District Transformation Plan…Guided Pathways…Industry Partnerships…Enterprise Performance…a bunch of words, what do they all mean? How is it going to change what I do everyday? Why should I care?
These are all things you may be feeling. I am excited about all of the changes but I am especially excited about Guided Pathways and the change it could mean for our students. Guided Pathways is a national movement embraced by community colleges and universities alike. Here’s the thing…it’s not even a new concept but one, when done right, will have tremendous impact on how students reach their goal.
I want you to think about what drove you to commit your professional life at a community college. Was it a love of your discipline? Was it because you love teaching as opposed to research? Was it because you loved your college-experience so much you didn’t want to leave? Was it because you simply want to make a difference for others? Whatever the case, I want you to ask yourself if you’re ready to take a journey and be part of the movement…In the great words of Alexander Hamilton (aka Lin-Manuel Miranda in “My Shot”) “This is not a moment, it’s the movement.”
Joining the movement for Guided Pathways isn’t about something we’re “doing”, it’s about something we’re “becoming” and will require a renewed commitment to what brought us to the community college in the first place.
Guided Pathways will result in an actual map that students will follow. These maps will be in designated “clusters” so students can easily move from one degree to another in the same cluster with little loss of credit…By the way, did you know that on average, community college students graduate with over 90 credit hours? And if students want to change their cluster all together, for example from Engineering to Business, then this can happen too. Remember, it’s a pathway not a prison.
So, what does all this mean to you? If you’re a faculty member, it may mean asking some questions about what can you do to help students through the “gateway” courses. These are courses with high enrollment and low success rates. It may mean you are challenged to think of your discipline is a way that is outside your comfort zone. If you are an Academic Advisor, it may mean continuous training with a lowered and designed caseload of students to guide. But you are not alone and we have amazing colleagues who can help us grow in our chosen profession.
But…why exactly are we on this committed movement of Guided Pathways? Ultimately, it’s to achieve student success, equity, and economic upward mobility for the students we serve. So, we have to ask ourselves…are we really student-ready? Are we willing to adapt to the changes that are surely coming? Are we willing to take on this movement? Remember, “this is not a moment, it’s the movement.” I say, “Let’s go!”