Future career college students require extra help, remedial courses to succeed

Reading, writing and arithmetic. Learning those basics used to be enough to prepare students for college coursework. But according to the latest trends in higher education, students aren’t learning enough of these skills in high school to be ready for college.

The latest trend for postsecondary educational institutions is remediation. Two- and four-year colleges alike are providing increasing numbers of students with remedial courses in subjects such as reading and math to prepare them for college coursework.

The 2006 Condition of Education report, released by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that 42 percent of incoming freshman at public two-year colleges needed remedial coursework. The majority of these schools – 63 percent – reported that students averaged a year or more of remedial course taking. Despite taking remedial reading courses to prepare them for college coursework, these students were about half as likely as students who didn’t take remedial courses to earn a degree or certificate.

Cause of the problem

These days, it’s not just the adult learners who haven’t seen a classroom in 10 to 20 years who need help with the basics.

“We’ve recently had some fresh high school grads interested in coming to school who needed some help with one thing or another,” said Lynn Hull, an Admissions Representative for Institute of Technology – Modesto.

Hull said students cited many reasons why they were unprepared for their college coursework, including not paying attention in school, believing what they were learning was unimportant, large class sizes and lack of attention from teachers.

Re-teaching the basics

What can career colleges do to help students who aren’t prepared for college-level coursework? If career schools wish to see their students succeed, they must formulate a plan to help get these students up to speed.

Hull said one of the offerings at IOT – Modesto that helps students succeed is the school’s study skills program. These free classes are offered in two-hour sessions three times a week. Students and potential students are welcome to attend as often as they like to get extra help with basic skills in reading, writing and math. The program also teaches time management skills to assist students who must juggle school, work and family commitments.

While preparing these programs, schools should also keep in mind that research shows those students who require remedial courses are less likely to graduate. Extra emphasis should be placed on making sure these students continue to feel comfortable with their career college courses once they have completed the remedial requirements.

The key to student success lies in a quality education, regardless of where it comes from. If students are failing to learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills in high school, it’s up to career colleges to bridge the gap.

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