Plus One Scholarship helps enrich studies

Students now have the option of staying an extra year at the University of Miami.

The Plus One Scholarship Program will provide students the option to take a tuition-free fifth year or an extra semester at UM. To qualify for this program, students must demonstrate that they are able to meet all the requisites required for their degrees within their first four years and have completed a minimum of 30 credits at UM.

“Its purpose is to give students the opportunity to broaden their studies beyond the requirements for their major, minor, certificate and other programs,” said Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education William Green and Assistant Provost of Undergraduate Education Michelle Maldonado in an email.

This program began as a student initiative 2012. Student Government (SG) 2012-13 President Nawara Alwara began working in conjunction with Green about two years ago to bring the program into effect. Then, last year’s SG President Bhumi Patel further advocated for the establishment of the program, and it now has been approved by the Faculty Senate and is accepting applications for this upcoming fall.

“The program had to go through Faculty Senate and all the Deans of every school had to approve it and its budget,”  current SG President Alessandria San Roman said. “We had to make sure the university could incur the cost of moving tuition for the students accepted into the program. Usually, larger programs with such profound impacts take more time to implement.”

Green’s involvement with a similar program, the Take 5 Program at the University of Rochester, was essential in implementing the Plus One Scholarship Program here at UM.

“Our student government saw that it was something we could bring to our university because it was working there and students were saying such wonderful things about it. Since then, SG worked on providing the proposals and research needed to present to the administration to hopefully get that approved,” San Roman said.

Because it is anticipated that many students will apply for this program, San Roman said that certain key aspects should be emphasized in one’s application.

“Students should show that they never really had the opportunity to branch out outside of their designated curriculum because they were taking too many classes to graduate on time or their coursework was too heavy. For example, students in engineering don’t get to take many other electives,” San Roman said.

According to Green and Maldonado, it is important for students to have a coherent course plan, two letters of recommendation and a compelling essay outlining their Plus One program that explains how the extra year or semester will enrich their learning.

Students must confirm with the appropriate departments that the courses they wish to take during their fifth year or semester will be offered at that time.

Although students are not allowed to use their fifth year or semester to study abroad, San Roman mentioned that this program may offer students more time to do so during their first four years.

“Some students really don’t get the opportunity to study abroad and perhaps go to Spain and get a Spanish minor or take other electives they just can’t take. This program will afford them that chance,” San Roman said.

For the duration of its first year, the Plus One Scholarship Program will be entirely run by the administration, Green and Maldonado said. After its trial run, students will likely be able to sit on the selection committee.

According to Green and Maldonado, students should apply for the program after their fifth or sixth semester. It is unlikely that more than 50 students will be accepted into the program this first year.

Students interested in applying must either meet with Green or Maldonado, or attend one of the Plus One information sessions on February 3, February 24 and February 25.