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As UMFK commencement looms, College Access Program prepares adult learners for success as future college graduates

May 14, 2013

NR13044

Even as the campus prepares to award diplomas to some 180 members of the Class of 2013 this weekend's Commencement, the University of Maine at Fort Kent and its partners at Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) #27 Adult and Community Education are prepping adults for success as future college graduates through the hugely-successful College Access Program (CAP).

A recent report compiled and released by the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine, indicates that participants completing the St. John Valley CAP — a partnership between UMFK, MSAD #27 Adult and Community Education; the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community; and the Maine Educational Opportunity Center — has demonstrated the second-highest college enrollment/participation rate in the state.

According to the report, 73 learners completed the St. John Valley CAP between 2007 and 2011. Of that group, 52 enrolled in college. The 71.2 percent college enrollment/participation rate was the second-highest in Maine. Statewide, college enrollment/participation rates ranged from a high of 77.3 percent to 32.1 percent during the same timeframe.

The report is based upon an analysis of college enrollment data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) produced in November 2012. The analysis returned records for students who participated in one of the state's Maine College Transitions (MCT) communities during the five-year period.

“The success of the College Access Program is testament to the power of collaboration between MSAD #27 Adult and Community Education and UMFK,” says Scott Voisine, UMFK's Dean of Community Education. “By coming together we have been able to successfully serve the lifelong learning needs of our community through programs such as CAP, Senior College, and Career Pathways initiatives. “

One of the more unique aspects of the local CAP is students have the opportunity to complete part of their classroom learning on the UMFK campus, thus allowing them to experience campus life and services.

The St. John Valley CAP is a participating program within the MCT program. MCT and its 35 sites form a critical component of Maine's efforts to develop an Adult Career Pathways workforce development system. Forty-five percent of MCT participants during the 2007-2011 timeframe were between the ages of 25 and 44.

MCT is offered through local adult education programs and are comprehensive programs of study leading to enrollment and success in a post-secondary institution. The program includes career planning, case management and data collection, instruction in college preparation coursework, and the development of a peer cohort and/or coaching system.

MCT provides high-quality, cost-effective and accessible pathways to post-secondary education for adults. Specifically, it helps adults who are studying to earn high school degrees to transition to college; provides preparatory support to adults who have a high school degree but are not academically prepared to take college courses, and provides counseling, mentoring and support services to enable those adults to successfully transition to college and earn degrees.

The NSC reports includes information on the fields of study of about two-thirds of the MCT alumni who enrolled in college. Of those with declared fields of study, the top five fields are: liberal arts, health care, business, vocational/technical, and science.

In addressing the state's 21st Century workforce requirements, Voisine is direct.

“It is difficult to be part of any discussion about education in Maine without being reminded of the importance of preparing more adult learners for the 21st Century economy and workforce,” says Voisine.

“By breaking down silos, thinking creatively, and maximizing limited resources, the partnership between MSAD #27 Adult and Community Education and UMFK is being held up state-wide as a model of effective community education that is creative, is producing positive results, and is an effective use of public funding,” he adds.