A group of GP Team members traveled to Florida to tour Miami Dade College and Valencia College this past April. They came back with a lot of information to share of best practices for implementing Guided Pathways. The group had the opportunity to meet with campus leaders, faculty, and students at the institutions to learn about the rationale for Guided Pathways, redesign of student services, meta-major organization, and the role of faculty in planning and implementation. Miami Dade College and Valencia College are winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a national recognition for high achievement and performance in student success. The GP Florida team will be presenting on trip findings and what can apply at Palomar. Watch the PD portal for the announcement.
As one team member commented, “Visiting Miami Dade and Valencia College provided us with the opportunity to see into our future, which was VERY exciting!” Both Miami Dade and Valencia are over 5 years into their Guided Pathways journey and shared several promising practices.
(In photo from left to right: Justin Smiley, Wendy Nelson, Kelly Falcone, Karan Huskey, Hossna Sadat, Nancy Browne, April Cunningham, Chris Sinnott, Anastasia Zavodny, Travis Ritt, Pearl Ly)
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE GP FLORIDA TEAM:
Innovative programs and buildings:
As we toured their campus we were immediately impressed with their innovative programs and their buildings, such as their Fashion Design, Culinary Arts, Gaming, IDEA center and CyberSecurity programs. We kept wondering how they were able to pay for the programs and state-of-the-art facilities. During our visit, we learned that Miami Dade has a grants office with five full-time employees who pursue grant funding to support the development of these innovative programs. Many of the programs built partnerships with workforce industries which led to internship and job opportunities for students within these programs.
Closing Equity Gaps through Intrusive Student Support:
We were very impressed with the intrusive student support provided throughout the student journey from pre-enrollment, through enrollment, and completion. Miami Dade has also implemented a 3-tiered advising system that included: pre-college advisors (works with HS), first year advisors, and college faculty mentors. They take a case management approach to student support by assigning students to advisors who proactively and intrusively connect with their students. Their efforts have resulted in an 11% increase in student retention! Valencia College outlined a clear difference between advisor and counselor roles at its campus. Every new student was required to complete the college orientation and to take a college success skills course. Both colleges had a one-stop center for student services and this supported students holistically when it came to accessing and learning about various support services on campus.
The state of Florida provided both colleges with meta majors. The meta majors were organized around gateway math classes.
Orientations were organized by Meta Majors with the Instructional faculty from disciplines as co-leads to advisors at the orientations. Students who were undecided about their major were provided a “Start Right” guide that helped them understand what classes to take first. Robust career counseling was discussed and offered throughout the students’ journey. Career counseling assessments provided students who were either undecided or needed confirmation for their academic journey. Having a room with computers and counselors proctoring career self-assessments allowed students to be intrusively guided throughout. Students were then referred to a map based on their meta-major.