a Jumpstart on College
Central Georgia High School
Students Begin College Early Through Macon State's Postsecondary Options
Dr. Susan Durr, psychology instructor
at Macon State, works one-on-one with Cole Brantley, a Westside
High School senior taking college classes through the Postsecondary
by Sheron Smith
By Sheron Smith
To Joey Callaway, it was an offer he simply couldn't refuse. Earn
college credit while he was still in high school? For free?
"My junior lit teacher told me about the Postsecondary Options
program, and I knew I had to do it," said Callaway, 18, now
a Westside High School senior. "I want to major in English,
so the chance to take an English class for high school and college
credit was a great deal."
Callaway isn't the only Central Georgia high school student to
recognize a good deal when he sees one. Over the past few years,
about 300 college prep juniors and seniors in the Bibb, Houston
and Jones county school systems have taken advantage of Macon State's
Postsecondary Options (PSO) program.
Through PSO, a state-funded initiative that recognizes the value
of giving Georgia's best students challenging academic opportunities,
Macon State faculty members teach freshman-level college courses,
tuition free to students, on high school campuses during the regular
school day. A student who successfully completes a PSO course simultaneously
earns academic credit toward college and his or her high school
Houston student Mikel Grisset works
on a computer programming exercise at Houston County High
"Postsecondary Options is important to this region for a lot
of reasons," said Dee Minter, Macon State's director of enrollment
services. "It gives high school students a chance to take academically
challenging college courses, and it encourages collaboration between
the college and county school systems. It also helps parents, because
it allows them to save money on college costs for their children."
Eager to learn
Macon State College has offered the Postsecondary Options program
for a number of years. Course offerings, which vary among high schools,
include freshman English, political science, history, psychology,
sociology, computer programming and economics. As a result of participating
in PSO, some students have completed a semester or more of college
by the time they have graduated from high school.
Take Kara Harrington. A Westside senior, Harrington will have accumulated
21 Macon State credit hours when she graduates this spring. A "regular"
college student taking a full course load during a semester earns
at least 12 credit hours.
"It's been great," said Harrington, 17, who intends to
enroll at Shorter College this fall. "I plan to major in vocal
performance, so when I start college I'll be able to begin the music
classes right away since I'll have already finished most of my core
Houston County High students (left
to right) Colt Etheridge, Jessica Lord and Stewart Crow look
toward their Macon State instructor at the front of the room
to get directions.
Jason Lo, a Houston County High School senior who took a Macon
State computer programming class, won't have a semester's worth
of college credit when he graduates, but he still believes he's
gotten a great headstart through PSO.
"I knew I wanted to go into the field of computers, so I thought
this might be a good class to prepare me for college," said
Lo, 17, who hopes to attend either Georgia Tech or Mercer University.
"I like the atmosphere of the class. We have a (more adult)
relationship with the teacher and that makes things more relaxed."
Macon State faculty members who teach in the PSO program say they
enjoy the experience because the students are bright and generally
eager to learn.
"It's a challenge, something different," said Dr. Susan
Durr, a psychology instructor who taught a class at Westside this
spring. "My Westside students provide a good balance for the
perspectives expressed by my students on the (Macon State) campus."
Tracey Jensen, an assistant professor of IT at Macon State, taught
computer programming at Houston County High this spring.
"I enjoy the students," she said. "They have a great
deal of energy and enthusiasm for the topic. I think the idea of
the PSO program is great and would have loved to have the same opportunity
when I was their age."
Westside High School students study
college freshman psychology.
Both Durr and Jensen said they hold the PSO participants to the
same academic standards as "regular" Macon State freshmen
- and it shows.
"We're treated like college students," said April Phillips,
a Houston County High School junior who took Jensen's class and
plans to go to the University of Georgia. "The teacher doesn't
breathe down our necks. It's up to us to do well in the class, just
like it is in college."
Cole Brantley, 18, a Westside senior who also plans to attend UGA,
said because the PSO classes met two or three times a week, as opposed
to daily for regular high school courses, he got an idea of the
self-discipline required to keep up with college work. "I like
meeting three days a week instead of the usual five days a week,"
he said. "It's just a completely different academic setting."
The general requirements for students to participate in PSO at
Macon State are that they be juniors or seniors in the college prep
track. They should have an overall B average in their high school
courses and score at least 970 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT. Students
also need recommendations from their high school principals and
their parents or guardians.
Courses successfully completed under the PSO program will transfer
to any public college or university in Georgia, as well as to most
other public and private institutions throughout the nation.
Tracey Jensen, assistant professor
of IT at Macon State, works with April Phillips, a Houston
County High junior, in an introductory programming class.
Minter said that besides meeting academic qualifications, high
school juniors and seniors who participate in the Postsecondary
Options program should be dedicated, disciplined students who would
enjoy the challenge of college coursework.
To learn more, contact the
Macon State College
Postsecondary Options Coordinator
at (478) 471-2800 or toll-free at
Email questions to:
Macon State's Postsecondary Options program offers many advantages
to qualified high school juniors and seniors:
You can earn college credit before graduating from high school.
You can enrich your high school experience with challenging
college-level academic work.
You can explore different academic majors.
Participation does not affect eligibility for HOPE Scholarships
Tuition is free!