Taking the Stigma out of Remedial Courses

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 11, 2003 | Go to article overview

Taking the Stigma out of Remedial Courses


Byline: Rose Rennekamp

Just imagine ... you've calculated the costs of four years of college tuition, room and board. You've skipped vacations, eaten a lot of hamburger and saved the majority of what you need to pay for your child's college education. It's been hard, but it was worth it - your student is admitted to college. You feel confident that he or she is ready to meet the challenges of college. Then, the results of the placement tests come back - and your child needs to take remedial coursework to be able to handle the work in credit- bearing classes.

You think, "Not my child!" But according to research conducted by The Education Trust, 50 percent of today's college freshmen take at least one remedial course. Students have to pay for remedial classes, but the credits don't count toward their degrees. Credit hours assigned to remedial classes count toward financial aid requirements, but not toward graduation. It means that your student may have to take (and pay for) extra semesters of college that you didn't count on.

Remedial classes, usually required in writing and mathematics, help students who aren't ready for college freshman level classes. Students enrolled in college classes that are too challenging don't develop the solid foundation needed to build their understanding of the subject.

Colleges require remedial classes because they are trying to help students strengthen their foundational skills so that they are ready to learn in credit-bearing college courses.

There are many reasons students need remedial classes. Some students haven't taken challenging college preparatory coursework in high school. Sometimes, the courses offered in high schools are not teaching the skills students need to be ready for college-level work.

Other times, individual students don't understand particular concepts. There is nothing to be ashamed of if your student has to do remedial work. Those classes can mean the difference between success and failure in college.

Parents and students sometimes feel a stigma in taking remedial courses. Remember, if half of the college freshman need to take at least one remedial course, you're definitely not alone. What is important is that students are ready to learn all that college has to teach them. …

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