2015-07-03 / Community

Community college students get a head start

A group of 29 recent high school graduates are getting a head start on their college careers and support to help them succeed through a new program at Southern Maine Community College called Summer Academy.

Summer Academy students take part in a free three-week college prep program that prepares them for college-level coursework, guides them in setting career and academic goals, and introduces them to college life. Students also receive a $1,000 scholarship toward their fall semester.

“Student success is the No. 1 priority at SMCC,” said SMCC President Ron Cantor. “This program provides the support and guidance that students need to make a successful transition from high school to college. It gives students valuable skills that will serve them throughout their college careers and beyond.”

Summer Academy kicked off June 15 and runs Monday through Thursday for three weeks, ending July 2. Students are primarily from southern Maine, but some come from as far away as Easton, Old Town and Mexico.

Max Salunek of South Portland was apprehensive at first about coming to Summer Academy. He has quickly learned that the program is helping him academically while he explores what college is all about and learns skills that will benefit him throughout college. He is enrolling in SMCC’s Liberal Studies program.

“I’m hoping this will give me a firm platform, a stepping stone, from which to start my college career,” Salunek said.

Research shows that students who take part in intensive, structured programs are more successful in college than similar students who don’t participate in the programs.

SMCC last year launched a similar scholarship program called MySuccess for 16 students from Portland public schools. MySuccess students participated in a twoweek summer program to help prepare them for college and improve their placement and success in college-level courses.

During the MySuccess summer session, students tested out of 20 developmental courses, saving them a combined $6,000 in tuition and fees and 800 hours of coursework. By the spring semester, MySuccess students had significantly fewer enrollments and sharply higher grades in developmental courses compared to similar students from Portland public schools not enrolled in the program.

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