High schoolers utilize postsecondary program

Anne Preller

John Schrom started computer programming when he was 8 years old.

“My parents say I was playing (Nintendo) when I was three,” said Schrom, a junior at Roosevelt High School and one of 600 Post-Secondary Enrollment Option students at the University.

Schrom is developing his fascination with technology into a vocational option.

“I’m looking at either computer science or child psychology or both,” Schrom said.

Currently enrolled in adolescent psychology, chemistry and a computer science class, Schrom is taking 12 University credits and one high school course.

Schrom, who received his driver’s license in June, deals on a daily basis with the dual atmospheres of college and high school. He said he is keenly aware of the difference in maturity and lifestyle between the two environments.

“At high school it’s such a big deal if you smoke or drink or spend the night somewhere other than your parents’ house,” he said. “But in college, everybody is old enough to smoke and they live on their own and they drink.”

Schrom said fights are common at his high school, usually occurring during lunch. Last Thursday he saw two fights and heard reports of more.

“You don’t see fights in college like you do in high school,” he said. “People in college are more mature than people in high school.”

Schrom applied for the University’s PSEO program last spring.

“There wasn’t really anything left for me to do in high school,” he said.

Schrom moved from algebra up to calculus during high school, and when homework didn’t challenge him, he didn’t do it. His 2.1 high school grade point average reflects that.

“The stuff is so remedial,” he said. “I wouldn’t do the work.”

Last summer Schrom took psychology, sociology and calculus classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He earned a 3.7 GPA in the more challenging classes.

As a high school sophomore, Schrom took the PSAT test. Schrom doesn’t tell people specific numbers, but admits “they’re really high.” He said his PSAT is above the 75th percentile.

Carrie-Beth Davidson, interim director of the PSEO program, said it receives 850 to 1,000 applications per year. A scholastic committee selects students on the basis of GPA, high school rank, test scores and an essay.

“We weigh a lot on the essay because the University is a writing-intensive university,” Davidson said.

The program provides other options for high school students who might be bored or need something to supplement their high school educations, she said.

Tuition and books are state-funded for high school students who are selected for the University’s program.

Davidson likened the adjustment for PSEO students to the traditional freshman experience at the University.

High school students have to balance high school and college activities, especially if they are in sports, Davidson said.

“I think a lot of it is time organization,” she said.

Although Schrom said high school is generally easy, he said he does feel like he is missing out on the high school experience.

“I feel like I miss the social stuff,” he said.

To stay connected with his high school, Schrom takes a computer programming class at Roosevelt in the school’s first hour period.

“If I didn’t take that class, I’d be with 20-year-olds all day. Not that I don’t like 20-year-olds, but I am 16,” Schrom said.

When Schrom graduates from high school in spring 2003, he plans to have nearly 100 course credits from two years and a summer at the University.

Schrom said he also feels he’s missing out on his college experience, but “it’s worth it.”

“I don’t live in the dorms. That kinda makes me feel like an outsider,” Schrom said. “But I consider myself a ‘U’ student. I even have a little button on my backpack.”

At the University, Schrom has learned “that college students aren’t scary and that people are generally nice.”

“I didn’t really realize that in high school,” Schrom said.

If Schrom were a full-time junior at Roosevelt, “I’d be bored out of my mind,” he said. “And I’d still have a really bad GPA.”