Pathways follow up: The student perspective

BY RAUL CAMINO

 

“Guided Pathways,” is a learning system that will provide college students with more focused plans of study, which has already impacted the community despite its implementation only being in talking stages.

The pathways approach includes providing students with a focused route to getting a college degree, choosing a program that will best transfer to a four-year school and consistent support from program advisors, according to a report by the Community College Research Center in August 2014.

President David Levinson said he hoped to hold more open discussions on the “Guided Pathways” project. Faculty have praised pathways for its accessibility and success rate, as well as criticized it for its limited scope and rigid, according to a previous article in The Voice.

However, faculty opinions were not simply for or against pathways; the argument for implementing it proved complex. Faculty agreed with strengthening the role that advising plays in the college, instead of putting down the project completely.

Students, when asked about pathways, had varied ideas as well. Students said they supported pathways because it is a way to finish college with a concrete plan of study. However, an area of concern arose when considering that the program would be risky for students uncertain of their path.

Marcela Correa, a 20-year-old Sciences major, began as a General Studies major to fulfill the college’s requirements.

“I was new. I didn’t know anyone and I just took placement tests, then I started doing other classes I needed to,” Correa said.

Since, Correa has decided to pursue a career in dental hygiene, and she has found an advisor to help her plan accordingly. Correa said that her advisor was instrumental in finding a clear path. With regards to pathways, however, she said that the structure would have been helpful had it been offered to her.

“I think [Guided Pathways] is an awesome idea,” Correa said. “You’d be focused on what you want to rather than doing general studies, floating around. You can graduate with something that you can work with.”

Though supportive, Correa said she took issue with the rigidity of the system and how that would impact incoming college students.

“First people need to know what they want to do, or else they are going to choose a path and then decide it’s the wrong one,” she said.

John Stambaugh, a 20-year-old General Studies major, said he did not have an advisor when he enrolled at the college in the Fall semester of 2014. Seeking to major in Exercise Science at first, Stambaugh dropped out before completing his degree. Ultimately, the importance of college influenced his decision to re-enroll.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to go to college, or if I wanted to work,” Stambaugh said. “I realized that a [college] degree is now like a high school diploma. So, in order to be successful later on I need to get a degree.”

Now, Stambaugh said his plans include majoring in philosophy, graduating with an associate’s degree and becoming a professor in that field. As far as how pathways would impact him, Stambaugh said he feels confident in his path. Although, he said other students may not fare so well.

“Personally, I think I’ll be fine because I have a general idea of what I want to do,” Stambaugh said. “But I feel like for people fresh out of high school that don’t know what they want to do, [Guided Pathways] would hinder them a bit.”

Stambaugh also said he believes there are many variables to consider when thinking about the success rate of the program.

“You can’t just say ‘because this works, it should work here’ or vice versa,” Stambaugh said.

Crystal Nyanteh, an 18-year-old General Studies major, is in her freshman year. Though she plans to graduate from the college with an associate’s degree in criminal justice or psychology, she said she also wants to take time for self-reflection.

“My goals are to keep my GPA up so I don’t lose my financial aid, and to graduate with an associate’s degree,” Nyanteh said. “But I also want to discover more about myself because I’m still a little lost about the future.”

With regards to pathways, Nyanteh said that it is a good idea for people who know what they want to do and she does not think that incoming students should feel abnormal for their uncertainty.

Nyanteh said, “I think a lot of people are in my shoes. Most people my age don’t know what they want right away, but I’m only 18 so I have time ahead of me to decide my future.”

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