Updated: Sep 25, 2019
I've certainly been asked--at least once per year of my college career--"Why did you chose UMF?" During class introductions at the start of courses, on campus surveys and evaluations, even on some job applications, I've been prompted to talk about what brought me to the University of Maine at Farmington--especially since I'm from Connecticut, and the 5-hour drive up into the mountains is a vacation of its own. To help answer this question for friends and family, too, who have inquired of my decision to move hundreds of miles from home, I've compiled a list of reasons why UMF was my top choice.
🏫 It had the program of my dreams.
U. Maine at Farmington was one of the nation's top-ranked liberal arts colleges, and it had a Creative Writing Program to match its credentials. I'd heard the program was competitive to get into, challenging to take on, and it sounded perfect for me. All the state schools I'd looked at in Connecticut had major programs in business, sciences, and health care, but none had anything close to a writing program, which bummed me out for most of my senior year of high school--until my guidance counselor told me to check out UMF. It was out of state, a deal-breaker for me, but I had to admit, the pictures on the website were breathtaking. Snowy mountains visible right from the main road, street side cafes where students could read or study or chat, and old buildings with cracked foundations and rhododendron bushes on every corner in spring. Plus...a program in creative writing, what I knew I wanted to major in. From the start, the program in Creative Writing is what sold me on the school. It seemed too incredible an opportunity to pass up the application process!
➳ It was just far enough from home.
After I wasn't finding schools at home to look very promising, I very much began considering UMF. I initially planned on finding a school in-state, but something told me (my mom, mostly) to take a leap of faith and apply, anyway. The thought seemed less and less scary the more I researched the campus and what was around it. UMF is nestled in a small, quiet town in Maine, where downtown shops and cafes are within walking distance. There was a Dunkin Donuts, a public town library, and a Wal-Mart down the road--everything and more I needed to feel right at home. And I wasn't near home at all. I felt confident at UMF, and finally, independent of my parents. I could make my own rules, and break them on occasion. My parents were a phone call away whenever I needed them, but they just simply couldn't make the long drive to reprimand me for low paper grades. Darn. Overall, the university provided me with little things that gave me peace of mind, and pieces of home. The occasional loud neighbor and the constant smell of truck exhaust? Yup. Just like home. 🌻 It promised opportunity for a fresh start.
Totally new people, a different setting, and nobody knew who I was before coming to school at UMF. Like the cliche goes, I figured going to school kind of far away meant I could make a new life in Farmington, Maine. I could shed the dead and dying parts of childhood and high school me, and begin again as an adult. A real-live adult in college. For the most part, UMF did just this. I could focus on creating a life I'd dreamed of in high school. Living someplace rural, surrounded by animals and grass, writers and coffee shops, mountains and long stretches of country road...it felt surreal--much different from my city-suburban life in non-stop Bristol, Connecticut. This was different, and I thrived on it. 🙋 Everyone seemed so kind, and campus felt very much like a community.
I'd heard many good things about UMF through its website and from emailing back and forth with current faculty that Farmington and the UMF campus is a community of kindness and giving. No matter who I asked or who was speaking of the school, that was the one comment that didn't differ. UMF seemed very friendly. I'd heard that you'd never walk through a doorway without the door held open by someone. I'd heard that professors often invited their classes to their homes for dinner and conversation, as if you were a bunch of nieces and nephews. I'd read online that Farmington locals and community members often mingled with students during campus events open to the public, or through the public and campus libraries, open to both parties. My hometown was not friendly. It felt overcrowded, nuisanced, and cold. Cashiers sometimes didn't even say "hello" before scanning your first item. In Farmington, everyone felt like family. ⛅ I wanted the full college experience, and everything that could come with it.
UMF promised everything I needed and wanted was right there on campus, in town, in the next town over, or the next dorm room down. Living that far from home, of course I would be living on campus in the residence halls. I'd have a roommate, maybe two, maybe three. I'd have a meal plan, attend events, and really live at school--something I truly wanted to do, and something my parents encouraged and really wanted for me. UMF provided the kind of college experience that made me genuinely look forward to returning every fall and after each break. It held some of the best people and educators I've met in my life. It carried the very values and expectations of education and life that I had for my own. I simply loved my school. Even though I found turmoil in every corner of my college experience, it seemed, I'm beyond glad that I went to UMF. I chose the college that would give me only the best of the best. My parents would have let me choose to go to any college I wanted, and I was fortunate enough to attend UMF for the full four years, loving everything about it. I chose UMF because I cared enough about myself to give myself the gift of a beautiful community of learners, teachers, artists, writers, friends, and a school that would challenge me academically and socially--pushing me to make friends in a state I knew no one in, and to trust that I could live independently of my family. I chose University of Maine at Farmington. And I'm so happy I did. Have any memories from your college experience? Want to share where you went/go to college? Please do, in the comments below!