Nearly 70 Maine high school students begin the SMCC 2024 Spring Ahead program

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – Nearly 70 Maine high school students visited Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) Thursday for an orientation to the Spring Ahead program, a Maine Community College System (MCCS) early college initiative.

The Spring Ahead program is for high school students who want to get a jump start on preparing for educational opportunities available after high school. Spring Ahead students complete their high school education while at SMCC, where they are enrolled in college-level courses and earn college credit. A dedicated college coach and peer mentor guide students throughout the year. The program is tuition-free with a book allowance.

SMCC’s Spring Ahead program began in 2019 with 13 Deering High School students. By the 2024 Spring Semester, the program had grown to include almost seventy students from ten area high schools.

The program has had a notable success rate since its inception, with 85% of students graduating from the program and 95% of the 2023 Spring Ahead class pursuing college opportunities.

“Our Spring Ahead program has been highly successful in helping guide Maine high school students in their first steps to higher education. We’re thrilled to welcome this year’s class to our South Portland and Brunswick campuses during the Spring semester,” said SMCC Dean of Academic Excellence and Strategic Initiatives Matt Goodman. “This opportunity is invaluable for students who want to jump-start their college credentials and prepare for their future after high school.”

Nearly 50% of Spring Ahead students have continued their studies at SMCC. University of Rhode Island, University of Maine, Colby, University of New England, University of Southern Maine, Notre Dame, Stonehill, Emmanuel, Johnson & Wales, and Sheridan College are just a few of the other schools these students have gone on to attend.

“Spring Ahead is an incredible opportunity for seniors to get a taste of the college experience and the classroom setting, preparing them for their next step in the fall,” SMCC Early College Office, Spring Ahead Success Coach Pat Haviland said. “With dedicated advising and countless resources available to this select group, Spring Ahead students flourish and thrive at SMCC and beyond.”

High school students must meet all high school and college requirements and have their high school’s recommendation to participate in the program. Students from Baxter Academy, Bonny Eagle, The Learning Center at Bonny Eagle, Cape Elizabeth, Casco Bay, Deering, Greely, Portland, Scarborough, and South Portland high schools are participating.

Spring Ahead students and any high school graduates from 2020-2025 may qualify to continue their education tuition-free at SMCC through Maine’s Free College initiative.

SMCC’s Spring Ahead program is part of numerous early college efforts that allow students to earn college credit while in high school. Information about these programs can be found at

High schools or students interested in learning more about the Spring Ahead program or other early college offerings at SMCC should contact Early College Office, Spring Ahead Success Coach Pat Haviland, at