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November 5, 2018

UMaine System’s 'early college' programming for high school students surges 23%

Courtesy / University of Maine System
Courtesy / University of Maine System
Nearly 2,800 students from approximately 100 different Maine high schools are earning low- or no-cost college credits and preparing for a Maine career with early college courses through the University of Maine System’s expansion of its early college programs in the fall semester.

Nearly 2,800 students from approximately 100 different Maine high schools are earning low- or no-cost college credits and preparing for a Maine career with early college courses through the University of Maine System's expansion of its early college programs in the fall semester.

The initiatives are part of a plan to expand access and develop a coordinated, statewide early college program with the support of a $3 million early college investment provided by the Legislature. The goal of the new initiatives is to help students explore and prepare for Maine Careers and succeed academically.

"We are investing in our early college programs to provide the access and support needed to give every high school junior and senior in our state an opportunity to get a fast and affordable start on a college degree," James H. Page, chancellor of the UMaine System, said in a news release. "We are also launching early college career certifications that align directly with critical workforce needs to keep more Maine students here at home and on a path to a high-opportunity Maine career."

24/7 access to live tutoring

High school students enrolled in university early college courses now have around-the-clock access to live tutoring in over 100 subjects through a new partnership with NetTutor. The company, a national leader in delivering online support to students, uses a proprietary WorldWideWhiteboard to make live connections to tutors holding four-year or advanced degrees in their subject specialty.

From algebra to zoology, Maine high school students enrolled in early college courses will have full access to the entire portfolio of more than 100 academic subjects with their university login information during an initial pilot phase of the service. To watch a video about how NetTutor and its partner institutions are using online technology and subject matter expertise to help students achieve academic success go here.

Maine Career Certificates

As part of their strategic effort to keep Maine students here at home and to address critical workforce shortages Maine's universities are providing high school students with the opportunity to explore and prepare for high-opportunity Maine careers with new certificate programs.

The University of Maine at Machias launched a Maine Career Early College Certificate program in the fall semester that includes several pathways directly aligned with college curricula and lead to career opportunities in Maine.

Among the programs offered are certificates in health professions and nursing, the STEM fields, elementary and secondary education, business, psychology, and recreation. Students who earn the certificates will have earned an average of 15 fully transferable college credits at little or no cost to their families before finishing high school.

Starting next year the University of Maine at Fort Kent will make Rural U Workforce available to students attending its 100 Maine high school partners. The statewide reach of the existing Rural U network will provide career exploration and preparation to most of the state's high school students. Averaging 12 credits each and available online to students across Maine, Rural U Workforce certifications will be offered in nursing and healthcare, forestry, behavioral sciences and human services, criminal justice and public safety, and business careers.

Offering high school students across the state a chance to explore and prepare for a Maine career in nursing is a component of the University Nursing Workforce Plan. The plan aims to create a coordinated, statewide continuum of nursing education to address a state nursing shortage projected to grow to 2,700 vacancies by 2025.

The plan also includes an expansion of nursing education into high-need regions and $12 million in proposed investments to support nursing education pending voter passage of Question 4, the University Workforce Bond.

Partnering with local schools

The universities are working closely with local school partners to expand access for students and support local educators. Dual enrollment educators at high schools throughout Maine will be participating in a professional development workshop hosted by the universities in Augusta on Nov. 16. Teachers interested in attending can still register online at this link.

Students, parents, and local school teachers and officials with questions about early college can visit the University of Maine System's early college website or email Amy Hubbard, University of Maine System lead early college coordinator, at Amy.L.Hubbard@maine.edu .

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