What about PSEO?
by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
You thought it would never arrive, but here you are on the brink of the whole college experience with your child, whom you are sure is really only 12 but seems to be nearly of driving age by some warp in the timeline of life.
When your student is in 9th grade, it’s a good time to start getting the lay of the land for PSEO. Homeschoolers in Minnesota can take college classes through the PSEO program (on the college campus, online or through some of the co-ops) for 11th and 12th grade. Summer classes aren't eligible. PSEO status means the tuition and books are paid for by the state. This is an amazing opportunity. Classes can be taken fulltime (12 credits or more) or on a part-time basis (one class, a couple classes, one or 2 classes the first semester and fulltime after that-- whatever works!).
So, when you have a 9th grader, it’s good to start looking at the college websites to find out how their application process works. Some schools have online enrollment forms, others require a trip to the school or forms can be mailed in the old fashioned way. Some school want to see ASPIRE or PSAT scores, others will have your student take an accuplacer test right at the school. There will be some kind of orientation meeting and campus tour and a meeting with an advisor at the school. You'll want to know the schedule of these events, so that during your student's 10th grade year, you have them worked into your calendar. Keep those ducks in a row!
Keep up with the application deadlines so that when the school opens classes for registration, you're good to go and can sign up promptly, before the popular classes fill up. Your teen can take general classes or work the requirements for a 2 yr degree or certification. At the end of their PSEO time, your student with have a college transcript with a grade point average and credits that will transfer to other Mn schools and beyond. If you have a 4 yr school in mind for the next step, it’s good to check that school's transfer protocols and know what classes will best fit into the 4 yr plan. Their website is a good starting point.
PSEO classes can be taken on campus (and you can plan the schedule so your student only has to be on campus for T/TH classes or M-W-F classes). Many classes are also available online. Some of the advantages of online classes (besides less commuting and schedule juggling) are that the lectures are uploaded as an audio file or a power point presentation with voice over, and can be paused for note taking or re-listened to before exams. The schedule is loose (reading assignments etc are simply to be done each week, but your student can fit the work around other activities) and tests are online with a 24 hr window for the student to sign in on test day (the tests are usually timed in that they must be completed within 90 min of signing into the test site). And online classes mean your student can enroll in a school that might not be geographically convenient.
It's possible to participate in classes at more than one college during the same semester of PSEO if you have reason to pursue that.
Don't be intimidated by the PSEO process. Free tuition and books are worth it!! And your student will learn how the college process works, and gain some confidence about merging with the world of traditional learning after their years of homeschooling. A few hours online, and you'll have a time line laid out to keep you on schedule with the application process and requirements. Best wishes on your new adventure in learning!
Be sure to check out my article on tips and hints for PSEO and on transitioning from Homeschooling to college. Once you go through this with the first kiddo, you’ll be all set for the next one.