A student that is taking college preparatory courses has a larger bill per semester compared to a student who is taking all college-level courses, with much less to show for it.
To be considered a full-time student at Tyler Junior College, a student must take at least 12 hours per semester.
An in-district student taking Math 0301, English 0301, the student success course (the course required if taking two or more college prep courses), and History 1301, their bill for the courses will be $778 (due to the $25 fee for each prep course), and they will walk away with only a 3 hours of transferable credit.
There is an estimated 9% cost difference between college preparatory courses and college-level courses.
An in-district student taking Math 1314, English 1301, History 1301 and Government 1301, will be paying $728, and will have 12 hours of transferable credit.
College preparatory courses are courses that students are required to take based on the standardized testing scores.
Numerous universities and colleges offer college preparatory courses, even Harvard. Some universities are trying to remove college preparatory courses from their schools all together. In Arkansas, State Representative Donna Hutchinson is trying to do just that.
“We are making students go into debt by paying for something that they should already know,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson does not agree with the fact that college preparatory courses cost the same as college level courses when students are not receiving transferable credit for the courses.
“It is not fair to charge the college preparatory students the same as a credit course when they are not getting the same education,” Hutchinson said.
When it comes to the rapid increase of students needing college preparatory courses, universities and community colleges are making a significant profit.
“We are basically making a profit on failure,” Hutchinson said.
Students feel that they should not have to pay as much as they do for these preparatory courses, especially when they are not receiving transferable credit for them.
“It is ridiculous that we have to pay the same for our college prep courses as the college level courses, plus the additional $25 remedial fee. And if you fail the final exam in 0301, you will fail the course, no matter how well you did in the class throughout the semester,” Lance Trammell, a Tyler Junior College sophomore said.
Lisa Harper, Dean of College Preparatory Studies, believes that a community college is the right setting when it comes to offering college preparatory courses due to the classes being smaller in size and more chance of one-on-one help from instructors.
“Developmental courses are more responsive to students’ needs in a community college,” Harper said.
Community colleges are also significantly cheaper than universities.
For an in-district student taking 12 hours at TJC, the cost is $728, opposed to $2,382 to take 12 hours at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Harper asserts that she would like for there to still be government funding for college preparatory courses, but also would like to see a decrease in cost for those courses.