Last week, we started to look at Minnesota’s enrollment options programs. The purpose of the article was to review the kinds of educational options available to students across the state. This week, I would like to take a closer look at one of those program options, the post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO).
The post-secondary enrollment option (PSEO) program allows students in high school the opportunity to attend a post-secondary institution and earn both college and high school credit. It is intended to offer a greater variety of options and challenges to high school students by making college-level courses available. The college-level courses should offer more choices to students and are expected to be delivered at the same level of difficulty or challenge as expected for the traditional college students.
Application for post-secondary enrollment by interested students is expected by March 30th for planning opportunities at both levels of school. For all practical purposes, students can participate at any time during the school year assuming the post-secondary institution approves the application for admission.
WHO MAY PARTICIPATE?
The PSEO program is open to any student at the high school level who has reached junior or senior academic status. Last year’s legislative session also extended some options to younger students. The program involves all public colleges, universities, technical schools, and any participating private school. Even if the student’s previous history is home-school or private school background, the student may choose to participate as a resident of the home public school district.
Students who enroll in the post-secondary options program may decide to participate on a full or part-time basis. Students may enroll in both the high school and at the post-secondary institution or may simply choose one of the schools.
Private post-secondary schools are not required to participate in the PSEO program. A private post-secondary institution which participates in the program is able to set its own guidelines on application approval, schedules, and credits. Many of the private schools choose not to participate in PSEO.
St. Cloud State University, on the other hand, must follow state guidelines in regard to participation and must allow qualified juniors or seniors to enroll on a full-time basis. Students who apply for post-secondary enrollment must meet admission requirements of the post-secondary school.
There is, in the statute, a March deadline for informing the local school district about the decision to attend. The deadline is intended to be a guideline to allow students opportunity to meet with the high school counselor and the admissions counselor at the post-secondary school in order to make an informed decision about participation in the program.
The fees related to tuition, books, and lab costs are all covered by the state as a part of the high school learning experience. Transportation and/or housing costs as well as equipment costs (such as a calculator, tools, or computer which the student will keep) are the responsibility of the student or the student's family. Books, because they are purchased with state funds, become the property of the local school district rather than the student.
Because the fees and tuition are covered by the state in the program, each student who enrolls in PSEO courses affects the funds that flow to the local school district. For a full-time PSEO student, the resident school district is able to retain a small portion of the foundation aid formula, but the rest follows the student to the post-secondary institution to cover tuition costs.
An important feature of the program for students to consider is that the credits earned in the post-secondary enrollment program affect both the high school and post-secondary academic record. Although the courses taken are post-secondary credits, they are reflected in a student's high school record and calculated as though they are high school courses. They also begin the post-secondary transcript of the student and will remain on this record permanently.
Students who are sophomores or juniors, and their parents, will receive additional information about this program option in the near future. In addition, the high school administration or counseling office can offer other information about the program for interested students or parents.
COLLEGE IN THE HIGH SCHOOL ENROLLMENT
A more recent development in the PSEO process has been a program known as College in the High School (CITHS) enrollment. This is an effort to bring the college level courses, along with the college credit, to the high school campus. Typically, the high school works out a contract with a sponsoring post-secondary school to permit the teaching of the college courses at the high school site.
The primary advantages of CITHS enrollment are the location of the class (on the high school campus), that the instructors are the members of the high school staff (under the supervision of the college staff), and that students essentially remain members of their own school for activities and events. The rules about credit are, for the most part, the same as they are for PSEO.
Several universities and colleges across the state of Minnesota offer CITHS enrollment courses. Southwest Minnesota State University (Marshall) has been one of the leaders in extending college credit to the high school campus, but many of the universities offer the opportunity. Other schools offering this option include the University of Minnesota, Fon du lac Tribal and Community College, UM-Crookston, and others.
The ROCORI District has contracted with Fon du lac TCC to provide these course options within our system. Financial arrangements between the high school and the college are the core issues in the development of these contracts. We offer a wide variety of courses for which students may register. The high school office and counseling center has more information about these choices.
We are very proud of the options we are able to offer in the ROCORI School District. Because of the college courses we offer, students from our district can have a significant advantage as they head to post-secondary settings. Last year, our graduates took more than 2500 college credits with them as they left our district. A number of our students each year enter their “college career” with more than half of their first year already complete—and some enter as college sophomores because of the credits they have earned.
The post-secondary options available in ROCORI are part of the quality educational options available to our students. We are pleased with and proud of the opportunities available!