BSM students attend college classes

Kate Baldwin

Most high school students can’t wait until the day they graduate and enter the world of college campuses and courses, but for some students at BSM, this day has come sooner than expected. Four students are currently partaking in PSEO, a program that allows high school students to take college courses and earn credit for both high school and college.

PSEO, or Post Secondary Enrollment Options, is a program that offers a challenge to those who seek it and cannot find it within their own school’s curriculum. “Sometimes a student may not have met the requirements to take an AP class, so they apply to take the class at a college through PSEO,” said counselor Ms. Amy Desmond.

If a student goes to a public school, they are able to do PSEO full time, but a student attending Benilde-St. Margaret’s can only do it part time. “Student’s must be here for four classes out of the day,” said Ms. Desmond, “and since students have to be taking six classes a semester, the other two classes can be done outside of BSM through PSEO.”

Typically, most students only take one per semester. “One semester of a college class is equal to two semesters at BSM, so for every one college credit you earn, you earn two high school credits,” said Ms. Desmond.

Exhausting Their Opitons
BSM requires students to take at least one English, science, religion, and social studies class, which is why students most often do PSEO for language and math courses. For example, junior John Karlen is currently taking classes at the University of Minnesota, “I mainly exhausted all the math courses at school, so to graduate from high school I needed more math credits. Therefore I went to PSEO to get this done,” said Karlen.

In John’s case the scheduling worked nicely so that his class at the U of M correlated with a time when he had a free period, so John is still able to get all of his classes done in the school day without missing anything. “[BSM] has been really accommodating, bending my schedule to fit my classes in,” said Karlen. Most often this is not the case, and students have to attend their PSEO classes at night.

Senior Mollie Hughes took a class through PSEO during first semester. “I’m doing PSEO because there are no Spanish levels left at BSM,” said Hughes. Hughes’s process has been a little more difficult than Karlen’s. She was unable to take her PSEO classes at the University of Minnesota, her first choice, due to the obstacles she faced with registering for her class. “ I took my class at Normandale. I was originally going to go to the U but as a PSEO student I was blocked and couldn’t register for a class without my counselor with me … the level filled up really fast and every time  they added a new class I couldn’t get into it at home before it filled,” said Hughes.

“[the process] ended up kind of being a hassle for me because of my load at BSM then my college class … I often forgot about it and it was on my one free night so it just kinda became a pain to be honest.” Despite all this, Hughes said, “It was a good experience for sure.”

As a high school student, one might feel intimidated attending classes on a college campus with college students. “At first I felt really awkward,” said Hughes, “I thought everyone knew I was so young and they were all in their twenties, but it wasn’t until like half way through the semester that they even found out I was still in high school. They all assumed I was in college and were really nice to me.”

Karlen has found it easy to blend in as well: “I feel like I fit in in the sense that I am capable of doing extremely well in college courses.” Similar to Hughes’s experience, Karlen found the age gap all too noticeable. “Sometimes I do feel a little out of place … in the classes I have taken I have been four years younger than the average student,” said Karlen, “the most are at least twenty. There was one girl in my class that looked like she was forty.”

All in all, both Hughes and Karlen have gotten to know the college students in the classes that they take. “I really like the kids in my class. It was a conversational class so I got to know them pretty well and I really liked them. It was probably one of the best parts of the class,” said Hughes.

Pursuing Their Passion
For senior Rachel Knoll, PSEO has helped her in making decisions regarding her future. “It’s helping me decide whether or not I want to go to a college focused on arts,” she said. She is currently doing her PSEO at Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) where she attends a five hour class every Monday night.
“I also just wanted to get out of Benilde sooner and start going to college,” said Knoll. “I love it, it’s been a great experience for me,” said Knoll, “I’m able to have a different experience from what I’ve done at Benilde for the past few years…and I feel good about going to college next year.”

Senior Spencer Miller is taking advantage of the PSEO program and is taking three classes at the University of Concordia in Saint Paul to expand his musical background, “and it’s good to get college credit in high school,” said Miller. Taking Jazz Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, and Voice classes may seem like a heavy work load, but for Miller it has been “very vital in my pursuit of music, while being awesome at the same time.”
He admits that it has been tough balancing the work from his college courses and the work demanded from his classes at BSM. “A person must enjoy which class they take,” said Miller, “ I would recommend [PSEO] only to someone who would have a very driven attitude towards their PSEO classes. They are not all easy and demand a lot more than your high school classes. I take have taken a total of nine classes…no way I could do them if I didn’t enjoy most of them.”

There are many reasons as to why more BSM students are not involved in the PSEO program. One reason is that “the PSEO classes are most often after school, and so many students can’t do this because they are already so involved with other things,” said Ms. Desmond, “there is also no tuition break so many find that it’s not worth it when they are paying to attend Benilde.”

Another reason is that the students at BSM are not at a disadvantage for not taking it because the classes offered at Benilde-St. Margaret’s are already very challenging and do not give and edge towards college. “It is the school’s policy that you are a BSM student first,” said Ms. Desmond, meaning that the student’s classes taken at BSM must meet all of the school’s requirements to graduate, and they are the first priority when it comes to the student’s education.

PSEO “has proven to be very worthwhile,” said Karlen, “It has given me a whole new outlook on high school and college life, and it also gave me a lot of responsibility that many high school people do not have to think about.”