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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Guest column: Response to ‘My PSEO predicament’

Dear Editor,

At Bethel, we strive for an environment where all students feel they belong.

We read “My PSEO predicament” in the Oct. 10 posting of the Clarion with great disappointment. The column writer criticizes PSEO students, a department’s curriculum and pedagogy and university choices that have expanded PSEO enrollment. The column also speculates that the application process for PSEO is not stringent, that “many . . . are not prepared for the classes in terms of academic experience,” that her classmates are not preparing for class and that PSEO students “value the class as much as a gym credit.” In addition to these unfounded generalities around PSEO students, the original visual portraying PSEO students was derogatory; We appreciate it having been removed.

The column is the antithesis of Belong and Become.

Robin Rylaarsdam | Photo taken from

We want to be very clear to all students — and PSEO students are Bethel undergraduates just as surely as those students who will receive their degrees in just a few weeks — Bethel University believes that you belong here. God has called you to learn at this place at this time, and we are honored to follow God’s call to us as a university to help you become the person God is shaping you to be. We note the writer is an upperclassman reflecting on an entry-level class generally taken by first-year students. Bethel faculty excel in ensuring that the level of rigor and challenge in a course is appropriate for the course level. Certain of the writer’s comments are reflective of fellow classmates being new to a college experience, regardless of PSEO or traditional incoming freshman standing.

Miranda Powers | Photo taken from

Furthermore, the university cares a great deal about student academic success. Contrary to the writer’s assumption: PSEO students performed slightly better academically than traditional freshmen last year as measured by good academic standing. PSEO students who are accepted to Bethel, like traditional first-year and transfer students, are capable and prepared for college-level work. And PSEO students show their outstanding abilities in areas like the annual Concerto-Aria Competition (congratulations again to Sabrina Mecicar for your amazing performance of Mendelssohn!), and one that was recently named a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. PSEO students also comprise by far the most diverse group of traditional undergraduate students at Bethel. They come from many backgrounds, neighborhoods and ethnicities and so enrich the culture at Bethel in important and meaningful ways. Some factual corrections are merited. This year’s first-year class has 433 (not 392) students as of the Sept. 14 official census date. In addition, there are 201 (not 463) PSEO students taking at least one class in person on campus, varying from one class to a full academic load, with about an even mix of high school juniors and seniors. The remainder of the 496 (not 463) early college students are studying at partner high school campuses and/or online.

PSEO students do have differences — as noted in the column, they are still discerning what university they will attend after finishing high school. PSEO students, we are working hard as an institution to give you a holistic, positive experience here at Bethel, and we are praying for your decision-making as you explore God’s direction in choosing your final college destination. Wherever that is, we are happy to have you learning, living and growing with us during these PSEO years and beyond. We believe that the other students in your classes largely share our desire to welcome you well, and to journey with you in belonging (to Bethel, to each other in community, to God) and becoming the people God calls you to be.


Dr. Robin Rylaarsdam, University Provost

Miranda Powers, Vice President for Student Experience

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to the opinion column “My PSEO predicament.” The numbers that are quoted in the original piece are from this document.]

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