Pathways intended to minimalize risk in transferring

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AlamoInstitutes planned to be fully implemented by fall 2018.

By Wally Perez

With a focus on completion, obtaining a credential and transferring, AlamoInstitutes and the Pathways Project hope to get students through college quickly and accurately without wasting time or money.

The Alamo Colleges is one of 30 community colleges that have been chosen to participate and develop a pathways model.

Michelle Perales, deputy to the chancellor, said the Alamo Colleges are in talks to create a guided pathways model with institutions in this city and the Austin region.

Institutions include:

Texas A&M-San Antonio; Our Lady of the Lake; the University of Texas at San Antonio; University of the Incarnate Word; St. Mary’s University; Texas State University-San Marcos; and Austin institutions Concordia University Texas; Huston-Tillotson University; Austin Community College; and St. Edward’s University.

The model allows the colleges involved to create somewhat of a consortium of community colleges and universities.

Faculty at all of the Alamo Colleges are developing Advising Guides and sequenced advising guides that include what students should take on their path to their major, Ruth Dalrymple, associate vice chancellor for academic partnerships and initiatives, said in a phone interview Sept. 2.

“Advising Guides are there to help students choose and take the courses that will transfer and count when they go to the university of their choice,” Dalrymple said.

Advising guides are the alignment of a specific university’s requirements for a baccalaureate major with the courses available through the colleges of the Alamo Colleges.

This includes any specific transfer requirements of the university to facilitate completion of an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree for a student with the intent to pursue a major at a specific transfer institution.

“Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student, these guides will help you decide what you will take in the fall or spring,” Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple said currently work is being done with universities to find out what courses students should take which will count at their transfer university.

“Say a student majors in biology and a student wants to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio,” Dalrymple said. “We need to make sure we offer the courses UTSA will accept in that program of study; we’re trying to lay out a plan for them.”

When students transfer, some have said one of the issues is that these courses will transfer, but it wont count in the program they wish to enroll in, which leads them to take additional courses that they could have taken earlier, Dalrymple said.

Pre-major maps are also being worked on so if students aren’t sure what university they want to transfer to, they can get an idea or head in the right direction.

There are greater losses for students who take many courses that had no idea they wouldn’t count towards their bachelor’s.

Students who take an excessive amount of courses might transfer and find out those courses don’t count, meaning they just spent additional money that could have gone elsewhere.

“If you’re a student on financial aid, we want to make sure your financial aid options are still active when you transfer,” Dalrymple said.

Currently the Alamo Colleges and other participants in the project are on the second of six steps, which includes mapping pathways through the institution.

According to the AACC (American Association of Community Colleges) website, the purpose of this institute is to provide the colleges with the foundation necessary to develop clear, efficient and coherent maps for all of the programs at the institution.

The next step, redesigning student intake systems and ongoing academic and non-academic supports, is schedued for Oct. 2-4.

As for the AlamoInstitutes, the Alamo Colleges each have Institute teams verifying the contents of the advising guides who are then tasked with creating sequenced advising guides.

“There will be additional work to complete in order to fully develop the Institutes; this is just the first step,” Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple said if all goes according to plan, the AlamoInstitutes should be fully implemented by fall 2018.


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