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Accelerate the Implementation of Guided Pathways on Your Campus

In the face of opaque institutional protocols, community college students often don’t know where to turn when making critical academic decisions. Colleges recognize these threats and have largely turned to Guided Pathways as a means to bolster student success and institutional sustainability.

However, ineffective redesign risks introducing a partially reformed system that continues to fail students—and the college’s budget—as it increases initiative fatigue among deans and faculty.

Use this toolkit to accelerate the implementation of Guided Pathways on your campus.

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This resource is part of the Streamline Onboarding and Promote First Year Student Success Roadmap. Access the Roadmap for stepwise guidance with additional tools and research.


Use this tool to ensure your mapping process follows the most efficient order and includes all necessary requirements.

Faculty and staff engagement can be an obstacle to pathways success. Emphasize the central role of the student perspective to alleviate uncertainty and opposition from faculty.

St. Petersburg College brings together faculty, advisors, and administrative staff in two hour speed sequencing sessions to identify the right courses to include in their program maps. Follow these steps to implement your own streamlined program-mapping process.

Linn-Benton Community College utilizes an online mapping tool to allow faculty to contribute to the construction of individual program maps, streamlining the collection of this data. Share these seven components of an online submission portal with your institutional research department tasked to build an online mapping tool.

Opportunities for faculty and employer weigh-in are essential to determine clear standards, which serve to ease widespread pathways adoption. Identify community and campus stakeholders and then follow this interview guide to elicit feedback and greater community engagement.

Jackson College builds common course schedules across programs and encourages students to explore within a meta-major without accumulating excess credits. Use these steps to build efficient meta-majors that avoid overlapping course sequences.


Follow Middlesex Community College’s lead and use a simplified jargon free pathways map to help students clearly identify the sequence of essential courses needed to complete their program of study.

Use the following exercise with staff members to conduct a jargon-reduction audit so students and other audiences can effectively navigate pathways-related information shared on the college website, newsletters, handouts, and other materials.

Administrators and faculty often rely on preconceived notions of student needs and goals that don’t actually align with the student experience. Colleges can use focus groups to move past the limits of traditional course feedback forms and receive real-time student data and feedback to determine students’ scheduling preferences and eliminate course bottlenecks.

Changes in course preferences and subsequent enrollment can cause misalignment between faculty supply and class demand. Use these step-by-step instructions to identify all relevant costs associated with each option. Then, use the cost comparison calculator to assess your college’s budgetary allowances and determine the best course of action.

When planning your own campus-wide advising day, it is essential to adequately inform all students of the opportunity through multiple communication channels and at various times. Here’s a targeted email campaign schedule and sample advising day advertisement to follow.

The first-year experience course continues to grow in prominence as administrators aim to familiarize students to college. This tool provides a sample of what a comprehensive first-year exposure course might include.

To elevate the role of the advisor, review this sample professional advisor job listing before recruiting.

Many colleges respond to Guided Pathways’ call for “intrusive advising” as a mandate to hire more advisors or implement an early academic alert system. Consult this tool to develop a professional advising training curriculum that informs advisors about new Guided Pathways institutional reforms and prepares them to meet students’ unique needs.

A metrics scorecard is a way many colleges measure their advising success. Annual goals and progress checkpoints along the way allow for earlier identification of critical strengths and weaknesses of advising strategies.

High achieving students enrolled in competitive programs of study that fail to meet a minimum GPA requirement are often at risk of stopping out. To promote student persistence and retention, advisors need to determine how best to redirect these students into programs that both have capacity and better align with the students’ academic strengths.

Related resource center

Use this toolkit to design student-centric program maps and course schedules and to train advisors to guide students onto best-fit paths.

More Resources

Research Report

Turn Pathways Maps into Data-Driven Course Schedules

Relying on a combination of enrollment data and pathway projections, Monroe Community College avoids frequent bottlenecks to generate…
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Achieving Pathways Goals with Student-Centered Design

A growing number of college students arrive on campus with a limited understanding of how to progress efficiently…
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Design 2-Year to 4-Year Guided Pathways to Streamline the Transfer Experience

Guided Pathways was developed as a solution to stagnant completion rates, but implementation of this model varies widely.…
Strategic Advisory Services for Community Colleges