By: Dionne Smith, Community Editor
USM offers many ways to help students in need, such as through advising and tutoring. TRIO is one of the programs on campus that takes students in and offers them close guidance through their college career while supplying them with tools they can use to better themselves and have a better chance at success. The name TRIO doesn’t stand for anything. It came into usage when there were only three programs for low income and first generation students in the late 1960s.
TRIO is a large program that is funded by the federal government and serves students with low incomes, students who are the first in their family to go to college and students with a documented disability. TRIO as a whole offers many different programs, but at USM the TRIO programs offered are TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) and Upward Bound. TRIO SSS is a program focused on assisting students as they go through their college careers, helping them set up goals, and ultimately helping them graduate. Any USM student can apply for SSS, whether they be an incoming freshman or a senior. TRIO Upward Bound targets high school freshman and guides them through their high school years, preparing them up for college, then follows them through their college careers with the goal of having them graduate within six years.
TRIO SSS currently serves 140 students across all three USM campuses. “What we’re doing with students is working individually and in groups to support them in, really, whatever way is going to help them towards college success,” said Laurie Davis, the executive director for TRIO at USM. She explains that the goal of TRIO is to make sure each student is able to stay in good academic standing, that they persist in TRIO SSS and USM, and graduate within six years. In SSS, there is a small number of advisors, allowing the students to develop a connection with their advisor.
“Our goal is to get to know students and to get to know them way, and to really look at them holistically,” Davis said, adding that she wants the students to know that TRIO is a source for them.
One of the ways that TRIO helps its students is by putting new students in a TRIO Learning Community (TLC). TLC meets for an hour each week and allows students to mingle with other students. They can talk about various topics, such as how to organize a calendar with a schedule, and can talk about how they are feeling going into the semester. TRIO also helps student create and maintain study habits while putting them in contact with tutors, or people in their classes who could help. They also schedule various workshops and social events.
TRIO Upward Bound serves 127 students across different high schools in Maine. The advisors are constantly traveling to the high schools to work closely with the students, trying to help them develop a plan for high school and, later on, a plan for college. The rising sophomores spend time during the summer living on USM’s Gorham campus.
“We spend a lot of time talking about careers,” Davis said about the week spent in Gorham. It offers freshmen an idea of what they want to do as a career, which leads into what college is best suited for them. Rising juniors will spend five weeks living on campus. During the five weeks, the students take classes and have the opportunity to take trips to colleges and do fun activities, such as kayaking. Rising seniors have two options. They can either live on campus for one week, called a, “Power Week,” and work on college applications and obtaining scholarships, as well as go white water rafting. The other option is for a limited amount of rising seniors, living on campus for five weeks, in addition to the Power Week, and they participate in internships.
“[While] the juniors are in classes, they’re spending that time out in the community in an internship,” Davis said, “and that can be as varied as those students are.”
With the help of TRIO, students gain the tools and the power to carve out the right path toward their future career. TRIO is a great resource for students who feel that they need the extra guidance and want to build a close relationship with those who are helping them, as well as be a part of a community of peers.