The fastest, cheapest, and best way to complete a college degree is to avoid remedial math classes, which cost money, earn no credit, and can delay entry to college-level classes for one to two years.
Here's how to avoid the remedial trap:
• Work hard in high school math to save time and money later. If you're earning C's in high school math—or B's with low scores—you're probably on the remedial track.
• Take math in 12th grade so your skills don't get rusty. Some high schools now offer a 12th-grade class designed to help students prepare for college math.
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• Study for the community college placement test. It's a high-stakes test.
• If you're placed in remedial math, look for an alternative. In addition to the Statway and Quantway programs that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has designed, community colleges may offer self-paced math labs, a "learning community" for developmental math students, or a chance to start in college math with extra tutoring.
Joanne Jacobs writes Community College Spotlight for The Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit education news site. Jacobs also blogs about K-12 education and is the author of Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds.