Guided Pathways Synopsis: Green River College

Purpose: This guide is a synopsis of the invaluable conversation that staff members of the State Board for Community and Technical College Education Division and Project Management Office had with leaders and key staff at Green River around how their college is succeeding with Guided Pathways work. It also includes what Green River needs from the system to continue their success.

Audience: College Subject Matter Experts (SME) interested in Guided Pathways.

When did we meet?  SBCTC and Green River College met on Monday, November 21, 2022.

Key Success Points

  • Communication & Engagement: Have successfully, over the last 2 years, helped staff to understand the need to change the "status quo," with over 100 people on campus engaged in Guided Pathways work. Communication has been key when stressing the importance of this effort along with the funding to help support. This was a big, coordinated effort and is integral for setting the stage for concrete deliverables along with different Priority of Practices and establishing a new shared governance Pilot.
  • Strategic Plan: GRC has dovetailed Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in their strategic plans into overall campus plans. Components of Guided Pathways and the metrics around that are tied into mission fulfillment as a college whole. Not all but some for-example English and Math. GP is being situated in a way that gives it more visibility.
  • Placement Testing: Students can take assessment online from home. Also expanded work with reciprocity. Have utilized more documents to be used for placement as well as securely uploading these documents to college website. Proud of a 4 hour or less turnaround time during business hours which is efficient and equitable for students as well.
  • Student On-Boarding: Hybrid on-boarding process has been implemented. This works alongside placement and advising center. Students have options to meet online or in person. Focused on meeting the student where they are at with “getting started specialists” to navigate the on-boarding process. This is also their point of contact for all things needed; transcripts, funding, accessing ctcLink system and advising. This also helps when students are clarifying program goals. Holistic new student involvement process.
  • IT Help Desk Service to Students: This service has successfully adapted/transition to become a remove assistance center to support student’s navigational needs with ctcLink.  The Help Desk provides triage services so students can move through their online processes, which is particularly important for students that are not on campus. To further remove technology barriers, a student laptop and hot-spot loaner program has been established.
  • Removing Language Barriers: Peer navigators are in place to provide translation for multiple languages. These peer navigators assist with application, FAFSA’s, and essentially all first time student related items, both inside and outside of the classroom. Students working with their peers instead of staff has made students feel more comfortable. Formed a new committee dedicated to determining which forms and processes need to be translated in advance to assist students through the system. College website has a translation widget, providing instructions in a multitude (72) of languages.
  • Outreach Specialists: They speak to middle schools and high schools. Promote completion of FAFSA. Work with them regardless of what school they are going to attend.  
  • Investing in Financial Aid Services: In addition to hiring work study students who have multi-lingual capacity, the Financial Aid office also has a specialist to provide specialized support for Afghan new arrivals whose state and federal funding have very specific guidelines for awarding. The office has streamlined processes, including the elimination of a four-page supplemental packet and automatically accepting financial aid that is not loan based.  The department is building intentional practices so that students face fewer barriers and have all funding in place prior to the start of classes. The Financial Aid office also has an outreach specialist who works in the community to support FAFSA & WASFA completion. The office has also included resource referral as part of the financial aid appeal process, aiming to ensure that students get all of the support for which they are eligible.
  • Developing Program Maps and Meta Majors: Two Action Teams working on the development of Program Maps, one focused on Transfer Programs, the other in Career Technical Education (formerly referred to as Tech Prep), with the intention of bringing those teams together in Spring. The goal is template design affirmed and some maps completed by the end of the academic year.
  • Data Dashboards & Creating Awareness Through Professional Development: The college is currently focusing on using student data to make strategic decisions. The college has created student dashboards and offering related professional development to identify and analyze student progress and equity gaps. The Institutional Effectiveness office is making themselves available to staff by holding road shows across campus to help instructional areas understand how to best use the data the college has available and to help answer the questions that staff and faculty generate.
  • Student Intake Process: All students complete a student intake survey, indicating needed resources (childcare, housing, food needs, counseling, etc.).  College staff are able to provide outreach and make referrals to resources before the student begins classes.
  • Program Map Coding and Maintenance: Some means within ctcLink to enable colleges to expedite this work, or make the longer term maintenance of this data more efficient.
  • Tools with ctcLink for Proactive Progress Monitoring: Optimally having some tools for predictive analytics and better tools for behavior based referrals for students are needed. Colleges needs tools that are more than just lists that they are pulling (e.g., students who have completed math placement, or who have not enrolled.) Also, any ways to automate outreach and extensions of available resources would be an improvement.
  • Financial Aid: Would like to use the time-frame warning capability of the SAP process to identify students who are getting close to running out of aid coverage and connect with them before that happens. Support students to work with an advisor to draw up plans so they know what classes are needed and when to take them  to graduate. Improvements in SAP tools, will aid in this work.
  • Advising Groups in Student Alerts: Improvements are needed to allow student alerts to go to a group of advisors, enable establishment of an advisor network for a student so anyone in that group can help manage the issues driving that alert. Removing the requirement to have to assign the student's Assigned Advisor to a "responder group" the ability to include the assigned advisor, regardless of whether or not they're in the respondent group as one of the people that are in the loop for communications around a struggling student.
  • Auto-Conferring: The college would like a tool that allows for the systematic evaluation of enrolled students’ progress toward degree completion. This tool would significantly help with every aspect of student contact.  With such a tool in place, the college could transform their ability to monitor student progress and keep them informed of their progress towards any number of degrees for which they could be nearing completion.
    • SBCTC Feedback: Data team would like to be provided with more information on why the query is considered unreliable. This has been shared with the reporting team.
    • SBCTC Clarification Needed: Is the college referring to the Degree Boost query (QCS_AA_DEGREE_BOOST)? This query is for students who are near completion but no longer enrolled. This query was recently updated/improved and we would encourage colleges to run it and submit a ticket of there are issues. The following QRG outlines what is needed for the query to work (i.e. TotalUnits for the academic requirement and a generated AAR):
    • If referring to another query, please run the query to test to determine if the results are accurate or whether your college query writers see a way to improve the query or submit a ticket to SBCTC outlining the issue with the query that needs to be improved.
  • Track Areas of Interest for Students: The college would like the means to track a student’s Area of Interest and student coding in a way that supports the college’s ability to assign advisors and drill into student interest beyond the degree. The Advising Office is seeking some way to do that other than creating student groups or milestones, but as a student attribute that could facilitate better student communication and resource connection.
  • Communication Perspectives: Pulling communication list through queries has been good, but the response from SBCTC: regarding the bio demo chunk is owned by the students. Don't have the ability to purge what we know to be incorrect email addresses, and when that's existing in the system, and that all that exists in the system it makes communicating with your students challenging because we're expecting it to go out to a group of students and not realizing until after things have been sent. *
    • SBCTC Clarification During Session: It seems you are seeking a way to upload a list of EMPLIDs with known bad email addresses that are being retired out of your local email system to remove the email address entry.
  • Academic Advising Report (AAR): College is seeking better Educational Planning tools. Easier view with visual progress indications in AARs, as well as up-to-date information without having to run a new report (this has been a steep learning curve), visual cues in the student homepage and advisor center for progress.

