Is Flagship Match Still Working for the University of Maine?
The University of Maine has been through four years of a student recruitment program called Flagship Match. It was developed to target students from states that have flagships with exceptionally competitive admissions. Qualified students come from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. They pay the same tuition and fees to attend the University of Maine as they would pay to enroll at the flagship campus in their home state.
Has Flagship Match been successful on the main campus at the University of Maine from an admissions perspective?
- Completed applications rose and kept rising from just over 13,000 in 2017 to nearly 15,000 for the class that entered last fall.
- However, the size of the freshman class shrunk from 2,300 students to fewer than 2,100.
- The university has attracted essentially the same student (B/B+, 1150 Mean SAT/1250 Mean SAT for Engineering) as it got before Flagship Match.
- But the percentage of freshmen from other states dropped from 48 percent in 2017 to 36 percent in 2020.
- Among those who chose to come to the University of Maine last fall, 77 percent identified it as their first-choice school.
- The largest numbers of applicants who turned down an acceptance from the University of Maine opted to attend one of the other flagship state universities in New England or the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
- Husson University, which is located in Maine and Merrimack College were the private schools chosen most often over the University of Maine.
- The transfer population has grown by more than 70 students since Flagship Match began, and each undergraduate college has gained transfer students since then.
But are more students earning a degree?
- Freshmen retention (between 75 and 78 percent) and graduation rates (around 40 percent) have been about the same. The College of Engineering is the exception. It graduates over half of a freshman class.
- Within the individual colleges of the University of Maine, only the College of Engineering gained in first-year enrollment. It had 403 freshmen in 2017. By 2020 it had 470.
My impressions based on this information:
- The appeal of Flagship Match has not gotten beyond the New England states.
- Something is not working in the academic advising model if freshmen are leaving at the same rates as they were before Flagship Match.
- There needs to be more articulation agreements between the University of Maine and community colleges, especially in Flagship Match states where in-state transfers are more difficult to accomplish.
The University of Maine, in my opinion, has no choice but to continue Flagship Match.
The State of Maine had 284,000 residents ages 19 and under in 2018, according to state government data. By 2028 this age group is expected to decline to drop to 250,000. If your state is losing students, but wants to support a state university, the university administration must get those students from elsewhere. The community college relations, marketing and advising issues are fixable
Should non-residents who come from the targeted states consider the University of Maine?
If the dream school is the flagship university in your home state and you do not get in, the University of Maine becomes a viable alternative. If you want a shot at an honors college, it’s easier to earn it at the University of Maine than it would be at the flagship in any Flagship Match state.
But there is another consideration, regardless of home state: financial need.
It’s nice to get a discount like Flagship Match. But suppose you need more money? If you qualify for a grant to help defray costs at a state school in your home state, it will be less expensive to stay home. New Jersey, my home state, has one of the more generous tuition aid programs to help in-state students stay home.
On paper, the University of Maine offers many things that parents like.
With fewer than 8,000 full-time undergraduates, it’s the smallest flagship state university in the country. I’ve been to regional public colleges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that have more students. If someone wants have a small-school alternative to Michigan State, Rutgers, Penn State, or a big regional public college, it is a sensible option.
The selection of academic programs is impressive. There is a student-faculty ratio of 16 to 1, very low for a flagship. Teachers are more likely to be full-time in a more isolated college town like Orono, Maine. There’s over 9,000 Black Bears in the Boston area registered in LinkedIn.com, a sizable number to organize for networking events or a hockey watch party. The University of Maine also has a Flagship Careers Internship Program to enhance the student experience beyond the classroom.
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