Does your college class count?

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There is a problem in today’s colleges. It’s not the so-called liberal agenda or indoctrination. (And seriously– try talking to a college student, or any student– they are often strong in their beliefs and convictions). Across the nation, the problem is money. Students are wasting money on courses, often called remedial or developmental courses, that do not carry any graduation credit.

In college, remedial courses are often focused in the areas of math and English, sometimes technology. Multiple remedial courses may be required, especially if a student has reading difficulties. A student could complete a full academic year of classes without starting a credit-bearing course. While all college courses have credits, a numerical designation of the workload, a “credit-bearing course” is one that counts towards the degree requirements.

Remedial classes do not count towards GPA or graduation requirements. Remedial courses are any course a student takes before taking a credit-bearing course. Remedial courses are often called developmental or pre-req(uisite) courses.

In the past, colleges had an incentive to offer these types of courses. These courses allowed students who would otherwise skip college to attend. This became especially popular with the passage of the G.I. Bill (the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944). Students were deemed lacking, and remedial courses would teach them the necessary skills.

The problem with such courses is two-fold: the course still costs (the full amount of) money and the student completion rate drops as remedial coursework is required. Remedial courses are not discounted and often requires expensive supplies (textbooks, software subscriptions, paper/pens, etc…). Students sometimes take loans to cover these courses WHICH DO NOT COUNT TOWARDS GRADUATING!

Not all students who start remedial education complete a degree, or even the class. According to Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, 9% of students who take a remedial course complete a bachelor’s degree.

60% of community college students took one or more remedial courses

Center for the analysis of postsecondary readiness

In recent years, there has been a national and state-level shift in remedial education within colleges. Amid political pressure, some colleges no longer offer remedial education or offer shorter sequences (a single class versus a set of multiple). Some new state funding models (like that of Ohio) are based on students completing credit-bearing classes within a quick time frame (within the first 30 credit hours). Educators around the country are trying to explain what college readiness looks like to potential students (high schoolers, returning, etc…). In strong cases, there is even a push to “Just say no” to taking remedial courses.

Remedial education is a weird sort of limbo. The class doesn’t “count” yet is required because the student needs that particular skill/knowledge. There are no easy answers.

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