Adult Transitions, Learning, and Success (ATLaS) Scholars Project

ATLaS Mission

ATLaS helps adults in their first- or entry-year of university feel strong, balance the work, and return in their sophomore year.

ATLaS Vision

ATLaS works to reduce the barriers for Maine people and envisions that 60% of Maine’s adults will have a bachelors, associates, or employable certificate by 2025. .fullcolor.cmyk

ATLaS Guiding Principles

The ATLaS Program addresses the feelings of impostorship.

As an adult learner, you have so many things going on in your life other than school. ATLaS wants you to feel like you belong here. You are not nontraditional: you are not alone and you are the new traditional college student.

The ATLaS Program employs the cohort model.

Whenever we expose ourselves to new challenges, we experience better results when we have good relationships with the supports around us as well as with the other people doing the hard work. Even when we cannot be physically together, being part of a cohort that can meet asynchronously and at a distance can have a powerful impact.

The ATLaS Program uses a high-contact coaching model.

There are many departments at your university that are ready to help you with all of your questions and concerns. Sometimes adult learners feel like they should already know the answers to their questions or that when they ask questions they are taking up somebody’s time. Know that your support departments want to hear from you and ATLaS wants to have frequent contact with you to guide you through your first- or entry-year.

The ATLaS Program focuses on adults and how they learn.

Adults learn differently than children. You are more self-directed, have more life experiences, you want to learn in order to be your best and most capable self, you like to solve problems, and you’re motivated to learn the things most important to you. ATLaS teaches you with these things in mind and coaches you in your relationships with faculty to make your classroom experiences meaningful.

The ATLaS Program helps you understand your financial aid and other financial resources.

The financial aid process is complicated. Because ATLaS knows that financial challenges are among the top reasons why students do not persist in higher education programs, we are here to help answer questions and advocate for you when unexpected things come up. We assist you in understanding your economic picture and help you connect your higher education successes to your financial situation for after graduation.

The ATLaS Program helps you understand the important technologies you need for success in university.

So many of us are taking online classes. Understanding how to use Brightspace™, Zoom™, and other technologies for learning is important to your success. ATLaS helps scholars learn about these tools and to problem solve when challenges arise.

Department of Education Badge

ATLaS is 100% funded by an FY23 $945,000 Congressionally Directed Spending Grant through the U.S. Department of Education Secured by Maine Senators Collins and King at the request of the University of Maine System

ATLaS Activities

Workshop Series 2:00 – 3:00 PM


July 1, 2024

Learner Variability



July 9, 2024


July 11, 2024

Learning in Adulthood

July 16, 2024

Grit &

July 18, 2024

Impostor Syndrome

July 23, 2024

Whole Messages

July 25, 2024

Emotional Intelligence

July 30, 2024

Campus Responders

August 1, 2024

V x E = Motivation

August 6, 2024

Research & Writing

August 8, 2024

Micro- aggression

August 13, 2024

Wellness & Self-care


Privilege & Power

August 15, 2024

Spring 2024 Courses

UMA COL 123 Zoom™

Tue/Thu 1:00-3:00 PM
Starts July 1, 2024

UMA COL 123 Online

100% Online
Starts July 1, 2024

UM|M FYS 101 Zoom™

Register for UMA COL 123
Transfer to UM|M as FYS 101

UM|M FYS 101 Online

Register for UMA COL 123
Transfer to UM|M as FYS 101

UMFK HUM 102 Zoom™

Register for UMA COL 123
Transfer to UMFK as HUM 102

UMFK HUM 102 Online

Register for UMA COL 123
Transfer to UMFK as HUM 102

Maine Adult Education Students Welcome!

If you are a recent HiSET or diploma completer, or you’re thinking about college pathways, you may request assistance registering for an ATLaS course

ATLaS Guiding Principles

Addressing Impostorship

Adult learners are susceptible to feelings of impostorship when they enter college believing–and society reinforces–the notion of the “normal college student.” Students who are older, employed, caring for dependents, and contending with duties that compete for their attention can feel like they do not belong in the college community. The ATLaS Program fosters belonging and reinforces the new traditional college student.

Employing the Cohort Model

While adult learners experience a higher degree of internal motivation than younger learners, research holds that a cohort model offers the supportive factor of community around critical tasks. A cohort does not specifically imply physical proximity or synchronous timing on location. Cohort models are communities of learning that have psychosocial benefits and can operate remotely and asynchronously. This is powerfully reinforcing when adult learners experience barriers to their college access. The ATLaS Program gives adult learners a socially reinforcing experience that addresses their needs and limitations as people who experience complex demands on their time.

Intrusive Coaching Model

Adult learners require coaching and advising that matches their profiles as adults. However, adult learners often fall prey to thinking they are taking away from others or are less deserving of assistance. Adults easily convince themselves that “I should already know this or I don’t belong here.” The ATLaS Program integrates student support services into the cohort experience.

