A Guided Pathways Toolkit for Community Colleges

Are you looking for a fast, effective way to implement guided pathways at your institution right now?  Look no further than the Guided Pathways Toolkit, a simple and free guide to getting your #1 source of information for your students updated with relevant, structured, and effective information.  Increase enrollments!  Increase self-advisement!  Empower your students with the knowledge they need to make better choices for the future.

This is part one of a two-part series for Guided Pathway Factsheets, a free and effective tool for community college leaders to quickly and efficiently hit the ground running with guided pathways.  To read part two, click here.

The Problem

Both prospective and matriculated students frequently encounter problems with finding and comprehending information needed to understand program selection and completion.  A survey conducted by an Orange County community college in October, 2013, had 71.1% of respondents reporting in some capacity that it was difficult to find information for individual programs.  If these are the results for students who were already matriculated at the institution, the results for prospective students (who have no experience with individual institution admissions and counseling processes) would be even more concerning.

confused-students
When students are presented with too many options, they’re less likely to commit to a goal. Think about when you go to the supermarket without a list: do you end up wandering around and buying things you don’t need?

The Solution

Extensive research has shown how community college websites serve as a vital front-line tool to help guide prospective students into a productive and informative matriculation process.1  Using findings published by the Community College Research Center,  I’ve developed a Guided Pathway Factsheet template that contains all the information that surveyed students from around the country have reported2 are the most important items they consider when researching community college programs.  By integrating Guided Pathway Factsheets into your digital branding and virtual advisement process, you create a sense of empowerment and confidence for prospective students to research their options at your institution and complete the admissions & matriculation processes without saturating college counselors with questions that could’ve been answered already.

You don't have to remove options from students, but you should always give students some recommended ways to take advantage of them (and in what order!).
You don’t have to remove options from students, but you should always give students some recommended ways to take advantage of them (and in what order!).

The Payoff

By addressing the major questions students have about your programs on your website and through your literature in a standardized format, college leaders lessen the burden on counselors and foster self-advisement among students.  Why is this important?

When we empower students with tools to seek out the answers to their questions, counselors and professional student services staff can focus on high-need individuals.  That means the students most likely to drop will be better able to seek out counseling because your institution will be better equipped to identify and provide intervention services to students at risk of failing out of or withdrawing from a course or college entirely.

Additionally, students who feel like they are actively involved in their educational planning are more confident and make more goal-oriented decisions.

Download the Toolkit!

Click here to download the Guided Pathways Toolkit for Community Colleges! (PDF)

Hungry for more?

This is part one of a two-part series for Guided Pathway Factsheets, a free and effective tool for community college leaders to quickly and efficiently hit the ground running with guided pathways. To read part two, click here.

Footnotes

  1. Margolin, J., Miller, S. R., & Rosenbaum, J.E. (2012). “The community college website as virtual advisor: a usability study.” Community College Review, 41(1), 44-62.
  2. I have used over 20 years of research guided by the Community College Research Center.  If you’d like a complete bibliography or would like to learn more, please email me directly!