Students not ready to take college classes

Evan Parker and Evan Parker

A City College-conducted survey has shed new light on the growing number of freshmen enrolling in classes they are not prepared for.

Incoming students are required to take an assessment test covering math, reading, and writing, to determine if they are academically prepared for college-level classes.

Of the 3,500 incoming students given the reading assessment, 2,485 tested at one, two, or three levels below college level. Only 845 students enrolled in the English course they tested into.

This means half of the students who assessed below the college level are unprepared to succeed in the classes they are taking.

English 103, “Improvement of College Reading and Study Skills,” is not a required course and can be skipped. Students recommended to English 103 who opt for more advanced classes, often find themselves unable to handle the course load.

The numbers are similar for writing and math courses as well. This growing trend is cause for concern, said City College administrators.

Superintendent-President John Romo and Dr. Jack Friedlander, vice-president of Educational Programs, have proposed new regulations to the state. These would require that freshmen who fail college level courses take the remedial classes for which they were recommended.

“The [current] cycle wastes student’s time and money, and wastes City College resources,” Romo said. “I think it’s appropriate to say to them, ‘Ok we’ve tried it your way, so we welcome you to continue here, but now you’re going to do it our way.’ ”

Dr. Andreea Serban, associate vice-president of Information Technologies, said this is one of the most intense and constant areas of research at City College.

Serban said she believes it is in students’ best interest to follow the path they have been assessed, but more can probably be done to communicate the consequences of their decision for their academic future.

Many faculty members, even those who do not teach math or English, said they have noticed this problem in their classes.

“It’s been a problem all along,” added Dr. Barbara Lindemann, professor of history and geography. “It requires an extra effort to take time from my class to build students’ English skills rather than focus on history.”

Dr. John Kay said he witnesses students on a daily basis “running like hamsters on a treadmill” to keep up with their commitments. He said he often sees students leaving class early for work and skipping exams because they were just not ready.

“There is no question they are deficient,” said Kay, professor of political science. “Too many students are trying to play the minute waltz in 45 seconds.”

The studies have been presented to teachers. Faculty leaders indicated early support for the rule change. Friedlander said he expects to see change in the coming years, but also added that these changes will not come without opposition.