Maine’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Maine’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Maine if you reward schools for making the best use of their limited resources? Academic Stewardship asks how effectively schools manage their financial and human resources to gain the influence that makes them academically excellent. Schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty achieve their full potential.

Colleges and universities in Maine deserve to be recognized when they do more with less. It’s impressive when a large wealthy school can spend money lavishly on expensive buildings and programs. But it’s even more impressive when a small school with limited means is able to train and inspire students that the larger wealthier schools tend to ignore.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities reported in late 2021 that almost 75 percent of higher-education professionals at US colleges and universities felt financial constraints prevented their schools from effectively attracting students. Distracted by the size and amenities of larger schools, prospective students tended especially to be overawed by the big research universities.

Maine’s smaller colleges, especially its liberal arts colleges, need effective ways of communicating their value to a world that celebrates “bigger is better” and “you need the best.” Unfortunately, most college ranking companies, such as U.S. News & World Report, define “best” in a way that devalues schools with smaller budgets and fewer students even when these schools do remarkable work in advancing their students’ education. By and large, college rankings penalize schools that serve underserved populations.

Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, who for years now has criticized conventional college rankings for misrepresenting what’s good and valuable in education, we decided to construct a new ranking metric that highlights those schools that do more with less. That metric—called the Academic Stewardship metric—takes away both the size and the wealth advantage of schools, and focuses instead on how well schools use the resources available to them to advance the education of their students.

How We Measure the Academic Stewardship of Maine’s Colleges and Universities

Maine's Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship
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As a metric, Academic Stewardship is defined by a precise mathematical formula, which can be found in our Academic Stewardship white paper. Measuring the Academic Stewardship of Maine’s colleges requires measuring two forms of stewardship: 1) Stewardship of financial resources (using the money they have responsibility without waste) and 2) Stewardship of human resources (doing their best to help students, faculty, and administration to flourish). Together, these two types of stewardship form what we call  Academic Stewardship. If you want to learn more about the factors involved in Academic Stewardship, click the more button below.

  1. Stewardship of financial resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of financial resources, we factored in its undergraduate size, budget, endowments and reserves, as well as tuition and fees. All these data are available from the National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. In addition, we factored in a school’s financial responsibility as gauged by the Federal Student Aid Office at the US Department of Education through its financial responsibility composite scores.
  2. Stewardship of human resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of human resources, we used our InfluenceRanking engine to track the influence of the school’s faculty and alumni but also to control for size of the undergraduate student body. We’ve found that measuring a school’s influence based on the contributions of faculty and alumni make in their fields of study but then also controlling for size of the undergraduate population is the single best indicator of academic excellence. We call this Concentrated Influence. Schools that rank highly in Concentrated Influence are schools that, given their available human resources, invest heavily in their students and faculty, and the results are demonstrable.
    • We measure the influence of colleges and universities based on the publications and citations of the schools’ faculty and alumni who are teaching in and working in areas related to their degrees. To do this, we take publicly available databases, such as Semantic Scholar, Crossref, and Wikipedia and use these to measure the influence of academics in their disciplines. Having measured the influence of persons, we then identify the schools that they’re affiliated with, adding up the influence scores of the faculty and alumni to measure the influence of the schools and their disciplinary programs. Finally, we control these influence scores by size of undergraduate student body so that schools do not score high in influence simply because of a size advantage. We lay out these methodological considerations on our methodology page.
  3. Academic Stewardship: Having measured a school’s stewardship of financial and human resources in the two previous points, we now divide the second measure by the first to define the Academic Stewardship metric. This metric spotlights smaller schools, with fewer financial resources and people, that invest wisely and do proportionately better in building influence than large wealthy schools. Many of these smaller, less wealthy schools are incentivized to make better use of their resources but would never get recognized in conventional school rankings, which directly or indirectly put a premium on the wealth of schools.

Academic Stewardship as so defined is connected to keeping tuition and other costs down, but it should not be confused with affordability or frugality. The schools that this metric ranks as exemplary academic stewards tend to be all over the map when it comes to tuition and other costs. At issue is the influence of schools given the financial and human resources they have on hand. If a school is going to charge more for tuition, then that needs to be reflected in the school having proportionately greater influence.

