BSM Encourages Students to Take Advantage of PSEO Classes


Matilda Pihart

PSEO student log into their classes through online platforms.

Post-secondary Enrollment Options, also known as PSEO, allow prospective college applicants to take college courses and earn college credits while still in high school. At Benilde-St Margaret’s, students have the chance to take a multitude of college classes when in grades eleventh and twelfth. PSEO was first introduced to Minnesota in 1985, and BSM subsequently started a program soon afterward. The chance to take PSEO while at BSM, however, has been advertised to students for only a few years. Since then, there have been numerous students who have participated in the program.

Many students were not aware of BSM’s PSEO options, so it went unused for many years. High school counselor Amanda Anderson commented on how the program wasn’t promoted intentionally in past years. “We never advertised it because as a private school, we wanted our students to take advantage of all the opportunities they have here on campus,” Anderson said.

When new leadership was introduced to BSM, new changes followed. Anderson talked about how Principal Stephanie Nitchals decided to change BSM’s stance on the PSEO program and offer it more widely to students. “[When] Nitchals was hired last year, one of her strategic initiatives was to have more college credit opportunities for students, so then that’s why we started pushing [PSEO] more,” Anderson said.

A variety of students participate in PSEO options, including Chinese, Politics and Globalization, Environmental Biology, French, Calculus One, and Personal Finance. They take their classes in person, online, or completely asynchronous. In-person classes are often at Normandale Community College or the University of Minnesota, where BSM students are immersed in college classrooms and have the opportunity to work with college students.

[When] Nitchals was hired last year, one of her strategic initiatives was to have more college credit opportunities for students, so then that’s why we started pushing [PSEO] more.

— Amanda Anderson

Students taking these classes have expressed positive experiences and fondness for the challenge of higher education. Senior Brook Wenande is currently taking Interpersonal Communications and Psychology in Modern Life online through Normandale Community College. Wenande talked about the adjustment to the more demanding requirements for collegiate-level classes. “College professors are more demanding…you need to be on top of [homework]. All [the] sudden late policies are no joke in college. It changed my perspective on how timely you actually have to be,” Wenande said.

Similarly, junior Alyssa Picha is taking a couple of online classes at Normandale. Picha expressed how she has enjoyed the shift in course load and teaching style at a collegiate level. , “The class is definitely more fast-paced, but it’s not as much work because the professors are really good… My calculus professor is very engaging…he has office hours that are typically when I have school, but they’re definitely very flexible,” Picha said.

By taking college classes, these students are strengthening their transcripts in preparation for admissions. Anderson provided information on how college admissions view PSEO classes positively in college applications. “It shows that the student is ready for college-level material and attempting the next level of education,” Anderson said.

These students all expressed how they enjoy choosing courses that interest them. Wenande liked how she could take a class that interested her, instead of just taking it for the credits like in high school. . “[In the class I’m] learning something more exciting and that I want to learn rather than having to take a class just to take it,” Wenande said.

However, some students have found it challenging to communicate with their PSEO professors when they are off-campus. Lance Hoover is taking Chinese at the U of M, but he has found that his high school classes allow him to talk to his teachers in a more personal setting. “I’ve been so privileged because the classes are so small [at BSM]…[there’s] less individual attention [at the U of M],” Hoover said.

The ability to try out different college classes while still in high school gives students the opportunity to complete introductory credit, which allows them to delve more deeply into their major once they are in college. Senior Lindsay Pfeiffer is taking an asynchronous calculus class and is happy to get the credit out of the way. “I have always wanted to be a vet so calculus is something that I will obviously have to do in college. And so I might as well just kind of knock it off in high school and get some college credits,” Pfeiffer said.

While many students find an interest in their classes, some realize that they don’t enjoy the classes they are taking as much as they had thought they would. This can be helpful to know before deciding on a major and picking a college. Lillian Hertel came to this realization, and it helped her in deciding her future. “[My classes have taught me a lot about what I look for, but also helped me realize I think I want to do sociology instead of political science,” Hertel said.