College tuition is expensive, and the costs associated with higher education continue to rise. Parents know this, and students learn all too quickly once they have been enrolled that college is a very difficult financial burden. Thankfully, the Minnesota Colleges and Universities system remains firmly committed to helping students with successfully attending college through a program called Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, or PSEO.
PSEO is a program rewarding high performing students. High school seniors must be in the upper half of their class or score above the 50th percentile on the ACT or SAT, and juniors have to be in the upper one-third of their class or above the 70th percentile.
In addition to saving tuition costs, PSEO provides an alternative for those students who want further academic challenge in a college setting rather than a traditional high school setting. PSEO can also provide a great transition from high school to a four year degree program. As a college student myself, I know that the jump from high school to university isn’t easy.
According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, during the 2010-2011 school year, nearly 29,000 Minnesota high school juniors and seniors participated in PSEO. 30% of those students took classes in a college, while 70% participated in college level classes in their high school (https://www.ohe.state.mn.us). Over 86% of high school students participating earned college credits from the system's 31 colleges and universities. According to research presented on http://www.mnscu.edu PSEO, students have higher rates of enrollment, lower rates of remediation, and higher graduation rates from post-secondary universities.
Thankfully, the staff at St. Michael Albertville High School, led by Superintendent Dr. James Behle and Principal Bob Driver, fully understands the benefits of PSEO. The staff at STMA High School encourage students to not only attend PSEO classes outside of the high school, but they also offer an abundance classes for college credit through AP (Advanced Placement) and CIS (College In Schools) for students choosing to stay in high school.
In the St. Michael-Albertville Community, there are multiple people enrolled in the PSEO program, several of whom will graduate with their Associates degrees prior to obtaining their high school diploma. Yes, you read that right, college grads before they finished high school! Attending a four year university is also an option requiring even higher academic achievement. Although those students will not receive an Associate’s degree, they are well on their way to their Bachelor’s degrees. Several are also members of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Program requiring a minimum of a 3.5 GPA in all college courses. Because many are full time college students, they unfortunately do not get the local recognition that they would for their academic achievements through the high school because they are on college semesters rather than high school trimesters.
Six of the students graduating in 2014 who are currently PSEO students attending North Hennepin Community College who will receive their Associate of Arts Degrees on May 10th are: Nicholas Akkerman, Morgan Kessler, Alex LaMere, Simon Mark, Felicia Mix, and Madeline Smith. There are many other students also participating in this program, but because of privacy laws, their names cannot be published without consent.
PSEO has proven to be a very smart way for high achieving students to earn advanced college credit, provide an alternative learning environment to a traditional high school classroom, and to provide a transitional stepping stone from high school to a four year college program. Perhaps your child could consider these options as another path toward success in their academic career. It certainly doesn’t hurt high school students to get a head start on their future.