Developmental or remedial courses help students who need additional academic support make the transition from high school to college. Schools often require students to take Compass tests or other admissions tests to gauge academic proficiency in areas like reading, writing and math. When a student struggles in any of these areas, the college recommends that he enroll in developmental classes, which differ in several ways from typical college classes.

Purpose

Developmental courses serve a different purpose than a traditional college class. A developmental class helps a student gain more knowledge and ability in key college-level skills in which he lacks. Without the developmental course work, the student would likely fail in college-level classes. A traditional college course provides college-level knowledge and training that helps a student move toward a degree while also increasing technical and soft skills.

Credits and Degrees

Remedial classes typically don't count toward a student's degree. The course work is preparatory and not college-level. Similarly, the grades in a remedial course don't usually affect the student's grade-point average, other than for financial aid assessment. College classes do contribute toward the student's degree, and the grades you receive in those classes do count on your GPA. Any class with a number of 100 is college-level, while those that start with a "0" are developmental.

Grading

The grading policies vary between the class types as well. In a developmental course, the basic purpose is to see if you can attain the skill level necessary to move onto college-level academics. Some remedial classes award letter grades, but many grade on a "Pass" or "Fail" basis. You often have to successfully pass the class and complete an "exit" or "skills" test. In a college-level course, you normally receive a grade from A to F, which signifies the level of performance you achieved in your course work.

Implications

Developmental courses also serve as a testing ground for a student who may not succeed in a college degree program. While some students navigate remedial classes and grow their skills, others fail or never achieve the necessary skill level to move on. This result may disappoint the student, but it saves him money and time spent toiling in overly challenging college classes. In a college-level course, a student may fail even with the basic academic proficiency. He may retake the class and put forth greater effort to achieve a desired grade. Ultimately, a student can fail to the point where he doesn't receive financial aid and must leave the school.