Guided Pathways paves way for students

By Joshua Inglada

Students deciding what classes they need for their degrees may soon be receiving assistance to greatly streamline the process on choosing  what course best suits their academic goals.

Assistant professor of Spanish Nora Zepeda and associate professor of psychology Arpi Festekjian hosted a meeting at the South Gate Educational Center for faculty to present the upcoming Guided Pathways Plan for East Los Angeles College.

GP is an integrated, institution-wide framework that will provide intentionally designed, clear, coherent and structured educational experiences to enhance the success of students graduating from their classes.It is a multi-year plan that has been funded by the state Chancellor’s Office and has all 114 California community colleges involved.

Data collected by the GP team showed that only a small percentage of students complete their transfer-level Math and English in one year. For every 100 students who entered in fall 2014 after three years at ELAC, only five completed 60 units.

“We want there to be more structure. A lot of our students are always in pursuit of some things and there’s flounderings. They’re not exactly sure what half to pursue and what classes they need to reach their end goal. So it’s all about structure,” Festekjian said.

The main goal of GP is to aid students toward selecting an educational path that fits them, helping them stay on the path and completing it.Festekjian explained that although the end result varies from school to school, the data always shows low numbers, especially for Latino students.

“Time is really important, everyone, because our funding formula is going to change and at least part of it is going to be about completion. So we do need to make sure our students are completing their goals in a timely manner,” Festekjian said.

“And also we want to make sure that our students don’t max out their financial aid before they complete their academic goals, so time is important.”Senior secretary Jose Rodriguez also brought up the difficulty students face when having to navigate the school system during the meeting’s Q&A.

“Student services could tell you to go to admissions, admissions has you go to a department chair, department chair has you go back to student services.

“The same information is not stated equally. Someone will say the complete information and someone else will only give you pieces of the information,” Rodriguez said.

“So with that incomplete information as a student, we’re setting them up for failure.”

Some of the work in progress concepts introduced to the faculty were meta-majors and academic maps, which would allow students to better select the ideal classes they need from plans that have interconnecting courses.

Zepeda said that GP hopes to make counselors more involved in helping students. Most students shy away from seeing a counselor because they believe that they only have to see one when they are in trouble.

“They’ll see what they have to do and if they need counseling, academic counseling or career counseling with the path that we suggested if they take a few classes and decide that it isn’t for me, they will be able to fulfill general education requirements, which won’t be a waste of money or time.

“And they’ll just shift over to the next one and start fulfilling the requirements for that other path,” Zepeda said.  The team is also planning a change to the GP name in order to better reflect the upcoming focus on ELAC. The new plan’s name will be Redesigning ELAC (Enhancing Learning and Achieving Completion).

The priorities of Redesigning ELAC were passed on at yesterday’s Academic Senate meeting.

For more information on Guided Pathways, email Festekjian at and Zepeda at

Additional information can also be found by visiting

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