Guided Pathways and the Advising Redesign: What Faculty and Staff Should Know

Guided Pathways gives students a clear idea of where they are headed

Dr. Eric Rosenthal ,

Guided Pathways, the new initiative designed to give students a clear road map of the courses they need to complete a degree or program, and the redesign of the advising program at Northampton Community College, will go hand in hand.  Each Guided Pathway (known to students as an Area of Study) will have a team of faculty advisors as well as full-time new and continuing student advisors.  There will be ample opportunities for collaboration so all advisors will develop expertise in the programs and majors within the Guided Pathway, facilitating more sophisticated advising.  For example, advisors will not only be aware of the courses required for the credentials within the Guided Pathway, but also career options, job outlooks, and transfer pathways.

Armed with this information, assigned full-time new student advisors will begin developing relationships with both full and part time incoming students as soon as they are accepted to NCC.  A primary objective of this advisor-student partnership will be for students to develop sufficient clarity on career and academic goals to enable them to choose a Guided Pathway, and ideally to choose a specific major or program.  If needed, this process will be facilitated by a web-based career assessment, with advisors helping students understand its results.  If students need more sophisticated career assessment to decide on a path, advisors will refer them to Career Services and will use the results to continue helping them to settle on a direction.  Advisor support, coupled with the Program Maps developed by faculty, will maximize students' selection of first semester courses that will ultimately count toward their desired credentials (at NCC and/or a four-year institution).  

To keep students on track, during the first semester they will be transitioned to either a faculty advisor or a full-time continuing student advisor.  Students who are still undecided or exhibiting significant signs of academic or other difficulty will likely be assigned to a counselor, either during the first semester or beyond.  Aided by technology, the assigned advisor or counselor will proactively reach out to students when they need support or course-correction (for example, when they register for a class that is not in their academic plan).  

As one can see, the relationship between Guided Pathways and the Advising Redesign is truly a symbiotic one.  Guided Pathways will make advising more effective, and advising will do likewise for Guided Pathways, with students as the true beneficiaries, reaching their destinations with maximum efficiency and hopefully enjoying the ride along the way.