Key Risk Points - Please Don't Disrupt This Process

  • College did not highlight any specific areas of risk to disrupt their current business processes around Guided Pathways.

Professional Development Opportunities

  • Student Attributes & 3Cs: College needs guidance on options for using Student Attributes to drive communications. Create communications list within the system and improved understanding of utilizing 3Cs as an element of this.
  • Help on How to Best Utilize Student Relevant Data Points: Utilization of data points helpful for tracking on a per-student basis per Student Achievement Initiative.
Review of the Set of Questions SBCTC Asked All Colleges
  1. What is your college most proud of in the work you are doing to make your college more equity-centered/student-centered?  How is this shaping your strategic plans for process improvement over the next two years?
  2. What has your office done successfully to remove barriers for students who are wanting to attend?
  3. How successful do you feel your college has been developing program maps and providing opportunities for exploratory courses?  Is there anything within the ctcLink system you wish could be improved to help with this work?
  4. What changes have you made in your business practices to improve progress monitoring of students? What are you most proud of in your process for ensuring staff are involved in identifying students who are struggling?  Is there anything within the ctcLink system you wish could be improved to help with this work?
  5. Does your college currently use a Third Party Product (Starfish, EAB Navigate, Civitas, Watermark Aviso, etc.)?  If your college is using any tertiary systems (external products, business intelligence systems, and/or locally developed solutions) to support Guided Pathways, what benefits are being provided that are not currently available in ctcLink?
  6. How do you feel your college is doing in evaluating student enrollments and their alignment to completing a degree in two years?  What changes have you made across student services to support this work? Is there anything within the ctcLink system you wish could be improved to help with this work?
  7. What elements of the Guided Pathways framework is your institution currently prioritizing? How are you currently documenting your work? Is there anything within the ctcLink system you wish could be improved to help with this work?

Questions for Specific Offices/Teams:

  1. From each office (IT, Financial Aid, Admissions, etc.), what has been your greatest improvement to support Guided Pathways?
  2. From each office, if you could improve the system in one small way to help your office significantly to support GP, what would you change in ctcLink?
  3. From a data perspective- 
    1. How are you tracking a student’s journey through their programs on your campus?  
    2. How are you currently reporting student enrollments by meta-major?  Are you using locally developed Plan Code to Meta-Major crosswalks?
    3. What data points are you finding it difficult to track in the system today and what would you learn from tracking that data? 
    4. Is there anything within the ctcLink system you wish could be improved to help with this work?
  4.  From your area’s perspective, what key enhancements could you envision that would support your college’s Guided Pathways work?  


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