New program strives to help SWC students transfer quicker

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Southwestern College was one of 20 California community colleges chosen for California Guided Pathways, a new project which aims to increase the number of students earning community college credentials so they can transfer to four-year institutions.

“The California Guided Pathways Project is a transformational approach to ensuring student equity and achievement,” said SWC President Dr. Kindred Murillo. “Research has indicated the success of the pathways approach for first-time college going and underserved students. This is what appeals most to me. We need to help all students achieve equitable outcomes.”

California Guided Pathways is a three-year program focused on guaranteeing students’ educational goals and careers are meet according to the California Guided Pathways website. The program will help students from point of entry clearly understand their academic and career options.

“It is going to be an opportunity to help guide our student through what can be a very confusing and a very monolithic process,” said Academic Senate President Andrew Rempt. “I think we lose a lot of students because we don’t do a good job of saying ‘listen, here is what you have to do every step of the way, here is some guidance.’”

California Guided Pathways project has four steps: helping students to establish goals, helping them find a pathway to their goals, keeping them on track and measuring learning. Students will choose a program of study and work with counselors to develop a plan based on career goals. A program map will help students stay on track and complete their programs in less time.

Participating colleges will receive support from a team of Pathways coaches, according to Kathy Tyner, vice president of academic affairs.

“We want to make it easier for our students to get from the start of college to the end and achieve their academic goal, but also achieve the learning that they intended to,” she said.

California Guided Pathways is scheduled to run through 2019. Participating colleges will send teams of faculty to six multi-day institutes to receive coaching on the development of pathways and to change outdated management strategies. Murillo and Rempt will serve on the team. 

“What we are talking about here is a multi-year transformation of how we offer curriculum and this is going to be a long, long process that is going to have to be carefully planned out,” said Rempt.

Though the project is underwritten by four large foundations, participating colleges must pay $45,000. Rempt said it is a sound investment.

“It really will be transformative in every sense of the institution,” said Rempt. “It not only offers us an opportunity to create pathways for students, it also offers us a very rare opportunity to completely examine our programs.”

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