Students Responding Faster To Enrollment Opportunities

With 25,300 applications and counting, the University of Maine System’s pandemic pathway to postsecondary education is helping students, families overcome COVID-19 disruptions to the traditional college search process.

Final On Track for College Virtual Fair:  11 AM, Saturday, Apr 17

Orono, Maine — Students admitted to University of Maine System universities have been responding faster this spring to opportunities to enroll.  Deposits for first-year enrollment for the Fall of 2021 exceed the deposits collected at this point in the admissions cycle last year and the most recent four-year average.  With more than 25,000 applications received to date for first-time enrollment in the Fall of 2021, application activity at Maine’s public universities is less than 1% below last year’s pace despite COVID disruptions.

Maine’s public universities are planning on a return to a traditional college experience in the fall and have been working throughout the year to help students and families overcome Covid’s impact on the college search.  

Students from 48 states and 24 countries have confirmed their plans to enroll in the fall and early data suggests that valedictorians or salutatorians from at least 14 Maine counties will be among the new students.  More than half (52%) of the students who have deposited for enrollment at UMaine have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.  Ten-percent of the University of Southern Maine’s incoming class to date has attained a perfect 4.0 GPA in their high school careers.  

“Students and their success comes first at our universities,” said Chancellor Malloy. “Our plans for returning to normalcy this fall include a promise to do whatever it takes to make sure Maine students and their families have a chance to pursue their college dreams.”

With months to go before the start of fall classes it is too early to make predictions on enrollment levels and class sizes.  Financial aid and enrollment opportunities continue to be available at all the universities where advisors will be working throughout the spring and summer to serve students and families.  

Pandemic Pathway to College 

COVID-19 upended the traditional college search process and placed unprecedented demands on local educators and parents.  Early application activity at the University of Maine System universities was down more than 15% in the fall.  Responding to this trend, the University of Maine System led an engagement among its universities and the Finance Authority of Maine, the Maine Department of Education, and local education partners to develop an expedited, pandemic pathway to post-secondary education for Maine students.   

Elements of the pathway have included the following:

  • Expedited processing of applications and financial aid awards:  In October the Chancellor’s Working Group on Financial Aid reached the consensus agreement to start issuing financial aid awards by December 1, 2020, months ahead of traditional practices. 
  • UMPI issued its first aid offer in early November and processed 117 student aid packages prior to January 1, 2021 
  • UMaine began processing aid before Thanksgiving and sent nearly 3,000 financial aid offers to families by Dec. 31, 2020, two weeks before the first offer had been made in the prior admissions cycle.
  • USM sent over 1,800 aid offers out by the end of January this year, its first aid offer in the prior cycle went out in February.
  • On Track for College Campaign:  The University of Maine System is hosting a dozen virtual college fairs featuring existing college students, admissions and financial aid experts from all of its universities, and the Finance Authority of Maine.  Nearly 1,000 students, families, and school counselors have registered for the live, interactive events.  The final On Track for College event is at 11:00 AM, Saturday, April 17.
  • Campus commitments to responsiveness and safety:  Admissions offices throughout the University of Maine System met their high standards for providing responsive, supportive service to students, parents, and school counselors throughout the pandemic.  Admissions staff and student ambassadors were also able to provide limited opportunities for campus tours within safety practices.  See testimonials below.

To date the University of Maine System has received more than 25,300 applications for fall enrollment from first-year students, less than 1% below last year’s pace for total student application activity.  UMS universities have received 9,600 applications from Maine students seeking first-year enrollment in the fall, narrowing the gap in application from Maine residents by half.  Students can apply to more than one UMS university.

Incoming Student and Parents On COVID-19 Admissions Experience

“I visited the University of Maine at Farmington with my dad before the pandemic and knew instantly that it was the right university and the right place for me.  Covid has been hard on everyone.  The admissions office at UMF has been great, answering all my questions and providing a small group tour this winter so my mom could see the campus too.  I am getting vaccinated next week and am excited about being on campus in the fall under more normal circumstances.”

— May Kimber is from Wakefield, Rhode Island, where she races stock cars.  She is entering the University of Maine at Farmington in the Fall of 2021 and plans to be a World Languages Education Major. 

“We researched colleges with alpine ski programs across the nation to find the right opportunity for Paloma to pursue her passion for ski racing and learning.  We were really impressed with the University of Maine at Farmington but had to meet the coaches and explore the campus and community before we made a four-year commitment to a college 3,200 miles from home.  We were skeptical that we would get the experience we wanted from our college visit with all the challenges from Covid.

“The admissions office was able to provide us a private tour when we visited town and Coach Andrew Willihan answered all of Paloma’s questions and invited her to a ski race weekend to meet the current team and other prospects. Our visit reassured us that the academic program, the college atmosphere, and the community will give our daughter the care, comfort, and opportunities she needs at UMF.”

— Ted Shelton, Palo Alto, California

“Searching for a school during the past year has been extremely difficult and we are so impressed with the communication and the virtual information we have received from UMaine.  Having the chance to tour the campus recently and meet with Dean Humphrey and students and professors from the College of Engineering convinced my daughter she will be comfortable and feel at home at the University of Maine.  She is so excited for the fall.” 

— Heather Warner, Northbridge, Massachusetts