Report: Guided Pathways Beneficial for Veterans

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Community colleges that offer guided pathways may be better prepared to serve military veterans, according to a new report.

The approach maps out the sequence of courses students must take to complete a degree, and provides academic counseling and support services to help them stay on track. It also represents a departure from the “cafeteria-style” method of course selection, which allows students to choose from an abundance of often unrelated courses.

“The guided pathways approach may be particularly useful for veterans because it emphasizes advising and assistance so that students understand the implications of their academic choices from the start, for both their education and employment goals,” according to a report released last month by the Community College Research Center.

The study — which drew on data and observations from five community colleges — notes that degree-seeking veterans often face a “variety of challenges on the way to completion.” Like many older students, veterans are more likely to attend school part-time, have a family to support, and may arrange their classes around a full-time work schedule. Transitioning from military to civilian life can also pose its own set of challenges, including physical and mental health issues.

“Currently, veteran students are asked to select a program for GI Bill benefits, but they are not provided with much guidance,” the report notes. “By design, the guided pathways approach provides students with information about program and career choices early on.”

Colleges wishing to adopt a guided pathways model should work with Veterans Affairs to ensure their program will meet GI Bill requirements, the authors note.

Read the full report and visit NACAC’s website.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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