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The other day I was speaking to a woman I met socially.  When she
found out that I teach statistics, she said that she always regretted
that she didn't take any advanced math in college.  She had gone to
the University of Pennsylvania, a competitive place, and she was
afraid to take calculus because she heard that many of her classmates
would be students who had taken AP calculus already, so she didn't
want to get a bad grade.  As a result, she cut herself off from all
technical majors, and always felt she had missed learning something
important.  When I suggested she could go back and take a course now,
she was reluctant to return to a college class as an adult.

This made me think about two things.  First, all students probably
make some bad choices in ignorance.  But a white, middle class student
like her is less likely to be labelled lazy or unmotivated for those
choices than our developmental students.  Second, with all the
pressure toward higher standards for college preparation in high school
(e.g. the Regents diploma), how do we handle the adult returning
students who have regretted the poor choices they made in high school
and now want to correct them?  There is no thought being given to that
group in the discussions of remediation and standards in my state.

Annette Gourgey
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