The evidence is piling up. Curriculum centered around student-guided pathways, benefits colleges. Early adopters, of the guided pathway model, experience high success rates at their colleges. These institutions enjoy higher completion rates in their programs. Graduates of the student pathway college programs enjoy good jobs. How did they do it? They followed a plan that works.
Per the Center for Community College Engagement 2020 National Report(CCCE), now is the time to do guided pathways: clarify the paths, help students get on a path, help students stay on their path, and ensure students are learning. Yes, these steps are difficult. Yet, spending time to redesign programs to fit the guided pathway model is worth the effort. Here are four reasons why college leaders should get started now.
Increase overall completion rates
Yes, colleges that developed guided pathways experience higher program completion rates per CCCE. Students stay enrolled in the programs. Students are not taking courses that they don’t need to take. Students are not dropping out of programs because of a lack of course offerings. Likewise, colleges that were effective in putting in pathways enjoy an engaged staff. These schools added cross-functional teams to redesign programs and systems. They explored curriculum for planning, learning, and completion. Still, college leaders did not leave it to chance. They set a vision and measured the outcomes for its completion.
Measure changes to ensure they enrich the curriculum
Likewise, college leaders who wanted pathway programs to improve student outcomes measured those initiatives. Administrators strived to ensure that the changes made enrich students’ experiences in the desired, predetermined way. Leaders linked the changes to policy and practice to enrich the curriculum. These schools promote a placement rate to recruit new students.
Increase post-graduation success
Most importantly, schools that mapped and reviewed their programs to make sure they led to good jobs, had more graduates. Students enroll and stay when the program is organized into field-focus meta majors. Colleges with higher post-graduation success tap alumni to engage and attract students. Schools engage in their communities by creating student pathways, targeting regional career fields, like viticulture.
Close gaps in outcomes for underserved students
Besides that, schools that redesign programs of instruction alongside student services, business processes, and tech systems do better. The cross-functional redesign approach helps all students explore options and interests. Students can create academic plans. These students can transfer to different schools. They can advance in their careers. Likewise, colleges engage faculty and staff to identify barriers. They mitigate the challenges to promote student success. Yes, college leaders must invest in professional development for staff and faculty.
In sum, schools that build guided pathways gain many benefits. Colleges can increase student completion rates. Institutions can tout post-graduation success stories to new, student recruits. Schools can engage faculty and staff, as well as communities, to close the gaps in outcomes for underserved students. Leaders can measure learning outcomes and methodology with meaningful metrics.