Just a few weeks ago, over 160 community college leaders from 70+ institutions made their way to Washington, D.C. for EAB's third annual Navigate Summit. While many of us were experiencing a homecoming of sorts—greeting familiar faces and catching-up with old friends—an even greater number of us were meeting each other for the first time and soaking up the collaborative ethos.
With the Navigate collaborative more than doubling since 2016 and Guided Pathways moving from a student success model to a student success imperative, this year's event provided a unique opportunity to measure our progress, share new insights, learn from the successes of our senior institutions, and chart a course forward toward a return on education for every student.
Illuminating Guided Pathways
One way we measured our collective progress was through the event's interactive Guided Pathways Wall. We enjoyed seeing how attendees thoughtfully rated their institution on a range of critical Guided Pathway practices, highlighting areas of strength and of future focus.
Progress was also front and center on the Collaborative Impact Wall. This kinetic display showcased quantitative outcomes from 10 member institutions with results ranging from a 15 percentage-point increase in applicant conversion to a 72+ hour decrease in ID-provisioning time or a 16 percentage-point improvement in FAFSA completion rates.
In addition to celebrating our members' progress, the Navigate Summit was also designed to provide new insights on community colleges' biggest challenges. We explored how to implement Guided Pathways in a way that best utilizes your resources, engages your entire faculty and staff, and is scaled for every student on campus. Each of our presentations aimed to address part of this very complex challenge.
During our best practice research sessions, we shared a compelling blueprint for stage one of any Guided Pathways implementation. By following this best practice sequence of activities, starting with collaboratively designing student-centric pathways, community colleges can set themselves up for success—without wasting time or resources.
Infographic: Learn more about developing student-centric pathways.
Our panel of industry experts also shared personal insights to garner faculty and staff buy-in. They stressed the importance of ongoing communication, highlighting Trident Technical College and the Gulf Coast-Houston community colleges for their strong work in this area. In our grants session, participants explored common myths around securing institutional funding and walked away with an action-oriented infographic to share with their teams.
In our day two plenary session, we shared the many ways that Navigate can enable you to serve your students at scale while still creating a personalized college experience. We are excited to see how you engage students with the new Navigate mobile application, launching this week!
The collaborative in action
The Navigate Summit also offered opportunities to hear directly from your peers. I want to acknowledge and thank the representatives from each of the member schools who presented their stories and their openness and willingness to make the path a little clearer for others.
- Dr. John Hamblin and Linda Vigesaa from Mt. Hood Community College
- Kevin Hudgens from Pikes Peak Community College
- Heather Ostash and Dr. Corey Marvin from Cerro Coso Community College
- Dr. Jammie Wilbanks and Dr. Shawn Utley from Wiregrass Technical Community College
- Dr. Tessie Bradford and Angela Cummings from Georgia Piedmont Technical College
- Brian Almquist and Dr. Patrice Mitchell from Trident Technical College
Given the value of the peer-to-peer interactions that occurred in October, we can’t wait to see the collaborations that come out of our combined 2-year and 4-year Summit in 2018!
What, how, and—most importantly—why
In Simon Sinek's viral 2009 Ted Talk and subsequent best-selling book, he asks his audience to do one thing: start with why. By that he means, understand your purpose. Sinek contends that every successful leader and organization communicates their purpose—the 'why'—before they communicate the 'what' and the 'how'.
This is exactly what we asked many attendees to do in our Navigate Stories booth (perhaps my favorite part of this year's summit). We asked about the students who inspire you, the professional experiences that shaped you, and what motivates you when this work gets particularly difficult. Unsurprisingly, your answers were moving and inspiring.
Throughout this coming year, I know we will have many conversations about the 'what' and the 'how' of Guided Pathways, but I also encourage you spend time with your 'why' and share it with the people you lead. Radical change is not easy, but if anyone can inspire it, it's you.