Fear and a reading problem stood before Kathy Hughson, a 42-year-oldmother of two, and her dreams about walking through the doors of Carroll Community College to pursue a new career.
Her fear stemmed from memories of high school educators telling her that she was not college material. And the former businesswoman had trouble with readingcomprehension.
"I guess it's my age, but now when I have this fear of something,I just jump right into it," said the Eldersburg resident.
Before beginning classes, however, Hughson, like all CCC students, was tested for proper course level placement. As expected, her reading problemwas detected and she was placed in a remedial reading course.
CCCeducators, sensitive to the negative connotation associated with theword "remedial," prefer to call such classes developmental modules. Growing numbers of students are taking these modules in reading, writing and math.
The increase in students is attributed to better testing procedures that identify problems and a greater influx of students who enter college and find that their reading, writing and math skills are rusty years after high school graduation.
"Some students skills are not where we would like them to be," said Donald R. Jansiewicz, CCC's coordinator of curriculum. "It's not a slam at the publicschool system. Schools throughout the country are facing an uphill battle against television and the lack of emphasis on reading in the home."
Libby Little, coordinator for remedial and developmental math and reading courses, said CCC officials do not expect all students entering the college to begin at the same starting line and enroll ina 101 course.
"There is nothing more frustrating for a college kid than to be sitting in a classroom where everything is over his head," she said. "We want students to start where they need to start. I think everyone should be successful at the community college level."
To ensure success, CCC also offers classes in achieving academic success -- courses that alleviate fear of tests and help students adaptto a college atmosphere.
In addition, an integral part of studentlife at CCC is the academic center, where students can receive tutoring from peers and instructors and also work tutorials on computers, said Barb Gardner, who manages the center.
Students logged 4,843 visits during the fall semester, up 157 percent from the same period in 1989 when 2,407 visits were recorded, said Gardner, an instructor of developmental education courses.
A regular at the academic center is Carole Weeks, who says the modules in English and math have helped her academic career a great deal.
The 23-year-old Gamber resident had nothing but praise for her experience at CCC, which she contrasted with that of an Anne Arundel County institution, where she was placed in a basic drafting course despite her own misgivings about herreadiness.
"It was way over my head," she said.
Jansiewicz called student success in developmental modules "absolutely critical."
His conclusion is based on a study he conducted of the college's curriculum last summer. He said students must succeed at the developmental level in order to succeed later.
"If we can't do a good job inthose areas, we are going to be hurting a lot of people," he said. "It's marvelous what some of are developmental people are doing."