Guided Pathways Help Students Plan Their Degrees

guided pathways toward degree planning

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Guided pathways is an initiative in which colleges and universities create clear maps to graduation for each of their programs. Course sequencing can be complicated. Particularly for populations already at risk for marginalization on campus. And it’s not just complicated for students.

Even as academic professionals, many of us would have a hard time visiting an unfamiliar .edu website and building a degree plan. One that avoids excess credits? Meets financial aid requirements?  Leads to a degree? It takes time and internal knowledge. Yet, this is what all college and university students are trying to do. Campus counselors and advisors can assist in some respects. But as student case loads increase, the time spent with each student becomes shorter and shorter. As a result, their ability to create personal plans for each student is often compromised by the workload. Consequently, students who need the most support tend to get the least.

Guided pathways help ease the workload. By providing standardized course sequences, students have a tool that sets them toward success in multiple ways. And not to brag, but Degreesight is the perfect degree planning software platform to implement the guided pathway model.

Goals of Guided Pathways

Steering students toward graduation is the goal of the guided pathways initiative. So how do we get there?

  1. Firstly, clear maps for every program. These maps should include information on not just what courses need to be completed, but also any other qualifying information. Including things like estimated time of completion, opportunities for internships or jobs, and more.
  2. Allow students to explore programs and degrees. Changing majors, while hardly a unique thing, negatively affects completion. The guided pathways model helps students narrow down fields of interest. Doing this helps them understand what they want to do. As a result, they can develop sound academic plans. DegreeSight, as a robust degree planning software, can help students visualize these academic plans.
  3. Stay on target. Being able to track progress through the college career is integral to ensuring success. Colleges should look at barriers stopping students from completing on time. For example, it could be a scheduling or access issue. Use a degree tracking system to send alerts when something arises, threatening progress.  Or, using Degreesight’s visualizatoin tools, students will be able to see something is off as they build their courses.
  4. Design appropriate learning outcomes. Implementing the guided pathways model involves the entire institution. Programs should be revolve around a series of learning outcomes vs. individual class objectives. Especially since program learning is more effective for further courses and in gaining employment.

Guided Pathway Implementation & Support

Moving toward a guided pathway model is an all-in project. Therefore support needs to come from all areas of the institution for it to happen effectively, and with proper planning and time devoted to it. There’s no way around it: the hard work for the transition has to come from within. But there are tools available to make some aspects easier. DegreeSight’s degree planning capabilities lend themselves perfectly to this model. And the founding principles of guided pathways are the same as ours: to help students efficiently map their way to graduation.

Contact DegreeSight today to learn more about how we can assist in providing more clarity to your guided pathway projects!

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