Laramie County Community College’s Guided Pathways initiative has been in the works for two years, and students will begin to see the effects of this initiative in the fall of 2020. The layout of how programs,majors, advising, admissions and more will be undergoing changes over the next year.
The four primary goals of the Guided Pathways initiative are to help students 1) clarify a path, 2) get on that path, 3) stay on that path, and 4) ensure students are learning.
Two of LCCC’s vice presidents, Judy Hay and Clark Harris, recently sat down with Wingspan for an interview about the initiative and why it is important to the college. Clark is the vice president of Academic Affairs, where he oversees the faculty. Hay is the vice president of Student Services, which oversees the various services students use on campus, such as The Hub, financial aid, athletics and student life.
The following Q&A is a composite of their answers to general questions about the initiative. The full video interview with Hay and Harris is available at LCCCWingpsan.com.
How did LCCC come up with Guided Pathways?
Guided Pathways is a product of the American Association of Community Colleges and LCCC is a member of the organization. Guided Pathways is built on research and evidence at other community colleges, it was tested on 30 other schools before LCCC became a part of what’s known as Guided Pathways 2.0. LCCC is one of 13 schools that was accepted.
What is the overall goal and purpose of Guided Pathways?
“In general the Guided Pathways program was designed for the region’s employment opportunities and transfer opportunities and that they connect with them and that the services and functions around the college serve the students well and make them easier to understand and navigate,” Hay said.
“We have great people at LCCC, but we have a broken system and not just LCCC but nationally and that we at LCCC were re-evaluating systems and faculty and to help faculty to be the best that they can be and for other people to look at our faculty and be like, ‘I want them as my faculty.’” Harris said.
“We’ve seen some gains already as we examine some things and they have found some things that are painfully obvious but haven’t looked at them. We have been modeling ourselves to four-year institutions and we are different in so many ways, and that we look at that and say we are an open-admission institution and what do we need minimally and the only thing we are asking for now is to have a high school diploma and a high school transcript. It opens up doors in ways for students to get in and get more done earlier and to be apart of LCCC,” Hay said.
Harris said,” There are also nine sub committees that are addressing any problems and they work together to tackle any problem. Members of the team are from all over the campus and not just teachers but people from student affairs, academic affairs and even people from the purchasing office.”
What does the success of the new Guided Pathways look like?
“When it’s all done it’s going to be helping students achieve their goals. We are going to help them define their career pathway and help them get on that path, the pathway will help them stay on the path and hopefully help them complete their degree in a reasonable amount of time which would be two to three years. The quicker we help you achieve your goal the quicker you can take that next step,” Harris said. Hay added that the longer students take to complete degrees is more time “spending money and not making money.”
In what way can LCCC improve and offer a better overall education experience?
Hay said in the fall of 2020 is when all of the work will commence and everything will be put together, but in the meantime administrators will “ keep our ear to the ground and listen to our students and respond to them quickly.”
Harris said, “That this is not the end and we plan to make this a long-term project and that they plan to once again be at scale by the fall of 2020 but we will constantly continue with improvements.”
For incoming students will there be a huge difference between a student coming in the fall of 2020 compared to fall 2018?
“The biggest change for new students coming in the fall of 2020 is they won’t be required to have their transcript before they are accepted as an admitted student and all of there orientation will be done online,” Hay said. She added, “they’re doing a new event called the day before. The day before will be an event where kids get together the day before classes and do a big campus celebration. We celebrate so well when our students leave and that’s a truly big accomplishment, but let’s celebrate when they come to LCCC, this will also give a chance for students to interact with faculty.”
Another change is there will be a year long course schedule so students can see which classes they have to take in a year and when they are offered.
There are 9 committees that make up the “must have” groups seen as essential to achieving the overall goals. Wingspan reporters spoke with members of those groups to learn how their work will impact students starting in the fall of 2020. Those stories appear on the following pages and online at LCCCWingspan.com.