A Guided Pathways Toolkit for Community Colleges

Higher Education

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.


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.


  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!

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