UW System President Says College Preparedness Is High-Priority Issue

Estimated 21 Pct. Of Freshmen Entering UW System Need Remedial Courses

The UW System estimates that 21 percent of incoming freshmen need remedial courses. Photo: Amanda Salm (CC-BY-NC-ND).

The president of the University of Wisconsin System said last week that Wisconsin’s universities and colleges need to work harder at decreasing the number of students who need remedial courses.

The UW System estimates that 21 percent of all freshmen entering its universities and colleges need some type of remedial education. System President Ray Cross said that even though that’s below the national average, it’s still too high. During a presentation to the UW Board of Regents, Cross said the system needs to work more closely with the state’s K-12 schools to make sure students understand the real world importance of college readiness.

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow said unprepared students are more likely to drop out.

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“Math and English in particular, those are foundational in terms of the work students are going to do at a college or university,” said Gow. “If you don’t have those skills you can’t get started on a lot of your coursework, so really this is a vitally important issue.”

During his presentation, Cross said he wants students who do need remedial training to get it finished sooner in their collegiate careers, saying it directly affects the likelihood of enrolling for a second year.

Gow said they’re big goals for the UW System that will take a lot of tough work, but he’s optimistic.

“We have a lot of great brainpower on our campuses and in our system and in K-12 education, and I’m sure if we come together and make these issues a top priority we can make some great progress,” he said.

Cross said some of the next steps for the UW include conducting evidence-based research and identifying clear steps to reach the goals.