Why Academic Stewardship Matters to Students and Their Families

The benefits of attending a school with strong academic stewardship include:

  • A clear reason for why students are at the school in the first place. Without the distraction of amenities and luxuries, these schools are at once unpretentious but also passionately committed to their educational mission. The schools in this ranking are financially efficient and academically rigorous. By avoiding frills, these schools take the most direct path to accomplishing their mission of educating students.
  • Valuing character over prestige and self-indulgence. A school that’s a good steward of its resources doesn’t instill shame in its students over what they are missing (such as elite cuisine) but rather pride in what they have and making the most of it. These schools exhibit a culture of good stewardship, which tends to build good character in the students that attend these schools.
  • Avoiding the spoiled-student syndrome. It’s easy to think that offering students endless options and opportunities will enrich their time at school in every way. But spoiling people—whether in business, sports, or academics—has the opposite effect, causing people to take their advantages for granted and in the end achieving less than they might otherwise, a point well-documented in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. Schools exhibiting academic stewardship avoid this pitfall.
  • The best schools vs. the schools that help students to be their best. Students at schools demonstrating outstanding academic stewardship aren’t so much concerned about being at the “best” school, whatever that may mean, as about being at a school that helps them to be their best. These schools pay attention to their students, hoping that any glory goes to them rather than to the school. Small schools, and especially liberal arts colleges, help themselves by communicating this advantage to prospective students.
  • Emphasizing development over talent and achievement. Schools like Harvard and Stanford have their pick of academic talent, and their students have a long record of achievement even before they apply to such elite schools. But if a school doesn’t have the resources of a Harvard or Stanford, how does it build a great team of students? In that case, it must focus on student development. Colleges exemplifying academic stewardship emphasize student growth and development, ensuring that the schools are doing everything in their power to help students reach their full potential and thereby become their best selves.
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Maine’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Bowdoin College known for?

    Bowdoin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #3

    University of Southern Maine

    Portland , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/22

    What is University of Southern Maine known for?

    University of Southern Maine’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #4

    University of Maine

    Orono , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is University of Maine known for?

    University of Maine’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #5

    University of New England

    Biddeford , ME

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/24

    What is University of New England known for?

    University of New England ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    975/18

    What is University of Maine at Fort Kent known for?

    University of Maine at Fort Kent’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    3K

    What is University of Maine at Augusta known for?

    University of Maine at Augusta’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    What is Saint Joseph's College of Maine known for?

    Saint Joseph's College of Maine’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #10

    University of Maine at Farmington

    Farmington , ME

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    What is University of Maine at Farmington known for?

    University of Maine at Farmington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

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Maine’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Maine

At $9,970, Maine is right on target with the national average, making the state an affordable choice for those looking to receive an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The 16 public colleges and universities range in tuition from $4,000 to $14,000. The 10 private schools tend to cost more, ranging from $27,000 to $55,000, though the class sizes are often much smaller. The largest private university is the University of New England, with just under 6,000 students, and a tuition of $38,000.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

The University of Maine (UMaine), with just under 10,000 students, is the largest public school, with a tuition rate of $11,000. Based in Orono, the public research university offers degrees in fields like literature, earth sciences, and physics. Stephen King and Bernard Lown are among the influential alumni who attended this school. The cost for higher education in Maine varies, but the state offers loan forgiveness programs for many professions, including dentists, lawyers, educators, health professionals, and veterinarians. The Alfond Leaders program forgives up to $60,000 for residents working in eligible science, technology, engineering, and mathematics occupations.

The northernmost state in New England, Maine is known for its fishing, quaint coastal towns, and of course, lobster. Maine is also home to over 60 lighthouses. Students looking to earn their degree while living in a state that has both ocean beaches and lush forests can choose from 26 private and public higher education institutions.

Come see why Maine is an excellent option for earning your higher education degree and starting a career.


What are Maine’s Colleges & Universities?

Maine’s Best Overall