Brandon Coates
PSEO student

Coates-mugThe idea of waking up to go to an 8:00 a.m. class may sound tedious to some but this was a very special day.  The simplest way to describe my first day of classes at Lorain County Community College is to say it was complete and utter gratification.   For me it was an adventure I had been looking forward to.  Since I was starting my classes a week after many of my friends had already returned to the mind-numbing 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. high school cycle that I had been accustomed to for so long I could hardly complain about my widely varying schedule.  Getting back to classes after a rather long summer break left me well rested and interested in the courses I had selected.  However, getting to this point was not an easy task.  Being a high school student and attending college fulltime can only occur under fairly special circumstances.  This opportunity arose out of the PSEO (Post-Secondary Enrollment Option) program available at Amherst Steel High School.  Taking advantage of the PSEO program and attending LCCC full time has drastically changed my perspective from an observer to an actor.

While attending LCCC I have been given the opportunity to craft my own course schedule and pursue personal interests.  One of the biggest distinctions between a regular high school day and a day at the college is how varying it can be.  The diversity of classes available is much wider than in a high school environment.  One class that was exceptionally unique was bio-ethics which presented ethical concepts that many scientists and doctors work with and have to consider.  Another course that I could not take at high school but that had always interested me was ceramics.  I always liked getting my hands dirty so this class was quite enjoyable to take as an arts requirement.  Being a high school student limits the courses I can take because there are still high school requirements that are inplaced to guide me to be a well-rounded student.  I prefer a schedule that packs as many courses into a single day as possible and that is why most of my classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This gives me four days off that I can use as I please without being interrupted. Only one of my classes is on Wednesdays so I use this time to do research.  As an individual who would one day like to perform research on bacteria and cells as a career this is an excellent opportunity to clarify if this is the path I want to pursue in the future.  Surprisingly it was not very difficult to get invited to do research.   All I did was show interest in joining my Science Professor Kathryn Durham’s research group and I was onboard.  Since I plan on performing research as an undergraduate at Ohio State University, performing research at LCCC gives me a good preview of what I am getting myself into.  Interestingly enough one of the biggest differences between college and high school is the way the Instructors and Professors act in comparison to the teachers and staff.

Learning that Professors and Instructors can have extremely different reasons for teaching is surprising to me.  In high school almost all teachers seemed to want to help their students improve themselves and it gave the impression that they were all working selflessly for others.  That is a pretty nice gesture but it wasn’t ever that stimulating.  At the LCCC many of the science professors use the privileges associated with the position to further their own goals.  For science professors this would allow them to perform research on topics of their interest as well as having access to the lab equipment necessary for their goals.  Other Instructors take the opportunity of working at the college to take courses in their pass time that interest them.  My Calculus teacher is taking Anatomy because of her personal interest.  It is also interesting to see that many instructors do not view the success of their students as a reflection of their own performance in a college environment.  One instructor thanked his students for taking his course because by taking his class they were keeping him employed.  Although that is the brutally honest truth it is not the way a classroom in a high school is run.  Another thing that is very nice about college is that they require instructors to have office hours.  This is an extremely useful method to obtain individualized meetings with instructors to ask questions and get clarification on assignments.  Instructors in college give students the responsibility to succeed on their own.  Answers are not spoon fed to students so individual studies are paramount for success.  Although I believe the instructors and Professors poses many very interesting outlooks, my own perspective has changed a lot along with the change in the learning environment.

The freedom of having a car and being away from high school setting has drastically changed how I think about my responsibility. When I first began coming to LCCC, my mom was worried about me driving because I had obtained my driving license only the week before my first day.  For the first half of my first semester my mom insisted that I send her a text message when I got to the college because she was worried about me. However, she eventually realized that this was unnecessary.  Personally I never had an issue with motivating myself to go to class if I did I would simply pose myself this question “would you want to be skipping a class you paid several hundred dollars for”  That was a question I already knew the answer to.  I think that everyone should be responsible for their own actions and doing that is a sign of maturity.  Because of this, I feel like many school policies are unwarranted.  Constant supervision, strict food regulations, and untrusting supervisors seem to stand out the most when I think about high school.  Whenever I have to return to the high school for special events I feel like it’s a prison or mental institution.  The lady at the front desk always questions me about why I am here even though I have seen her countless times and I have told her “I am a PSEO student”.  I think that school regulations and policies need to be more relaxed otherwise when the time comes for students to go to college they become overwhelmed and make mistakes.  One of my friends is a good example of this.  He was a PSEO student who I met on my first day at the college.  Unfortunately he eventually started to slack off on his efforts in English 161 which we both happened to take together.  Unfortunately, he eventually made the mistake of getting his girlfriend pregnant which negatively impacted his career as PSEO student.  Being more aware of the magnitude of his actions would have been able to prevent this unfortunate outcome.

Being a PSEO student has given me the opportunity to take charge of my life, doing activities that I know will further my own goals on a personal and professional level.  As a student attending high school, I never felt like my efforts and academic success were really paying off for me in any way.  Although I was learning many techniques and useful information, it was information that was going to be recycled once I got into college.  The constant repetition of learning and forgetting information seemed unreasonable.  By taking college courses in high school, this repetition was circumvented.  When I take Calculus 1 and pass I won’t ever have to take Calculus 1 again.  In high school even if I take Calculus I still have to take it again once I get into college.  This is annoying because it wastes precious time that I could spend having fun.  More than anything else though having the freedom to go where I want when I want unrestricted by rules and regulations is a truly satisfying feeling.  If people ask “what was the main reason you became a PSEO student at LCCC?”  I would respond with “Because now I have more time to do the things that interest me on my own schedule.”  More specifically I am referring to playing video games, running around LCCC’s indoor track with friends, and going out to eat with friends.  A longer summer and winter break combined with a self-regulated schedule is a pleasure that I believe more high school students should take advantage of.  Graduating from college with 2 associate degrees before even graduating from high school is a significant accomplishment that I have been interested in for a while.  My success is not based on what others identify as successful but, what I identify as successful.  From my perspective a person can never fail unless they are letting themselves done.  And by that I mean they give up before putting forth their best effort.  To be successful one must be willing and determined to put effort into something even in the face of uncertainty.