Community Colleges Embark on Texas Pathways

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Eleven community colleges from across the state have been chosen to participate in the Texas Pathways Project sponsored by the Texas Success Center and funded by the Greater Texas Foundation. The project is geared toward transforming the way students transition from public education into community colleges on their way to certification or transferring to 4-year institutions leading to meaningful careers.

Research conducted by the Community College Research Center and various innovators from community colleges across the United States recognized low graduation rates among community college students, the high cost of education, and the high number of courses students completed that did not transfer to four-year institutions. Often, students were taking 4-6 years to complete a two-year degree or were dropping out of college. The Pathways serve as a way to provide clear and structured direction at the start of their academic journey at college as they learn about different disciplines and career options, then broaden opportunities as students become better informed.

Academic pathways will provide students a guided path of coursework and contextualized support structures for students within six major career/professional concentrations: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Business; Creative Arts; Liberal Arts; Public Service; and Health Professions. The process allows students to explore career options while staying on pace to graduate. For instance, students interested in a STEM-related career but without a specific degree in mind would progress on a multidisciplinary path to an Associate’s Degree in Science. The first two semesters are set for the student to learn about careers and professions available through the pathway, providing opportunities to try different areas while undergoing intrusive advising by academic advisors and mentoring faculty. At the same time, the student would be required to work toward completing all required mathematics classes and be enrolled in STEM-major coursework. Once the student better focuses their interest, they will be advised into STEM metamajors with specific selection and sequencing of courses leading to their preparation in a specific discipline or area of study. All pathway curricula is also aligned with transfer degree options with partner four-year institutions and/or the local industry.

Another goal of Pathways is to build closer ties among high schools and colleges, which can be beneficial to high school students already working on college-level courses through the Dual Credit program. High school freshmen who meet the admission criteria can now begin taking college courses from a transfer block designed for students planning to attend a community college or transfer to a Texas public college or university. Once the student completes 18 college credit hours, the student is then directed into their chosen pathway. If the student continues down the pathway through their senior year, they can receive their high school diploma and an associate degree in the same year.

The Pathways program will give students the path they need to be successful and help them achieve their goals in a timely manner.

Colleges chosen to participate in the Texas Pathways Project are Amarillo College, Austin Community College, Brazosport College, Dallas County Community College District, Grayson College, Houston Community College System, Lone Star College District, McLennan Community College, Midland College, South Texas College, Southwest Texas Junior College, and Temple College. The colleges will participate in biannual institutes designed to assist participants in implementing the structured student pathways. The colleges will be joined by teams from Alamo Community College, El Paso Community College, Paris Junior College, San Jacinto College that were selected to participate in the American Association of Community Colleges’ Pathways Project, a national project designed to institute pathways at scale.

 

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The #TXsuccess campaign is a collaboration between the Texas Association of Community College Marketers (TACCM) and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) to showcase the value of Texas community colleges to legislators, policymakers, and communities in Texas.

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