A Post for Community College Remedial Students

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It’s just a test. Don’t let it get the best of you.

The mere use of the word “remedial” is enough to send shudders down the backs of students and journalists alike. The word “developmental” has even been adopted in its stead to lessen the blow.

So what is it about remediation that has everyone wincing?


Well, if you are a community college student, you know all too well. Your story probably goes a little like this:

  • You showed up to register for college.
  • You were told to take a test to “see where you are” and that you “can’t fail the test.”
  • You did not study for this test (nor were you offered the chance to study).
  • You receive a score “below the cut score” and learn that you’ll have to pay to take a remedial class that won’t actually count for any college credits.

Who wouldn’t be upset if that happened to them?

This isn’t just a random situation. This happens to hundreds of thousands of students every year. The fact is that controversy exists over these exams.

First of All… Teachers Fail the Test

Hunter R. Boylan, Director of the National Center for Developmental Education, gave the math portion of the ACCUPLACER (a commonly used community college placement test) to 42 community college professors. The result? Boylan reported that “almost all of [the professors] would have ended up in remediation.

The Majority of Students Don’t Know the Importance of the Test

In 2010, Northwestern University conducted a survey of 2,000 community college students and found that a whopping 75% of them didn’t realize that the test was going to be used for placement.

Not fun.

You Can Overcome This Obstacle

So, what should you do if you are placed in a remedial course? First and foremost, don’t take it personally.

Being placed in a remedial class isn’t a diss on your IQ. In fact, chances are that you fall into the category of the professors mentioned above—you just needed a little refresher on the subject before taking the exam.

Remember the goals and dreams that pushed you to attend college in the first place? Those dreams are not shattered just because of this small obstacle. Sadly, students lose sight of this, get discouraged, and drop out of community college not long after being placed in remedial courses. This is the true tragedy.

The solution for handling this situation is not all rainbow thoughts wrapped in sunshine. However, there are solutions—like retaking the test or acing the remedial course. Next week, I’ll detail these options, as well as some others remedial students may not be aware of.

(Photo: ribzy)

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