Full-time PSEO allows students to branch out academically

Senior Sonia LePoudre poses during her day at MCTC. Free college was pretty hard to resist, said LePoudre, who does full-time PSEO.

Photo courtesy of Sonia LePoudre

Senior Sonia LePoudre poses during her day at MCTC. “Free college was pretty hard to resist,” said LePoudre, who does full-time PSEO.

Etta Harkness-Bartholdi, Photo Editor

“College classes are amazing,” senior Hannah Zinky and full-time Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program (PSEO) student at the University of Minnesota raved. “You are assumed to be competent, there are more interesting classes available too and if [you are] full-time, you can have a lot of free time.”

Zinky has been enrolled in PSEO since last year. PSEO acts as a gateway and a glimpse into college. Juniors and seniors at South and around the district are offered the opportunity to enroll and take college courses for free. Not only does the PSEO program provide a paved pathway into college academics, it also shows students what it is like to be a living, breathing, college student.

Students who have successfully worked through the PSEO program “have higher rates of enrolling in a college or university after high school graduation,” claims the Minnesota State Colleges and University on their website.

“I have two jobs that I really love and I wouldn’t be able to have them if I had class five times a week,” shared senior Sonia LePoudre, a full-time PSEO student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). “It wasn’t until I started working my first job that I considered the benefits of PSEO and being able to work more hours.”

Many students who participate in full-time PSEO only have 2 or 3 classes they are taking. Most of these classes are only an hour or two, and meet infrequently. “I now have two … classes three days a week,” South junior and full-time PSEO student Isaiah Bloom reported. This frees up a lot of time for PSEO student who now have to focus more than ever on time management

Another incentive to be successful, and participate in PSEO is money–PSEO means free college classes. “The main perk though has got to be that I am finishing high school while getting most of my general education classes done for free. This saves me a ton of money and will definitely help me out in the long run,” reflected Bloom.

“Free college was pretty hard to resist,” remarked LePoudre,  “and my parents are very happy about my decision.”

There are drawbacks to PSEO for students. “One drawback that immediately comes to mind is the travel,” said Bloom who attends University of Northwestern. “I travel to Roseville 3 days a week, which isn’t the most convenient thing in the world.”

Adjusting to the intensity of a college class can also make succeeding in PSEO difficult. “Just as a suggestion, don’t take a sophomore level class your first year of PSEO unless you are completely confident you can do it,” Bloom advised. “That was my mistake. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t pick that class.” Bloom was referring to a class called US History to 1877 which he took to fulfill the History requirement for South.

Despite the difficulty of classes, “our students do very well in PSEO,” guidance counselor Don Dilla reassured. “In the years we have had the program only a few have had any problems with it. If you are motivated enough to sign up you are probably motivated enough to be successful in it.” Signing up for PSEO program includes a minimum GPA -range and, depending on the school, an essay and various forms from your counselor and parents.

Another big drawback to doing full-time PSEO is the idea of missing the ‘high school experience.’ “I am not, and have never been someone who would have had high school be the best part of my life,” Zinky assessed. “I would be bored and stuck in high school, so PSEO is really wonderful for me. And I have gone to two dances and half a football game so I at least have some of a high school experience.”

This sentiment is shared among the other full-time PSEO students, and with a lot of South seniors experiencing ‘senioritis.’ Many take PSEO senior year especially to combat this epidemic.   PSEO overall helps students feel valued as adults, which juniors and seniors are, rather than high school students . Zinky feels very grateful for this opportunity,  “I am a good student, I show up to class prepared and act like someone who has been given the privilege to learn at a higher level.”