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PSEO enrollment increases, Bethel enrollment decreases

The number of students involved in Bethel University’s early college program continues to increase, while the general College of Arts and Sciences enrollment decreases.

By Molly McFadden

Maya Phillips packed her bags and moved out of her family’s house this fall at age 17.

“I was just sick of high school,” Phillips said. “I felt like I had done everything I could in high school.”

After being homeschooled throughout her life, Phillips was ready for a change and knew PSEO was the next step. She did full-time Post Secondary Enrollment Opportunities, online through  University of Northwestern as a junior. Now, as a senior in high school with enough credits to be a sophomore in college, Phillips lives in Edgren on Bethel University’s campus to pursue a degree in English.

“Bethel just seemed special,” Philips said about choosing to transfer and live on campus. “Bethel seemed different.”

Maya Phillips smiles while sitting at a table near the Royal Grounds. Phillips doesn’t tell people that she is a PSEO student, instead she introduces herself as a freshman English major.  “When I have a job I’m going to be working with people almost decades apart in age, so being just a few years apart in age with someone is not bad,” Phillips said. | Photo by Addie Stern.

The PSEO program has been offered at Bethel since 1985, shortly after the program was introduced and passed by Minnesota Legislature that same year. Now, 37 years later, PSEO has grown to include three different early college formats. PSEO students can take Bethel classes in-person at the 3900 Bethel University campus, online or in-person at Maranatha Christian Academy, one of Bethel’s high school partners.

Across these three PSEO opportunities, about 412 PSEO students are enrolled for the fall of 2022. In the fall of 2021 there were an estimated 257 students enrolled through PSEO.

“Bethel’s mission is to educate students for excellence,” Associate Provost for the College of Arts and Sciences Julie Finnern said. “The number of high school students who are enrolling in college credits, or concurrently in high school credits and college credits, that number continues to grow, and as it continues to grow we want those students to have the best academic experience as they can.”

This is the heart behind why Bethel values the PSEO program, according to Finnern. Due to the nature of PSEO’s affordability for high school students and Bethel’s confidence in providing students with “a strong, meaningful education,” Finnern said that Bethel hopes that students will choose to continue to further their education at Bethel University after completing PSEO.

Fall enrollment reports reveal that enrollment in Bethel’s College of Arts and Sciences has been decreasing since 2011, contrasting the increased enrollment in the PSEO program.

Maya Phillips, a second year PSEO student at Bethel University, tunes into her professor’s teaching. Phillips is living on campus for the first time this fall and is majoring in English. After touring Bethel Phillips said, “It felt like such a good fit that I knew that I wanted to be here and I’m going to want to stay here.” | Photo by Molly McFadden.

Bethel receives tuition revenue directly from the state of Minnesota when a PSEO student enrolls in a class at Bethel at $226 per credit. After Bethel puts this money towards PSEO student learning experiences including professors, textbooks and facilities, there is no profit.

“For any student, we spend that money on Bethel and what it takes to provide education,” Finnern said.

For Phillips, saving money while receiving college credits is a large part in why she chose to do PSEO. This is the same for PSEO student Max Huberty, who said that he chose to do PSEO in order to save money and prepare himself for college.

“When I came to attend class for the first time at Bethel two weeks ago, I found that neither of those reasons were actually why I would come to enjoy my first two weeks so much,” Huberty said. “The environment of Bethel and the other students attending were the real reasons for staying.”

While Huberty is unsure on whether he will continue studying at Bethel after graduating high school, Phillips is confident that Bethel is the place for her, PSEO classes and beyond.

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