So you’re in high school, and you’re scheduling for next year, and you’re having trouble filling your schedule because you’ve already taken most of the classes you need or want to take.
Maybe this is you in two years. Maybe this is you in ten years. Or maybe, this is your child. They’re going to get to high school eventually. So here’s something to chew on.
What if you could take college courses for free your junior or senior year of high school?
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well it isn’t because this is a reality. The state of Ohio offers a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options Program (PSEOP) for high school students who have completed the curriculum at their high schools. PSEOP has two options. There’s option A, where you pay for tuition and books, but the college credit does not count towards the student’s high school GPA. And then there is option B, where tuition and books are paid for you, and the credit counts toward both high school and college GPA. This said, colleges may put a cap on how many courses you can take.
I’ve experienced the wonders of option B this year, and I’m here to explain to you this wonderful program that a lot of people don’t seem to know about until it’s too late. I’ve compiled some lists of things that you need to know when considering the program with the help of my friends Kendall Markley and Jessica Silber, who have also participated in PSEOP. We’ve all attended OSU Marion within our high school careers.
Why should you do it?
- You arrange your schedule. I’m not a morning person, so I arranged my classes so I can wake up somewhere between seven and eight every day. Since you have to coordinate a high school and college schedule, your guidance office will probably be very flexible with you. As a result, this year I’m taking classes that I like, and classes that challenge me.
- It’s exploratory! Jessica said, “I am still undecided in what I want to major in when I am in college but I have used my classes to help me figure out what things I like and which ones I don’t.” For me, personally, it was an Intro to Fiction class I took last semester that helped me realize I wanted to go into English. Without PSEO I would still be back at the drawing board when it comes to careers.
- It’ll give you a good idea of what college classes are like. Former PSEOP student Kendall explained how PSEO helped her feel comfortable at college, “When I came to Ohio University in fall 2013 I hardly felt like a fish out of water. It was a new experience, but the PSEOP program showed me what classes were like and how it was structured.”
- You can get part of your freshman year out of the way. “I had about 9 credit hours already before I had even started classes, and it took care of many of my general education requirements,” Kendall said, “having those extra hours is amazing!”
- It’s free. Kendall’s 9 credit hours have a $2,677.50 value. I have 18 credit hours from this year, a $3,570.00 value. Need I say more? I think not.
Things to Consider before Jumping in:
- Juggling Schedules. Be prepared to juggle extracurricular activities with your classes and work.
Jessica participated in Student Council, BV’s fall play, and spring musical all while taking two college courses. But she worked with her teachers and advisors, and she managed her schedule well. Kendall worked a job on top of her four classes at high school and her two college courses, but she said, “It can be stressful, but in the end it’s worth it.”
- Harder classes. So this one goes two ways. You’ll probably only have a couple papers a semester per class, maybe some tests and quizzes, so the quality of writing necessary to receive and A in a college class is higher than in a high school class. And your notes are your friends in most cases. Other than that, you probably won’t miss the absence of busywork and dumb worksheets. Like Kendall told me, “if you are prepared and on top of things, it’s a breeze.”
- Driving. You will spend more time driving than usually, since you’ll be going back and forth from high school to campus to home (Unless campus is really close to you, in which case you are a real lucky duck). Make sure you are up for the driving. So I do not suggest getting your license the day before school starts the year you start participating in PSEO like I did…
Advice, Tips, and Miscellaneous Thoughts
- Depending on whether or not your school weights courses you take through PSEO, you may lose your chance at become Valedictorian. If being Valedictorian is something important to you and your high school does not weight these classes, you may want to think a bit before you jump into this program. (I’d say do it anyway though.)
- When you get your text books, you do have to return them at the end of the semester. But feel free to write in them all you want! I spent the whole first semester this year obsessively using sticky notes and looking like a lunatic for it. Second semester, I marked up all my books, and it just makes writing reports so much easier.
- Don’t worry about being the only high school student on campus, because you’re not. It’s more than likely the people in your classes won’t even know you’re in high school unless you tell them. And if you do, they’ll either think you’re crazy smart, or they’ll understand because they were also a PSEOP student. Don’t purposefully conceal your high school identity; you are not a ninja spy.
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT procrastinate on writing your papers or studying for an exam or test. This leads to staying up until three in the morning to finish your paper and then being exhausted for the next day and everything you say sounds like it came from the mouth of a four year old. Take it from the girl who had to present in front of the class on about four hours of sleep. So no procrastination. Only healthy amounts of sleep.
- Not sure if you want to participate in PSEO? “Just do it. It’s easier than it sounds”—Kendall
PSEOP is something that I will never regret participating in. I’ve found what I want to do, learned countless things I wouldn’t otherwise know, and I now know what college is going to be like. Think about this program even if you or your child is just starting high school. I had to purposefully plan my schedule each year to maximize the amount of requirements I got out of the way so that I could spend my senior year taking college courses. If you’re actually considering the program, but you’re still not sure, find a PSEOP student at your high school and ask them about their experience—I’m sure they’d love to tell you. You can also ask your school’s guidance department for information on the program. Some rules and things may vary by school, so below are some links to information online. Some of them contain old information, so check with your guidance office if you’re interested.
List of private schools in Ohio who participated last year, but check with your school to see if they’re participating the year you want to do it.