High schoolers get college education

The University enrolls approximately 550 to 600 PSEO students a semester.

Pete Gilligan has been a University student since he was a junior in high school.

In the morning, he heads to Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park, Minn., where he attends approximately half of the day’s classes, and then drives to the University in the afternoon to go to one of his two college-level psychology courses.

Gilligan, now a high school senior, is enrolled at the University in the College of Continuing Education as a postsecondary enrollment options, or PSEO, student.

The University enrolls approximately 550 PSEO students to 600 PSEO students a semester, said Cory Call, Advanced High School Student Services Office interim program director.

Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that 77 percent of public four-year institutions offer dual enrollment programs for high school students. Students enrolled in a dual enrollment program receive high school and college credit for the same course.

Gilligan said he gets to take classes at the University he would not get to take at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

“It’s a nice way to get a lot of the topics a high school wouldn’t cover,” he said. “It’s a unique experience where you are part-time enrolled in both places.”

And it comes free of charge, he said.

The Minnesota Department of Education pays for PESO students’ tuition and books, but housing is left up to them if they choose to live on campus, Call said.

The data reported that 19 percent of colleges offering dual enrollment programs offered them free to students, but 40 percent required students or parents to pay some or all of their tuition fees.

Call said the PSEO program is open to high school juniors or seniors enrolled in public or private high schools in Minnesota.

According to last year’s annual PSEO report by the office, the program serves students from 120 different high schools around the state.

PSEO students usually have high academic standing within their high schools.

“The typical student is usually in the top 10 (percent) to 15 percent of their high school class and has a GPA of 3.6 or higher,” Call said.

He said the office is in the process of reviewing applications for fall semester PSEO students. The University usually admits approximately half of the applicants, or approximately 450 students, Call said.

Gilligan said his two years as a University student will make him more comfortable when he goes to Brown University next year.

“I pretty much understand the whole process now with registration and scheduling,” he said. “And you find out what you like and don’t like. It’s pretty much like taking a sampler, except much more in-depth.”

Gilligan said he will have a year’s worth of credits when he enters Brown University’s freshman class. He said he plans to attend the school for four years, and then possibly come back to the University of Minnesota’s Medical School.