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Bethel Sparks Innovative PSEO Experience

Through a recent partnership with Maranatha Christian Academy in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Bethel professors in the College of Adult & Professional Studies have returned to high school classrooms to give students a PSEO experience on their own turf.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

November 23, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

Maranatha Academy students receive the best of Bethel and their high school as they enroll in this unique PSEO program.

Maranatha Academy students receive the best of Bethel and their high school as they enroll in this unique PSEO program.

As Bethel students in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) returned to campus for fall semester, faculty in the College of Adult & Professional Studies (CAPS) found themselves back in high school classrooms. Rather than delivering their lessons at Bethel’s Anderson Center, they showed up at Maranatha Christian Academy in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, ready to invest in juniors and seniors who chose to take advantage of Bethel’s new and innovative Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program on their high school campus. 

This fall marks the first time Bethel has broadened the PSEO experience to classrooms beyond Bethel’s campus, and according to Program Director Mary Schulze Michener, this is only the beginning. Maranatha students are jumpstarting their college careers in the comfort of their own classrooms, earning free course credits while learning from seasoned CAPS faculty who have fallen back in love with teaching.

Part of the rejuvenation comes from teaching face-to-face classes. With most CAPS programs offered completely online, many faculty have been excited to teach in-person. Michener says they expected 15 students to register, and with the pandemic limiting face-to-face educational opportunities, 59 students are currently taking advantage of the opportunity to learn in a classroom. “We’ve knocked it out of the park as far as getting everything done,” Michener says. “This is something that God has blessed. We were going to offer one section of each class, but now we have to offer two for the number of students. Just so much of it has gone faster, more furiously than any of us could’ve imagined.”

Students in this program receive the best of two worlds common to those involved in PSEO. They remain engaged with their high school friends and activities while taking Bethel classes—like Christianity in Western Culture, a lab science course, and other general education requirements—on their own turf. Students can enroll in the program if they have a GPA of 3.0 or if they score a 75% or higher on a standardized test—like the SAT or ACT. Students who start their junior year can graduate with an Associate in Arts (A.A.), transferrable to any school in Minnesota. Students who choose to continue their college journeys at Bethel can enroll with up to 60 credits already on their transcripts.

When Michener visited one of the Maranatha classes earlier this fall, she listened as the professor encouraged students to understand their callings. A student shared with Michener that he wanted to focus on forgiveness and grace as he pursues his call to ministry. She was touched by his answer and believes that this unique PSEO program equips students with enthusiasm and agency to pursue their purpose. “We’re trying to help them see that God has a call on their lives, and they can finish that at Bethel,” Michener says. “We’re willing to invest in them because we already see purpose in them.” 

While the program is still in its early stages, it has already surpassed expectations. After filling out a mid-semester survey, both students and faculty reported being pleased with the experience. Now, Michener and her team are in the middle of planning for the spring semester and the second year at Maranatha. They’re also starting conversations with other Christian high schools in the Twin Cities with the intention of establishing another partnership by fall 2021. As a Bethel education becomes even more accessible to high school students interested in getting a head start on their college careers, Michener is invigorated by the program’s potential.  

“God got us here,” she says. “If there’s another school that’s ready to start next year, He’ll get us there. I just know that those doors will open and things will be provided as needed. We want to help students get where they’re going, and we want to do it in a way that helps them see how God is working in their lives.”

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