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Academic Affairs Faculty Forum discusses early college

On Wednesday, March 6, an Academic Affairs Faculty Forum took place in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union to discuss how the University of Maine works with high schools to prepare students for college.

The forum focused on the University of Maine System’s vision to increase Maine high schools’ participation in early college programs and how UMaine fits into the effort.

This was the second of a three part installment of Academic Affairs Faculty Forums, the goal of which is to get input from faculty on ways that UMaine can better prepare students for long-term success.

Provost Jeffrey Hecker and Associate Provost Monique LaRocque led the discussion and introduced the updates on these efforts and what direction the university was heading in regarding this matter. Some of the current approaches that UMaine has for early college include dual enrollment and bridge years.

Dual enrollment and bridge year programs allow high school students to take college courses while still in school.

The discussion focused on several initiatives that are being developed and launched with the intention to provide high school students with the opportunity to earn UMaine course credit. The ultimate goal of these initiatives is to help Maine high school students further their education.

“[These programs aim to] provide pathways from Maine high schools into UMaine degree programs for talented students,” Hecker explained. “And secondly to help ensure that students entering UMaine are prepared to succeed.”

These initiatives are inspired by the growing research that shows students who get a chance to experience early college courses are generally more likely to go to college.

“In the state of Maine, early college opportunities are important to degree attainment and to lowering student debt,” Hecker said. “The University of Maine, through its Division of Lifelong Learning, is committed to providing high school students with opportunities to earn college credits and to experience the value of a UMaine education.”

About 20 to 25 percent of first-year students do not return to UMaine for a second year of study. The University is looking for ways to decrease these numbers.

The first forum in this series took place in the fall semester at the end of September. It questioned undergraduate development, exploring how the first year of a student’s academic experience sets the tone for their academic success or failure.

A variety of factors contribute to students’ success in their first year and the intention behind the forum series is to expand or enhance such factors. One of the factors they deemed essential in first-year success is preparedness upon entering college.

The motivation behind these forums is to explore ways to ensure success in students coming into the UMaine system that will take them through to attaining a degree. By doing so, not only do students see a huge benefit but the state of Maine does as well.

The next installment of this series will take place Wednesday, May 15 from 3-4:30 p.m. in Donald P. Corbett Hall, room 100. The topic will be an updated discussion on the First Year Success Initiative.

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