Starting behind, finishing never

Three-fourths of Ohio students who take remedial college classes don’t earn a degree in six years, a new study concludes. The Columbus Dispatch reports:

An Ohio Board of Regents study of students who were freshmen in 1998 found that, by 2004, students who needed remedial classes were only one-third as likely to have a bachelor’s degree as those who didn’t need such classes.

Fifteen percent of remedial students had bachelor’s degrees, compared with 47 percent of nonremedial students.

About 38 percent of freshmen take remedial classes.

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  1. I’m sure there is a greater likelihood that remedial students NEVER will earn a degree. But using 6 years may bias the numbers. I’d be interested in the numbers in each category attaining a degree in 5, 6, 7 and perhaps 8 years. Remedial students must also take regular courses along with non-remedial students and thus will require more time to graduate on average.

  2. I believe there are two main reasons why this is true.

    1.) These students didn’t really want to get a degree anyway, but were convinced by others that they HAD to go to college.

    2.) They got so frustrated with having to take extra classes (and their lack of background knowledge just made it worse) that they just gave up. These are the ones that the public school system is failing to educate properly. These kids want to get a degree, but don’t come to college with the necessary skills.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    Welcome to the “modern” everyone-needs-college syndrome. I saw modern because this is really a post-1945 phenomenon. If public money funds colleges, then they need some form of triage.

  4. Two thoughts:

    first, if all states are like my state, homeschooled kids (and “non traditional students” returning to college after a many-years-break or who graduated from high school >15 years ago and never attended any college) have to take remediation classes. It annoys them, and in some cases it’s a silly rule – because some of the best students I’ve had have fit either of those categories, and for them, the remediation classes are just a piece of red tape to be endured. (I do not see why they could not simply have a test to place people in those categories out of the remediation classes if they did not need them, but that’s how things are done at my university.)

    I also agree that the “college for all!” mindset it not that useful. We will always need plumbers, mechanics, a/c technicians and the like – trades that can be learned on the job or at trade schools. And for someone with motivation and a good work ethic, it’s a good life – you can make good money doing it and I imagine it would (at times at least) be satisfying work. Why send unwilling “kids” to college when they’d rather learn their livelihood at the side of an experienced mechanic or the like? I think it’s a fundamental elitism in our society that “college is good, learning a trade is second-best.” That those who “can” go to college and those who “can’t” go to trade school – we need to overturn that mindset.

    But I also think the high level of required-remediation points to the fact that some of the high schools are either not holding students’ feet to the fires and are allowing people to graduate (with “good” grades – good enough to get into college) who sleepwalk their way through school, or they aren’t teaching the students what a college-bound student really needs to know in this day and age. Frankly, I think the colleges should be crying bloody murder that so many of their students need remedial reading, math, or science. (But the remediation classes are “cash cows” I guess – they don’t count towards degree hours – so it can be another way of getting money out of the students, their parents, or the taxpayers).