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For the 11,000-plus freshmen who just became a part of the ASU family, this transition to college marks the biggest paradigm shift in their lives thus far. Many students are moving from a different state or country, and even the ones at home in Arizona are acclimating to their new college environment.

One facet of the education experience that has not changed for these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen, however, is the classes they are taking. The prerequisite classes for most majors include those that may have been previously taken in high school, but University policy requires they pass the courses before moving onto more advanced (200- or 300-level) classes.

For instance, the accelerated biochemistry major map — biochemistry being one of ASU’s top five most popular majors — contains within freshman year up to six classes that incoming students may have already taken in high school: MAT 270/271, covered by BC Calculus, CHM 113/116, covered by AP Chemistry, BIO 181, covered by AP Biology, and ENG 101, covered by either AP English course. Fortunately, ASU does offer AP credit transfer on all these classes.

Unfortunately, circumstances prevent many students from taking these challenging one-time tests, never mind even passing them—over 1.2 million AP tests were failed in 2012 alone, and the figures are only growing as time goes on. In short, the effort put into classes in high school may have to be repeated in college for potentially dozens of classes across multiple disciplines, if a student did not pass or even take the given AP exams.

ASU, thankfully, offers many credits for high AP scores. Many universities don’t transfer AP credit at all, essentially forcing every student to re-take their difficult high school classes at the university level on the student’s dime. This is an egregious waste of students’ time and money, though it is exceedingly beneficial to the universities that support such programs, which delay early graduation and keep students shackled to the ball-and-chain of pricey higher education for a full four years.

In defense of prerequisites, universities may argue that these classes help to “ease in” incoming students, but this argument should be rejected wholesale. ASU students aren’t paying at least $480 per credit hour to learn how to use a library or email a professor — they are paying in order to learn something related to their area of study during their university years. Students are paying to be equipped with the skills and tools necessary to facilitate professional success. This, for many, does not include yet another remedial algebra class or a retread of senior English. The focus of ASU and all other universities should be directed toward helping students take the next progressive step in their education, by challenging and engaging them instead of repeatedly “preparing” them for what comes next.

We aren’t kids anymore, and we don’t need floaties to stay above the waterline. Jumping in with two feet is the only way to make a real intellectual splash and truly benefit from a college education. Let’s hope ASU soon opens up the diving board and closes down the kiddie pool.

Reach the columnist at or follow him on Twitter @OnlyH_man

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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