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PSEO vs. AP: Which Path is Right for You?

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

Choosing between Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and Advanced Placement (AP) can be confusing. Having earned our Associate degrees through the PSEO program at Minneapolis College and taken our fair share of AP classes in high school, we're speaking from experience. We've been in your shoes! In this post, we'll simplify the differences between the two, based on what we learned as students and during our work at People for PSEO.

Breaking Down PSEO and AP

Let’s start by shedding light on these two paths available to you.

PSEO: Want to experience college life early on? Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) allows you to immerse yourself in the college-level coursework in-person, online, or both while still in high school to earn both high school and college credits. If you’re strategic about which classes you’re taking, you can even graduate high school with an Associate’s Degree!

AP: On the other hand, Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer a chance to engage in

challenging classes without leaving your high school. You can earn college credits if you score high enough on the AP Exam at the end of the school year. These courses are known for their rigor, and the curriculum is made by the College Board (who also runs the SAT).

Although you aren’t limited to choosing just one of these options - you can do both PSEO and AP at the same time - we see lots of questions about which program is best! The answer depends on who you are and what your goals are.

Benefits of PSEO

Cost Efficiency: The PSEO program is free, allowing high school students to start their college journey at no cost. It covers all college tuition and class materials (including textbooks). The financial advantage of PSEO can lead to significant savings in the long run by increasing the potential to graduate college early and minimize future tuition fees.

Autonomy and Flexibility: Beyond its financial benefits, PSEO offers a level of autonomy that typically can't be achieved in a traditional high school setting. PSEO students can explore a broader range of subjects than might be available through their high school curriculum. To a degree, you can design your own schedule, you can enroll part-time or full-time, and you can take classes in-person or online.

Access to College-Level Resources: Enrolling in PSEO doesn't just mean attending college classes; it also grants you access to a wealth of valuable resources. From free tutoring to internships and research opportunities, PSEO offers a head start in building a strong foundation for your academic and career pursuits. These experiences not only enhance your resume but also provide insights into the challenges of college-level studies.

Benefits of Advanced Placement Courses

Out-of-State Recognition: Unlike PSEO, AP scores are widely recognized across the nation. Most colleges across the U.S. acknowledge AP courses and the subsequent exams, granting college credit for high scores. This can be an advantage if you're considering out-of-state colleges.

Weighted GPA: Due to the academic rigor of AP, many high schools give extra weight to AP courses when calculating your GPA. This means that excelling in AP classes can boost your class ranking and boost your odds of admission into colleges across the country.

Building a Competitive College Application: AP courses can distinguish a student's application. High scores on AP exams further validate a student's expertise in the subject, potentially giving them an edge during the admissions process.

PSEO vs. AP: Your Choice

At the end of the day, choosing between PSEO and AP courses is personal. If you’re eager for a taste of college life and are ready to handle the demands of college-level coursework, PSEO could be the perfect match for you. It offers not just an academic opportunity, but a chance to fully immerse yourself in the college experience, a diverse student body, campus setting, and the chance to choose your own courses. However, if you prefer to remain within the familiar walls of your high school, and you have access to a good variety of AP classes, then PSEO might not be the best choice.

Again, it's important to note that the decision doesn't have to be a strict either-or scenario. Just as each student is unique, the choice between PSEO and AP can also be customized to fit your individual needs and goals. We know students who take PSEO classes at the college in the morning, and then take AP classes in the afternoon so that they are back at the high school for after school sports!

As a next step, we encourage you to talk with your parents/guardians, your school counselor, and your teachers. They can all provide valuable insights. Consider your academic objectives, your career goals, factor in your personal inclinations, and analyze your own learning style.


In summary, both PSEO and AP courses offer unique advantages that can shape your educational journey and open doors to future opportunities. Consider your academic goals, your career goals, your learning style, and preferences when deciding which path aligns best with your aspirations. Whichever option you choose, remember that taking the initiative to pursue advanced education during high school is a commendable step towards a brighter future.

Best Regards,

Thea Pappas and Katyanna Taylor

P.S. Want help taking the next step to earning dual credits? Fill out our contact form, we’re here to help!

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