Did you know there are more than 80 community-based adult education programs in Maine?

They range from Fort Kent to Kittery and offer a rich variety of low cost and, in some cases, free educational opportunities.

Adult Education programs have earned a well-deserved reputation for offering an alternative path to high school degree completion and classes that focus on personal enrichment. Those offerings continue to be staples of the Maine adult education scene.

However, as Maine adult education programs have pivoted over the years to meet the needs of the communities they serve, the programming has branched out far and wide. The result has led adult education programs to become increasingly multifaceted learning centers. For example, today’s adult education programs now offer business and workforce training, classes for English speakers of other languages — known as ESOL — and college transitions classes that help prepare students prior to attending post-secondary institutions.

The Maine College Transitions course is of particular interest to the University of Maine at Augusta because we’ve experienced firsthand the positive impact theses classes have had with adult learners. This free adult education class (a small text fee may apply) is designed to help students get admitted to, and succeed in, a college program. The course is geared toward adults who’ve yet to attend college and adults who left college and are looking for better results upon their return.

Students are led through a variety of topics, including learning styles, critical thinking, study skills, time management, the college application process, the ins-and-outs of financial aid and how to complete a college research paper. Students also make visits to area college campuses in order to become familiar with college settings and on-campus students resources. The class goes a long way toward helping students set themselves on a path of college readiness.

The value of the class has been further enhanced through an innovative collaboration between numerous Maine adult education programs and UMA. The collaboration allows students who successfully complete a college transitions class vetted by the university to earn three elective credits that can be used in any UMA degree program.

By earning three elective credits, college transitions students establish an even stronger foundation before seeking admission to UMA. Earning early college credit serves as a confidence builder for these students because it demonstrates the ability to handle college level coursework prior to formally enrolling in a degree program. Other benefits include having one less three-credit class to pay for and shortening the path to earn a college degree.

It’s innovative collaborations like this that strengthen our communities by helping Maine citizens reach their college and career goals.

John McLaughlin graduated from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2012. He now serves as the associate director of enrollment services and recruiting, where he enjoys engaging his belief in the power of education at any age, particularly through helping adult learners successfully resume their academic journey.