Degree Pathways From the Perspective of Student Services

By Joseph Allen

The concept of academic pathways seems fairly simple, right? Build a roadmap that takes a student on an academic path leading to the degree s/he wants and the career s/he aspires to have. It seems like a straightforward process. However, the path is not always clear to incoming students, particularly first-generation or nontraditional students.

Your institution’s pathways information might be familiar to you as a faculty member or administrator, but, unfortunately, it is something students frequently have difficulty finding. This vital information is often buried in a catalog or an articulation agreement rarely viewed by students new to higher education, or it may reside solely in the minds and experiences of faculty and administrators involved in their development. Documenting our hard-won knowledge and resulting institutional processes is key to helping students understand their options. We have all experienced attending an informative conference session only to get back to our offices and scratch our heads wondering, now where do I find that information? Similarly, your students need access to clear, easy-to-find resources.

Educating Students About Pathways

  • Ensure that your institution’s website has a page dedicated to available pathway options, partnering institutions, and degree requirements.
  • Host in-person and online events, including regional high school information sessions and college orientations, specifically focused on degree pathways.
  • Collaborate across institutions to provide students with community college and four-year institution points of contact who are trained and well-versed in degree pathways and can provide supporting materials.

In addition, design your website in a way that gives students just what they need along their academic journey, building upon each step along the way.

  1. A landing page with points of contact for a specific major. For example, this page provides general information, contact information for each institution, related downloads, and a quick, easy-to-use request for information form for a teacher pathway partnership between Cuyamaca College and Health Sciences High and Middle College, and National University.
  2. Degree options at each institution. This flyer, for instance, outlines the steps students will take along the teacher pathway referred to above.
  3. Bachelor’s degree coursework and articulated equivalencies, as outlined in this example.

Intentional collaboration between institutions, in addition to documenting degree pathways and sharing these resources, will enable students to take control of their own academic roadmaps.

Contact Dr. Joseph Allen, Ed.D., PMP, Director, Community College Pathways, The National University System, for more information.

National University is an Innovations 2021 sponsor and exhibitor.

Adwords test: