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State Funded RCTC program gives high school students a head start on college

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Post Secondary Enrollment Option at Rochester Community and Technical College has been helping high school students succeed since 1985.

It's a program that gives Minnesota high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12 the chance to earn both high school and college credits for free.

It's paid for through state funding. By the time a high schooler graduates, they will also have an associate degree. If they choose to go on to a four year college, many of the general education credits will be taken care of.

With most traditional learning in high schools being shut down this past year because of the pandemic, the program lost enrollment.

With most high schools being back to in-person learning, students are becoming more engaged and motivated.

The leaders of the PSEO program want to remind students and parents that the program is a great option for many who want to get a head start on their college career.

"Forty different high schools are represented in PSEO here at RCTC," RCTC Director of High School Collaborations Dale Amy said. "They come from public schools, private schools and charter schools. Home schoolers are all eligible to come to the program. It's a great way for a student and a family to save a lot of money."

Seventeen-year-old Maimuna Aden is a senior at John Marshall High School. She has been in the PSEO program for two years and will graduate in a couple months. She's also the RCTC student vice president. She said her experience has been great, and she has aspirations of becoming a lawyer.

"(There are) professors who are willing to go to such feats to make sure students are still achieving that status in their class," Aden said. "If a student isn't coming to class that often, there will be a group of teachers who are like, 'what can we implement to make sure our kids are doing well in these classes and are passing these classes and achieving that credit?'"

RCTC Student President Will Fulton was homeschooled for most of his life. He joined the PSEO program two years ago and will also graduate this semester. He said high school students get the best of both worlds in the program since they are members of not only their high school, but of the college.

"You build a road map for what you want to accomplish with the two years that you have as soon as you get in," Fulton said. "I went for an associates degree in business, so my adviser laid out exactly what I needed to do to get that degree by the time I graduate."

He said he's grateful for the extra support he's received from the program. He will start at Boston University in the fall with a lot of credits already fulfilled.

Fulton said the RCTC student government has been working to improve the lives of students, like creating a food shelf to address food insecurity among the student body. And high school students in PSEO can also become involved.

The program currently has 813 students enrolled, down from 840 last year. Amy said he wants to get the word out that it's a program that can enhance the life of a high school student.

"It's the perfect program for the right student who is ready for college. They should be taking advantage of this program," Amy said.

For more information and to learn how to apply, visit the RCTC website.

Megan Zemple

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