What Do Students Think of Guided Pathways?

This research study from the Community College Research Center draws on data from 48 interviews with first-year students at City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to examine student perceptions and challenges related to the system's guided pathways work. Since 2010, CCC has been implementing guided pathways, an initiative that clarifies learners' program pathways through organized programs of study, career guidance tools and integrated supports. 

The study finds that a large majority of interviewed students had an overall positive impression of the guided pathways approach. However, students surfaced several frustrations and challenges, including: 

  • The feeling that program maps and educational plans limit choice
  • Frustration with changing program requirements and limited course availability 
  • Poor organization of online resources 
  • The need for more guidance in mapping and completing pathways

Nevertheless, the challenges identified through student interviews were primarily related to implementation at CCC campuses as opposed to the approach itself. Students overall had a positive perception of guided pathways. These findings may be instructive to campus officials, state higher education officials and other postsecondary leaders exploring a guided pathways approach to student success. 

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June 2017