More than 95 percent of American colleges enrolled students who required remedial course work in the 2014-2015 academic year, according to a recent Hechinger Report. And, of the students that took remedial courses while enrolled in a two- or four-year college, 30 percent did not complete their degree.

There are two significant insights that can be made based on the findings of the Hechinger report.

First, young people realize the importance of postsecondary education to their future job prospects, and rightfully so. Since the 2008 economic recession, 11.5 of the 11.6 million newly created jobs have gone to individuals with at least some form of postsecondary education.1 With 95 percent of schools enrolling students requiring remediation, it's evident that even students that did not excel academically in high school see the long-term economic benefits to earning a postsecondary degree or credential.

The second insight is that a correlation exists between college completion rates and admissions department protocols; specifically, the processes admissions departments employ to identify applicants requiring remediation. Effective admissions departments identify applicants needing remedial work before enrolling them. They provide a distinct pathway into the academic rigors of college with comprehensive academic support structures to help this subset of students succeed in their studies.  

One of the primary missions of all postsecondary institutions is to equip its students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to gain employment and enjoy long-term career success. To realize this mission, colleges must apply the proper amount of attention and resources into developing a flexible academic support framework capable of adapting to meet the needs of each student they serve.

Colleges that do this well are the ones that work to glean clear insights into their applicant pool. By establishing relationships with local high schools, job training programs and community colleges, colleges can generate material insights into the education and training of their applicants. Armed with these insights, college admissions departments better understand the competencies and deficiencies of their applicant pool during the admissions process.

The second component is implementing the flexible academic support framework mentioned above. Instead of identifying remedial students and then turning them away, many colleges and universities have seen increased enrollment, retention and graduation rates using alternative enrollment solutions that equip students with remedial needs to excel at college coursework before enrolling in college. 

These are the key characteristics of effective remediation and high school diploma programs and why they generate successful outcomes for the student and the school.

School Sponsored

Offering remedial courses or a high school diploma program at no cost to the student eliminates one major barrier preventing interested students from enrolling in these programs. Although the college is covering the cost on behalf of the student, a school-sponsored program is beneficial to both the college and the student. Students earn a high school diploma or work towards college-level proficiency. Colleges expand their applicant pool. For example, prior to enrolling in a remedial course or a high school diploma program, these students didn't possess the requisite qualifications or skills for enrolling in college. Colleges, by sponsoring these programs and removing the financial barriers making them inaccessible to many students, increase the number of applicants qualified to enroll in one of their credential or degree programs. Effectively, the college is offering students a pathway to enrollment while expanding their applicant pool.

Blended Learning Environment

A blended learning program that incorporates online and traditional classroom-based learning components is vital for program and student success. The flexibility of an online program can help increase program completion rates. By allowing students to access coursework and study materials off-campus through an online learning portal, the student is freed to make fewer choices between academics and the responsibilities of daily life. A program that fits into each students' unique schedule increases the likilihood they stick with it.

Yet, for many students, it's impossible to replicate the benefits of a classroom setting and the support and motivation provided by an instructor or administrator. The most successful programs deliver an educational experience infused with both online and classroom-based learning elements. And, they do so without sacrificing adaptability. It's important for students to assert a degree of control over their education in order accommodate their learning styles and foster engagement. It's equally important, if not more important, that pre-enrollment programs possess an intrinsic adaptability so the program administrator can implement the program in the way that works best their students. 

Administrator Resources to Help Track & Support Students

In a blended learning program, students consume course content through an online learning portal. That doesn't minimize the role of a program administrator and the integral role they play in generating successful student outcomes. Successful programs empower program administrators with dashboards and competency tracking tools that provide personalized insights into the performance and progress of each student.

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Sources: Photo Credit. (1) America's Divided Recovery, Georgetown University