Most community colleges offer a wide array of programs. Yet they typically provide little guidance to help new students choose a program of study and develop a plan for completing it, despite the fact that many new students enroll without clear goals for college and careers. In prior research charting the educational pathways and outcomes of community college students, we found that students who enter a program of study in their first year are much more likely to complete a credential or transfer successfully than are students who do not enter a program until the second year or later.
With so many choices available and without a clear roadmap or someone monitoring their progress, it is not surprising that many community college students indicate that they are confused and often frustrated navigating their way through college. In this paper, we describe efforts by a growing number of colleges and universities to redesign academic programs and support services to create “guided pathways” designed to increase the rate at which students enter and complete a program of study.
A version of this paper appears in New Directions for Community Colleges, vol. 2013, no. 164.