Faculty Training and Commitment

Adult learners thrive in academic environments where instructors demonstrate the difference between pedagogy and andragogy. Relevant materials and assignments, hyflex modalities, student-faculty collaboration, and efficient learning spaces are key indicators of adult student success and become doubly important when the adult learner possesses other vulnerable factors. The ATLaS Program incorporates strong faculty buy-in and support, and works with instructional staffs who are eager to affirm and promote andragogy and adult learner success.

Leveraging Financial Programs and Resources

Adults who are heads of households and people managing careers are at risk of stopping out when financial hardships increase and economic literacy is low. Financial issues are in the top reasons for college dropout. The University of Maine System sponsors a number of scholarships and financial programs to assist students but students are not always aware of processes, deadlines, requirements, or how to pair opportunities. The ATLaS Program liaises this process for participants to make college as low- or no-cost as possible for the adult learner.

Investing in the Digital Experience

Adults learners with complex responsibilities thrive on systems that are straightforward, well designed, and efficient. The conversion to the Brightspace Learning Management System (LMS) has been a learning curve for the whole University System and the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the inequities in device access and internet connectivity across the State of Maine. The ATLaS Program encourages adult learners’ digital literacies, explores opportunities to access high quality devices, and collaborates with the UMA FDC and across participating content area classes to achieve a student-centered look and feel that offers a consistent and highly quality digital experience.


ATLas commits to the success for first- and entry-year adult learners without discrimination against any of the six types of barriers that can impede equitable access or participation. Students selected for ATLaS will experience equity regardless of gender, race, national origin, color, disability, or age insofar as the project addresses the success of adult learners typically identified as a nontraditional student ages 25+. Outreach, marketing, and enrollment activities will target all eligible students who are a.) attending a participating UMS institution, b.) enrolled in a first or entry year, and c.) demonstrating need for support. ATLaS will use funds to employ student support staff and provide stipends to students to support their educational success through auditable and equitable disbursement protocols.

atlas inclusion banner
multicultural progress pride ATLaS logo

Frequently Asked Questions

ATLaS is a student support services program funded by the Department of Education quite similar to TRIO Student Support Services but different in the following important ways: a.) ATLaS serves adults, b.) who are in their first- or entry-year experience, and c.) working on an employable credential (bachelors, associates, certificates), and d.) sit at any of the participating institutions in the University of Maine System.

ATLaS capitalizes on the best practices of TRIO SSS and its record of success. Further, ATLaS is more focused in its design to serve a.) adult learners 25+, and b.) first- and entry-year learners. Additionally, ATLaS has the ability to reach more students by a.) serving students in any employability credential program (TRIO SSS can only serve baccalaureate students in our UMS programs) and b.) piercing the membrane between institutions and their articulated program agreements (TRIO SSS may only serve students intent on graduating within their own institutions).

ATLaS strengthens adult first- and entry-year learners in their pursuit of an employable credential, decreasing second-year attrition, and increasing good academic standing.

ATLaS recognizes the support needs of students in all employability credentialing programs in the University of Maine System and the movement between institutions necessary to help adults reach their employability goals.

ATLaS operates within the network of organizations endeavoring to achieve 60% of adults with an employable credential by 2025.

The ATLaS Congressionally Directed Spending grant is an FY2023 award. The performance period for this award is 07/01/2022 to 09/01/2025 [Revised 12/02/2022]

In the next three months, ATLaS will crosslink first- and entry-year coursework curated for adult learners across participating campuses. ATLaS will continue to work with the eligible community and invite Maine’s enrolled adults to join the microlearning and community spaces in Brightspace.

ATLaS has begun partnerships with support services at the University of Southern Maine, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, and the University of Maine at Machias.

ATLaS endeavors to serve any eligible student at any of our UMS campuses and is seeking contact with departments, faculty, students, and administrators interested in this work.

Students: If you are interested in the ATLaS program and you are an adult (25+) learner in your first- or entry-year experience at your institution, reach out to for more information about how to get involved.

Faculty: If you are interested to learn more about ATLaS, willing to serve on the advisory council, or desire to contribute content to the ATLaS learning experiences, please reach out to

Staff: If you are interested in collaborating on programming, workshops, services, events, please reach out to

Administrators: If you would like to learn more about working with ATLaS and connecting your campus to these opportunities, please reach out to

Fall 2023 Adult (25y+) first- and entry-year (=<29cr) population*

AssociatesInst. #Inst.%
Degree #5234311461071,207
Degree %43.33%35.71%12.10%8.86%

*Represents 95.7% of total population less students with FERPA holds on directory info. 1,207 total enrollments; 1,183 unique enrollments and 24 dual enrolled.

Spring 2023 Adult (25y+) first- and entry-year (=<29cr) population*

AssociatesInst. #Ins. %
Degree #529299126931,047
Degree %50.53%28.56%12.03%8.88%

*Represents 93.99% of of total population less students with FERPA holds on directory info

Fall 2022 Adult (25y+) first- and entry-year (=<29cr) population*

AssociatesInst. #Inst. %
Degree #479346133871,045
Degree %45.84%33.11%12.73%8.33%

*Represents 92.2% of of total population less students with FERPA holds on directory info