Institutions that build quality guided pathway programs will need to make sure they show and keep students on the path. In this post, we will focus on the second pillar: Help get students on a path.
The Building Momentum, SENSE survey reports on average 44% of entering student respondents turn to their friends, family, or other students for their main source of advising. Only 74% say they chose a job or career before signing up for their classes. Sadly, this is a waste of time, energy, and student potential. This is a missed chance for schools to promote their guided pathway programs. The best way institutions can help get students on the path is to take time to clearly map out the path.
Getting Students on a Guided Pathway
Yes, students may arrive on campus not knowing their life goals. Students may not be aware of the possible career options that align with their interests. Yes, this is a lot for schools to offer on top of the other demands of academia. Still, colleges that offer guided pathways and take the time to promote the programs to students win. Schools can offer students broad interest areas to explore, like business, education, or health care. Likewise, students may not know that they are at the wrong institution to meet their career goals.
Most importantly, schools that help students identify their path, see these students graduate from their programs. Also, colleges can help students understand which programs will require a transfer to another institution. Well-designed student pathway programs let students know how to go after other educational opportunities that their future may bring. These opportunities could be career advancements and a higher salary for the student.
Academic Advising Helps Students Get on a Path
Likewise, academic advising and career exploration guided by the school offers three benefits to students:
- They make sure students know and understand their options for programs of study and careers.
- They raise students’ aspirations by encouraging them to pursue opportunities that may not have been considered. Broadening opportunities in this way is an essential element of closing the equity gaps.
- They ensure that students have realistic academic plans.
Students may not know how long it may take to complete their chosen program. Educated staff can tell them. Learners may not have a complete picture of how much their education is going to cost. Again, staff can let them know. With purposeful advising, students have access to faculty who have the tools and resources to help them. College leaders will need to continue to invest in professional development for their staff. Yes, the funds for traditional staff development may have to be redirected into training, new systems, and skill-building.
Therefore, the investment pays off. Students will be able to focus on what courses move them forward in the program. Faculty will be in sync in advising learners. Students can explore prospective careers that fit their interests rather than what is recommended by well-meaning friends and family.
Students cannot easily take courses, not on the guided pathway. This guidance saves them time and money. Students do not waste time waiting for courses to become available. Students do not buy a course they cannot afford and do not need. Also, guided pathways let students know which courses easily transfer to other academic programs. Students do not waste money on a course that transfers at lower and partial credits.
Build a Support System for Students
Students have a coordinated care network that they can access. This support system helps underserved students to get back on the path. This network also builds students’ resiliency as they go through the program.
In sum, college leaders help students get on the pathway by clearly mapping out the programs. Once the student is on the guided pathway, the institution that invests in professional development for its staff will see growth. Students will thrive in the program. Students and institutions benefit by having classes filled both with students who want and know why they are there led by caring instructors.