Guided Academic Pathways: Student Success Starts With a Plan

June 13, 2023 Watermark Insights

What Is a Guided Academic Pathway?

You probably know someone who could have benefited from a more targeted college success plan. (Maybe you were that person!) Ideally, an academic pathway like this serves as the map a student follows from the beginning of their higher education journey to the end. To make it from start to finish, they have to follow a visibly charted path that identifies, and lists in order, the programs and courses needed, when they are offered, and how they fit together to form the most efficient route to graduation.

Watermark (formerly Aviso Retention) works with students and schools to structure exactly this kind of comprehensive, coherent course and academic program pathway. A Guided Academic Pathway represents a clear and concise way for students and student advisors to view the programs and courses necessary to fulfill degree requirements and graduate on time.

Software-enabled Guided Pathways makes selecting and sticking to a study program into a virtual promise of achieving graduation. Advisors, mentors, success coaches, and faculty members understandably avoid making guarantees to students — but Guided Pathways comes as close as it can to providing such certainty, facilitating transparency between institution and student by laying out the specific coursework that must be successfully completed to earn a degree on schedule.

The “Four Pillars” to the Pathways Model

1) Clarify paths to student end goals

Watermark has partnered with the U. S. Department of Labor to guide students through an interactive process to help them identify career pathways and academic fields of study. The instrument is called the O*NET Interest Profiler. The O*NET Interest Profiler is a vocational interest assessment instrument. Users receive an accurate, reliable profile of their vocational interests that:

  1. Helps students identify work-related interests
  2. Focuses career search activities
  3. Enables them to link their vocational interests to O*NET-SOC occupations

 2) Help students choose and enter a pathway

Based on the students responses from the O*NET Profile, they are guided to the available opportunities for that particular institution. This allows each student to navigate course offerings in a way that allows for choosing a major to become more palatable.

3) Help students stay on path

Using Guided Pathway resources within Watermark assists students and staff by ensuring that both parties are clear on what is required to complete the student's individual, predefined goals. Visual indicators are clearly shown as each student moves through their specific program. Watermark is designed to continually inform students of their options and proactively identify and address barriers to their progress. Should a student ever fall off plan — for example, by registering for a course not on their academic pathway — alerts will be sent to both student and staff. 

4) Ensure that students are learning

As the student continues to progress, faculty and staff ensure students are continuing to learn through visual indicators, alerts for when the students may fall off path, and positive reinforcement (achievements) to help keep them on track. 

How You Can Use Guided Pathways With Watermark

Create course and program templates 

You can preload course information during system implementation to create course and program templates. Guided Pathway Templates are then refined during implementation in accordance with our best practices and industry expertise.

Sync information and communicate easily 

Your institution's program and curriculum data displays in Watermark as it does in your institutional student information system and learning management system. When course and program models are updated, those changes can be communicated to the student body. This can lead to productive meetings with students leading to discussions on the best course, curriculum, and program options for that student.

Keep students accountable

You can form an electronic agreement with each potential student via Watermark Guided Pathway functionality. This enables you to be alerted when students stray off the path, allowing for automated communication between institutional leaders and students. Guided Pathways via Watermark make curriculum and planning top of mind for students by keeping things simple with automated alerts via text or email.

Why it will help your institution

Guided Pathways keep students aware of what they need to do to earn their degree. This also allows you and your students to play “What-If” scenarios to determine how each course will impact the student’s pathway to graduation, helping them to make informed decisions. When presented with an easily accessible academic plan, students are more likely to keep working towards their goals.

How to make the investment and get started with Guided Pathways

Watermark works with dozens of institutions that use the Guided Pathway functionality to directly and efficiently guide students to success.

Contact us or request a demo to learn more about how your institution and students can benefit from Guided Pathways.

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