SOUTH BEND – A new study finds that many high school graduates heading to college in Indiana aren't ready for college courses. The study by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education shows nearly a third of the students are behind in either math, language arts, or both. This is not just students pursuing science and engineering courses, but those looking to enrole in arts degrees and msn programs as well. These students are forced to take remedial classes that cost them money and time and usually don't come with college credits.
"I've spent three years catching up on math classes because of placement testing that had math I did not experience in high school because I was told I didn't need to go further on in math," said IU South Bend junior Aricha Baker.
Baker, who plans on going to grad school, was shocked when she enrolled in college and found out her math skills weren't up to par. She had to catch up by taking remediation courses that didn't even count toward her degree. But she isn't alone.
The study shows about 47 percent of Indiana high school graduates go on to college. Of them, 31 percent need some sort of remediation.
"It is a problem and one that we're working very hard to try to rectify," said Jeff Jones, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
Jones says about 30 percent of enrolling freshman need remedial classes, especially in math.
"There is a disconnect we find, in some ways, what the high school graduate is prepared for and what we require here at IU." Jones said.
Since 2011, IU South Bend has been working with Ivy Tech by sending students who need to take remedial courses to the Ivy Tech campus for those classes.
According to officials with Ivy Tech in South Bend, nearly 80 percent of all incoming students fall into that category.
"I think it's very scary," said Kathryn Waltz-Freel, Academic Skills Advancement Divisional Dean for Ivy Tech in South Bend. "I think that's why it's such a challenge, because so many students who come here are trying to advance their own careers and not anticipating they'll need extra coursework."
"I just spent a lot of time trying to catch up,” Baker said. “I don't know if it was my fault or the schools fault. I was just never told.”
Experts say it's important for students to continue to take math and English courses their senior year of high school, even if they've already met their credit requirements to graduate. They say that helps to keep them up to date on English and math skills.
The state average for first year college students needing some sort of remedial education is 31 percent, according to the study, which also breaks down the numbers for every school across the state.
South Bend Community Schools have about 36.5 of their college-bound graduates needing extra help. Elkhart Community Schools are at 39 percent. Mishawaka, 28. LaPorte, 17. And Penn High School is at 14 percent.
To view the report, visit http://www.in.gov/che/2687.htm