Academic redshirting: Give students more time

Selective colleges should “redshirt” disadvantaged students, giving them an extra year of college prep, writes Grinnell’s president. It works for football players, he argues.

Also on Community College Spotlight: Police used pepper spray on protesters who stormed a board meeting at Santa Monica City College. They object to the college’s plans to charge premium pricing for priority access to high-demand classes.

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  1. The US service academies have been using this model for decades, I think originally limited to and maybe primarily for, enlisted service members who need a (single) prep year to prepare for the incredibly tough first year at the academies. Not only are the academics very tough at the academies, but the military and fitness requirements are both tough and time-intensive. However, they do not admit kids who don’t even have HS-level skills; they are dealing with kHS grads who have outstanding records in enlisted specialties and who have won competitve admission to the academy, contingent on successful completion of the prep year. There are also non-active-duty kids who need an extra year, but my impression (from parents of a kid who did this) that they are a minority and likely to be from military families who understand the military lifestyle.

    I think too many of the programs designed for disadvantaged kids are dealing with a preparation gap large enough to make the model only of limited success. Trying to take kids with MS-level preparation, or less, and prepare them for real collge or vocational programs in 1-2 years is incredibly tough. Not only do they have academic weaknesses, they are also likely not to have the (in-class, studying etc) skills of successful students.

  2. GEORGE LARSON says:

    I was not aware this program was open to non-active-duty kids who need an extra year.

    it was my understanding they wash out out quite a few from the prep programs. Some graduates told me the service academies seemed easy after the prep year.

    This does not sound like the kind of program for an unmotivated high school graduate could handle.

    • It isn’t; it’s for highly motivated, high-achieving enlisted kids who already have a significant skill set, but not necessarily strictly academic in nature.

      That’s why I have serious reservations about expecting such a model to correct deficiencies that developed over 13 years of “schooling” , let alone “fix” the unmotivated. At some point, reasonable people have to say “enough”; you’d better learn how to cut grass or wait tables because you’re off the taxpayer dime.

      I don’t know if any of the prep programs still take non-active-duty kids of active-duty-military families. The kid I knew went to a private prep school but had been accepted to one of the academies, contingent upon successful completion of the prep year, so perhaps it wasn’t an official program.