Community College Blog

EAB wins AACC 2017 Innovation Award

by Melinda Salaman

What an exciting year of national recognition for our team at EAB. First, the GPS Direct Seal of Approval from Complete College America, and now, we are proud to announce we are the winners of the 2017 Innovation Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

On behalf of our broader team of researchers, dedicated consultants, software developers, and UX testers who make the EAB Navigate technology possible, we accept the award as an energizing and humbling honor.

Seeing eye-to-eye on Guided Pathways

According to AACC and many other thought leaders, there are four primary dimensions of the Guided Pathways model:

  • Clarify paths to student end goals
  • Help students choose and enter a pathway
  • Help students stay on path
  • Ensure that students are learning throughout their time at the college

This is a worthy and ambitious set of goals for community colleges across the country.

Want more inspiration? Find out how Disney World can inform your Guided Pathways strategy

The primary challenge of implementing Guided Pathways seems to be achieving the four core principles at scale for all students, not just a small subsection of the general population. For budget-constrained institutions (which, admittedly, describes the vast majority of two-year public colleges), this cannot be achieved by simply hiring more advisors or launching more boutique programs. College leaders are looking to technology to adopt AACC Guided Pathways model at scale.

EAB Navigate does just that through a comprehensive technology platform specifically built to engage students and empower advisors with the information they need to succeed.

This image demonstrates why 50+ community colleges across the country have partnered with EAB to bring Guided Pathways to life at their institutions:

Navigate AACC Award

Community colleges see results from Guided Pathways adoption

The term “Guided Pathways” isn’t entirely new to higher education, but it has quickly gained popularity over the last two years among community college experts and practitioners. The growing interest in this model has sparked a welcome wave of innovation and experimentation among college leaders:


Clarifying paths to end goals with onboarding support

Danville Community College (VA) worked with EAB to redesign new student onboarding by implementing research best practices and introducing the Navigate technology. Following these changes, the college saw a 4.6%-point increase in applicant-to-conversion rate and approximately $70K in additional revenue.

Want to increase enrollments at your campus? Read about the changes Danville made to earn their results



Helping students choose, enter, and stay on path with smart academic planning

The fastest way to get students’ attention is to build something they love. EAB’s UX team has spent years interviewing and researching students to understand how they use technology, what motivates their decisions, and why they choose to use one technology over the other. The results of this research inform our product development, and as a result, students across the country love Navigate.

In Alabama, 95% of students said the platform helped them become more aware of available academic programs, and 84% of students at a Midwest college said they understand course requirements better after using Navigate.

Perhaps most encouraging is the average one in four students who are steered away from poor-fit academic programs after using Navigate. One student articulated the impact best:

“Navigate asks you the right questions so you pick something you actually like. I know a lot of people who pick a major because their friends are doing it, and they’re miserable.”


Ensure all students are learning

College administrators, particularly presidents and members of the executive team, need institutional data to make strategic decisions. It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve spoken with so many leaders who admit they don’t have the data insights they need to make informed decisions. Knowing that, the aggregate data collected through Navigate is invaluable to community college leaders struggling to intervene with students before they leave.

For example, knowing when students are stalled during enrollment can help leaders decide how to target their pre-college programs. At Thomas Nelson Community College (VA), leaders recognized they were losing a huge number of prospective high school graduates who didn’t complete the enrollment process. Leveraging EAB best practice research, college leaders adopted practices to increase engagement with their local feeder high schools. These changes led to a 24% increase in applications and 3% increase in enrollments from high schools where deployed, resulting in approximately $15,700 in additional tuition revenue in the first term alone.

Looking for creative ways to engage feeder high schools? Learn how Thomas Nelson Community College did it



Now what?

There’s still a lot left for community colleges to do if they intend to transform their institutions into truly student-centered enterprises and achieve the goals of the Guided Pathways model. Across hundreds of interviews with college administrators, faculty, and students, it is clear that while some institutions continue to make strides in the right direction, there are still many seeking practical advice about animating and customizing Guided Pathways to meet the needs of their institutions.

Over the next few months, our Community College Executive Forum research team will continue searching for national best practices that can be adopted and scaled at any college. In the meantime, we invite you to download a copy of our latest whitepaper, Bringing Guided Pathways to Life, featuring 25 implementation strategies for progressive college leaders.

As winners of the AACC 2017 Innovation Award, we pride ourselves on inspiring innovation at community colleges across the country, and look forward to hearing how this research has made an impact at your institutions and for your students in the years to come.

Bring Guided Pathways to life at your institution

Our new resource "Bringing Guided Pathways to Life" offers EAB analysis of the Guided Pathways movement in the community college sector, identifies the most common questions about implementation, and offers over two dozen strategies for college leaders to bring the model to life at their institutions.

Download the white paper


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