­nan­cially, we feel it is a good in­vest­ment,” he said.

UMaine of­fi­cials came up with the idea of the pro­gram

after the school’s Board of Trustees re­fused to al­low univer­sity of­fi­cials to raise tu­ition for in-state stu­dents for a six-year-pe­riod between 2011 and 2016, Hecker said.

UMaine of­fi­cials are also faced with fore­casts that the num­ber of stu­dents grad­u­at­ing from Maine high schools is sched­uled to de­cline for at least the next decade, he said.

Even with the tu­ition dis­counts, Hecker said the stu­dents from Con­necti­cut are still pay­ing $5,000 more to go to UMaine than in-state stu­dents pay to go to the Orono cam­pus. UMaine takes ad­van­tage of the fact that “UConn is turn­ing away some very bright stu­dents,” Hecker said.

“They have be­come very se­lec­tive,” he said of UConn’s un­der­grad­u­ate ad­mis­sions de­part­ment.

To qual­ify for Maine’s Flag­ship Match pro­gram in the 2019-20 ad­mis­sion cy­cle, stu­dents must have a 3.0 grade point av­er­age and SAT scores of at least 1120. The SAT score rep­re­sents an in­crease of the pre­vi­ous stan­dard, which was 1050 dur­ing the last ad­mis­sions cy­cle.

Between 2016 and 2017, the num­ber of Con­necti­cut stu­dents en­rolled at UMaine’s Orono cam­pus in­creased by 41 per­cent. In 2018, though, the num­ber of Con­necti­cut stu­dents en­rolled at the school was up 24 per­cent com­pared to 2016, of­fi­cials said.

But the in­crease between 2016 and 2017 only amounted to 45 ad­di­tional Con­necti­cut res­i­dents at­tend­ing UMaine. And the 151 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents from Con­necti­cut at the school rep­re­sented just 1.6 per­cent of the UMaine to­tal un­der­grad­u­ate en­roll­ment of 9,279, school of­fi­cials said.

The ad­mis­sions class of 2018 added 131 first-year Con­necti­cut stu­dents, which is just 1.3 per­cent of the school’s to­tal un­der­grad­u­ate en­roll­ment this year.

The ad­mis­sion cy­cle com­pleted in the spring of 2018 had 1,148 ap­pli­cants from Con­necti­cut, and 983 stu­dents were ac­cepted and 131 en­rolled, ac­cord­ing to Mar­garet Na­gle, a univer­sity spokes­woman. Of the to­tal num­ber of Con­necti­cut res­i­dents en­rolled at UMaine, 54 are Flag­ship pro­gram mem­bers, down from 68 the year be­fore.

Con­necti­cut stu­dents aren’t UMaine’s only tar­gets. The school in­cludes col­lege­bound stu­dents from Mass­a­chu­setts, New Jersey, Illi­nois and Cal­i­for­nia in the Flag­ship Match pro­gram.

If you think of­fi­cials at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut are wor­ried about the Univer­sity of Maine try­ing to at­tract high school grad­u­ates from the Nut­meg State to Orono, you would be wrong.

Stephanie Reitz, a UConn spokes­woman, said the Univer­sity of Maine isn’t among its pri­mary com­peti­tors for ap­pli­cants. Reitz pro­vided the New Haven Reg­is­ter with a list of 20 schools that UConn con­sid­ers is pri­mary com­peti­tors for ap­pli­cants and it in­cludes such pres­ti­gious schools as Yale, Cor­nell and Rens­se­laer Polytech­nic In­sti­tute.

“UConn con­tin­ues to re­ceive record num­bers of ap­pli­ca­tions from in-state high school stu­dents, who make up 80 per­cent of our un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent body,” Reitz said. “UConn and UMaine are very dif­fer­ent in their scope, cur­ricu­lum and other ways.”

In­ter­est­ingly enough, though, the list of schools UConn con­sid­ers as ri­vals for ap­pli­cants in­cludes the flag­ship pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties of Ver­mont, New Hamp­shire, Mass­a­chu­setts and Rhode Is­land.

Fur­ther­more, Reitz said, UConn hasn’t seen a de­cline in in-state ap­pli­ca­tions.

“In fact, they’ve been in­creas­ing,” she said. “And our sur­veys con­tinue to show that Maine isn’t a com­peti­tor for cross-ap­pli­cants (those who ap­ply to more than one school).”

Janet Rosier is a cer­ti­fied ed­u­ca­tion plan­ner with of­fices in Wood­bridge and West­port, who helps Con­necti­cut stu­dents with col­lege searches and ad­mis­sions ser­vices. Rosier said whether or not what UMaine is of­fer­ing with its Flag­ship pro­gram is worth­while for a col­lege­bound Con­necti­cut stu­dent to con­sider de­pends on an per­son’s cir­cum­stances.

“This may be a good deal, but it will re­ally come down to each in­di­vid­ual and they would have to care­fully com­pare the of­fers in to­tal­ity: The Maine Schol­ar­ship Match and if they also are awarded need based fi­nan­cial aid to see which is the best fi­nan­cial of­fer over­all,” Rosier said. “A high-achiev­ing Con­necti­cut stu­dent may very well pay less at UConn if they are of­fered merit money, and again count­ing any need­based fi­nan­cial aid. The good news is that none of these are bind­ing ad­mis­sions poli­cies, so stu­dents can ap­ply and then com­pare all of the of­fers and see which one makes the most fi­nan­cial and aca­demic sense for them.”

Rosier said the Flag­ship pro­gram is smart move for UMaine, but is not some­thing UConn needs to do.

“They don’t at­tract as many out-of-state stu­dents as UConn,” she said. “UConn has been get­ting a lit­tle more com­pet­i­tive to be ad­mit­ted to ev­ery year. They are also a larger univer­sity, of­fer more ma­jors and have a na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for aca­demics and ath­let­ics.”

If noth­ing else, UMaine’s Flag­ship Match pro­gram gives the school ex­po­sure to stu­dents who might not oth­er­wise con­sider it. That’s what hap­pened with Rachel Hy­att of Darien, who is a sopho­more at Maine study­ing math.

“I hadn’t heard about the school un­til my mom found out about the Flag­ship pro­gram,” Hy­att said. “My par­ents are happy that I’m able to go a lit­tle fur­ther away from home, but still have an af­ford­able price. And I’ve re­ally fallen in love with the school; the peo­ple here are so nice.”

Con­trib­uted photo

Bill­board ad­ver­tis­ing pur­chased by the Univer­sity of Maine looks to re­cruit Con­necti­cut stu­dents to ap­ply to the Orono-based school’s Flag­ship Match Pro­gram. The pro­gram al­lows Con­necti­cut stu­dents to at­tend the Univer­sity of Maine at the same price they would pay to go to the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut as an in-state stu­dent. The bill­board shown here was along In­ter­state 84 in West Hart­ford dur­ing the fall of 2017.

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