Web site touts Maine colleges

Posted Dec. 11, 2009, at 8:38 p.m.

A Portland-based organization with a membership composed of Maine’s 35 public and private college and university presidents is hoping a new initiative will draw attention to Maine schools while helping address the state’s relatively low degree attainment rate.

The Maine Higher Education Council announced Friday a new Web site, www.collegeinMaine.org, which has information for students considering their college choices with the ultimate goal that students choose a Maine institution.

“Nearly every good job today requires some kind of postsecondary education or training,” Maine Maritime Academy President and Maine Higher Education Council Chairman Len Tyler said in a statement. “Higher education is critically important for the people and future of our state, and there is a place for everyone who is in-terested in attending college in Maine.”

The Maine Higher Education Council plans to send each high school in Maine copies of a color poster that has information about the new Web site. The council also has started a presence on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

The council is a nonprofit organization with a membership that includes the Maine Community College System, the University of Maine System campuses, private institutions such as Husson University in Bangor and Colby College in Waterville, and schools with a specific focus such as the Maine College of Art in Portland.

The organization’s goals include strengthening higher education in Maine and contributing to a state goal of increasing the college degree attainment rate to meet or surpass the New England average by 2020.

Current U.S. Census data estimates indicate 39 percent of Mainers ages 25-64 have at least an associate degree, compared with 46 percent in New England, according to an August 2009 report from the Maine Compact for Higher Education.

The Maine college Web site, which launched Wednesday, features a map of Maine with stars indicating the location of 35 Maine institutions. Visitors to the Web site who point their computer mouse over each star will get information about the college’s enrollment. A click on a star will take visitors to that institution’s Web site.

Other areas of the site include recommended high school preparatory courses, advice on applying for financial aid and loans, and a chart that compares each college’s degree offerings, enrollment numbers, in- and out-of-state 2009 tuition costs and room-and-board offerings.

The site touts Maine’s 35 “unique and diverse” higher-education institutions as a reason for staying in the state.

“You can find the college that is right for you — we have 14 public universities and community colleges, world-class private liberal arts colleges, art schools, environmental colleges, law schools and seminaries,” the Web site states.

Joyce B. Hedlund, president of Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, said the site should become a strong recruiting tool.

“I think the more Web-based links to our colleges, where people can see the whole picture and then pick and choose, the better it is for all of us,” she said. “Sometimes it’s scary to see your numbers out there and compare them to other schools, but [the schools] are all different and all have different offerings.”

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