On Wednesday, March 4 the Lincoln Academy Guidance Department hosted a College Night for LA sophomores and juniors and their families. Representatives from Colby College, University of Maine at Orono, St. Joseph’s College, University College at Rockland campus, and Southern Maine Community College presented about their campuses, class sizes, various college majors, testing and other admissions requirements, and college costs.
All the colleges represented are in Maine, but they represent great diversity in terms of selectivity, campus size, curriculum, and cost. With tuition at $61,000 per year, Colby College is the most selective, and also the most expensive of the colleges on the panel. To help students cover the costs of attending a small private college, Colby offers a large amount of financial aid. “80% of our student receive some financial assistance to attend Colby. This is given based on need, and it is 100% grant aid, not loans,” said Colby Assistant Admissions Director Sam Pelletier.
On the other end of the cost spectrum, Southern Maine Community College charges about $3500 for annual tuition (not including room and board), and while far less expensive, SMCC still offers substantial financial aid for students for whom this tuition cost is a hardship.
College programs also vary tremendously. University of Maine at Orono offers the full range of undergraduate and graduate level courses, including degrees in nursing and engineering, while the other campuses represented focus on mostly undergraduate and vocational education. Some of the campuses, including SMCC and University College at Rockland, have a large percentage of nontraditional students, while Colby and St. Joseph’s serve mostly traditionally-aged students between 18 and 22 years old.
Selectivity is also a factor in college admissions. Colby has a 25% admission rate, with expectations that students have a high GPA and SAT scores of 600 or more in each subject area. University College at Rockland, on the other hand, is open to everyone. “We can get you into college classes even if you show up September 1 without having filled out an application, said Deborah Meehan, of University College at Rockland. “We are a great place for procrastinators, as well as for people who have had a change in their life and want to come home, but don’t want to stop going to college.”
The goal of the evening was to provide information about the college application and admissions process at different types of college institutions and to demonstrate that there is a fit for every kind of student right here in Maine. Despite the differences in their campuses, the panel members offered some pieces of universal advice, whether students are looking for a four-year private college or a two-year associates degree. They encourage students to challenge themselves in high school, and to visit lots of campuses before deciding where to apply. Once students begin the application process panelists urged every student to meet deadlines, write a compelling essay, and fill out the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible (starting January 1 of a student’s senior year).
“This is the first event offered by the Guidance Office as families embark on the college process, which can be daunting. We hope families will start thinking about the steps ahead: visiting colleges, taking the tests that are required, and talking about what they are looking for in a post-secondary education,” said Sarah Wills-Viega, Lincoln Academy’s Director of Counseling and Studies. “Next steps include meeting individually with juniors, and Senior Nights in the fall: in September we have a Senior College Night, and in December a Financial Aid Night. The Guidance Office is here to help!”