By Meagan Winker, Staff Reporter

UMF staff at a meeting

Lori Soucie and Work Study Student, Rico Gortmans (Photo by Chelsea Lear-Ward)

   With the season of Accepted Students Days arriving on campus, work study students in Franklin Hall at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) find themselves trying to convince accepted high school seniors to attend the University through peer-to-peer conversations.

   Ashley Ferrence, a sophomore at UMF, has one of these work-study positions where she answers questions and presents the benefits of attending UMF to high school seniors during UMF’s specified Accepted Students Days. “I can relate. I was in their position before,” Ferrence said.

   After accepted students complete a tour of the campus with a student tour guide and sit in on a class in their major, the group arrives at the Center for Student Development (CSD). It is there that Ferrence and other students with similar work-study positions meet with the group of prospective seniors and present helpful information that will help them decide if UMF is the right college choice. UMF students, rather than University faculty or staff, lead these group sessions because it makes the atmosphere easier for the accepted students. “It’s not intimidating because we’re all students,” said Ferrence.

   Lori Soucie, the Program Coordinator at UMF and a staff member at the CSD, agreed. “We think high school students really want to have those conversations with college students, which don’t involve faculty or staff. We feel like they may be able to feel more comfortable asking questions about what it’s like to live on campus,” said Soucie. She also pointed out, “ I can’t really answer those questions because I don’t live on campus.”

   These conversations with UMF students are unique but also vital to student enrollment since not every University in the Maine system holds Accepted Students Days, let alone these exclusive conversations. “If we can get them on campus for a day, and they can see how friendly and nice we are, and what great programs we have, then they’re very likely to come in the Fall,” said Soucie.

   As part of the presentation, the student workers will highlight online resources available to the accepted seniors. Ferrence said she talked to a group about the New Student tab on MyCampus. Soucie described the tab as, “including everything an incoming student would need to know in one handy location.”

   Once the required key details have been touched upon, Ferrence opens up the talk for questions. “I told them ‘I’m not talking until you guys say something,’” said Ferrence, concerning a talk she recently hosted. The idea is that making the seniors talk first will encourage them to ask the questions rather than stay silent and miss the opportunity to learn about UMF as a real prospect. “They shouldn’t be afraid to ask about stuff they really want answers to,” said Ferrence.

   There are different groups for each major. “Each major has about three or four dates,” said Soucie. “Larger programs likes Elementary Ed would have more dates. So we try to get students to come on the day of their major if they can.”

   Ferrence has talked with a group of Undecided majors already, but said she was excited for the psychology majors group. Being a Psychology major herself, she feels as though she has great information to share with them about classes and professors.

   Each peer-to-peer conversation takes about 45 minutes to an hour and takes place, “nearly every day in February, March, and April,” said Soucie. “Typically the groups are smaller in February and they get larger as we go into the Spring, so April is very, very busy.”

   The only requirement high school seniors need to attend one of these meetings is to be accepted into UMF, according to Soucie.