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USM High School hopes to increase college enrollment

Abigail Johnson-Ruscansky | The Free Press

Posted on September 21, 2015 in News
By Krysteana Scribner

The University of Southern Maine is in the early planning stages for an independent high school in order to support the decrease in student enrollment over the past three years. If this was to happen, the University would become an attractive aspect to international students, as it would be one of only a selection of colleges in this country that also provide high school education.

USM’s new President, Glenn Cummings, explained that the creation of a high school could become a reality in as little as two years. With enrollment decreasing to around 9,000 students total on all three campus locations, the addition of this high school would likely bring in the revenue needed to sustain student enrollment.

Although the placement of this high school is still uncertain, officials are looking into the possibility of utilizing the vacant Dickey and Wood Halls, two dorm buildings that once housed 368 students that is in dire need of renovations. Cummings explained that the cost of fixing these dorms could potentially cost $2 million, so the situation on its location is still uncertain.

The goal of this high school would aim to attract students interested in finishing up their education, particularly for students who come from overseas. Cummings explained that with over 100 international students on campus now, the goal of creating an educational outlet would also be to retain these students to attend at the university level.

Cummings wants to develop an easier transition for students into college, and hopes that a USM high school can provide that. Currently, Gorham High School students have the opportunity to participate and earn credits in some college level courses, but the goal is to expand this collaboration with surrounding school districts such as Westbrook, Windham and Bonny Eagle.

“We will be known not as a second choice, but we will be known where academic excellence combines with real world experience,” said Cummings.

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