It has been a really long time since the last time I saw the whole college scam thing in the news, but this little Time article suddenly popped up so I took a look at it, and despite its brevity, it does throw in a few good points.
Sentence number one says it all. “There’s a reason why colleges have to remediate so many students.” Heh. Remediate. There’s a word I’m disgustingly familiar with. Remedial courses are probably one of the biggest problems in higher education these days, because they shouldn’t exist.
Here’s how it works. College is expensive, and getting more expensive by the…. however often the educrats want to jack up the cost these days. I would say by the day, but you never know these days. Maybe some administrator will see this and suddenly feel like making their bursar’s workload shoot through the roof with more numbers to crunch…again. 😛 Anyhoo, people pay all of that money for a degree, which consists of X amount of credit hours of coursework. If remedial courses are included, that means part of that super-expensive degree that’s creating the biggest debt bubble in this country’s history consisted entirely of courses that only serve to catch someone up in some area to a level where they can finally begin working on that super-expensive degree. 😛
Yeah. Remedial courses should not even be part of *any* college experience. This type of stuff should be relegated to independent tutoring services or an adult version of Sylvan Learning Center or something. If people need to patch up holes in their knowledge base, they should do so *before* starting on the path to a super-expensive degree. Of course making people “pay for high school the second time around” earns colleges yet more money, so of course the schools have them and probably won’t get rid of them anytime soon.
Then you have institutions who take the remedial course problem a step further by making them mandatory for all students. My own alma mater had a mandatory Intro To Liberal Arts class that all freshmen had to take. Apparently more than a few new students couldn’t handle the kind of college-level amounts of reading that earned me my first pair of glasses at age 22 (Yeah. Laugh it up. :-P) so in their infinite wisdom the educrats in the ivory towers made it so even a bookworm like me who graduated first in my middle and high school classes had to take a remedial reading course. Not like it was very effective either. Students would often brainstorm ways to circumvent having to read 15 200-page books in 10 weeks and most of us didn’t even bother reading through the books all the way and still managed to do well (I got an A. :-P) plus some of the “easier professors” would practically give you easy A’s if you at least attempted to at least read a little of each book, so I’d say that course was one of the bigger wastes of money that made up my bachelor’s degree. 😛 Plus despite that course supposedly being “an introduction to college-level reading” I never read that much in a single course ever again after that. Maybe it was because I was a Business major instead of an English major. Oh wait. I’m sorry. Did I say English? Oh how utterly insensitive of me. I meant “Cultural And Literary Studies.” 😛
I could go on and on, but let’s get straight to the point. I know something’s wrong in the world of higher education when I talk with folks that are going back to school (sometimes with families, kids, and jobs on the side – hats off to them 🙂 ) and the discussion goes like this:
Me: “Hey cool whatcha reading?”
Them: “Oh, stuff for my classes. I’m going to college.”
Me: “Cool. Whatcha studying?”
I think I covered it quite nicely earlier in this article when I described remedial courses as “paying for high school the second time around.” Sure colleges won’t be spinning off remedial coursework anytime soon. There’s just too much money in it for them, but that doesn’t mean consumers can’t smarten up, and isn’t getting all smart and stuff what education’s supposed to be about in the first place? 🙂 Sure there may be some smart schools out there that make remedial courses cheaper than regular ones, but I’d still check the numbers to see where the best deal is. Bottom line, if you’re going to school and find you need remedial stuff – stop – immediately. Find some independent tutoring service or something to save a few bucks instead of paying whatever the tuition is at the place for a remedial course. People go into enough debt because of higher education as it is. No need to make things worse by having some of that debt coming from simply catching up so one can get started. :-\