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Scholars Get Schooled

Missouri Scholars Academy gives students an early college experience.

Regan Johnston

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   What is it like after you graduate high school? That’s a question that runs through most students’ heads often, but they never truly get the opportunity to find out until they actually do it. For a few students, that experience is just around the corner.

   Every year, since 1985, the Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA), hosted on the campus of the University of Missouri, brings in 330 of what they deem as Missouri’s brightest students for a three-week-long camp in June to give them a true college experience.

Sophomore Halle Maksimik. Photo by Joey O’Kelly

“It’s specifically for people who are interested in college and try to do higher level things,” sophomore and MSA applicant Halle Maksimik said. “So it’s not like a summer camp but it’s kind of the same theory.”

   For this experience, students have to pick a major and a minor they will study extensively for three weeks. The major class takes three hours a day while the minor takes one hour a day. When the students aren’t in class they stay on campus, living in the dorms.

   “I lived in a Mark Twain dormhouse on the MU campus,” junior and former MSA participant Oli McCann said. “I was in the law major. I took a really cool minor class called Censorship in American Poetry.”

   MSA includes a variety of afternoon and evening activities to broaden the students’ understanding of various job experiences.

   “In 2018, MSA offered presentations by a former astronaut, a Grammy-nominated recording artist, a lecture on current research in stem cells, a performance by the Missouri Symphony Society, a discussion on medical ethics and the Rwandan refugee crisis and two dozen others,” MSA director Steven Keller

   The application process for this program starts with sophomore students being selected from both public and private schools in Missouri based on their scores from any of the following: ACT, PACT, PSAT, SAT or Aspire. LHS students were chosen based on their Pre-ACT scores. After that, the applicants are selected based off criteria set by the administration.

   “Scholars are selected based on GPA, written essays, as well as on evidence of leadership, creativity, intellectual curiosity, problem-solving ability and academic initiative from letters of recommendation,” Keller said.

Junior Oli McCann. Photo by Joey O’Kelly

   The application process typically takes up to two months. This year’s MSA applicants will submit their final application packet on February 8, then wait to see if they got in, which they will find out in late March.

 “The school gets to nominate a few people and then from that group the board of MSA chooses a certain amount from each school,” McCann said.

   Along with giving high school students a college experience, this program allows participants to explore their intellectual capabilities and potential. It also allows students to meet other higher-level students from around the state.

   “Often gifted students, especially from small towns, can feel a bit ostracized. Being smart can sometimes be a negative,” Keller said. “Meeting and interacting with other scholars can help them feel more included at MSA and back in their school. Many of the most amazing stories from former scholars are the programs and actions they have initiated back in their home schools and communities based on their experiences at MSA.”

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Scholars Get Schooled