Q&A with HCA’s School Counselor on Early College Program Enrollment



By Andrew Smaha,
Business & Finance Director

Andrew Smaha, Business & Finance Director

Harpswell Coastal Academy offers something unique in its Early College Program.

At HCA, participating students are able to not only work their college courses into their regular schedules, but credits earned from these classes can be applied to both their high school diploma and a college degree. Intrigued? School Counselor and Student Support Team Leader Kaitlyn Pulju recently answered a number of questions about HCA’s Early College Program. Read what she had to say below!

Q: Is there a certain kind of student best set-up to enroll in the Early College Program?

A: We approach the Early College Program with the frame of mind that interested in the program is a good candidate for it. Classes offered through SMCC are available once students reach their Junior year, and Juniors and Seniors who seek out participation are often well prepared to take on the challenge. Classes available through the UMaine system do accept students as early as the 9th grade, and we do allow that, though not before making sure the student is highly aware of the expectations, withdrawal process, etc. Because of that preparation, students are usually set up for success upon enrollment!

Q: What is the general feedback you receive from students who participate in the program? What about feedback from parents?

A: The majority of the feedback we receive from students is overwhelmingly positive. They enjoy the opportunity to both physically and academically experience college, especially via HCA, where they already feel safe and comfortable.

Parent feedback tends to be even more enthusiastic. Classes taken through the program are free, and therefore students are able to accumulate college credit at no cost to them or their families. With the ability to take on 12 credits a year, which tends to equate to four classes, the savings are incredible for families.

Q: What would you say are the main benefits of participating in the program?

A: The ability to physically experience a college atmosphere is huge. Not all of our students picture themselves pursuing a college degree. For those students, participating in the Early College Program can change their perspective not only of college but of themselves as well.

Having the support of the HCA staff during this time is also a major benefit of the program. I often help students figure out the logistics of college, such as figuring out how office hours work. Other staff members are incredibly open to assisting students with coursework, or any concepts they may be having trouble with. This support helps set the students up for success and the ability to reach their full potential.

Q: What types of classes are available to students in the program?

A: Many of the classes available through SMCC include a number of introductory offerings, including English Composition, College Algebra, Intro to Psychology, and much more. The opportunities through UMaine also include more specified courses, such as Peace and Pop Culture and Forests Through Time. This wide variety of choices allows students to dive into topics and subjects that they are passionate about or find intriguing. Not only that, but participating in the introductory courses can help ensure that if they do pursue a college degree after graduation, they’ll be set-up to jump right into their chosen major.

Do you have questions about the Early College Program at HCA? We’d be happy to answer them! Attend an information session or contact us to learn more about enrollment.