Student Voices: The Foundation for Academic Pathways 2.0 at a Western Community College
thesisposted on 02.05.2019, 00:00 by Cynthia Henning
Historically, community colleges were intended to provide access to higher education and allow millions who could not attend a four-year institution a path to a college degree. Until the 21st century, community colleges focused on enrollment and not completion numbers. As accountability in education moved to the forefront, however, completion rates revealed that community colleges were failing students. Fewer than half of students who enroll in community colleges complete a degree, certificate, or transfer to a four-year institution. In an attempt to address and improve completion rates, many community colleges have undertaken a pathways approach. This qualitative project examines the experiences of students at one western community college and its adoption of academic pathways. Based on the examination of data and student focus groups, students face various barriers to completion. Barriers are sometimes broad in scope and affect the majority of students. Other barriers are specific to various student demographic groups such as part-time or first generation college students. The recommendations made as a result of this project are that students should have an active role and their voices should be heard as community colleges undertake Guided Pathways projects.