Many high schools are offering college-level classes during students’ junior and senior years.. As college degrees become more and more a normal part of society (much like getting a H.S. diploma used to be), it has become increasingly important for high school students to consider their options for pursuing a college degree.
Today, many schools throw around the words “College-Prep,” but what does that mean? With so many high school students opting to take college classes online through Post Secondary Education Option (PSEO) classes in the public school system or actually taking classes on a college campus, how and when are these students being prepared? One could argue that we are sending our students to college “too soon.”
In addition, college tuition is becoming more expensive, rising over 12% in the past 5 years according to CollegeBoard, and it continues to increase. Students are spending tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on college degrees, regardless if they attend a public or private university..
As a parent, you are standing alongside your child, helping navigate the myriad of decisions about post-secondary education. The following is a list of Five Myths that must be broken so the truth about “college in high school” can be understood, and you can make an educated decision about the high school and college education your child receives.
Here are the 5 Myths about “college in high school”
1. PSEO is the only “college in high school” option.
When the PSEO program started in Minnesota, it ignited a revolution in Minnesota education that allowed high school students the opportunity to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school.
Although this proved to be an amazing opportunity for many Minnesota high school students, it was only the beginning of the options available. Schools such as Maranatha Christian Academy (MCA), in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota started to offer hybrid programs that allow the students to stay on campus and enjoy more high school activities than a typical PSEO program would. Which leads us to our second myth.
2. PSEO allows students to still get the full high school experience.
Unfortunately, this myth is simply not true. Many high school students become disappointed once they get into a PSEO program and realize that they are missing out on the experiences that make high school so unique: sports, prom, and other extracurricular activities.
Again, schools such as Maranatha Christian Academy have realized this gap in the PSEO system and have developed a hybrid program, in partnership with the University of Northwestern-Saint Paul (UNW-SP), that allows students to still experience high school to its fullest, including participating in sports, clubs, student activities, and more, while also being able to earn college credits (and a degree!) during their high school career.
3. PSEO is always on the high school campus.
While PSEO can be facilitated on the high school campus, in many situations it’s simply not possible, and it totally depends on the high school and colleges that are participating. This may not pose a concern for some students and parents, but is a major concern for many.
The truth is, college is a completely different experience than high school. Having to attend PSEO classes on a college campus could be a lot to handle for a high school junior. Colleges, even Christian universities, are full of adults who are living independently of the rules and conditions experienced while attending high school and living with parents.
In addition, when your student is on the college campus for classes, he or she is not on the high school campus. Your child misses out on a lot of the day to day interaction with friends, and activities that he or she would otherwise be able to participate in. This can be very troubling for some students who may not be ready for that change in their lives.
The program that Marnatha has put together with UNW-SP allows the high school student to earn all of their college education during high school on the MCA campus, and with their friends. In addition, the students still have access to high school resources such as guidance counselors, which surprisingly is not part of every PSEO program.
4. College classes should be reserved for college students.
While not all students are an appropriate fit for a rigorous college course load in high school, research indicates that high school students who experience college-level coursework in high school are more likely to succeed in post-secondary schools and more likely to complete their degree program on time.
At Maranatha, students can choose the course load that suits their goals, interests, and abilities. Our hybrid program offers options for college-level Advanced Placement courses, on-site or online college classes through PSEO, or even an Associate of Arts degree program in partnership with the University of Northwestern-St. Paul through PSEO.
5. All juniors and seniors are suited to college coursework in high school.
While a taste of college-level coursework is proven to benefit college-bound students, not every student is a good fit for PSEO. In so many cases, PSEO is an all-or-nothing proposition where the student trades high school coursework for a full load of college classes.
The Maranatha approach to college coursework, however, allows students to build a custom program that suits their goals, learning styles, preferences, and abilities. We take great care in who is allowed to join our college program. Students can take anywhere from a single online PSEO college class, all the way up to the full Associate of Arts degree program, all the while remaining in the high school setting and enjoying the benefits of a high school experience, such as athletics and extracurricular clubs. The Academy will work with parents and their students to ensure they receive the education that best fits their needs and desires.
Introducing Maranatha Christian Academy’s Associate of Arts program.
Maranatha Christian Academy has taken a different approach to preparing students for college. MCA knows the importance of preparing its students for life beyond high school, yet at the same time wants to afford them the opportunity to earn as many college credits as possible.
MCA has partnered with the University of Northwestern-St. Paul in a ground-breaking program that allows participating students to earn their Associate of Arts degree upon graduation from high school with all classes being taught on Maranatha’s campus.
What’s the big difference? The idea behind this revolutionary program is to allow high school students to stay on campus, have access to guidance counselors, get taught by adjunct professors in their high school classrooms*, learn in a cohort-model program with their high school friends, and even participate in high school sports and activities.
“I have grown as a student and as a person. Throughout this year, I have become a pro at discussion forums, critical-analysis questions, three- to four-page papers, and lots of exams. I have not only become a pro in schoolwork, but also in time management, in stress management, and in being able to ask others for help and work together with my peers,” says Cassidy Bianchi-Rossi, a student who participated in the Associate of Arts Program as a junior and will continue as a senior.
This program allows students to be in high school and still earn college credits. Many students may be able to excel in college coursework, but would not be socially ready for the college lifestyle. In addition, parents have raved about the fact that their child did not have to make their way around a college campus as a high school junior.
This one-of-a-kind program really does give a new meaning to college-prep. If you are interested in learning more about this program, we invite you to join us at our upcoming Open House event on Thursday, July 27th at 7pm. You can click here to learn more and register.
*The majority of classes are taught on campus by adjunct/approved instructors. A small amount of electives are available online, but still taken on MCA’s campus.