Early College Programs

Early Study Aspirations - What to Expect


Early Study Aspirations students have access to several benefits and many resources at USM. Students should also be aware of college expectations and the key differences between USM courses and high school classes. 

Early Study Aspirations students can: 

  • Earn college credits
  • Take college classes at reduced tuition rates
  • Get a headstart on general education or specific department requirements
  • Enhance their learning experience through meeting the challenge of college coursework
  • Become familiar with a college setting

High school students taking a USM course:

  • Are held to the standards of any regular undergraduate student enrolled at the university
  • Are expected to be prepared for class and complete coursework of college-level quality
  • Should expect courses to be more rigorous and move at faster pace than typical high school classes
  • May find their initial adjustment to USM courses challenging
  • Are encouraged to utilize the resources available to them at their high school and through USM
  • Should begin their USM course(s) focused and with an understanding of the demand of college coursework

Enrollment Deadlines

Early Study Aspirations students should refer to the USM Academic Calendar for important academic dates, including course enrollment deadlines. Should a student wish to change their registration status in a USM course, they must adhere to USM's Add/Drop/Withdrawal policies and procedures, as detailed on the Office of Registration & Scheduling Services web page.

Early Study Aspirations students are directly enrolled in on-campus and online USM courses, thus they are expected to:

  • Meet college classroom expectations, grading criteria, and academic policies.
  • Take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Demonstrate self-discipline and independence with their coursework.
  • Contact their professor to set up a meeting immediately if they feel lost in a class or confused about certain course materials or assignments.
    Most professors hold weekly office hours during pre-determined time slots or by request. Professors who see that a student is struggling consistently in course may reach out to the student to offer assistance, however due to the pace of college courses and typically large class sizes, students cannot expect faculty to know they are in need of help. University faculty do want students to succeed in courses, however, students must recognize when they are struggling and take the first step in getting help. 
  • Take initiative to discuss their classwork and progress with faculty members. 
    Students are advised to meet with their professor during office hourse to discuss specific content-related questions or issues the student is having in the course.

Most USM courses:

  • Meet less frequently than a typical high school class.
  • Have class periods that are likely longer than most high school classes.
  • Carry a heavier workload than a high school class.
    All assigned coursework is expected to be completed outside of class, unless otherwise specified by a professor. Students must budget their time outside of class appropriately in order to complete assignments before their next class session. 
  • Have different grading criteria than high school courses.
    Students should carefully read grading rubrics their professors provide with course assignments.

Students should continue to utilize their high school counselor, high school academic accommodations office, and high school counseling services as resources if they find themselves struggling in the Early Study Aspirations program. USM also offers the following resources and on-campus support to Early Study Aspirations students. You will learn about most of these resources during your on-campus Early Study Aspirations Orientation, a week or so before the start of USM classes.

Student ID Card

Early Study Aspirations students can obtain a USM student ID card. This card also serves as their free METRO Bus Pass, USM library card, and pass to access on-campus fitness facilities*. To obtain an ID card, students must visit the Campus Card office on one of the three USM campuses:

Portland - 142 Luther Bonney Hall 
Gorham - Upton Hall Basement
Lewiston-Auburn College - LAC Student Services, Room 119

Visit the Campus Card webpage to learn more about how to use your student ID.

Students must know their student ID number and have a valid government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license or passport) with them in order to obtain their USM ID card. Students can find out their seven-digit ID number by logging into MaineStreet from the USM Portal, and clicking on “Student Self-Service” in the left-hand menu. Click on “Student Center” and the ID number will appear at the top-right of the page.

*Note: Early Study Aspirations and Concurrent Enrollment students must sign a Release and Assumption of Risk Waiver before using university fitness equipment and facilities. 

USM Portal

The USM portal is an online portal where Early Study Aspirations students can access and log-in to various online platforms including MaineStreet, Brightspace, and USM Gmail. By logging into the portal, students are automatically logged in to their other online USM accounts. To learn more and log in to the USM Campus Portal, visit MyUSM Campus Portal.

Students must use their @maine.edu email address for all communications with the USM Early College Coordinator and USM professors. The USM email address created for students upon registration is the official means of communication for the University. Professors will send emails about classes only to students' @maine.edu email addresses. Information regarding campus safety, campus closures and/or campus delays, will also be sent to students' @maine.edu email addresses.

Learning Commons & Tutoring Services

The Learning Commons is an open learning environment that engages students for success, while maintaining a welcoming and supportive atmosphere where students can collaborate with peers and tutors. Students not located near campus are able to access tutoring services via distance technology. Early Study Aspirations students are allowed two free tutoring appointments per week per subject area.

To learn more about tutoring services at USM and schedule an appointment, visit the Learning Commons webpage.

You can also contact the Learning Commons directly:
Portland Learning Commons (2nd Floor, Glickman Library)
(207) 780-4228

Gorham Learning Commons (1st Floor, Bailey Hall Library)
(207) 780-5345

Students are also encouraged to use resources provided by USM's Academic Gains through Improved Learning Effectiveness (AGILE) initiative to get the most out of their learning experience.

USM Help Desk

The Help Desk can assist students and schools with any technical question they may have. Students that need help activating an account, resetting a password, or troubleshooting Brightspace are encouraged to contact the Help Desk by phone, (207) 780-4029, or email usm-helpdesk@maine.edu.


NetTutor is an online tutoring service that students can access 24/7. Students can get live, one-on-one help with specific homework questions and submit drafted writing assignments for feedback. As with in-person tutoring services accessed through the USM Learning Commons, NetTutor tutors will not do the work for students. They are available to help students understand how to approach certain types of homework problems and employ better academic writing practices. 
Students can access NetTutor through their Brightspace account.