At Grand Valley State University – and colleges nationwide – students have a hard time adjusting to the academic demands of higher education.

In fact, this year, in Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address, he reported college readiness rates of Michigan high schoolers at only 17 percent. 60 percent of students in the state, Snyder said, have to take a remedial course upon entering community college.

At GVSU, 15.4 percent of new freshman take at least one remedial or development course in their first year, and 4.5 percent take two or more. While than on it’s own is much lower than Snyder’s reported statewide total, students taking no remedial classes for the 2011-12 school year had an average GPA of 2.95. For students taking one remedial course, the average GPA drops to 2.68 and down again to 2.39 for students taking two or more. As far as six-year graduation rates go at GVSU, the 66 percent graduation rate of students taking no remedial courses drops down to 43 percent for students enrolled in two or more courses.

With numbers showing a decline in improvement – a contradiction to the intended result of remedial courses – GVSU faculty is developing a committee of interested faculty and unit heads to update the courses, and according to administrators, “do some planning for a more comprehensive approach.”

In a report done in December 2012 by the Charles A. Dana Center, Complete College America, Inch. Education Commission of the States and Jobs for the Future, researches wrote that “remedial education as commonly designed and implemented – that is, sequences of several semester-long courses that students must complete before gaining access to college-level gateway courses – does not work.” Instead, the report suggests a different kind of remedial aid for students academically struggling upon entrance.

“Research indicates that students, particularly those who are unprepared for college, benefit from ‘non-academic’ supports that help them explore and clarify goals for college and careers, develop college success skills, engage with campus culture, and address the conflicting demands of work, family, and college,”

But as GVSU updates its approach to remedial education, it’s a commendable move toward rectifying the gaps in college readiness set forth way back in K-12 education. Let us redirect you back to the second paragraph: only 17 percent of Michigan high schoolers graduate with the academic skills that meet college readiness standards. So while universities – GVSU included – could do more comprehensive reparation of student academics, this brokenness starts way down in the public school system, and only manifests itself during college more forcefully in the maladjusted.