MACHIAS – Bucking the two-year nationwide trend of declining college enrollment, the University of Maine at Machias is reporting a strong increase in new student applications and confirmations for the fall of 2015.
“While still early in the admissions cycle, our numbers are strong and increasing over last year,” said Dr. Melvin Adams, Dean of Students and Admissions. “UMM had a 43 percent increase in applications compared to the fall of 2014, a 37 percent increase in admitted students, and a 45 percent increase in confirmed students. Our growth is in first-year students from Maine.”
Adams said these are strong early numbers. “We are confident that Maine students are realizing that UMM offers a high quality education that is linked to our surrounding environment where students are out in the community, oceans, forests, rivers, and streams, learning hands-on knowledge in their first semester,” Adams said. “It is this academic curriculum coupled with hands-on, experiential learning, strong student support services that prepares UMM graduates for their future careers.”
Adams said applications are steadily coming in for the fall of 2015. “With the addition of the new Conservation Law Enforcement curriculum this fall, we expect even more applicants. The program fits perfectly into our environmental focus – using our environment as a classroom.”
Getting a college degree in today’s economy is more important than ever, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center report. It showed that the earnings disparity between high school and college grads has widened for successive generations of workers ages 25 to 32. The median 2013 salary for young millennials with at least a bachelor’s degree was $45,500, while their peers who only went to high school were making just $28,000 a year. A two-year degree increased their earnings, but only to $30,000.
Last fall, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that nationwide college enrollment had declined – by half a million students – over the past two years.
UMM President Joyce Hedlund said that part of UMM’s success is because the faculty continue to offer courses and programs that students want to take. “We are offering courses and instruction that they will use the rest of their lives and, as important, in their future careers,” she said.
Adams attributes the increase at UMM to a heightened awareness of the value at UMM, academic rigor, increased student support, and focus on the student. He said the Admissions’ Department at UMM has increased its number of high school visits across Maine by 78 percent since last fall.
“We also upped our other marketing efforts, broadened our outreach to students and their families, and told our UMM story- rigors academics, engaged learning, student support, affordability, and faculty who know you by your first name.” Admissions, which has traditionally reached out to high school seniors, has broadened its outreach to sophomores and juniors.
The services offered by Christy Alley, UMM’s Academic Advising Coordinator, have also played a key role, Adams said. “We are first sending all our new students to Christy and that seems to be working quite well.”
All seven UMaine campuses have academic advisors but Alley’s role at UMM is to specifically work with first-year and transfer students to ensure that their transition to UMM is as smooth as possible. She is their bridge to success. She begins with placement and registration and then moves to academic advising.
As all students move on to sophomore standing at UMM, Alley transitions them to their faculty advisors to continue that partnership towards academic success and career goals.