PSEO stands for Post-Secondary Enrollment Option; simply put, it means taking college classes free while you’re still in high school. Tuition, fees, and books are all completely paid for under PSEO. Furthermore, you get both college and high school credit for them. Need to take Algebra II to graduate? — Under PSEO, you can take your college’s Algebra II equivalent, and get credit for both courses. For free.

You may have some students in your high school that attend only half the day and go to technical school during the other half. That’s usually how PSEO works, too. It’s an awesome money-saving solution (did I mention it’s free?), but if it sounds too good to be true… it almost is. I went through PSEO both my junior and senior year; here are some of the problems that I never would have expected before I signed up.

The first problem I ran into was transportation. I got my temporary permit at the tender age of 15 and a half, and had six months to learn how to drive before I hit 16 and could get my license. The difference was that I have an August birthday… and classes started in September. Since my parents both worked full-time, they couldn’t take me to and from class; I had to learn how to drive immediately. (And I needed a car.) The tuition may have been free, but the cost of a new car and the gas to get there certainly was not.

Second problem? Fitting in with my fellow college students. My first semester, I had a 27-year-old Photography major ask me out (I was 16). When I didn’t have that particular problem, I had trouble making any friends in college. When you have both high school and college credit riding on a class, you tend to work a bit harder; my fellow college students saw this as me being an overachiever.

Then, you have an added layer of fitting in with your high school friends. This may have been unique to my situation, but I had to balance high school, marching band, college, and even work (I had to pay my own gas expenses). My high school friends saw each other for multiple classes throughout the day, but I only took three high school classes my junior year and one my senior year. They were dealing with homework, and I was dealing with studying for my exams; they were driving back and forth to sports meets, and I was driving back and forth to the library. Not only was it an issue of not having the time to see them, but it became an issue of what we had in common. I fell out with almost all of my high school friends before high school even ended.

NONE of the above means that you shouldn’t do PSEO, or that I regret it. Overall, I saved over $7,000 with the tuition, fees, and books that I was getting free. (Yep, I’m mentioning it again!)

I’d do it again in a heartbeat… but if this is something you’re seriously considering, take caution. I didn’t even go to my senior prom because by spring of my senior year, I had stopped speaking to most of the people I would have considered in my “social circle.” It might be one of the best decisions you ever make for your future… but that doesn’t mean it will be one of the easiest.


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2 thoughts on “PSEO – A Firsthand Experience

  • February 10, 2015 at 3:14 am

    This is something I always wished I had done, but after reading this article I see the other side of it. I would have really missed out on a lot of social events my senior year of high school, so maybe there was some upside to my having not participated in PSEO. On the other hand, saving $7,000 makes it sound like it was potentially worth it. I think there is a very interesting conversation to be had here – weighing the benefit of saving all that money against the benefit of enjoying and participating in your last year or two of high school. Any thoughts anyone?

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