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It’s exciting to see the recent WVII/FOX news coverage highlighting how Bangor-area high school students are earning college credits by enrolling in early college/dual credit-bearing classes. This is thanks to the Maine Department of Education’s Aspirations Program, and strong partnerships with area colleges like Husson University, the University of Maine and Eastern Maine Community College. In some cases, motivated students are actually earning their associate degrees before they graduate high school.
State data show us that more than 8,000 high school students enrolled in early college courses during the 2020-21 school year. A 2021 report gives us a full sense of the growing popularity of early college classes, showing that the number of students enrolled in the University of Maine System offerings grew 76 percent between the 2015/16 and 2019/20 school years. At the Maine Community College System, students enrolled in early college courses grew 42 percent.
This is great news for our students and for our state. Early college opportunities serve as an enormous postsecondary access lever. It is part of the success story we are building as the MaineSpark Coalition partners work together to achieve Maine’s postsecondary attainment goal that 60 percent of adults have a credential of value by 2025. In addition, students who take at least one early college class are more likely to enroll in college directly after high school or pursue other postsecondary education.
We hope more students will take advantage of early college classes, which strengthens workforce development and grows Maine’s economy.
Jason Judd, executive director, Educate Maine