Southern Maine Community College’s “Spring Ahead” program gives high school seniors the opportunity to earn college credits during their final semester.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – Nearly 50 of Maine’s high school seniors are given the opportunity to experience college and take college courses before graduating from high school.

Southern Maine Community College’s “Spring Ahead” program is for sophomore high school seniors and allows them to finish their high school education at SMCC, where they are enrolled in college-level courses.

“Our goal is to ensure that every learner in the community leaves with valuable credentials. So the earlier we can deliver these experiences, the better,” said Matthew Goodman, dean of academic excellence and strategic initiatives at SMCC.

Spring Ahead is a free program for enrolled students, including books and meals. Participating students are still able to participate in after school activities with their high school as well.

“It gave me time to look at it and figure out what I thought I wanted to know about getting into the medical field, and it also allowed me to realize what I didn’t like about it,” Brandon Stocker, a current SMCC student and spring 2020 pre-student said.

Stocker said that by starting the program, it gave him a clearer idea of ​​what he wanted to focus on in his career, and to get a head start on the courses. Stocker plans to attend the University of New England in the fall to study dentistry.

“SMCC may not be the ultimate journey for all of our students. So our goal is to work with students to take them to the next place,” Goodman said.

SMCC has offered Spring Ahead for high school seniors since 2019, and has grown from 13 students to nearly 50 students from 13 different high schools.

“This opportunity here gives kids access to different programs early on, so if they’re in post-secondary, two or four years, they have a better idea of ​​what they like and don’t like, and they get their general education requirements in,” said Melissa. Fowler, Greeley High School counselor.

Fowler said the program has been a huge success for her students. According to SMCC staff, since the program was launched, 85 percent of enrollees have pursued some form of higher education after graduating from high school.

“I’m going to see the opportunities that come along and figure it out from there,” said Anya Frank, a senior at Deering High School. “I don’t have the whole ‘five-year’ goal.

Frank is participating in Spring Ahead this year. Unsure of what the future will hold, she said, she is looking forward to expanding her horizons.

“It got me used to the college atmosphere, and being around a community that wasn’t mine. Because throughout my experience in high school, through elementary school and middle school, I was surrounded by the same kids and the same faces. normal college atmosphere.

According to SMCC, in 2022, 100% of Spring Ahead students pursued college opportunities after graduating from high school.

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