UMaine System To Help Adults Complete Their College Educations 

University of Maine System trustees met in Bangor on Monday. They endorsed the Adult Baccalaureate Completion/Distance Education (ABCDE) Report.It’s a study that began in January on how to improve adult degree completion at UMaine schools.About 200,000 adult Mainers have started college, but never finished getting their degrees.The UMaine system is trying to change that.While each of the 7 public universities already serve adult students, they’ve agreed to make these “nontraditional” students a focus.”Many adult students have taken classes at a lot of institutions, particularly our military personal. They sometimes have been to three or four institutions, so we’re really focused on being welcoming for those students and helping reduce the barriers that have made it difficult for them to obtain their degree in the past,” said University of Maine at Augusta President Allyson Handley, who served on the ABCDE Review Committee. They hope to improve a variety of programs including more online and face to face support, more flexible class schedules, and additional financial services, all to get these adults back on track. “Many students want the support and the interaction that’s more personal, so were developing new models. We’re trying to build on our existing expertise and again, it’s the coordination, and working with the other providers Adult ED which is through the K-12 panel, community colleges,” said Handley. If these moving pieces can all work together, the Commissioner of Education is on board. “I think it’s a great launching point for our broader discussion for how do we make sure we have educational opportunities for all of our students both our K-12 and our adult learners,” said Stephen Bowen. But it isn’t easy to get back to the books. “It takes a lot of courage to finally decide to go back after, especially my age group,” said Irene Levesque-Rowe. In her late 40’s, Levesque-Rowe just started taking classes again at UMaine Fort Kent.”My kids have figured that nothing comes easy and they see mom doing an awful lot of hard work and moms doing very well, so now they’re coming home wanting to bring me getting closer to 100s as well,” she said. She thinks flexibility is key for this to work for students like her. She hopes UMaine’s new initiative inspires others to go back too. “It’s been empowering, extremely empowering to go back to school. It’s the best thing I could have ever done,” said Levesque-Rowe.