Guided Pathways

Guided Pathways

What is Guided Pathways?

Guided Pathways is a nationally recognized framework that institutions use to address students’ educational experience and streamline students’ path from entrance to completion. It requires colleges to evaluate policy and practices to increase the number of students who graduate, transfer with junior standing, and be prepared for high quality careers in the region.

  • Clarify the path to student end goals.
  • Help students choose and enter a pathway.
  • Help students stay on the path.
  • Ensure that students are learning.

Students are the heart of what we do at Kirkwood. With the help of the Guided Pathways framework, the college will transform the student experience to increase student persistence, retention, and completion of credentials, all of which are institutional-level key performance indicators (KPIs) of Kirkwood’s strategic plan of credentials. 

Where to Start?

Guided Pathways is an iterative process, meaning that the college will set priorities for transforming specific aspects of the students’ experience, implement, evaluate, learn and set priorities for designing the next version.

Kirkwood is implementing version 1.0 in the fall of 2022 with a focus on helping students clarify and understand their education path. 

Meta Majors are collections of academic program options organized by similar career/interest categories. Kirkwood has chosen to refer to Meta Majors as Program Areas based on current student survey feedback.

Program areas include a list of similar academic programs offered at the college. They are designed to provide a structure for students to explore an area of interest and choose a program of study. At Kirkwood, our goal is to help new students identify an academic goal and have an individualized academic plan of study in place by the end of their first term.

All programs will be mapped to illustrate a recommended course sequence, along with other pertinent information to the student experience. Program maps offer a place to start and are customized to meet the need of students. The benefits of program maps include, but are not limited to:

  • Intentional course sequence can lead to better rates of course completion.
  • There’s less risk of students taking unnecessary classes, saving students time and money.
  • Less uncertainty about completion requirements.
  • Students move through coursework with fewer obstacles.
  • The college can more easily schedule courses based on students’ needs.
  • Advisors can monitor students’ progress and intervene when students deviate from their plan.

Advisors serve an important role in supporting students through each pillar of the Guided Pathways framework. They serve as a source of continuity for the student upon entry to completion. Forming a supportive relationship with advisees is core to helping students access the needed resources at the appropriate time to choose a path, stay on the path, and ensure the student is learning.

Providing students with a clear and structured experience that includes individualized supports are important design elements that can help students achieve their education goals. Cross-functional teams are designing and planning implementation for the following components:

  • Holistic assessment
  • Onboarding and advising by Program Area
  • Program maps

Kirkwood's Guided Pathways process began in fall 2019. The Guided Pathways Steering Committee remained committed to the efforts through the impacts of the COVID-19. While the pandemic did affect the pace of progress, the Steering Committee plans to launch version 1.0 in the fall of 2022. To see key steps in the coming months, use the Guided Pathways Resource page linked below.

Stay Tuned for Ongoing Communication

This web page will provide the most up-to-date info. Additional communication will be provided to staff and faculty via the internal e-newsletter “Have You Heard”.

Guided Pathways Resource page

Faculty and staff are invited to log in to the Guided Pathways Resource page to access helpful resources and other internal documentation.

Log In Here



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