Group: Students need 'pathways' through college

The Pathways Project points community college students toward the best courses for their majors

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is spearheading an initiative to streamline community college students' coursework for improved academic and career outcomes. 

The Pathways Project, led by the AACC in partnership with seven other organizations, aims to develop guided course and career pathways for students at 30 community colleges in 17 states.

The Pathways Project has four objectives for participating institutions:

  • Set curriculum goals that prepare students for work or more education;
  • Offer robust advising opportunities;
  • Provide program maps that connect students to careers and employment; and
  • Redesign traditional remediation courses. 

Proponents of the program believe that it will help colleges develop academic pathways across departments that will ensure students are taking the appropriate courses to complete their degrees.

California Community Colleges and the University of California recently announced that they will add new initiatives to their existing Transfer Pathways program, including:

  • Representatives to provide support for underserved state regions;
  • Summer programs to help prepare students transferring from a community college to a state university; and
  • Training for community college counselors.

What about following their passions?

Some critics fear that defining pathways does not allow students to make their own choices and deters them from figuring out what they want to do. However, supporters argue that many students, particularly more affluent ones, already enjoy such privileges to guide them throughout their college careers.  

Advocates have also countered concerns that the Pathways Project will eliminate a liberal arts education by noting that the program will not cut out such courses, but it will instead point students toward the courses that will help them attain their desired degrees. 

Related: 3 ways to engage students in the perfect program

In addition, supporters have acknowledged that faculty members' responsibilities may change under the pathways initiative but reassured them that the program will not put jobs in jeopardy (Avalos, The Hornet, 4/18; Dembicki, Community College Daily, 4/19; Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 4/11). 

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