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UMPI hosts Aspiration Orientation for local high school students

Students who want to learn more about local college enrichment programs and how best to take advantage of them will get an inside look at the opportunities available when the University of Maine at Presque Isle hosts its very first Aspiration Orientation at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in the Campus Center. This free, two-hour event open to all local high school students is being offered at UMPI in conjunction with the Maine Campus Compact and with the facilitation of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Victoria Forkus.

Forkus, whose position was designed to increase both college access and retention, said that while rural isolation can impact students in Maine, Aroostook County has been quietly expanding opportunities for local students. The County is home to three college enrichment programs for high school students: Rural-U at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and Aspirations at both the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College. All of these programs allow students, from anywhere in the state, to take college level courses at a minimal charge. In order to be eligible, the student must meet the minimum grade requirements and be able to pay for their own course materials. These programs are funded by the Maine Department of Education.

“However, this begs the question—if there are so many programs, all with a similar goal in mind, how do students chose which institution of higher learning to take classes through?” Forkus said. “Many will choose based on their location, but more recently students have begun to deviate from this trend.”

The Aspiration Orientation at UMPI will include tutorials on both MaineStreet and Blackboard—two platforms University of Maine System students use frequently as part of online learning—to better equip the students for participating in online courses. In addition, there will be a Q&A with a UMPI professor who regularly teaches these courses. If weather permits, the students will also take a tour of campus and have the option of staying for lunch before returning to their respective schools.

“The hope is that this Orientation will allow local high school students to become more familiar with the online programming associated with taking online classes,” Forkus said. “It’s beneficial for these students to better understand the expectations for these courses, both academically and through the use of our technology.”

The on-site orientation will be filmed and made accessible online for those students who live too far to make the journey to Presque Isle.

For more information about learning outcomes, or the UMPI Aspirations program, please contact Victoria Forkus (AmeriCorps VISTA; Early College Initiatives Coordinator) at 207-768-9602 or victoria.forkus@maine.edu.