University of Southern Maine Visit

Top 5 Tidbits: 

-Interested in Geography? USM is home to over 400,000 maps, and the 2nd largest collection of globes in the world, wow!

-Over 80% of students receive some kind of aid

-If you are interested in merit aid, remember to fill out the FAFSA! This year it is available in October! Every public university requires your information to qualify for merit scholarships in addition to need-based aid

-USM Business School has AACSB accreditation— the mark of quality distinction most widely sought after by business schools -- less than 5% worldwide have earned the achievement.

-USM offers an unusual but highly useful Cyber Security major

Visit Overview: 

My visit to the University of Southern Maine- Portland on a picturesque day in August was met with friendliness and an impressive array of options for this atypical Maine urban campus. Despite growing up in Maine, I knew relatively little about the campus before my visit. I drove by the Gorham campus the previous week and caught sight of the sprawling campus, residential halls, and sports fields. Even without students on campus in August, there was certainly more to it than initially met the eye. USM is primarily a commuter campus, and only 1,200 of the approximate 8,000 students live on campus (in Gorham). One of our tour guides was especially helpful in pointing out that USM’s 5-year plan includes adding residences to the Portland campus, so things will be changing soon enough. For now, residential students take a bus (they try to make it sound AS convenient as possible!) to get to classes in Portland, which seems to be a necessity at least after your first year. Students enjoy significant flexibility in crafting their majors, enjoy smaller class sizes than the national average, 22 Division 3 athletic teams and over 100 student clubs. The most popular majors are nursing and business administration. There are cooperatives with local companies and organizations to offer students internships and work experience before they need to seek employment after graduation.  

The tour guide was honest about the need for students to really plan out their time, that many students found they were on a 5-year plan given the course credit structure, and pointed out many signs around campus urging students to take 15 credits a semester to stay on track. 

I spent an additional 20 minutes after the tour talking with the tour guide who was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Portland and considers Maine to be “home.” She was eloquent and thoughtful and told me she chose USM because of the flexibility in creating her own major around Media Studies because she hopes to become a documentary filmmaker. She also chairs a club to bring together students from opposite political viewpoints to engage in discussion. I was especially interested to hear how that was going, and how you could characterize the political atmosphere on campus. No campus is isolated from the social turmoil throughout the US, but I was glad to hear that students would like to first make strides toward dialogue rather than fire walling one another, even if those conversations are extremely difficult.

For a few photos of the visit, please go here.