ORONO – For high school seniors, figuring out if college is a good fit for you while dealing with the pandemic can be tough. A new University of Maine initiative is making that process a little easier.
College visits, tours and fairs are a traditional part of the process that helps high school seniors decide what to do after graduation.
But thanks to COVID-19, those events are no longer an option, and it’s taking a toll.
The UMaine system is reporting a 13 percent drop in applications among Maine students compared to this time last year.
“There is one thing that a pandemic does not change, and that is the talent and the promise of Maine’s students,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.
That’s why the UMaine system is partnering with the Finance Authority of Maine, the Maine Department of Education and state high schools for a new campaign called “On Track for College,” connecting students and their families to higher education.
“Even though it is harder and we can’t approach the process as we traditionally would, the options are still out there and college dreams are still possible,” said Lisa Hallen, director of guidance at Waterville High School.
“We have a special obligation to do everything we can to make sure that our community, our state is doing as well as it possibly can in this environment,” said Dannel Malloy, chancellor of the University of Maine System.
Through a series of virtual events starting in February, the program will connect students with resources and people who can answer questions about what college life is like and how the application process works.
“They can establish one-to-one contact with a current college student, with an admissions person,” said Troy Wagstaff, a counselor at Orono High School.
The free events will also provide real-time answers about financial aid, tailored to each students’ needs.
“There are things that we can do to make sure that your dream of a university education is not thwarted by a temporary experience that we’re facing in our economy as a result of the COVID virus,” Malloy said.
There will be ten regional “On Track for College” events, starting in Aroostook County on Feb. 3. The events will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays every school week.
You can find the full “On Track for College” event schedule HERE.
New and prospective students can also find more information through the University of Maine System’s new students website.