The PSEO program allows Minnesota high school juniors and seniors to take college classes and earn college credits. Some institutions allow high school sophomores to take one class in the fall and one class in the spring. In order to take colleges classes in their sophomore year, student must take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment in 8th grade, though they only need to pass the reading portion of the MCA to participate. This test must be arranged through your local school district.
As part of the PSEO program, tuition and books are paid for by the Minnesota Department of Education. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, in the 2010-11 school year, 8,261 Minnesota high school students participated in PSEO by taking one or more courses at a postsecondary institution. Of these, 1,476 were home-schooled students. Nearly one-quarter, or 2,585 attended college full-time.
Our member families have generally found the PSEO program easy to access and use. Most colleges are eager to have self-directed homeschooled students, and many of them have separate instructions and assistance for homeschoolers applying to their programs. The enabling legislation for the PSEO program is quite lengthy and is not typically an issue for PSEO students, but if you’re so inclined, you can read the entire statute at Minn. Stat. 124D.09.
If you have a teen who’s interested in the PSEO program, there are some things to consider. The program applies to four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and vocational/technical colleges. Participation in the PSEO program is optional for colleges – they don’t have to take any PSEO students at all. Colleges that do participate in the program set their own admission criteria. While the admission standards may be slightly lower for PSEO students than they will be for incoming college freshman at that school, your teen should not take the PSEO admission process lightly.
It can be helpful to contact prospective colleges the year before your teen reaches the junior year in high school. Some colleges have special testing requirements for homeschooled students, which can require some lead time. If you start early, you should be able to get all of the requirements taken care of before the PSEO application deadline. Applications are typically due for larger colleges in January and in spring or early summer for smaller institutions and community colleges.
Students may not need to take the ACT or SAT in order to apply for the PSEO program, but it is still valuable for them to take these exams for the purpose of applying for scholarships later. In addition, the PSAT is required for National Merit Scholarship eligibility, and students who take the ACT in 8th grade and receive a high enough score may also have special scholarship eligibility.
Students will need a high school transcript in order to apply for PSEO programs. If their current test scores are in the top 30%, the institution may/may not require additional testing. Most students will be required by the institution to take the ACCUPLACER exam after applying and before registering for classes.
A Word on College Credits
It is important to be aware that if your student is planning to transfer from one college institution to another, not all college credits will transfer. As you make long-term plans for completing college, you may wish to speak with the admissions counselors at the college your student would eventually like to graduate from to find out what credits and how many they will transfer from other institutions.
For More Information
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) maintains a very thorough site regarding PSEO features and requirements. Please note that the program and admission specifics on this site apply only to state institutions. This is a good place to start for general information about PSEO, but you should still be sure to call or write for specifics from the actual institution(s) you are considering.
A number of homeschooling parents have asked if they need to continue to report their child to the school district even after the child reaches the age of 17, simply to maintain that child’s eligibility for the PSEO program. The answer is “no” – the reporting requirements end at age 17, and reporting has no impact on PSEO eligibility.
Real-Life PSEO Stories
Here is a collection of stories written by parents or students who had first-hand experience with the Minnesota PSEO program. Some of the stories are from several years ago, but while some of the logistical details may have changed, the heart of what mattered to the parents and the students in making the PSEO decision is universal.
Father and son write from their unique individual perspectives:
- PSEO: Our Family’s Experience (Andy’s dad’s story)
This thoughtful article by an MHA dad gives an overview of the PSEO program and describes the process his family went through when guiding his son down the PSEO path.
- Andy’s story
Andy took classes on a part-time basis through PSEO at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus.
Additional student stories representing viewpoints from different types of college experiences:
- Anja’s story
Anya took an online PSEO class through the University of Minnesota at Morris.
- Casey’s story
Casey attended Century College – a community and technical college – on a full-time basis under the PSEO program.
- Trevor’s story
Trevor took PSEO classes at Normandale Community College on a part-time basis.