Red tape frustrates PSEO students


Age group demographics of students at Cambridge campus. Image Credit: Ashley Johnson

PSEO students perceive obstacles from their high schools.

By Ashley Johnson
Staff Writer

PSEO (post-secondary enrollment option) students are feeling discouraged by their high schools from obtaining their higher education before high school graduation.

While the college did not provide the exact number of PSEO students, students under the age of 18 make up the largest percentage of the student demographic population at ARCC’s Cambridge campus. In the spring semester of 2018, about 750, or 35% of Cambridge’s students were under 18. It is likely that the amount of PSEO students at Cambridge is higher than 35%, as this number does not account for high school students who have turned 18 already. With so many students sharing in this PSEO experience, the comparing and contrasting of their stories highlighted some frustrations they feel about their high schools.

Age group demographics of students at Cambridge campus. Image Credit: Ashley Johnson
Abbie Huttenberg, Director of K-12 Partnerships at ARCC. Photo Credit: Anoka-Ramsey Community College

Michelle Stickney, a PSEO student, described her concerns. “They [the high school] changed the graduation requirements for upcoming graduating classes and said mine, the class of 2019, was excluded. They then added credit requirements for my class anyways and did not tell PSEO students.” This changed the PSEO students’ path for graduation after they had registered for their classes and the fall semester had already begun. “Some students feel this is more than an error in communication by their high school counselors.”

Several students have cited lack of communication or cooperation from their counselors at their high school. PSEO student Mary Ellingson said, “The counselor at my school makes a lot of rules that feel like they target PSEO students.” Students at Ellingson’s school are given a PSEO contract. One item on the contract states, “PSEO student that are involved in high school sports must submit their grades to a counselor weekly to remain eligible to play.” Ellingson also mentioned her counselor not always keeping appointments, making it difficult to follow rules set in place for PSEO students at her high school.

Abbie Huttenberg, Director of K-12 Partnerships at ARCC commented about how the college is addressing the student concerns. “I coordinate the admissions of students into the PSEO program and consult with Admissions and Advising to develop orientation and registration sessions for PSEO…. ARCC has created a PSEO Advising form that we’ve asked all new PSEO students to complete. That form is meant to be completed with a high school counselor or home school parent to determine exactly how many credits and what courses/subjects the student needs to graduate from high school.”

Some PSEO students have suggested that finances may be the reason some high schools discourage PSEO. Huttenberg said, “Some high schools do promote the opportunities for advanced credit that are available at their high school (AP, IB, Concurrent Enrollment/College in the High School) more heavily than they do the opportunities that happen off the high school campus.” Some high schools believe that taking advanced courses on the high school’s campus provides a better transition for students. Huttenberg also stated, “I rarely hear high school counselors discuss the funding as the reason they may not be in support of PSEO for a particular student.”

Huttenberg discussed other ways ARCC tries to advocate for its PSEO students. “ARCC holds a breakfast for high school counselors every spring to update them on new programs and discuss the PSEO program with the hope of both the college and high school gaining a better understanding of each other.”