Introduction to Guided Pathways

Seattle Colleges Guided Pathways Definition

Guided Pathways, in collaboration with colleagues across Seattle Colleges, centers student voices through an aligned, comprehensive, systemic approach to student success and anti-racist work. 

Guided Pathways:

  • Addresses the urgent large-scale changes needed to improve student success and completion and closing equity gaps.
  • Promotes accountability through continuous reflection, assessment, and organizational improvement.
  • Engages collaborative interdisciplinary and interdepartmental approaches.
  • Redesigns structures, practices, and policies to improve students’ experiences and educational outcomes.
  • Advances student success by removing barriers and confusion through a strategic integration of our systems, services, and instruction.
  • The four priorities of 2022-2023 are: Mapping, Placement, Intake & Onboarding, and Exploratory Experiences.

About Guided Pathway

Guided Pathways is a research-based framework that simplifies choices for students; groups courses together so students see a clear path through college and into careers, and provides intensive, targeted support to keep students on course. The framework helps to create a clear academic pathway for students to meet their educational goals. The framework divides the work into four pillars to clarify the path for students to meet their end goals, help students choose and enter their pathway, help students stay on the path and ensure learning is happening. Colleges around the nation are adopting Guided Pathway models and a growing body of research has shown them as effective in closing student achievement gaps.

As of 2018, more than 250 community colleges have committed to large-scale and long-term implementations of Guided Pathways reforms. These programs are intended to support student success in four areas:

  1. Mapping pathways to student end goals
  2. Helping students choose and enter a program pathway
  3. Keeping students on path
  4. Ensuring that students are learning

A Guided Pathways approach attempts to solve a design flaw that dates to the origin of community colleges: They were founded with a mission of providing broad access to higher education and thus focus on attracting as many students as possible via the offering of hundreds of diverse courses. In essence, community college students suffer from the “paradox of choice” and struggle, often without effective guidance, to complete the requirements needed to matriculate. The pathway model was introduced by Chancellor Shouan Pan and the college presidents. College leaders believe Seattle Pathways will boost efforts already underway and help reduce achievement gaps with our vulnerable student populations. A large part of the Title III grant is dedicated to implementing Seattle Pathways and providing funding for this framework in order to close equity gaps.