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Study: More College Students Need Remedial Classes

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A recent study shows that as many as 40 percent of public high school students who enter a public college or university has to take at least one remedial course in reading, writing or math.

The report was conducted by the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Forty percent is an all-time high for Minnesota and not everyone is shocked by it.

“I am not surprised by that. I wish there were some high schools who would prepare people better for college … if they want their students to go on to college,” said University of Minnesota student Erin Cowles.

Ten years ago, 30 percent of public college or university students were taking a remedial course. Now, it’s up to 40 percent and possibly growing.

But students admit that a part of that problem falls on them, by not taking more challenging courses in high school.

“You look at high school and you are 16-years-old. You feel like you are an adult, but you’re really not. So you want to coast through high school, get through that and you want to start living,” said University of Minnesota student Matthew Stiamac.

That’s exactly the answer Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change, doesn’t want to hear.

“Disturbing is one word for it, infuriating is another word. Because this is something we can solve,” said Nathan who works at Macalester College.

Nathan said the good news is there is an answer. Schools that produce the lowest number of graduates who have to take remedial courses are generally from greater Minnesota. Those schools typically have smaller classrooms, and students are challenged and encouraged to take college prep courses.

Nathan said remedial math has become the biggest problem. And he believes students who shy away from numbers will “literally” pay for it later on.

“So, if you want to burn up $800 or $1200 of your own money … don’t take challenging courses and then you will have to pay for it when you get to a public college or university,” said Nathan.

Remedial classes usually don’t count towards college credits. They are simply to get students caught up.

Nathan said the biggest motivator in all of this is the parents. He believes they need to encourage their children to take more challenging courses in high school.

He also adds that while 40 percent is a discouraging number, the encouraging thing is more students are going to college than 10 years ago.

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