Guided pathways creates student support, success map

By Daniella Molina

Guided Pathways helps East Los Angeles College students map out an educational path, specifically tailored to a student, based on interests and skills.
The California Guided Pathways Project teamed up with the Community College Research Center for eight years of research, on American community college students.
Its findings revealed a significant number of students not earning degrees, certificates or graduating on time in some cases, not graduating at all.
East Los Angeles College professor and faculty facilitator for ELAC Guided Pathways Frank Aguirre said, “They showed up to campus, as if it was high school. They just showed up to the office, and be like, ‘Where do I report to?’ No, you have to do all these others things. They just don’t know.”
The Community College Research Center published an article on their website in 2015 which exposed the deterioration in the foundation of student support and success.
Some students were completely lost in the web of classes to pick and choose from. They signed up for community college without even having a major in mind.
CGPP debuted in southern California by reaching out to community colleges and presented the ideas of an entire researched approach, to set students on a streamline journey toward their educational and personal life goals.
Most importantly, exposing early in the game, all of the possible career choices of that path as well as presenting detailed course suggestions to take, by semester.
“When students know exactly what they are supposed to take and how it leads to careers, their likelihood of success is statically a little higher,” he said.
Laying out all courses to take in their first, second and third semester, highlighting the most important courses for the students overall goals and major choice.
By clearing out any unnecessary units, which saves, not only the student’s time and money, but also colleges and taxpayers’ money.
It is too soon to know if this is the new golden standard that helps the students who don’t have any clue what they want to do in college. And if it will make academic choices easier to understand, as well as understanding the reasoning behind the courses they are taking.
By linking up courses and career opportunities in the beginning framework, students can get clarification of the requirements of their goals. Think of guided pathways as a “Process of clarification,” said Aguirre.
The underlying goals are to prevent students from taking incorrect courses, or spending any unnecessary time on units not related to their educational choices.
The Guided Pathways Project is being implemented in hundreds of Community Colleges across the United States including ELAC.
Community colleges have been overlooked, by mostly being thought of as a stepping stone to somewhere else.
But there is so much more a student can accomplish during their time at a community college.
It is not only a halfway point of an education as some may have thought.
The talk of transfer to Universities and Cal States comes up far more often, than the conversation of earning certificates or associates’ degrees at community colleges.
Here at ELAC the Guided Pathway Movement has been presented, accepted, and implemented by instructors and faculty. There is a designated steering team, who are available to meet with students to discuss possible major choices.
Students can use their interest to guide the discussion with counselors about their Career and Academic Pathways (CAPS). Students can plan out paths towards, Skills certificates, Achievements Certificates or Two and four year degrees.
“Yes there are general maps and information, but getting into a Cal State, getting into USC or getting into private or prestigious programs are going to have different requirements. You need to fine tune that,” Aguirre said.
Some students may have already picked a major and are on the course of study, however, Aguirre stressed the importance for students to meet with counselors. But to continue to meet them several times over, during their time in College.
“I had a student contact me the other day, she wanted to go to USC, she was here two years. She thought she was doing everything she needed to do and only to found out that she was short several classes that USC requires,” Aguirre said.
Even though ELAC can offer Students wrap around counseling, it is extremely important for the Student to know what path they would like to take. Some students may only need a nine unit skill certificate for a job they need in the near future.
Whereas, another student may want to transfer to a university. But the directions of those paths have not always been clear. Aguirre said it’s hard for people to understand, there’s a difference between IGETC, the Cal State General Ed requirements and ELAC General Ed requirements.
He said now that the research has focused on the problems with the course system, Guided pathways is one vessel that helps students stay on a realistic course. A big step forward, from the days of staring at a page with abbreviated course descriptions and numbers.
“The Guided Pathways is designed to be a little more specific, the challenge we find, is trying not to be too specific, because whether a student should take philosophy or sociology to meet a certain humanities General Ed requirement, there’s a lot of opinions on that.” Aguirre said.
Students still need to do the footwork and make their own choices when it comes to classes.
Guided Pathways is offering students a brighter clarification of courses and resources for the students. A better perspective to visualize their end goal in mind.

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