Are High School Students Unprepared for College?

Here’s a recent article in the Denver Post that reports that about 30 percent of all incoming Colorado college students are unprepared for college and need remedial classes.

As someone who used to teach college in Colorado, I’m not the least bit surprised. I had plenty of terrific students when I taught at Colorado State University, and I had plenty of students that should not have been admitted.  Maybe even 30 percent.

It’s not just Colorado though.  According to the article, the 30 percent figure is around the national average.

As a former professor, I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating this was for me. I had students in my junior and senior level classes who couldn’t write at anywhere close to college level. I taught difficult theoretical concepts in my classes, and I found myself tempted (and sometimes giving in) to dumbing things down.

The system is a mess.  Many students go to college for economic reasons, as it’s really hard to make a good living in this economy without a college degree.  And who can blame them?  Unfortunately, our high schools are not providing these students with the skills they need to succeed in college.  This means our colleges and universities have an abundance of under-qualified students, which drags down the quality of education for everyone, and forces schools to spend way too large a share of their resources on remedial education.

And no, it’s not everybody.  Not at all.  But overall, we’ve created a system where young people feel they have no choice but to go to college, even though many are not academically prepared.

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