Update: Is ‘Flagship Match’ An Admissions Success for the University of Maine?
The University of Maine has completed the second year of a student recruitment program called Flagship Match. Developed to increase interest, applications and enrollment from the neighboring New England states, among others that have flagships with exceptionally competitive admissions, Flagship Match has achieved some successes in attracting new freshmen.
Admitted applicants from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont may 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, if they qualify for Tier One status under Flagship Match. Students who are accepted early in the admissions cycle are allowed to provide updated academic information for scholarship increase consideration until March 1, according to the university. Accepted student who do not meet Tier One criteria but are still admitted, quality for a smaller award of $9,000.
Has Flagship Match been successful on the main campus at the University of Maine from an admissions perspective?
- The number of applicants rose from around 10,100 for the class that entered in 2015, the year before Flagship Match, to 12,900 in the first year of the program. But even with the expansion of the marketing effort to recruit in California and Illinois, the number rose by less than 500 for the next year. The initial marketing appears to have been more targeted at students in the neighboring New England states.
- The admissions office was able to fill their class with little “summer melt,” with only 16 applicants offered admission off the wait list during the first cycle for Flagship Match. The following year they admitted no one off the wait list. A happier summer for the admissions office gives them more time to prepare for the next admissions cycle, not to mention more accolades within the university community.
- 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 following year. The class that arrived in the fall of 2017 had fewer than 2,300 full-time students. But given that the university admitted no one off the wait list, a smaller class might have been a desired outcome.
- A fifth of the students who were admitted to the class that entered this past fall decided to come, the same yield as the university got the year before Flagship Match. To be fair, this might be dependent on the dates that other schools make their decisions. While the University of Maine might offer admission within four to six weeks after receiving all credentials, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, among other schools, might make an applicant wait longer for a decision.
- The percentage of non-resident students in the first-year class rose from 35 to 43 percent the following year. This fall, nearly half of the freshman class (48 percent) came from outside Maine. If this resulted in more market penetration within New England, it’s a success.
- The university launched a Flagship Careers Internship Program to enhance the student experience, make graduates more ready to work or continue their education, and consider launching life after college in Maine. There is also an Engaged Black Bear program to encourage students to become more involved in campus life and leadership that awards digital badges for student accomplishments. It’s always good to have more resources to implement and refine good ideas.
- The more revenues received from non-residents, the more resources available to subsidize costs for residents. The resident scholarship programs are also quite aggressive. The university estimates a Total Cost of Attendance of $25,100 for resident students, among the lowest for a flagship state school, before scholarships are considered.
Has Flagship Match helped to attract better students to the University of Maine?
- 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 range for the middle 50 percent of the class that will arrive this fall went up from 1050 to 1250. The good news appears to be that the non-resident students who scored in the middle or better qualified for lower tuition. But it is fair to ask if this was because more students had taken the New SAT, which tended to yield higher scores.
- The university still lost a quarter of its freshman class, not impressive for any college, let alone a flagship state school. Targeted marketing by academic interests, especially for students who are interested in agriculture or the marine-related programs, and better academic advising might be necessary to keep more students on campus. In addition, student-faculty ratio on the main campus has stayed the same (16 to one, low for a state school). It’s quite possible that resources have been spread more thinly over a larger first-year class. This is fixable as the university attracts more non-residents who will pay more tuition.
Flagship Match and its companion efforts towards internships and student engagement are good ideas, especially to attract more students from Connecticut and Massachusetts, the more populous New England states, and compete with the flagships in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont to get them. The University of Maine’s alumni base in the Boston area as well as in Maine is large enough to help a committed New Englander, or a willing transplant from California, Illinois, or New Jersey, to move on to life after college.
Need help in comparing costs and benefits of different colleges? Contact me at email@example.com or call me at 609-406-0062.