Despite remaining confusion, City College’s Board of Trustees supported the Academic Senate’s project proposal to apply for a national initiative to help students through college called California Guided Pathways.
During their Thursday meeting, Academic Senate President Priscilla Butler explained Guided Pathways. Its goal is to emphasize clarity, intake, support, and learning within community colleges.
“Students really need greater support in getting to their goal in a way that makes sense for their lives,” said Butler.
She explained that Guided Pathways is meant to raise the question of whether colleges are ready for students, rather than assuming students aren’t ready for college.
There are a variety of programs at City College meant to aid student success, but Guided Pathways is different as it would be a program available to all students. It will give them specific course choices that lead to certificates and degrees. These choices will be presented to students in the form of “program maps” that correlate with their education and future career goals.
By taking this approach, incoming students would be given assistance in exploring careers and majors. After choosing a program of study, they would develop an academic plan in relation to program maps created by faculty and advisors at City College. Altogether, this path simplifies student decision-making and would allow the college to provide predictable schedules and persistent feedback for students to complete courses more efficiently.
“It’s a way to increase persistence and retention of students by providing a very clear, well-articulated plan and having very intentful scheduling that allows them to complete that plan that keeps them going,” said Paul Jarrell, vice president of educational programs.
The board discussed their concern about the number of students that tend to fall through the cracks due to counselors providing a less personal approach. This ends up leading students to unnecessary courses which in return leaves them discouraged.
“I know how easy it is to lose students just because they don’t know what happens next,” said Trustee Marianne Kugler.
Trustee Jonathan Abboud believes as a recent former student that without a program like this; there isn’t a system. He notices that many students on campus simply figure things out as they go and make decisions as they come.
“I think we are going to be producing better students who will feel like they got more out of going to college,” said Abboud. “This will make college useful for people.”
The goal of Guided Pathways is not only meant to implement clear roadmaps to graduation, but to career goals. It will improve the intake of classes students register for so that they can transition to college-level work sooner. Student progress will be monitored more closely and support will be provided to them during their most critical junctures. Overall, there will be a smoother alignment between learning outcomes and assessments. However, this doesn’t stop the skepticism coming from faculty and trustees.
“I’ve been around a number of programs that seek to solve the big puzzle and in the process, as an unintended consequence, it creates more work for us and stuff that we often find not terribly productive,” said Trustee Peter Haslund.
For this reason, Butler announced that faculty who are interested in applying should hold off doing so until the remaining confusion is cleared. However, the Academic Senate and Board of Trustees already voted in support of it.
The project will continue to be discussed throughout the College Planning Council and Student Senate meetings until the application deadline of Feb. 28. If the academic senate submits an application, an acceptance for Guided Pathways is not guaranteed. Only 15 to 20 California community colleges will be selected to participate in the initiative.
“If we don’t try we’ve already failed,” said Trustee Craig Nielsen.