FORT KENT, Maine — A winning streak that started at the University of Maine at Fort Kent seven years ago shows no signs of ceasing, as the college once again secured a prestigious accolade from the Princeton Review.
University officials declared themselves in “seventh heaven” Friday after they learned that UMFK was ranked as a “Best Northeastern College” by the publication. The honor marks the seventh-consecutive year UMFK has been designated among the top schools in the 11-state northeastern region.
The Fort Kent university is one of 220 outstanding colleges and universities that the publication recommends to college applicants in its 2012 print and online editions. The colleges and universities selected are located in eleven states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
This is the second time UMFK has been honored under the tenure of current President Wilson Hess. The distinction is made after staffers at the publication go through hundreds of institutions in each region of the country and primarily select for their list facilities that feature excellent academic programs.
They also take into account institutional data they collect directly from the schools, the opinions of staff and reports from students attending the schools about their campus experiences on student surveys for the project.
Hess said the college has always been aware that it has a dedicated and professional faculty and staff and an engaged student body. The recognition from the publication just “serves to showcase” that reality.
He pointed out that the publication generates student feedback through an 80-question survey designed for the project. The recognition is notable because the students, who are UMFK’s “customers,” according to Hess, have been pleased enough over the past seven years to garner the college the ranking.
“It reflects well on everyone on the campus when our students express such a high degree of satisfaction with their experience here at UMFK,” said Hess.
The survey asks students to rate their schools in several categories, from the accessibility of their professors to the quality of the campus food. It also asks questions about themselves, their fellow students and campus life.
Students at UMFK have continually pointed out that the 133-year-old campus has very reasonable tuition and with just 1,072 students enrolled, the campus feels like a large family where most students know one another. A full-time student living off campus will pay $8,985 in tuition and fees for the coming academic year, while a full-time student living in a residence hall and partaking in a meal plan will pay $16,385 for the coming academic year.
The college has long been lauded for the strength of its nursing and business studies majors. UMFK’s nursing program is one of the toughest in the state. Despite that, the pass rate is very high. In the fall of 2010, 271 students were enrolled at UMFK to pursue their bachelor of science in nursing.
Students also have lauded the small class sizes, which have allowed them to develop closer relationships with faculty members and their classmates. Each year, students also have credited the college for its beautiful and engaging campus, which is in close proximity to the rich forests and waterways of the St. John Valley. This allows students majoring in areas such as forestry, biology, botany and ecology to have “outdoor classrooms” just a short walk from the campus.
Hess said Friday that the results of the surveys have become a tool for the university to use to see areas where they are succeeding and to allow them to make improvements. Although they have made the list for the past seven years, he said that UMFK faculty and staff never take that success for granted and are always striving to do better.
In May, UMFK became the only college or university in the state to offer a degree program in Emergency Management-Homeland Security. The field is experiencing strong job growth throughout the nation and is projected to remain a leading career opportunity for the foreseeable future. The degree program caters to students interested in orienting a career in public service and public safety administration and is intended for those who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement, either as a first responder, or a supporter-resource professional.
The Princeton Review ( www.PrincetonReview.com) is a New York-based company known for its test preparation, college admission and other educational services.