Many community colleges are implementing a new framework that puts student success and outcomes first. Students focus on what job or field they are interested in, then backtrack to what programs will get them there. This is the opposite way many institutions present their programs.
This style of academic planning goes by a few different names which are sometimes used interchangeably, or for marketing purposes. We’ll define some terms for the sake of this article:
Career Cluster: A grouping of programs based on expected outcomes. Often based around a topic that emphasizes getting a job. An example of a career cluster could be agriculture or computer science.
Career Pathways: An educational plan from enrollment to a job. Usually from a community or technical college and focused on adult students. These are often developed with the help of local employers and industry partners. They may be offered as an alternative to the normal courses at a school.
Guided Pathways: A complete redesign of a college’s academic offerings. This would be a major change to how the college operates. A really robust guided pathway would take students at whatever level of education they are at. For example, a student with no high school diploma would be guided through a GED process first. A pathway should include many of the following elements: counseling, industry partnerships, program maps, outreach and success metrics/reporting.
While many of these changes will occur behind the scenes at an institution, there are many ways KWALL can help. A complete redesign of how students explore programs and careers will breathe life into a pathways initiative. The focus is on student career outcomes, wages, employability and success. All presented in an interactive interface for students to find their desired career, before picking a program.
Jobs first. Students get matched up to a career, then a program. Start with what they care about most.
Employment information: Employment data, regional information and potential employers will give students confidence in their choice. KWALL partners with organizations, like Emsi, that can provide this data.
Student support: Resources for students like course maps, counseling and cost info all rolled into one package.
Multiple Ways: Some students know exactly what they want, others need to explore their options. Give them different ways to browse careers: by interest, category or just directly searching.
The way students think about college is changing. Aligning how we present programs and degrees to better serve students is essential. KWALL has worked on a number of these projects and is leveraging our years of experience to put the right information in front of the right students.