Freshman psychology major Alexis Ramos moved into Oak Hall less than three months ago, but she’s already 30 credits into her college career at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Alexis Ramos

In addition to saving her time and money, UMSL’s Advanced Credit Program gave Alexis Ramos, now a first-year student at the university, an early look at various fields of study. (Photo by August Jennewein)

That’s because Ramos knocked her first 17 credits out of the way while still in high school. She heard about UMSL’s Advanced Credit Program as a high-caliber freshman at Fort Zumwalt West High School in O’Fallon, Mo., and sensed it was a great opportunity to get a jumpstart on college.

“It just seemed like a really good idea,” Ramos said.

Choosing a Spanish III ACP course as a sophomore, Ramos extended her second-language knowledge and crossed five dual credits off her list that year. She also began to develop academic skills that continue to serve her well, such as effective note-taking during lectures.

“ACP really helps prepare you for what college courses are like and what professors are going to expect from you,” Ramos said. “And it really does save you money.”

She continued to make the most of ACP courses her junior and senior years at Fort Zumwalt West, including an introduction to psychology that sparked her interest in the field she’s now exploring in greater depth at UMSL.

ACP permits qualifying students to earn college credit and become familiar with the college experience in a high school setting. In Ramos’ case, it also helped her choose UMSL after high school.

“I felt like I was a UMSL student even before I was a freshman,” Ramos said, adding that the university’s proximity to home and the College of Optometry’s reputation played into her decision to enroll this fall as a psychology major and pre-optometry student.

Ramos also received a UMSL Bound scholarship through ACP and support through Multicultural Student Services.

“They paired me with a mentor – she’s a psychology major, too,” Ramos said.

Kathleen Burns, director of ACP, said ACP has seen an overall enrollment increase of 6 percent this fall compared to a year ago. That brings the number of high school students currently taking advantage of it to 4,540. And 19 percent of this fall’s first-time UMSL students completed ACP credits in high school.

“Parents and high schools are becoming more aware of the value of UMSL’s dual-credit programs for their college-bound students, and that is bound to increase ACP registrations,” Burns said. “The cooperation and support from various sectors of campus also go a long way in allowing ACP to provide the type of customer service that our partner high schools appreciate.”

For the last several years, the top ACP-enrolling high schools in the region have been Webster Groves, Chaminade, Fox, Lafayette, Parkway Central, Fort Zumwalt West, Fort Zumwalt South, Seckman, Oakville, Incarnate Word, Eureka, Fort Zumwalt North, Marquette, Parkway South and Mehlville.

The UMSL Experience

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill