I think, more poignantly, the question for our colleges and universities comes down to
“Once the students (college-ready or not) are admitted, what do we do to best serve them?”
- 1.7 million college students enroll in remedial classes
- About 40% of first-year students require remedial work
- 26% of ACT takers are considered college ready
- In 2012, states and students spent more than $3 billion on remediation
- SB 1720 in Florida has restructured how remedial (developmental education) will be offered in the state.
The debate, while not new, seems to have reached new levels of urgency (and vitriol). Does a high school education indicate a student is prepared and ready for college-level work? What does “college-ready” mean—how do we quantify that oft-used term?
We could even debate whether these “non-college-ready” students should even be in college in the first place. And if they aren’t, then where do they “belong”? If more than 115,000 janitors currently sport four-year degrees, what is the future for those without any degree—and by extension, what is the future for our communities at large?
I think, more poignantly, the question for our colleges and universities comes down to “Once the students (college-ready or not) are admitted, what do we do to best serve them?”
Simply stated: “What can we do to break this cycle?”
Organizations such as Complete College America call for “clear paths to graduation.” Developmental education is tarred and feathered in political and academic debates about its level of effectiveness. State legislatures protest that they do not want to “pay twice” for the same education. That is, they question the sanity of paying for remediation in college for skills that were supposed to be taught and learned in high school.
Fingers point in all direction in what becomes a circular firing squad.
In my portion of this Friday’s virtual conference, I will address a few things those of us on the ground can do to help our students and thus help the greater community. Included:
- Recognizing that non-cognitive issues have a critical impact on success—as much or more than academic challenges
- Infusing/embedding skills within existing courses as appropriate
- Providing realistic and real-time mentoring and guidance inside and outside of the classroom
- Connecting students intrusively with life success resources.
We can argue all day as to whom to blame for the current situation. (Like there is a single culprit in this mess!) The situation IS urgent. There ARE students coming to us who desperately need additional resources for success in school and beyond.
What I do know from my experience is that something has to be done to break the cycle. That is not rocket science. Let’s continue to the conversation (true conversations—not collective monologues!) Let’s put aside our confirmation biases and recognize that even someone philosophically opposed to our views may have a kernel of truth and insight to help us and our students move forward.
These students, after all, are not just enrollment statistics. They represent investments in our community.
Video recommendation for the week:
For this week’s video clip, let’s look back at an opportunity I had to a few years back on a visit to Lynn University as a Scholar in Residence.
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.