Clark is staring down a long winding road as the college prepares to switch to the Guided Pathways model. But while committees are hard at work reorganizing classes into pathways, other departments are preparing for change.
Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Belden said that Advising will likely change drastically with the implementation of pathways.
“We can’t have a pathway for undecided students,” Belden said. “ In the model we’re going for, students need to select a pathway, so if they’re unsure, we need to provide those entry services that are going to help them be decided.”
According to director of Advising John Maduta, one of the main changes will be an emphasis on the first quarter.
Maduta said he was partnering with the office of Planning and Effectiveness to identify students who need extra attention. “Who are we losing? Is there a demographic, a population of students where we need we need outreach and need to do it early?” he said.
And when Maduta says early, he means it. Maduta said there will be advising curriculum at the Penguin Welcome Day to provide students with information before they start their classes, “We’ll blend that with some faculty involvement, and these meta-majors they’re developing and a career focus.”
Maduta said many pathways colleges use a caseload model of advising, where every student is assigned to a specific adviser. But that’s easier said than done; Clark employs around one adviser for every 1,000 students.
“The National Association of Academic Advisers recommends 300-400 students per adviser,” Maduta said. “You can’t assign 1,000 students to one adviser.”
But even more than the disparity in numbers, Maduta said Clark struggles with a high turnover rate among advisers. Maduta said that many of them leave for other colleges after becoming comfortable with Clark’s system. He said this prevents students from developing a real relationship with their advisers.
Maduta said this problem should be solved with faculty-based advising, which would require advising training for teachers.
“Right now their contracts, specifically the part about faculty advising, is being reworked, so I don’t know where that’s going to land,” Maduta said. “But for pathways to function, faculty do have to take a front seat to advising. If we create this great system but don’t collaborate with faculty on it, it would just be a disaster.”
Associate Director of Career Services Catharine Keane said it’s too early to tell how Guided Pathways will affect Career Services, but she’s optimistic. Keane said that Guided Pathways helps students focus on their career goals. “There are some real opportunities for us to bring career exploration services and resources to students in more formal ways than we have in the past,” Keane said.
Keane, who is also a member of the Guided Pathways Steering Committee, said it’s important to take things one step at a time. “What I hope for is a lot of process,” she said. “I would rather have the opportunity to consider what really works for Clark and spending some time on that rather than having answers right away.”