I SERVED ON a scholarship committee for a local foundation. We offered awards to college students entering their sophomore year. Our coordinator had the unhappy job of explaining to some students and parents that, even though their students had a full freshman schedule and passed all their classes, they didn’t actually have sophomore standing. How can this be? The answer is remediation.
Almost 24% of entering college freshmen at Ohio universities required remediation in English or math and 6% needed both. What this means is that the student must take remediation classes (and pay tuition for them) and yet get no college credits. The need for remediation is a key indicator that students are less likely to complete their college degree.
Simply put, these students didn’t learn in high school what was minimally necessary to enroll in freshman English or math. After spending several years on a small town’s school board, I’m still trying to figure this out. Who do we hold responsible? There’s no shortage of suspects. I can make a case that it’s the school district’s responsibility, but I also recall the enthusiasm and creativity we saw in our teaching and administrative staffs.
We could blame the victim: You can send a student to school, but you can’t make him or her learn. The students are not (choose your adjective) “motivated,” “disciplined,” “responsible” or “engaged.”
And I certainly have strong feelings about the mandates from the state regarding curriculum, standardized testing, school choice and school “report cards,” which suck up administrative time and attention while detracting from educating students.
In management class, we learn that if something is everyone’s responsibility then it’s effectively no one’s responsibility—and it doesn’t get done. In the end, I put the primary responsibility on parents. An investment truism is that no one cares as much about your money as you do. The same can be said for your children. If you want them to succeed in college, you don’t delegate that responsibility to someone else. Schools have students six hours a day, 180 days per year starting at age six. Parents are there from birth and during all those non-school hours. They also set the priority and expectations for learning. Ways to do this include:
Parents should be warned: This is clearly a “pay now or pay later” scenario. If parents don’t focus on their child’s performance in kindergarten through 12th grade, they risk paying for it in additional college tuition or, worse, no college degree at all.