As first period draws to a close, junior Kai Yang has his eyes on the clock. However, he is not watching for the bell to ring. While the rest of his class leaves for second period at 8:54, Yang leaves his AP physics class at 8:47 to make the 10-minute drive to OSU for his Multivariable Calculus class.
Yang is one of many students who takes advantage of a unique opportunity: the chance to take classes above his grade level. For high school students, this exists as part of a program called the Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). According to the UAHS college center, PSEO enables students to take classes at either the Ohio State University or Columbus State Community College for credit towards college while in high school.
To take part in a PSEO class, a student applies the year before at the college center. The credit one earns through a PSEO class can be counted either only as college credit or additionally be counted as high school credit.
For some students, PSEO affords opportunities that fulfill their academic needs when the high school cannot. Junior Everett LeViness, who takes a PSEO Calculus class at OSU, said that he began to consider PSEO when he completed the high school mathematics curriculum.
“I was recommended to do post-secondary by Mr. Silliman last year since I had already taken all the math classes that the high school offers,” LeViness said. “So I talked with [then] college counselor Mark Davis who put me in touch with the undergraduate admissions counselor Michelle Brown at OSU, who walked me through the admissions process. I had to register, then sign up for classes.”
For Yang, the chance to take university-level classes is about more than just taking an advanced course. PSEO also offers students like him an opportunity to experience the college environment firsthand.
“More than anything it’s about learning to take responsibility,” Yang said. “In college, it’s not like in high school. [With] having a reprieve pass. If you don’t turn in the assignment on time, sometimes the professor doesn’t take the assignment.”
Though PSEO classes open up new opportunities for the students taking them, they also pose a new difficulty. In order to take classes at a university, students have to interrupt their normal schedules at the high school. Yang cites this this as a major worry when he signed up for PSEO.
“I wasn’t sure whether to take an economics class in high school or go to OSU. Basically I decided to take that OSU math class, so I had to drop AP economics,” Yang said. “Also, that class is only offered during [the high school’s] 2nd and 3rd periods, so basically, for the last 5-10 minutes of my physics class, I have to leave early. That’s the biggest challenge, I have to commute— drop my class and leave early.”
Leviness also had to create a more complicated schedule in order to reap the benefits of his PSEO class.
“I had fifth lunch, so at least the class itself fits into my lunch period.” Leviness said. “But taking into account travel time I had to move my 6th period Chemistry class to 1st period, which was a study hall. I have to leave half an hour into my German class on a normal day.”
In spite of their difficult schedules, Yang and Leviness both chose to accept the challenge of PSEO as a way of pursuing their academic interests beyond UAHS.
For Yang, being able to take advantage of the opportunities available to him outweighs the difficulty a tangled schedule may pose.
“I just want to use the [available] resources as much as possible. Under the circumstances, the colleges offer classes [that have more challenges] and variety.”