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Pakou Breaks Down PSEO

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Senior Year of High School, Outside of High School

By: Pakou

 

Post Secondary Education Option. PSEO. Four simple acronym letters put together, and you get an experience that will not only save you money for college, but knowledge that you will take with you after high school.  Approximately 500 to 600 high school students from all over the Twin Cities metro area participates in this program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities each school year. Every PSEO student gets a taste of the “college experience” before their peers. This unique experience varies from student to student. My experience as a PSEO student so far has been amazing. It all started with a very difficult decision, probably one of my biggest decisions as a high school student.

 There are many Henry students who are doing PSEO at different colleges and I am excited to be taking this route of education with them. Like many PSEO students at Henry, I struggled to make the decision of taking the route of PSEO or go for the International Bachelorette (IB) Diploma. I started pondering about this topic during my sophomore year in high school. I had long discussions with my counselor and feedback from numerous teachers, advisors, friends, IB students, and first-hand students who participated in PSEO. I really wanted to get different opinions about PSEO and the IB program so I would know what I was getting myself into. At the end of my sophomore year of high school, I finally decided that I was not going to do PSEO right away during my junior year and I was also not striving for the IB diploma. My plan instead, was to take a mixture of IB and College in School courses (CIS) my junior year of high school, then become a PSEO student my senior year of high school.

The journey as a PSEO student continued on with the application process. Applying to the PSEO program was like applying to the college itself; the wait for the acceptance letter was nerve wracking. I applied to the program in December of 2010, and did not hear back from  them until June of 2011. Once I received the acceptance letter, allowing me to be a full-time PSEO student (taking 13 credits or more), I was ecstatic! I could not believe that I was going to have this wonderful experience as a University of Minnesota Twin Cities student during my senior year of high school.

As high school students, we hear some great things about college all the time, “you get to pick your own classes,” “you get to wake up late,” “you’re able to fix your schedule around your personal life,” and “you are able to do whatever you want once you’re out of your parents’ house.” Some of these sayings may be true, but the one thing he thing I truly love about college is how motivated the students are to learn. The students who truly want to succeed, will succeed because there are very little distractions in the discussion or lecture classes. The vast majority of those students are paying money to attend the college, therefore, putting all of their effort into achieving their goal, which is to graduate and attain greater knowledge. Although I must say, most of the learning is outside of the classrooms. It is the studying and extra time spent on the material that students really get to grasp the information and do well in the class.

 

Sitting down in a lecture room for 300 students for the first time was quite a feeling. I am thankful I did not take the College of Liberal Arts’ Introduction to Psychology class located in Willey Hall’s auditorium that can fit over 500 students, maybe even up to 1,000 students! (I am uncertain of the numbers, but it is a huge auditorium.) Before class started, thoughts ran through my mind, “should I introduce myself to the person sitting next to me?” “Should I tell others that I’m only a high school student? Jeez, I bet if I told them, they are going to think that I am a total nerd.” “Will I make any friends in this class? I hope I won’t have to think to myself like this all semester.” I was nervous. I did not know if I even looked old enough to be in college. Thankfully, I recognized one of my PSEO friends who I met at our potluck a week before school started and did not have to think to myself throughout the whole lecture. As the professor lectured, I wondered, “Does my professor see or even recognize me in this jam-packed room of college students?” “How many students even go to their office hours?” and “Am I really just a ‘number’ to the professor since this lecture room is colossal?” Students may feel like a number during lectures, but students get to stand out, converse, and interact with other students more in their lab and/or discussions classes with their teacher assistants. I had the honor of getting to know and interacting with my sociology and math TA. The experience one gets with their professor and TA really all depends on luck of getting a decent professor and TA, and the students’ willingness to ask question and take the initiative since they will not because they have so many other students to focus on.

To have the social life of a college student as a PSEO student in a college campus is difficult to fulfill because I am constantly on the bus commuting from the home, to the East bank, then to the St. Paul campus, back to East bank, and then to West bank, and back home. Commuting and homework is time consuming. Daily homework is a given in any class; there is not a day that there is no homework or studying for midterms and finals. During the fall semester, I had an incredibly busy schedule. I was still participating in my high school extracurricular activities and I had a full load of classes that I had to stay on top of my coursework.

My experience at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities so far has been astonishing, safe, and an eye opener for the fall of 2012, where I really start college as a freshman. I have not once been uncomfortable with another student or in my classes. I have kept myself on track with my classes and made sure that I was able to pass my classes with a B minus or higher. This is because the PSEO program at the University of Minnesota has their own set of requirements also, which is to obtain a B minus or higher.

 

Having my senior year of high school be spent outside of my high school building has been a valuable experience. There were many sacrifices that had to be made my senior year of high school while participating in PSEO. In order to keep the group running smoothly, I had to cut some extracurricular activities. To keep my grades up, my time spent with friends decreased while time spent doing homework and studying increased. I know that what I am doing now will help me in my future, academically and financially. PSEO is a fantastic program that not all high school students in the country get the opportunity take. While there are other ways to get college credit in high school, PSEO is a great option – as long as the student knows for certain that they credits will transfer to the college of their choice.

For those of you who have the desire to become a PSEO student, I encourage you whole-heartedly to do it.  However, I must warn you that you must have the desire to do well and give it your all.  You must be aware of your strengths and weakness academically and mentally before you decide to become a PSEO student. I personally love this program and I am happy and thankful to be at the University of Minnesota as a full-time student.