Staff of the ACP at UMSL

Enrollment in the Advanced Credit Program at UMSL has experienced a 25 percent increase over five years. The ACP staff pictured includes (from left) Bette Ramirez, Kathleen Burns, Liz Diamond and Katie Neville. (Photo by August Jennewein)

With 72 schools, hundreds of teachers and thousands of students to track, you could lose sense of the big picture. But Kathleen Burns, academic director of the Advanced Credit Program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, points to a steady 25 percent increase in enrollment over the last five years.

Burns attributes the growth and the program’s enhanced reputation in the community to some tried and true tactics.

“There are several reasons for the growth,” Burns said. “Most of what we’ve accomplished is due to customer service. We’ve become much more proactive, anticipating the needs of students and parents, our customers.”

ACP or dual-credit courses are university-level courses taught in high schools to eligible high school students by university-qualified instructors using the college’s approved textbooks and curricula. College credits earned through ACP are accepted at all of Missouri’s public colleges and universities and many other institutions across the country

Burns said ACP’s customer service mantra over the years drove the decision to streamline the registration process, develop clear-cut policies and procedures and offer professional development opportunities on campus for the high school instructors.

“UMSL professors act as faculty liaisons between us and the high schools,” Burns said. “They become our eyes and ears, meeting with the high school instructors and ensuring that the course content and requirements are comparable to our on-campus courses. Creating collegial relationships with the high school instructors have enhanced our interactions with the schools.”

To add to the community good will and UMSL applications, the program received a big boost in 2011 when it launched “Breakfast with the Deans,” the brainchild of Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Ron Gossen, UMSL’s chief marketing officer. ACP students and their parents are invited to breakfast with the deans and key faculty members. The meet and greet breakfast precedes the highly successful UMSL Day, the university’s twice yearly open house and recruitment showcase.

And of course, there’s the product. Nearly 60 classes are offered, many of them satisfying general education requirements in math, science, fine arts and the humanities. High school juniors and seniors can earn numerous credit hours toward their college credit requirements for about one-fourth the cost.

Students who have participated in UMSL’s Advanced Credit Program are eligible to apply for a $12,000 UMSL-Bound Scholarship to attend UMSL full time after high school graduation.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel