Understanding remedial classes in college

What are remedial classes? Learn why students take remedial classes in college and some steps they can take to prevent from taking them.

Each year, students apply for college and hope to gain admission into the school of their choice. Hopefully, they prepared for college by doing their best in high school so they could have a good grade point average (GPA) and a high SAT or ACT score. We could encourage that they also participate in extracurricular activities like sports, band, 4-H and community service.

Here is a question if you’re a high school student and you have been accepted to a college. If the college you’re attending has a placement test, do you feel prepared to pass the placement test? What is a placement test? According to Big Future by The College Board, a placement test is a test that measures the academic skills needed for college-level work. This test covers reading, writing, math and sometimes other subjects. The results from this test helps determine the course a high school student is ready for and whether they would benefit from remedial college classes.

If a student does not make the proper score on this test, they will take remedial courses. What are remedial courses? According to College Parent Central, remedial courses are sometimes called developmental courses and they are classes students must take to build skills before they are allowed to take regular college classes. They allow students to improve their skills in a subject so they can be prepared for the future college courses in that subject area. Students may also be placed in remedial courses based on other factors such as their SAT or ACT scores, high school GPA or some independent assessment administered by the college.

Why is this important? When students take remedial courses, they pay tuition and can use financial aid for the courses, but they do not receive college credit. Passing placement tests saves time and money.

How can a student prepare in high school to prevent taking remedial classes in college? Big Future by the College Board gives some suggestions such as take college preparation classes in a variety of subjects, choose challenging courses, ask for help if needed, take advantages of classes that teach skills such as taking notes, studying and doing research, and stay focused during the senior year. Some suggestions from College Parent Central are to understand that extra effort is needed outside of passing high school classes and earning a diploma. Learn the high school material instead of going through the motions of class, take math in the senior year even if it is not needed, avoid senioritis and take placement exams seriously.

Doing well in high school classes and on standardized tests does not guarantee students will score well on a placement test. Take the necessary steps while in high school and make the effort to avoid the need to take remedial classes in college.

Michigan State University Extension has career preparation resources available that may additionally help you prepare for post-secondary education.

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