On any given Monday or Wednesday morning this past school year, I would drag myself out of bed, and drive off to my drawing class. Now this wouldn’t seem that odd, except for the fact that I was taking a college class while I’m still in high school. Not only was it a college class, it was a free college class.

PSEO allows students who are still in high school to take college courses and earn college credits. Many colleges offer PSEO, but they all have different rules, and some colleges are more PSEO friendly than others.

My family and I decided to pursue PSEO because I was interested in what college classes were like, and it would also help to save on future college costs.

I chose to take classes at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. I made this decision for a couple of different reasons. One, the location was close to home, so driving to and from classes wasn’t too hard. And two, I knew several people who had taken classes there and all of them had positive results.

The requirements to take PSEO classes at Normandale were quite simple. You had to be either a junior or a senior in high school, and score at a certain level on a test. There were a number of different tests that you could take beforehand, including the ACT and the SAT, or you could a test that they offered. Since I hadn’t taken the ACT or SAT I opted to go for their test.

After I was accepted, there was a day set aside for new students to come and register for classes. I had in mind from the very beginning that I only wanted to take one or two classes. That was just so I could acclimate myself to the college environment, and measure what the workload of college courses was, compared to my other classes.

I registered for Drawing 1. I am an artist, and have taken several classes through the Edina Art Center. However, it surprised me a little that I was one of two or three students with any art experience at all. The class was pretty much what I expected it to be. It was a beginning drawing class so a lot of the material covered wasn’t new to me.

My professor was different than any other art teacher that I’ve had, and in the beginning I didn’t like her. But as the semester wore on I started liking her more and more, and now I would have to say that she was one of my favorite teachers ever, and that I would definitely take another class with her.

I was treated the same as all of the other students. I don’t think my professor even knew that I was a PSEO student. I fit in with all of the other students without any problems.

Overall, I would say that I have had a great experience with PSEO. I liked my professor, I fit in with the other students, I got an A in my class, one of my pieces was selected for the student art show, and most importantly I enjoyed being there. I look forward to taking more classes in the fall.

My advice for anyone even remotely interested in PSEO would be to start the process early. Go take a tour of any and all the colleges you’re interested in attending. Normandale had a special PSEO information night. I’m not sure, but I think that other colleges probably have similar things going on. Call the college with any questions you might have. Does the college even offer PSEO? If so, what are the requirements? What do you have to do be get accepted? Talk to people who have taken PSEO courses and find out what they found to be helpful. But most importantly, have fun. College is a new experience, and it should be a fun one.

(This article was written by Trevor Abel and published in The Grapevine in 2005.)