Category Archives: college

Not the Same Thing

Today I had a student come into my office very upset because our placement process was inaccurate. Apparently she attended a different institution before, took a freshman English class, and was now trying to take a different class for some sort of program where I work, but she has now tried taking this class several times and continues to fail it. Somehow this is my fault, even though I had nothing to do with her taking this class, nor was I her instructor.

She was not explaining her situation very well, so I had to do some digging to figure out what happened. She went to the same institution from which I got my MA, but I am thoroughly unfamiliar with how their undergrad courses work. She gave me numbers and I gave her a blank stare because none of that meant anything to me. Something about a cohort freshman comp course that she could not pass the second part of, and thus changed schools to take the equivalent, and unfortunately couldn’t pass it then either. I was forced to figure out course sequencing at the other school so I could establish equivalency.

So, I figured out that their 115 course is freshman comp. Okay. Then they have a 114 course, which I took to mean “right below freshman comp.” Okay. The course this girl could not pass anywhere is their 113, which I then placed below their 114, which is below 115 . This is how you count, right? This makes sense to someone other than me, no?

However, we have all these fancy state websites to consult in order to make sure I do my equivalencies properly. I looked, and as it turns out their English department wasn’t counting when creating the courses, because all three of these are the same thing. So I got on the phone with their articulations officer to ask “why do you have three different numbers for the same class? Why?” She told me that they are in fact the same. Yes, well I figured that out myself. But why??

Then I texted a friend who teaches there and asked her the same question. She explained that students in 115 got the highest placement scores. The 114 students got lower scores and the 113 course is below that.

Okay, so apparently we are back to 115 is the highest, 114 is below that, and 113 is even lower. Which would mean that if you test into 113, you have to work your way up to 115. If some students test into 115 and other students test into 113, it would make sense that the 113 students be worked harder until they reach 115 level and everyone goes from there, no? I have spoken to four different people today, and this concept makes sense only to me.

I then texted a different friend and asked her if the 113 class works them harder while the 115 students get to take a break because they did better on their tests (I was trying very hard to rationalize all of this).

No, the 113 class is easier than the 115 class, because they are both worked to their abilities.

So, that means they are not the same class! I return to the first friend and ask for more clarification. She explained the reasoning behind all of this was to destigmatize remedial coursework, so everyone takes the same class but the different numbers cater to their levels. So…. that means they are not the same class!!

I know freshman comp is an abstract concept, so let’s look at this in a different, perhaps more concrete way. It would be the equivalent of needing college math to graduate, but you only know basic arithmetic, so you take a pre-algebra course and get credit for college math. How is this possible? I know I must be missing some very important piece of information because this cannot just be a thing that exists. There has to be some sort of caveat or fine print or something.

I am not sure why I am so bothered by this, but I am. And I will figure it out.

8 Reasons to Attend a Community College

Although my children are far from college age, I cannot help plan for their futures. As any mother, I want what is best for children, so honestly when the time comes I would really like if they were to go to a local community college first and then transfer to a larger four year institution. This is why:
1.       Going to a community college first can help them discover what they really want to do. We all have ideas of what we want to major in when we are in high school, but sometimes in our first or second year we find new interests. Most community colleges allow them to explore these options, dabble in coursework for different fields, and identify their goals.
2.       Regardless of whether they will attend a four year out of high school, or transfer to one from a community college, they will still have to go through the college acceptance process. However, if they choose to transfer it postpones the process by a few years. Along with number one above, this grants them the opportunity to mature a bit, and deal with the stress and aggravation of the acceptance process at a time when they are better prepared for it.
3.       Community colleges have some amazing professors and learning opportunities and they are nothing to scoff at.
4.       Honestly, a lot of money can be saved following this route. I cannot say what the economy will be like 15 years from now when my daughter will be going to college, or 16 years from now when my son will follow. But saving money is a good thing in any economy.
5.       In large university settings they may not always get the attention they might need from a professor. Community colleges are often in smaller settings and they have more chances to speak to their professors privately after class or during office hours to discuss any questions about lectures or coursework.
6.       Community colleges are often smaller in size than four year institutions, which may offer just the transition they need.
7.       Not everyone is out to get a four year degree. Sometimes an Associates Degree or just learning some marketable skills will suffice.
8.       A community college can allow them to live at home for a few more years if the four year they will aim towards is out of town. Not only will that save money, but it may again help them mature a bit before having to be on their own.
Having considered all of the above I really hope my children will be inclined to attend a community college. However, it will ultimately be their choice.
How do you feel about community colleges?