FARMINGTON – Small class sizes, interested professors, and real life learning opportunities: Impossible to find at a reasonable price in Maine?

Wrong.

The University of Maine at Farmington was ranked as one of America’s Best Colleges by the U.S. News and World Report for the 10th year in a row this week. And UMF strives to give students the coveted perks of elite liberal arts schools, without the hefty price tag, according a prepared statement by UMF President Theodora Kalikow.

UMF was ranked 19 in a list of the top comprehensive colleges in the Northeast, and was ranked second in the list of public comprehensive colleges in the same region. In addition, with an in-state tuition of just over $6,000 per year and an out-of-state tuition of under $14,000, it was one of the most affordable colleges on the list.

“Ten years of recognition is a wonderful achievement for UMF. It highlights that what we practice here on a daily basis – commitment to an affordable, high quality liberal arts education where every student can be successful – is working,” Kalikow said, in a statement.

“New Englanders have a jewel right here in Farmington,” she added.

As a comprehensive college, UMF students have a wider array of major options than students at liberal arts colleges. To qualify as a comprehensive college, a school must offer liberal arts majors and other degree programs, like bachelor of science degrees or professional programs.

UMF was recently featured in “Student Success in College: Creating Conditions that Matter,” according to a UMF statement.

The college was highlighted as one of 20 model schools, and described as an “especially instructive example of a school that is committed to maximizing student potential so that students leave college different in desired ways.”

Maine schools showed up all over the U.S. News rankings list.

Bowdoin, Colby and Bates colleges all came out in the top 25 of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. Brunswick’s Bowdoin College fell from No. 6 to No. 7 this year. Colby, in Waterville, held its 2006 ranking as No. 20.

Bates, in Lewiston, fell to 23 from its 2006 rank of 21.

All three colleges were listed as “most selective” colleges. Bates was described as a small college in an urban setting, with a student population of 1,730.

Among those ranked below Bates, Bowdoin and Colby were Trinity College, 30, in Connecticut; Mount Holyoke, 24, College of the Holy Cross, 32, and Wheaton, 61, all in Massachusetts; and Bard College, 36, in New York. The top six, in order, were Williams and Amherst in Massachusetts, Swarthmore in Pennsylvania; Wellesley in Massachusetts; Middlebury in Vermont and Carleton in Minnesota.

Bates, Bowdoin and Colby have been in the top 25 for U.S. News and World Report for 15 years, Bill Hiss, vice president of external affairs for Bates, said Friday.

Moving up or down one or two spots isn’t important, he said. What is important is that the listings help high schoolers create lists of colleges to look at.

In the 1980s, Hiss served on an advisory committee of deans for U.S. News and World Report looking at their formula to come up with the top colleges. Unlike other college rankings, U.S. News and World Report’s criteria is public. Anyone can see how they came up with the picks. “I give them points for that,” Hiss said.

Bates is at the top of the list because of its academic reputation, admission competitiveness and graduation rates. One reason Bates is not higher, Hiss said, is because it has a smaller endowment and less financial capability than other colleges.

Overall, the ranking “is good news for all three colleges in Maine,” Hiss said. “Bates now has enough applications from abroad to fill each class twice over, and have no American citizens. We have applications from every state.” Something, Hiss said, that can be partially attributed to this kind of guidebook information.



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