WATERVILLE — Colby College will expand several programs aimed at introducing rural Maine students to college life and plans to start additional programming this year after joining a national network formed to support rural students on the way to higher education.

Colby has joined the Small Town and Rural Students College Network, an organization of 15 colleges and universities across the country planning to help rural students enroll and succeed in college programs, according to a news release Colby issued Tuesday.

The network will work to “create new pathways to college for students who might not otherwise recognize the full range of educational opportunities available to them,” the release states. Those efforts will be boosted by a $20 million donation from Trott Family Philanthropies, established by Byron D. Trott, chairman and a chief executive of merchant bank BDT & MSD Partners.

For Colby, this will mean expanding existing programs that work to reach students in remote areas of the state, and creating new initiatives, said Randi Maloney, dean of admissions and financial aid at Colby.

“For us to be able to be a conduit for those conversations, I think is really exciting for Colby and for the students within Maine,” Maloney said.

For example, the college plans to expand its early college planning program and Maine Days, an effort by a Colby staff member to visit every public school in the state, she said. A new program this summer will bus students from across the state to Colby’s campus for five days of workshops to connect with admissions, financial aid staff, professors and Colby students.


And Maine students who participate in the network are not limited to just Maine schools. They will have the opportunity to travel to out-of-state colleges in the network. The network has also partnered with other organizations to ensure students have access to courses that are often key to college acceptance, such as calculus.

Other schools that are part of the network include Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

These efforts are particularly relevant in Maine, where much of the state is rural and looking to attract young professionals as the state’s population ages.

“Many studies have shown that students often return to their hometowns, and that’s specifically true for rural students,” Maloney said. “And allowing them to find colleges and universities and experiences that help them hone their skills, and help them realize their impact — and then to be able to bring that back to a state that needs them and is excited to welcome them home, is another exciting part of this partnership.”

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