Last year, Austin Community College began restructuring programs and services to support Guided Pathways. They are one of 12 Texas community colleges participating in the Texas Pathways Project, an initiative to help more institutions transition to Guided Pathways with highly-structured, educationally coherent program maps, and personalized guidance to support student completion and future educational or professional goals.
ACC also began redesigning nearly 300 degree programs to help more students finish college and be better prepared for employment, career advancement or university transfer. A team of 24 faculty, students and staff are working together to restructure degree programs by grouping similar degrees into broad “paths” or “areas of study” that have a common starting point so that students may enter a field rather than a degree, and explore the options within it without wasting credits during the early phase of their education.
From Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 there was an 11%pp lift in persistence for students who used Degree Map compared to similar students who did not. This persistence lift equates to 1,492 additional persisting students and an estimated $1.36 million in retained revenue.
The Guided Pathways work has also included streamlining the process from application to registration – taking it down to four distinct steps with student support along the way. “Today, students receive a welcome email – within 24 hours of starting their admission process – with information on these four steps,” said Dr. Wade Bradfute, executive dean of Student Services. “Part of the new process also involves an entry-level course that shows them, among other things, how to use Civitas Learning’s app Degree Map™. Degree Map reduces excess credit accumulation by radically simplifying degree planning. It allows students and their advisors to quickly access the information needed to plan for success, so they can spend more time having meaningful conversations about education and career goals.
When ACC rolled out Degree Map as part of their first Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS grant), they began with adoption of the app being optional by counselors and advisors. They hosted training sessions and invited potential users to view a demo and provide input. By the end of the first 60 days, ACC had more than 45,000 degree plans submitted.
In Fall of 2016, Austin Community College transitioned to the next generation of Degree Map and did the full rollout to all students. Using Civitas Learning’s Illume Impact app to measure impact, they found that from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 there was an 11%pp lift in persistence for students who used Degree Map compared to similar students who did not. This persistence lift equates to 1,492 additional persisting students and an estimated $1.36 million in retained revenue for ACC. The lift was even greater for students in the bottom quartile, with lowest probability to persist (18%pp) and for online students (20%pp). An additional lift up to 12%pp was observed for students overall when using the app four or more times.
Watch this video to hear Dr. Bradfute explain how broad adoption of Degree Map has cleared the traffic jams at advisor offices so they can now take on case-loads and reach out proactively to students throughout the semester.
As ACC continues to optimize pathways and gain more clarity about what is working and for whom, their staff are seeing improved efficiencies around operational outcomes. “The number of advisor errors have decreased overall as more students and advisors use Degree Map to plan and track degree progress.” Bradfute says the work is increasing ACC’s advisor capacity as students can ‘self-serve’ on much of their planning now. “This gives our enrollment advisors more space to follow up with students and get them to follow through with their registration. We are seeing more students register after positive and productive advising sessions.”
We’ll be sharing more about the work at Austin Community College, and other institutions across the U.S., in a webinar series on pathways beginning in June.
Click below to view our upcoming and on-demand webinars. Civitas Learning partners and industry experts will be discussing their work on pathways to empower students as they make critical decisions throughout their educational journey, helping them stay on track to completion.
Speakers from across higher ed will share lessons learned, strategic ways to get started, collaboration wins with institutional stakeholders and how they got to measurable, positive impact for their students, staff and institutions.