Holden student to enter UMaine with 64 Early College credits

“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.”

This is the best advice 17-year-old Brady Barker of Holden has ever received and he stands by it, especially as it applies to his experience participating in the University of Maine’s Early College program.

Student holds two University of Maine Early College pathway certificates
Brady Barker holds his two UMaine Early College pathway certificates.

Barker started taking Early College classes as a first-year student at Brewer High School. Since then, he’s completed 64 college credits through UMaine and earned 17 AP/concurrent class credits. That’s 81 college credits — more than half the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree. 

As Barker sees it, there were all kinds of benefits to participating in Early College, not just the credit hours. First, Early College courses allowed him to hone his interests. He completed two Early College pathways: economics and engineering through Early College pathways. Early College career pathways are gateways to exploring career paths while earning college credits, giving students a jump start on some programs when they enroll in college.

Barker started out with engineering in his first year, his mother driving him up to the UMaine campus in Orono every day, waiting for him until he was out of class, then driving him back to Holden. 

He discovered his interest in computer engineering and found he really enjoys physics because it can be applied to anything you do in the world. He enjoys coding because he likes problem solving and finds it satisfying to see how coding can change things right in front of your eyes on a screen. His final project for his computer engineering class was coding a game of Blackjack using C++ , one of the world’s most popular programming languages.

Barker participated in online and in-person classes at UMaine. He says he appreciates the vigor and structure the Early College program offers, noting that it prevented him from getting bored and was an excellent preparation for actual college. The due dates were real, helping him to learn about consequences, self-discipline and time management. In addition, the caliber of learning was high, and he appreciated having such a high bar to strive for.

In high school, Barker played ice hockey and golf, and volunteered at a local food bank and at the Brewer ice rink, teaching kids to skate. He was also Brewer High School’s class of 2022 valedictorian.

Participating in Early College gave Barker a feel for UMaine. With classmates he could depend on if he had questions and professors who were always very helpful, he says he always felt very comfortable.

Barker plans to enroll in UMaine in fall 2022, majoring in engineering physics, with the intention of completing his bachelor’s degree in just three semesters. At UMaine, he hopes to try out for club hockey. He’d then like to go on to get a master’s degree. 

If all goes according to plan, Barker will be graduating from college at 19. Rather than heading straight into the workforce, he says he knows he’ll benefit from further exploration through a master’s program.

Barker is inspired by his dad, who also graduated from UMaine with an engineering physics degree and worked at Baker Hughes, an energy technology company. While Brady is intrigued by the idea of working on power plants that need to be upgraded or that are out of service, he’d also like to experiment more before deciding what to do. 

To learn more about UMaine’s Early College program, visit umaine.edu/earlycollege.


This story has now been additionally reported on by News Center Maine and WABI