By DARRELL DAVIS
High school students across Minnesota are getting an early jump on the college experience through the PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Option) program. North Central sponsors 61 PSEO participants on campus. Another 68 students attend North Central’s satellite program for PSEO, the Y.E.A.H. (Youth Educated At Home) Academy in Roseville, Minn. The Academy is staffed by North Central adjunct faculty and offers students the opportunity to take North Central PSEO courses at the Roseville location.
The PSEO program is available to Minnesota high school juniors and seniors at eligible colleges and universities. Students at North Central and at the Y.E.A.H. Academy must meet regular admissions requirements plus additional requirements such as a 3.0 high school GPA.
Credits earned at North Central are applied to students’ high school curriculum. If the student attends a college or university after graduation, the PSEO credits may be transferred in as college credit.
Aimee Robertson, a former PSEO student and current North Central PSEO Coordinator, said many PSEO students are ready for new challenges after a couple of years in high school.
“It was an amazing experience for me. If you’re in it for the academics, it’s so stimulating to go from high school level to college level classes,” said Robertson. “It’s also nice to be able to have the freedom to choose your classes based on what you’re interested in and to learn the time management skills that come with classes that are every other day as opposed to being in class every day.” Robertson added that the economy is another factor in PSEO involvement.
“Parents are saying, ‘if you get the grades and you can do this, you’re going to go to college for free.’”
PSEO students are not required to pay for tuition or textbooks. The Minnesota Department of Education contracts with PSEO-eligible institutions to cover educational expenses.
This benefit is not lost on Veronica Blackburn, a high school senior who is home-schooled but in her second semester at North Central as a PSEO student.
“College is expensive and I think PSEO is a wonderful opportunity and reward for those high school students who are capable of doing college level work – to be able to take college classes for free,” said Blackburn.
Adam Engebretson, a senior at Champlin Park High School who is in his third semester as a North Central PSEO student, says that the benefits of the program go beyond financial and academic.
“I feel like I can talk to people here regarding my faith and I can write papers and essays that reflect my faith,” said Engebretson. “My GPA has gone up, I’ve made a lot more friends, and it’s very spiritually uplifting for me.”
Blackburn expressed having similar experiences.
“It [PSEO] has definitely been a great learning and growing experience for me – both academically and spiritually, said Blackburn. “It’s great to go to school and be able to have in-class discussions and to be able to interact daily with people who are older than me and have the same basic ways of thinking.”