BY HEATHER BOERNER
26 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL
Six years ago, Front Range Community College President Andy Dorsey sat down with his team and looked at the college’s com- pletion and graduation rates. Like a lot of colleges, they were in for a shock. It’s not that they had expected to see 80 percent completion rates. But they certainly weren’t expecting to see only 43 percent
of their students graduating or completing in three years. Nor did they
expect to see the composition of the students who were dropping out.
“It became clear that we were losing lots of students, and, specifically
losing students who were more likely to be Pell [grant] eligible, in developmental education, and students of color,” Dorsey says. “That bothered
all of us. In many respects, that’s the group of students community
colleges were set up to provide opportunity for.”
So what do you do when you realize that your programs function,
but that somehow, you’re still not fulfilling your mandate? Dorsey
didn’t have money to throw at the college—they couldn’t just triple the
number of advisors and be done with it.
They’d have to find their own way. So they started using the
Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) to find out
what students needed. With that information, they started pilots at the
college’s three campuses, which spread from near Denver, Colorado, to
near Fort Collins. One was around career counseling. Another was to
start a student success center. There were several others.
Still, after a few years, these specialized programs weren’t going to do it.
“I thought, ‘We need to lay the groundwork for another level of
change,’” he says.
That level of change—at scale and integrated into every corner
of the college—is coming to Front Range Community College and 29
others through the Pathways Project, led by the American Association
With AACC’s Pathways Project, have
guided pathways come of age?