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UMS universities to help students make the grade with free course offer

Only 44% of first-year Maine public university students who fail a course in their first semester return for the start of the next academic year.

ORONO, Maine — Marking the end of final exams for the Fall 2019 semester, the University of Maine System announced it will be offering a free college course to promising first-year students who failed a class during their first semester. 

The Make the Grade Student Success Initiative is a pilot project to provide students struggling to make the transition from high school to college with the resources and support they need to stay on track to success.

As UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy brings renewed attention to efforts at Maine’s universities to increase the percentage of students who return year-to-year, the Make the Grade Student Success Initiative is also part of the UMS Maine Values You student outreach campaign.

First-year University of Maine System students who failed a course in the Fall 2018 term were more than twice as likely to not return for the start of the next academic year when compared to the overall return rate for the Fall 2018 first-year cohort. Less than half -- only 44% -- of the first-year students who failed a course last fall were back on campus this September.

A UMS in-state student working toward college success with a free Make the Grade three credit-hour course will save an average of $780 in tuition costs.

“Maine students and their families need to know they are valued at our universities and that we are committed to their success,” Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System said. “A free course is not a remedy, but it sends the message to struggling students that the transition to college can be a challenge and they are not alone. Maine is counting on our university leaders, faculty, and staff to do even more to meet students where they are and with the support, they need to succeed.”

"When I first started at UMFK, I worked many hours at a part-time job and underestimated the time and effort needed for the program I attended,” David Bouley, a 2016 graduate of the University of Maine at Fort Kent with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and an Associates Degree in Forestry said. “After the first year of not excelling to my standards, I decided if this is what I want to do for my profession something needed to change. I set a goal academically and didn’t stop until I succeeded. The summer before my junior year, I had an internship offer from three employers to pick from.

“My academic advisor and professors stuck with me and I made it to graduation and a career in the Maine forestry industry. I am proud that our public universities are working so hard to help and offer the tools needed for a successful career after college.”

All seven campuses of the University of Maine System will be participating in the Make the Grade student success pilot initiative for Fall 2019 first-year students. 

Eligibility and requirements for participation will vary as the universities experiment with different approaches and leverage existing initiatives that are successfully meeting the specific needs of students. 

Campuses will be proactively reaching out to students who are eligible for a free course over and immediately following the holiday break.