Guided pathways is an institution-wide approach to student success. It streamlines students’ journey through college by giving each student a clear, coherent, and structured educational experience that builds in a variety of academic and nonacademic supports.
Guided pathways involves whole-college redesign that focuses on equity, prepares students for good jobs and further education, and advances students’ social and economic mobility.
When colleges implement pathways, they replace the longstanding cafeteria model, which leads many students to unintended dead ends, excess credits, and out-of-sequence credits, all of which are costly and delay completion.
These articles, studies, and videos provide more information:
- Guided Pathways at Community Colleges: From Theory to Practice
(Association of American Colleges & Universities)
- What We Know About Guided Pathways
(Community College Research Center)
- Guided Pathways Resource Series
(National Center for Inquiry & Improvement)
- Equity Video Vignette Series About Guided Pathways
These videos — from the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — are bite-sized vignettes that that aim to foster student success and equitable outcomes.
- Voices of Pathways film series and discussion guide
Voices of Pathways is a five-part documentary film series about five colleges in the process of implementing guided pathways. The films shows transformational change from the perspectives of faculty and staff members undertaking the day-to-day work as well as the students these efforts aim to serve. They offer a different way to look at pathways — and to introduce conversations about how to engage in this critical work.
The four pillars of guided pathways implementation are:
Clarify the paths
Colleges map pathways to students’ end goals and make sure they align with well-paying jobs available in the region.
Help students get on a path
Colleges help students explore career options and interests, develop an academic plan early on, and have a clear road map of the courses they need to earn a credential.
Help students stay on their path
Colleges provide ongoing guidance and support, including support for students who choose to change pathways.
Ensure students are learning
Colleges engage students with high-impact teaching, program-relevant applied learning experiences, and clear program learning outcomes that lead to credentials, further education, and/or gainful employment.