Helping Students to Complete Programs Faster
The idea behind guided pathways is straightforward. College students are more likely to complete a degree in a timely fashion if they choose a program and develop an academic plan early on, have a clear road map of the courses they need to take to complete a credential, and receive guidance and support to help them stay on plan.
However, most community colleges, rather than offering structured pathways to a degree, operate on a self-service or “cafeteria” model, allowing students to choose from an abundance of disconnected courses, programs, and support services. Students often have difficulty navigating these choices and end up making poor decisions about what program to enter, what courses to take, and when to seek help. Many drop out of college altogether.
Even among students who persist, few complete a credential in two years, in great part because few take the “conventional” path through college, with full-time, continuous enrollment. While students certainly make choices about enrollment based on personal circumstances, the many course and program options and the limited guidance currently provided by community colleges likely contribute to students’ meandering and varied pathways through college.
To address this problem, a growing number of community colleges and four-year universities are adopting a guided pathways approach, which presents courses in the context of highly structured, educationally coherent program maps that align with students’ goals for careers and further education. Incoming students are given support to explore careers, choose a program of study, and develop an academic plan based on program maps created by faculty and advisors. This approach simplifies student decision-making and allows colleges to provide predictable schedules and frequent feedback so students can complete programs more efficiently. MCC has chosen to adopt Guided Pathways.
MCC Pathways are designed to be rough guides based on broad transferability to as many schools as possible. All students are still encouraged to work closely with the four-year institution of their choice in order to maximize transferability of courses. The MCC Pathways are not meant to replace transfer guides developed by four-year universities for specific majors.
MCC Pathways were developed using transfer guides from Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, Northern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Cornerstone University, and Aquinas College.
The pathways in this catalog are designed to help students who are not sure what they want to major in, or which university they want to transfer to. Students who do know what they want to major in and which university they want to transfer to should meet with a counselor to find their specific transfer guide. These pathways have been vetted by MCC’s counselors, but universities can, and do, change requirements without notice. Therefore, students should meet with MCC counselors and university representatives regularly for the most current information.