Southwestern takes steps to get students out the door faster

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Southwestern College has redesigned its program to help students get through a two-year program faster.

Southwestern College wants its students to achieve their educational goals in a timelier manner.

California Community Colleges are supposed to be two-year colleges, meaning students should be able to transfer to a four-year university or achieve their educational goals within two-years.

But at SWC students are staying longer than two-years to fulfill their academic needs.
According to the college 42.6 percent of their students achieve a degree, certificate or transfer to a university with-in six years. That is four extra years for a student attending what is supposed to be a two-year college.

“That is similar to other (community) colleges,” said Randy Beach, faculty coordinator for Jaguar Pathways and curriculum chair. “Is it what we want? ‘no’. The fact that it takes them six years (to achive their goals) is one thing when we are a two-year college.”
In addition, 45 percent of SWC students are full-time students with 15 percent of students going full-time in their very first semester.

In helping students achieve their community college experience in two years’ time or sooner, SWC is redesigning its Career Pathways, also known as Jaguar Pathways, a framework designed to advance student completions by offering clear educational paths that integrate student services, counseling, and academic support for the student.

As part of a statewide movement, SWC will receive about $1.6 million for five years in state grant money to redesign its Career Pathways to close the achievement gaps and create opportunities for all students to successfully achieve their educational and career goals.

All 114 California Community Colleges are currently designing or implementing innovations based on guided pathway models.

Beach said one way of the ways to assist students with achieving their goals quicker is by removing barriers in a student’s path.

Beach said key elements that will be addressed in the redesign of the pathways include student on boarding and support; integrated planning; guided majors and career exploration; realigning and integrating basic skills/development education classes and professional development.

Currently, Beach said there are five implementation teams looking at different elements of both the student experience and how the college operates.

The most active implementation team he said is the Our Guided Majors and Curriculum Exploration Team. That team is helping SWC’s faculty create program maps for their degrees and certificates, which Beach said “ will provide students a very clear four semester grid of course taking behavior that would allow them to finish within two years, if they are able to go full time.”

In addition, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 705 in October 2017. The bill does away with assessment placement tests and places students in English and math courses based on high school grade point average and other factors.

Southwestern takes steps to get students out the door faster