Institutions invest a lot of time and money to create a guided pathway program. Still, the work does not stop once the students are enrolled in the program. Faculty and administration must partner together to supply the guardrails that keep students on the path.
Yet, today’s students face many obstacles and challenges in completing a quality education. Administrators face challenges to make sure that the students get the education that they need on a guided pathway. Yet, colleges can help students stay on the path by doing the following.
Invest in all faculty and staff skill development
Build the skill set of your faculty and staff in basic counseling and coaching skills. Make sure they understand how to use the learning management system. Show them how to pull up student information when a student comes to them with a question. Give faculty and support staff a 360-degree view of each student.
Communicate early and often to keep students on a guided pathway
Most importantly, administrators must inform faculty and staff that it’s everyone’s responsibility to guide students. Still, seasoned staff may resist this idea and try to bounce students off to advisors and the counseling office. This is a lost opportunity. Many students will not make a follow-up appointment to visit the career counselor. This issue may be due to work or home life schedules. An added appointment is an obstacle to overcome. This difficulty may not seem like a big deal to the referring staff member. Yet, this may be a deal-breaker for a student who is working and going to school.
Colleges should make student check-ins part of the program requirements
Administrators need to make checking in with career advisors a part of the curriculum. Students must attend a session regularly to advance in the program. Be sure to schedule regular check-ins to ensure students are on track, making progress, and still interested. If not, make sure that students have off-ramps that lead to on-ramps in other programs.
Review and update curriculum and courses
Many student pathway programs are tied to fast-moving fields, like nursing. Quality guided pathway programs keep on top of new developments in the field. Administrators need to work with part-time faculty who are working in the field. Likewise, a provost should make sure the latest equipment and theories are in place.
Focus efforts on keeping students on a guided pathway
Therefore, administrators need to keep their focus on how to keep students on a guided path. The best way to do this is to make sure that the pathway continues to help the student. Learners will stay in a program and on the path when they can see how it helps them. Savvy administrators will stay in touch with students throughout their learning journey. Schools can use student focus groups. Administrators can reach out to program alumni to come in and talk with the new students. Most administrators know what to do.
Still, it’s finding the time to implement and tend to a guided pathway program in the busy schedule that college deans face. Yet, spending the time to talk with students, faculty and part-time instructors will reap rewards. Yes, getting out to walk through campus to talk with students is difficult. With virtual instruction, administrators and staff need to work harder to reach out to connect with students to ensure that they are staying on the path.
In sum, when administrations take time to create guardrails for pathways programs, keeping students on the path should be prioritized. The heavy lifting of putting in the program is complete. The inbound roads are laid for recruiting new students. Now, the time to tend the guided pathway is necessary. Likewise, a well-tended program will grow the institution’s reputation.