Empowering the next generation of Maine . . . through aspirations, education, and effort.
Maine College Circle
Maine College Circle
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Maine College Circle

Defining college

A well-done degree from a college opens up a world of opportunity. I believe every student should have that same opportunity. A successful post-secondary education provides knowledge, the skills to learn more, connections to a larger world, and a little extra confidence in your ability to influence the world for the better.

In some communities I visit, "college" seems to be a dirty word. It is for the elite and the wealthy. That is wrong. College can be expensive, but plenty of students I work with attend college for nothing or very little. If they do their education well, what they gain , including their financial return, is far greater than any costs they will incur. A college education done well is an investment in you, not a cost, and you won't find an investment with a better return. That return on investment should be available to all students, regardless of their background or academic skills.

I have a hard time exciting 4th graders about "post-secondary education." It just doesn't have much of a ring to it. We talk about "college" and we fuss about spelling it with two "e's" and no "a's". To these kids, college seems special. It's cool. But what about trade school, adults always ask. In these Aspirations Workshops, we talk a lot about Eastern Maine Community COLLEGE, and Northern Maine Community COLLEGE, and Washington County Community COLLEGE, Kennebec Valley Community COLLEGE, and Empire Beauty College, and Aveda Institute, and the Maine School of Masonry, and the New England School of Metalworks, and DigiPen Institute of Technology, and NASCAR Tech.

There is a growing cultural and economic gap in this country that concerns me a lot. A boy who is interested in working on cars would probably be much better served by Eastern Maine Community College than by Harvard. I am a big believer in students pursuing their aspirations — what they like and feel they are good at. They have a better sense of that in 4th grade than we (and they) realize. We should celebrate all students' aspirations and efforts. That said, in this country there is the implication that "college" is somehow better than "trade school." Maine College Circle chooses to celebrate all these educational opportunities equally, and so we define "college" very broadly and we work to excite students throughout the state about their learning opportunities beyond high school — opportunities that will give them a huge advantage in the world of work and beyond.

Bob Stuart, Program Director, Maine College Circle