The University of Maine, the state’s premier research university, recognizes the importance of early college programs for Maine high school students aspiring to attend college. The UMaine Aspirations and Academ-e programs offer an opportunity for high school students to enroll in college courses taught by world-class faculty at the University of Maine. Through a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the University of Maine System, tuition is waived for all qualified high school students in Maine for up to 12 college credits per year.

The data is clear: If students of this generation do not get a college education, they are less likely to find a job that pays enough to support themselves and their families. By 2020, more than 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require higher education. Only 42 percent of Mainers hold education and workforce credentials that position this state and its families for success.

How can we increase student access to higher education? This is a question we have been working to answer for our students living in Maine. In particular, how can the University of Maine help more students earn a college degree? One approach that shows promise is exposing them to college courses and the college experience while they are still in high school. Early college programs boost students’ interest in higher education and give them a head start on coursework.

Starting May 14, the University of Maine will offer summer courses through the Aspirations Program suitable for rising high school juniors and seniors. Classes are taught by UMaine faculty and meet general education requirements of the University of Maine System, as well as the majority of colleges nationwide. Students across the state will benefit from the flexibility and variety of live (in Belfast and Orono) and online college courses offered this summer. Courses are condensed to a six-week format beginning either May 14 or June 25. Starting in September, the UMaine Academ-e and Aspirations programs will offer a variety of online and live classes for qualified students in grades 9–12.

Nationally, the demand for early college programs is increasing rapidly. Taking early college classes at UMaine will enrich a student’s high school experience, lower future college debt, preview what it’s like to be in college, and save money by earning college credit while still in high school. Interested students and parents are encouraged to contact UMaine academic advisor Amy Smith, 207.338.8004, [email protected], to learn more about the application process.