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No, it's not difficult to get into the US higher education system, and that's one of the problems. The majority of US universities practice "open admissions," but as soon as you're in, you're immediately tracked into a remedial program that more or less guarantees that you won't actually complete the degree, while accumulating unsustainable amounts of debt.
I am not sure what you mean by using the phrase "tracked into a remedial program".
Students who apply to colleges and universities often have deficiencies in their scholarly abilities (minority students are disproportionally represented in these often due to poor primary and secondary education opportunities, families with little means of supporting their children educationally, etc.). What should school do about these deficiencies?
Let's take mathematics as that is the one I know the most about and is also the most widely needed remediation. Students who don't know that -16 + 3 = -13, let alone a lot of other arithmetic basic knowledge, are ill prepared for being placed in a college algebra course. Colleges could say, "Tough luck, put them in college algebra and let them sink or swim." Some might reasonably criticize this as setting the students with deficiencies up for failure, taking their money (forcing them to collect debt), and gain little real education since they are so far over their head that they have no idea what is happening.
Alternatively, schools could not require a mathematics course for any non-STEM major. Though I would imagine most universities would not look favorably on that and it would quickly turn some degrees into being viewed as not worth much (lower standards are rarely a selling point for employers). Thus some individuals may end up wasting a lot of money going to such a school only to still have to take the courses in order to get a degree from a reputable university.
A third option might be to create alternative mathematics courses that didn't use algebra. Still like the no math alternatively this ultimately is going to do devalue those degrees. Part of the problem with high school diplomas is you have people with 3 years of mathematics that never did anything more complicated than balancing a check book. I am not sure making similar mathematics courses at the college level would be ultimately the best choice.
Or we could put the students in say college algebra, but also force them to take support courses. Again, this is a shell game, you are still driving up the cost for the courses, and this may not be enough help to compensate for the deficiencies within a single semester.
The current system, used by most colleges and universities (though most universities actually kick the students to the community college level) is to try to access where the student's current skills are and then have a series of courses that students take to build themselves up to the level in order to take college algebra. One should consider the fact that anyone graduating from a high school, should have the skills to take and pass college algebra. Lacking those skills may represent not just one year of high school, but possibly something like 8 years of missing mathematics education, to think that amount of learning is going to be corrected in a single semester is ludicrous.
Now, I personally think the current system is the best choice as someone that cares about mathematics and values it for everyone. Ideally, there should be no need for remedial courses, but we don't live in an ideal world. We have students who dropped out, who didn't try to learn math and avoided it all costs. We have students that didn't go to college right out of high school and instead spend perhaps a couple decades working and haven't used what they knew in years. And of course there are those hard working students that have just got a bad roll in life and had horrible teachers/school systems.
But the reason that students that need remediation often aren't successful in finishing their schooling is multifaceted only some of it has to do with anything the school as control over it.