When the University of Southern Maine begins the fall 2021 semester, it will welcome its largest class of incoming students and one of its most geographically diverse and academically accomplished cohorts in its history.
Jared Cash, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at USM, said that as of the May 1 National Decision Day, a traditional milestone for higher education admissions nationwide, a university-record 1,305 students secured their place among the incoming class at USM, an increase of 23 percent over 2020 and 3 percent higher than the recent high set in 2018. The largest class of incoming students is likely to grow as USM historically attracts an additional 400 to 600 students from May 1 to August 15.
Cash said the surge in enrollment this year was driven by a dramatic increase in out-of-state students, up 39 percent over 2020 and 26 percent over the previous peak in 2018. The incoming class at USM includes students from 32 states and six countries.
The class also includes a significant increase in students who self-identify as racially and ethnically diverse — 18 percent more than in 2020. Approximately 41 percent of the new students — both first-year and transfer students — achieved a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in high school or at their previous college, and 16 percent achieved a perfect GPA of 4.0.
Cash said the increases in enrollment, geographic diversity and academic strength among incoming students are all the more notable given the challenges caused by the pandemic.
“In a year when higher education enrollment experienced historic disruption, USM provided innovative opportunities for prospective students and their families to engage with the university that were safe and responsive to their needs,” Cash said. “Our enrollment success this year signals that USM’s academic excellence, career-focused pathways and Portland Campus Development Project are resonating with students and families in a very competitive New England marketplace. I cannot wait to see what this highly accomplished class of students achieves when they begin their academic journey with us in the fall.”