Is Flagship Match An Admissions Success for the University of Maine?
The last college admissions cycle was the first year for a new student recruitment program at the University of Maine called Flagship Match. In order to qualify for Flagship Match Tier One, students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and SAT scores of 1,050 or higher. If an accepted student does not meet Tier One criteria but is still admitted to UMaine, s/he qualifies for a smaller award of $9,000.
Admitted applicants from California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and New Jersey will pay the same tuition and fees to attend the University of Maine this fall as they would pay to enroll at the flagship campus in their home state.
New Jersey residents, for example, would pay the same as they would pay to attend the School of Arts and Sciences, the least expensive undergraduate division of Rutgers-New Brunswick. They also pay around $15,000 less than students who come from states that are not covered under Flagship Match. It is quite likely that a student who falls in the middle of the admit pool for Rutgers as well as Penn State-University Park or UConn, would qualify for admission under Tier One.
Was Flagship Match successful on the main campus at the University of Maine from an admissions perspective? In some ways it was.
- The size of the first-year class grew by 435 students from just over 2,000 in 2015-16 to over 2,400 for the current academic year.
- The percentage of non-resident students in the first-year class rose from 35 to 43 percent.
- The number of non-resident students grew by slightly less than the size of the first-year class, from fewer than 750 students in 2015-16 to nearly 1,150 this year, with nearly 80 percent coming from Flagship Match states.
- The admissions office was able to fill their class with little “summer melt,” with only 16 applicants offered admission off the wait list, according to the university.
These successes brought in more revenues through non-resident tuition as well as a larger first-year class. They also made it possible to University of Maine system to freeze in-state tuition for the sixth straight year. These are around $8,400 for the main campus, among the lowest in country—and one reason why the number of Maine residents who chose the flagship also increased (by three percent) in this year’s first-year class.
The university is now intends to launch a Flagship Internship Program to enhance the student experience and make graduates more ready to work or continue their education.
It is easy to see that Flagship Match increased the appeal of the University of Maine to students from the targeted states. But did it help to attract better students to the main campus? It’s hard to tell.
- For those who consider standardized test scores to be a measure of the quality of a class, the SAT range for the middle 50 percent of the 2016-17 class actually went down from 960 to 1210 (out of a possible 1600), including students admitted through Flagship Match, to between 950 and 1190.
- The freshman retention rates for the 2016-17 entering class, the first under Flagship Match, and the 2015-16 entering class were the same: 76 percent. Each class lost nearly a quarter of its students, not impressive for any college, let alone a flagship state school.
- The upside is that the university has a larger sophomore class this year than it did the year before, and will likely graduate more students three years later.
The student-faculty ratio on the main campus stayed the same (16 to one, low for a state school); it’s quite possible that resources were not spread more thinly over a first-year class. However, the retention rate shows that targeted marketing by academic interests, especially for students who are interested in agriculture or the marine-related programs, and better academic advising are needed to keep the non-resident students on campus.
On the other hand, its possible that many of them left because they were homesick. It’s a long trip to Orono, Maine from Connecticut, New Jersey or Pennsylvania and especially California.
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