Western Kentucky University

Who are the students? - Underprepared Students Workshop - FaCET

Who are the students?

Underprepared Student Workshop

Presented By:

Barbara Johnston, BGCC Enrollment Coordinator

Who are Underprepared Students?

Discussion questions for the e-mailing list
Does WKU see underprepared students as not being significant within the WKU "mission"?

In 1997, Kentucky began a widespread effort to reform postsecondary education. One of the primary goals of that reform was to significantly increase the number of Kentucky residents successfully participating in higher education. To accomplish this goal, the Council on Postsecondary Education challenged educators statewide to:

  • increase the number of high school students going directly into colleges and universities
  • to increase significantly the number of adults throughout the state who had not previously attended a college or university to do so

It is the second part of this challenge which is bringing "non-traditional" students to Western Kentucky University as we are the only option available to the "place bound" adult population seeking improved academic and work-related skills in South Central Kentucky. While the Kentucky Community and Technical College System has undertaken the task of working with underprepared students in other areas of the state, Western Kentucky University has accepted the responsibility of providing academic and student support for underprepared adult students through the "open door" admissions policies implemented in its Community College.

How do we define "underprepared adults"?
In 1998, Kentucky ranked 46th in the number of those over 25 years of age without a GED or a high school diploma. In four of the six counties contiguous to Warren, 41-48% of the residents fall within the two lowest levels of literacy as measured by the KY Adult Literacy Survey 1997 (www.cpe.state.ky.us/facts/facts_spotlights.asp).

As the "real people" represented by these statistics lose jobs due to plant closures (Fruit of the Loom, Sumitoma, etc.), the State of Kentucky is providing financial aid through Workforce dollars for those impacted to attend college. Others are finding that where once, a strong back and a lunchbox were sufficient to gain employment, companies and corporations today are looking for at least a two-year college degree in their new employees.

This population is often both academically and psychologically inadequately prepared for the college learning experience. Our question then is how (if) Western Kentucky University and its Community College responds to this challenge.

 

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