Early College

Information for
Students & Parents

Frequently Asked Questions:

High school students who enroll in early college courses are more likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, and earn a college degree. As a result, students are more prepared and successful in their chosen career. 

For example:

  • Dual enrollment and Aspiration courses are tuition free for students (up to 12 credits per academic year). Students are responsible for fees and books in some EC programs.
  • Students can save up to $14,000 in tuition, fees, and other expenses (estimate is based on transferring up to 30 credits to UMaine).
  • Students can show college admissions officers that they are ready for more difficult coursework.
  • Students build a college transcript while still in high school. The college credits earned are transferable. While we hope students will attend one of Maine’s Public Universities or Community Colleges, these credits may be transferred to other colleges. Students will need to check with their institution about transferring credits when they enroll.
  • Early College programs can provide rigorous courses to enhance the high school curriculum.
  • Universities may offer a variety of courses not available at the high school. Some programs offer pathways to a career which can help students navigate through college to future employment, or explore interests before choosing a major.
  • Students who participate in Early College have better study skills, more academic confidence, and less anxiety about the transition to college.
  • Early College students who graduate from high school and enroll in a Maine Public University are more likely to enroll in college (persist) for a second year. For example, 91% of Academ-e students, 86% of Aspirations students, and 81% of Dual Enrollment students persist to their second year of college, versus 74% of students with no Early College courses.
  • Students who participate in Early College are less likely to need remedial courses in college. Remedial, or developmental courses, are courses for students who graduate from high school but are not yet ready for college. Students pay tuition, but do not receive college credit for these courses.
  • Students who enter college with Early College credits are more likely to earn a degree on time than students with no Early College credits.

Printable PDF of Benefits of Early College (Opens in a new window.)

Learn more about Early College Programs at each of Maine’s Public Universities.

Sources for the above data can be found here.

Course offerings vary by university, high school, and Early College program. Students may enroll in courses that fulfill general education requirements, explore potential majors, or enroll in specific course sequences to guide students towards career pathways.  Popular courses include college writing, introduction to literature, college algebra, US history, introduction to statistics, and calculus.

Students should start with our ExplorEC Portal webpage for student directions and a link to register and search for classes on the ExplorEC Portal. Please note that the course search feature shows all 100, 200, and 300 level courses offered by our campuses to ensure a wide variety of options to meet the needs of all students. This does not necessarily mean all students will eligible to take all courses listed.The student must meet the prerequisites of the course to enroll. 

Students should start with our ExplorEC Portal webpage for student directions and a link to register and search for classes on ExplorEC Portal. Please note that the course search feature shows all 100, 200, and 300 level courses offered by our campuses to ensure a wide variety of options to meet the needs of all students. This does not necessarily mean all students will eligible to take all courses listed. The student must meet the prerequisites of the course to enroll. 

The Department of Education suggests students must maintain a minimum secondary school GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or the equivalent of a “B” average unless the University grants a waiver. Juniors and seniors with a GPA below 3.0 or “B” average may be granted a waiver with the support of the guidance counselor and Early College Coordinator. The Department of Education does allow qualified freshmen and sophomores to access Early College funding through the Aspirations Program. Maine’s Public Universities will follow DOE guidelines, but priority will be given to juniors and seniors.

To learn more about our full revised eligibility policy for Early College download our Student Access PDF.

A great place to begin is our Early College webpage, which has general information on the different programs offered by Maine’s Public Universities.

Each of Maine’s Public Universities has an Early College Coordinator who works closely with high school guidance counselors to ensure students are placed in the college courses that best suit their needs. Please contact the high school guidance counselor or one of our Coordinators for more information.

Dual enrollment and Aspiration courses are tuition free for students (up to 12 credits per academic year). Students are responsible for fees and books in some EC programs. The University of Maine System is working towards consistency in fees. In the meantime, we have posted a summary of course fees for each program on the ExplorEC Portal webpage.

For additional help or information please contact your University’s Early College Coordinator.

To register for Early College courses at Maine’s Public University you will need to create an account on the ExplorEC Portal at explorec.maine.edu. For video tutorials, downloadable text tutorials (.docx), and additional information visit our How to Register page.

For additional help or information please contact your University’s Early College Coordinator.

Logo for ExplorEC Early College Portal to Maine's Public Universities
ExplorEC is designed to facilitate development of networks between the high schools and the universities, making it easier for students to sign up for Early College classes and expedite data collection.  ExplorEC will help our universities and high schools work together seamlessly to provide a bridge to better serve students, parents, teachers, college faculty, and EC Administrators.

Some highlights include:

  • One system will be used to access the Early College programs at all 7 of Maine’s Public Universities
  • No paper forms
  • Students will start the registration process and applications will not be forwarded to the guidance counselor until they are complete
  • Guidance counselors will review and approve student applications
  • Electronic signatures will be accepted
  • Transcripts not required (though may be requested in some circumstances)
  • Once students have an account in the system, they will not need to re-enter demographic information

For video tutorials, downloadable text tutorials (.docx), and additional information visit our How to Register page.

For additional help or information please contact your University’s Early College Coordinator.

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