California-based In-N-Out Burger has long-touted its classic, simple four-item menu under the assumption that too many choices overwhelm customers and lead to fewer sales.
Clark administrators are of the same mind.
Clark’s Associate Vice President of Planning and Effectiveness Shanda Diehl has sketched out the college’s five-year plan to implement the Guided Pathways model in Fall 2016.
Diehl said Guided Pathways will have students choose a program or “pathway” to study from a list of eight to 10 choices that will include required and elective courses focused on the program of their choice. College officials hope this design will lead more students to earn transfer degrees or occupational certificates and cut down their tuition costs.
Dean of Social Sciences and Fine Arts Miles Jackson said Clark has had “pathways” for years, in that it’s optional for students to choose a program to study. But with Guided Pathways, students will be required to choose a program upon enrollment.
Jackson, a member of the Retention Committee which will help implement Guided Pathways, said the approach taken by Clark’s nursing program will be applied to transfer and associate degree programs.
Diehl said the idea behind the Guided Pathways model is straightforward. College students are more likely to graduate in a timely fashion if they choose a program with a clear roadmap of the courses they need to take to complete a credential, all while receiving guidance and support to help them stay on plan.
Unlike the Guided Pathway model, Clark currently operates in a self-service or “cafeteria” model, allowing students to choose several disconnected courses, programs and support services rather than offering structured pathways to a degree.
Diehl said many students have difficulty navigating these choices. They end up making poor decisions about what program to enter, what courses to take and when to seek help and end up dropping out altogether.
“Seventy-five-percent of our students are first in their families to go to college, [so] many lack the family support to navigate college systems,” Diehl said.
Clark officials start work on the plan this year. The first two years of the five-year plan will see engagement with high-level planning.
Jackson said the goal is to have a pathway for every degree or certificate the college offers by the end of the five-year implementation plan.
Diehl said that while she’s unsure of how many specific pathways will be offered, she’s erring on 10 degree and certificate programs. However, she said nothing is guaranteed and the implementation has not been finalized.
“It’s not until year two or three that we would actually create pathways for degrees and certificates,” Jackson said. “There is a lot more work to do in terms of planning out the implementation and how it will be scaled up, but that’s the starting point.”
Clark officials found out last week that they didn’t receive a $500,000 grant they applied for last month through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook said the grant would have paid out $100,000 annually over the next five years.
Diehl said the state board received $7 million from the private foundation College Spark,
and that a third of the state’s 37 community and technical colleges will receive the grant money over the next five years.
Diehl said the Board of Trustees is expecting the college’s completion rate to be 40 percent by 2020 under this plan, up from the current completion rate of 26 percent.
“We all have to work harder and smarter to retain students,” said Clark’s president Bob Knight.